A startling proportion of our team, including myself, are Canadians, either by birth, or, like me, by naturalization. Also, two of the products that Microsoft purchased and are now incorporated into Microsoft Identity Lifecycle Manager “2”–the synchronization engine that used to be marketed by itself as Microsoft Identity Integration Server 2003, and the smart card management solution acquired from Alacris–were both developed by Canadian companies. Alacris was based in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, which has always been a computer technology hub in that country–Corel is based there, and Cognos, among many other of the biggest software companies in the nation. The synchronization engine, my colleague Sorin Iftimie, another Canadian expatriate tells me, was born in Toronto. Anyhow, you can’t toss a football down our corridors–as some folk have been known to do–without hitting at least a couple of hapless Canadians.
So what is that all about? Well, I recall that, at least when I was doing post-graduate studies in sociology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in the late ’80s and early ’90s, there was much discussion about how Canadians lacked a common identity–anything substantive that they cherished together as Canadians, especially beliefs and aspirations. A notion that was already well-established at the time was that whereas the United States of America had been a melting pot of immigrants who came from diverse backgrounds but ended up practicing the same culture, Canada was a mosaic. At first glance, the largest distinct pieces of the mosaic would be English Canadians and French Canadians, but I believe it is true that among French-speaking Canadians, there are at least two distinct identities, that of the Quebecois, and that of the Acadians. Frankly, among English-speaking Canadians, it really is hard to discern a common sense of identity among them at all, except perhaps that of being huddled in the cold North, away from “the Americans,” and generally being open and accepting to everyone except pedophiles (or at least those that don’t respond well to treatment). Even an interest in ice hockey is not a given. My wife, who is a native-born east-coast Canadian, whose Canadian heritage extends further back than anyone in her family knows, has never watched a complete hockey game in her life–because hockey is just not a big deal where she comes from. (Hunting is another matter, although she hasn’t shot anything either, except perhaps me, a few times, in fond daydreams.)
Anyhow … here we have a team focused on the problem of identity and a ridiculous preponderance of Canadians working on it–people who, historically and culturally, have none, and feel the lack of it.