Make a pow­er­ful po­lit­i­cal state­ment: stay home

The Hamilton Spectator - - STYLE - LOR­RAINE SOMMERFELD www.lor­raineon­

If the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal cli­mate has you a lit­tle knot­ted, you’re not alone.

If you’re a think­ing, car­ing, in­formed in­di­vid­ual, it has been im­pos­si­ble to go about your busi­ness un­af­fected by the roil­ing tur­moil go­ing on to the south of us.

To any­one who thinks all of those de­ci­sions be­ing made don’t im­pact Canada, I’d like to slap them up­side the head with a few lessons in his­tory, ge­og­ra­phy, eco­nomics and ethics.

If you use Face­book, you’ve prob­a­bly un­fol­lowed or muted peo­ple over the past few months. Maybe even fam­ily mem­bers. Maybe es­pe­cially fam­ily mem­bers. What once sim­mered just be­low the fam­ily din­ner gravy line has bro­ken free of the sur­face like a hooked shark. These are painful times. I’m un­apolo­get­i­cally out­spo­ken in my be­liefs, and that has frayed – and some­times frac­tured – my re­la­tion­ships with friends and col­leagues alike. I can live with that, be­cause we are liv­ing in times where a tyrant can seize power and shake the world to its core and glance in the mir­ror and smooth his mat­ted hair and laugh.

But we’re not help­less, and we don’t have to cor­rode who we are in spite of the hate and vit­riol that is seem­ingly ev­ery­where. I have many Amer­i­can friends, and I’ve told them I won’t be com­ing to visit them un­til their 45th pres­i­dent is reined in. I’ve also made clear I will not ac­cept work trips. Eco­nomic sanc­tions have long been a global ap­proach to pun­ish­ing coun­tries that pun­ish its cit­i­zens, and we have the power to adopt that peace­ful strat­egy.

Stay home this year. Or per­haps for the next four, I’ve no idea. One thing I do know is that Canada is one of the most fab­u­lous places on earth to spend your va­ca­tion time and money, whether you have a lit­tle or a lot. Heck, a New York Times story just put it at the top of its list for travel des­ti­na­tions. I’ve been all over most parts of it, and I sug­gest on this, our 150th birth­day, you spend your dol­lars at home.

Our na­tional parks are spec­tac­u­lar, and for 2017 the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is throw­ing open the gates to them and pro­vid­ing free passes. Whether you fly and book into ho­tels or drive and camp as you go, there is no bad way to see this amaz­ing coun­try.

Rent an RV if you’re brave enough, though con­tact me for tips on that. It’s trick­ier than it looks.

New­found­land is like no other place I’ve ever been, and it will stay in your heart for­ever.

North­ern Que­bec will let your kids test out the French they’ve been learn­ing with some of the most pa­tient peo­ple I’ve ever met.

Those ads for the Mar­itime prov­inces? They’re not ly­ing. It is just that lyri­cal, and the his­tory comes alive.

Ex­pe­ri­ence the of­ten crazy weather in Cal­gary and trek through the Rock­ies and Banff.

We have hot springs in north­ern Bri­tish Columbia (Liard), and gla­cial lakes in the Yukon. Daw­son City has to be seen to be be­lieved.

Maybe your roots are on the prairies, like mine are, and the kids need to see what you, or Grandma and Grandpa, have been talk­ing about.

Our ma­jor cities have all the daz­zle of many of our Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts.

It costs a great deal of money to plunk a pair of mouse ears on your kids’ heads and stand in lines on hot asphalt. We live in the most amaz­ing coun­try on earth, and this year more than ever, I sug­gest you show it to them, and to your­self.

Ap­pre­ci­ate this mag­nif­i­cent coun­try. In­vite your Amer­i­can friends to join you.

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