Cherry was there at the creation with the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, and the other hockey gods attending the Winter Olympics of 2002. Vice President Dick Cheney was on hand, and the invasion of Iraq loomed ominously on the horizon. America expected another “miracle on ice.” It turned out to be a Canadian miracle as Hayley Wickenheiser and Canada’s women beat the Americans for the gold. Three nights later the men did the same.

Canada changed that first night. Earlier, an American friend might have suspected that certain Canadians were subdued, even self-effacing. No longer. Canada today is an equal partner; equal to anyone in the world.

Years back, Canadian novelist Robertson Davies claimed that Canada was the “introverted half of America.” But that condition could flip. Around the time of the fateful hockey game, two things were happening. During the Clinton period, Canadians followed America’s cue and ditched the old leftist economics of the pre-war period. Then America turned back. But Canada pressed on to wealth and success. The second thing: Prime Minister Jean Chrétien stood fast against American intimidation during the invasion of Iraq. At that moment, Canada was no longer America’s submissive junior partner. Our solid and dependable northern auntie had busted out. 

Canada has other friends today, maybe better friends. Recently, The Telegraph, reporting on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s study of the 10 best places to live, gave Australia four, New Zealand one and Canada three (Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver). America got none. A dynamic new cultural relationship arises today within the Anglosphere and interfaces directly with the rising economies across the Pacific, including India and China.

Canada is undergoing a sea change, a cultural paradigm shift not yet fully understood. What Canada needs now is a big, fulsome leader, a titan. (A Nelson? A Washington?) Consider the charmed and irascible Kevin O’Leary of "Dragon’s Den" and its American version, "Shark Tank." O’Leary personifies the “new” Canada. Today he is Canada’s representative “man at the center,” nicely foiled by his traditionalist TV sidekick, Amanda Lang, on "The Lang and O’Leary Exchange."

What Canada faces today is a psychological crossing of the river, a collective leap of faith, Jawaharlal Nehru’s “tryst with destiny” in the Great White North. Will staid parliamentarians and academics have the intuition to grasp the depth and breadth of this momentous change? Will they understand what is at stake? What is at risk?

Or will it take a Dragon?

And this week, England (of Canada’s real “special relationship”) followed Canada’s lead on Iraq and turned down America on Syria when British Prime Minister David Cameron specifically cited the British experience in Iraq. The plate tectonics of the English civilization — to coin a phrase — are virtually shifting. 

“If you walk down a street with Kevin, it’s like parting the Red Sea,” O’Leary’s producer told The Globe and Mail.

When he tires of all the fun on his nightly CBC gigs, he might instead lend his prodigious talents to Canada, to advance its status in the world and its rising destiny.