The Idea of Canada

David Johnston’s The Idea of Canada is a spirited and inspiring exploration of the moments, virtues, habits, and decisions that have made Canada unique in the world. Written in a series of letters to characters living and dead, eminent and unknown, The Idea of Canada is a record of the social forces that have shaped, consumed, and inspired the author to think of Canada as an idea long worthy of expression and now searching for refinement.

David Johnston contends that the true identity of Canada is that of an idea, – unique, complex, profound, but delicate and therefore at risk in an age that tends to overlook depth and undervalue subtlety.

How smart and caring are we?
Happiness is something we can measure

Smart and caring is the highest characterization to which any country can aspire. I describe a smart and caring country as one that supports families and children, reinforces learning and innovation, and encourages philanthropy and volunteerism.

Yet how do we communicate the value of these goals and chart our progress toward them? Just how smart and caring are we? We must measure. It is the only practical way to keep us focused and engaged in the quest.

Keenness of mind and kindness of heart are not abstract, ephemeral qualities floating about in the morning mist. They are national traits to which we can assign value and track over time.

From a letter to John F. Helliwell
Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research