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Awareness is a sign of a good education and Remembrance Day is about taking time to be aware.  For example, in the military, the consequences of implementing a plan can be severe and very personal.  Students studying at a business school are supposed to learn the hows and whys of making a (business) plan but, sometimes, the submissions demonstrate carelessness and a limited awareness of the consequences.

This post is not arguing that the world would be better if current students  were forced to live the lives of some of the older alumni but that, as the opening phrase indicates, awareness is a good thing.  Like the proverbial fish in water who is the last to recognize that it is swimming in water, most students do not realize how important democratic institutions can be or that they differ in different places and at different times.  Real estate students in particular may not understand the implications for the very long run.

Some students grew up with a much different experience than a typical Canadian.  I have taught students from countries where they had to be careful speaking in a public place because of who might be listening.  (This issue is particularly important to university students because the value of academic freedom is questioned occasionally [1] [2].)  I have traveled in one country that no longer exists and one of my sisters has been in two countries that no longer exist.  I have taught students who were unhappy with Canadian peacekeepers because the peacekeepers were interfering with the ability to attack the other side.

I once heard Rex Murphy give a speech to a large group of leaders in the real estate industry which produced a standing ovation.  This political commentator noted how the institutions of democracy add value to the real estate business in Canada in particular.

Canadians may be unhappy at this politician or that regulation.  The debates will continue but one should also remember the overall picture.  The opposition is not intent on shutting down the government (after all, it is called the “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition“).  The on-going Senate expenses scandal focuses on items of less than $200,000; as comparison, many individuals around the world are suspected of hiding billions of dollars in (improperly-gained) wealth.  The events discussed Charbonneau Inquiry are rare and they are discussed publicly; as comparison, bribery is a commonly-accepted way of getting day-to-day things done in many countries, even for something as common getting a good job.  Journalists are mostly free to report on these and other stories, which is not true everywhere [1] [2].  The government does not have a habit of nationalizing the profitable businesses.  A military coup is not in the list of Top 100 Risk Factors for doing business in Canada.  Canada has a clear rule of law rather than the law being based on the whims of one man.  At other times and in other places, the truth of these facts are debatable.

These facts matter because, as Rex Murphy noted, the institutions of democracy and stable government policies enable ordinary people to plan investments which, in turn, produce income for decades.

Individual veterans did not specifically build these institutions.  They did fight when Canadians made hard choices and they enabled what is now considered to be normal.  Today is a day to remember their sacrifices and to be aware of consequences.

PS: The famous poem In Flander’s Field was written by John McCrae, whose birthplace is a bit more than one kilometer from GREG’s offices.