In a National Post piece titled “Canada Doesn’t Deserve The Boot To Be Kicked Around” (June 27, 2006), columnist Peter Kuitenbrouwer takes exception to the words of nine-year-old Michael Latartara. The boy, “…who was wav[ing] an Italian flag while walking down St. Clair Avenue West at Dufferin Street [in Toronto] following Italy’s defeat of Australia [during the World Cup], said that ‘Canada sucks … because they’re no good at soccer.'” According to Mr. Kuitenbrouwer, “that is going a bit far … There’s nothing wrong with celebrating your roots, but this reclaiming of Italian identity, by kids who can’t speak Italian, seems strange.” Mr. Kuitenbrouwer quotes another young soccer fan, Katherine 13, wrapped in an Italian flag, farther down the street, who makes the point that “since Canada is not in the World Cup, why not cheer for the other part of your family?” Mr. Kuitenbrouwer says he doesn’t blame the kids; instead he blames Canada. “We need to do more to unite people behind Canadian symbols, to ensure the strength of our nation,” he asserts.
To prove that Canada doesn’t suck, Kuitenbrouwer quotes Mohamed Shariff, a Kenyan refugee living in Canada for 30 years, whose children graduated with honours from the University of Waterloo. Microsoft in Seattle snapped up his son (sic). According to Mr Shariff, “Canada is the best place. We have been very happy. It’s a great place to stay, I would say.” Kuitenbrouwer concludes his piece with his own paean to Canada: “Canada welcomed my parents, from war-ravaged Holland. Canada offered your family a haven, Michael. Canada gave the Shariff kids a good education, gave me a good education, and will offer the Latartara children a good education, too. Sure, our soccer team sucks. But that doesn’t mean Canada sucks. That’s why the maple leaf is the flag on our car.” The full text of Peter Kuitenbrouwer article can be found at www.canada.com/nationalpost.
We should be grateful to The National Post for uncovering this threat to national security or, at the very least, such a rebuke of Canadian society by ungrateful immigrants through the actions and words of bedazzled young soccer fans. This may, in fact, be just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Threats to Canadian stability abound – from Montrealers who cheer for the Boston Bruins to Torontonians who cheer for the New York Yankees; to say nothing of the throngs of Irish (who no longer speak Gaelic, for that matter) taking part in annual Saint Patrick’s Day parades throughout North America. Who knows what they are concocting, wrapped in their own intoxicating fervour? It seems to me that to save the country we must put an end to this overt expression of devotion by Canadians to teams (and saints)from other countries! Our reputation as a stern, self-composed, and bland people depends on it!
But seriously, the fact is that Canada does suck at soccer – which is what the kid meant (nor was the meaning lost on Mr. Kuitenbrouwer) – as Italy sucks at hockey! It might hurt to admit it, and it compels some to make more out of something than they really ought to. But the World Cup of Soccer is just that – a soccer tournament. It confers upon the winners and their fans the right to brag – nothing more. In all the spontaneous street parties, in cities big and small across the country (see photos on page 44), not a single store front window was shattered, not a car was overturned and set on fire, not a single person was arrested – unlike the riots in some North American cities following a hockey or baseball championship. The exuberance by the throngs of Italian soccer fans in streets throughout the country might tell us more about the multicultural fibre of the country than some people are comfortable with …and maybe that annoys them.