Wanderings – When did change become a bad thing?

The newly-announced redesign of the Canadian Passport have many in a kerfuffle over the design. The little book that identifies you as a legal citizen of Canada when travelling out of country, was redesigned to add new security features. In that redesign, some traditional Canadian images were replaced.

Postmedia columnist Brian Lilley likened the new passport design to that of an IKEA colouring book. Gone are images of Terry Fox and Vimy Ridge, in are bears, owls, and a generic image of kids making a snowman – cue the indignation.

Why is it every time there is a change proposed, or announced, many jump on it like it is a bad thing? As soon as someone says “let’s try this,” the tar and feathers come out for the one proposing said change.

Look at the function of the passport. Your passport is seen by how many people? Few. Usually a customs officer and you. That customs officer is focused on whether you are a criminal or not; and if you should be allowed to enter a country. Are you who you say you are? The customs officer is not interested in your passport’s image of Terry Fox running on a page. Are you a criminal, or a security threat? Is that officer going to move to Canada, or travel to Canada because of an image of the Vimy Ridge monument? No.

Passports are not advertising documents, they are legal citizenship documents. Those documents, when approved by the country you are visiting, says who you are and gives you certain rights while travelling. Who cares if generic animals are on the pages? The only reason art is on those pages is to make it more difficult to forge. Clip art is cheap, and easily purchased at many places – but surprisingly not at IKEA.

Passports are just the latest thing for some people to rail against change. I don’t get it because to me, change is progress.

The Ontario minimum wages is set to increase again in October. Talk to business people: they are concerned how they will pay their employees to factor that raise in. It shouldn’t be complicated. The cost of things has gone up, so wages must increase to keep pace. But change is bad. If wages don’t go up, no one will be able to purchase things. The economy will suffer due to a lack of affordability. It is a vicious cycle but necessary. Change is not bad.

Two years ago, a busy intersection in my hometown was changed from traffic lights to a roundabout. “Oh you can’t do that, roundabouts are horrible and confusing,” was commonly heard in the community. Complaints were made, and ignored. Two years later, the roundabout is a great focal point and welcome to visitors, and the traffic flows quite well.

A collision on the freeway last week saw traffic detoured through town for 10 hours. When there were still traffic lights in place, the police would stop and direct traffic, prompting long delays. Instead traffic went through the roundabout with no problems and few delays. It took no more than one minute to get through the roundabout with the heavy traffic. Change wasn’t bad in this case.

Now that King Charles III has officially become king, even though he was king from the moment Queen Elizabeth II died, our money will change. Queen Elizabeth II will eventually disappear from coins and printed money, and be replaced with someone else. That change is required, but some still think the Queen should remain longer. I don’t disagree, but I also am not a monarchist. Maybe someone can source some IKEA clip art for a $20 bill. Money spends the same way regardless what picture is on it.

Community groups, schools, government, and sports clubs, all face changes. Sometimes it is out of a financial need, other times it is the lack of help or support that requires changes. Still others resist change as they have been doing things the same way since time memorial. Yet when those changes are announced – the no’s begin.

“Are you nuts, why would you change this?” “If you don’t do XYZ, I won’t buy this thing again.” Change is not a bad thing, but it has become the bogeymen. When change butts up against tradition or history, people’s guards go up. Frankly that guard is a boat anchor that holds progress back.

Change is inevitable – or – the only constant thing in life is change, take your pick. Changing a symbol on a passport does not make it less of a passport, no more than if we change the photo on a $5 bill. Being able to change shows we’ve matured enough to go from clinging to traditions to progressing forward. Using the fear of change to hold yourself, an organization, or a community back does no one any good. It is a Canadian tradition I’d like to see changed too.

Originally published in the May 17, 2023 print edition of The Morrisburg Leader.