Back in my freshman/woman days at the University of Puerto Rico I heard a lot about American imperialism, and how the USA was out to invade and take over every country in the world. The irony that Canada is right next to the USA — and doesn’t have an army to speak of, while it has existed for 200+ years — without being annexed by the USA was totally lost on the UPR demagogues.
I mean, look at it: Latin American anti-American demagogues, such as fidel and fidel’s mini-me, are constantly saying that the USA’s going to wipe them out and take over their countries. This is of course a pretext to continue to oppress their peoples — who curiously keep coming here to stay — and overspend in weaponry and armaments. Canada, which has immense land area, natural resources, ecological diversity, and an educated workforce, has all this while reduced its military to the point that it’s reached negligible status. If the USA was so hell-bent on imperialism, Canada would be the place to start.
Or so I thought.
After reading this article by by Matt Labash, I have second thoughts.
Where Canada fails is no big secret. Most of us know that its universal health care is a great thing, if you don’t mind waiting, say, nine months for an MRI on your spinal cord injury. We all know Canadians are overregulated, to the point that Canadian rocker Bryan Adams was denied “Canadian content status” for cowriting an album with a British producer, limiting the play his songs could receive on the radio (a policy that’s supposed to encourage Canadian talent, but that in Adams’s words “encourage[s] mediocrity. People don’t have to compete in the real world. . . . F–ing absurd”).
We all know the Canadian military has become a shadow of itself. Things have gotten so dire that a Queen’s University study (titled “Canada Without Armed Forces?”) predicted the imminent extinction of the air force. This unpreparedness has become such a joke that Ferguson says their military ranks just above Tonga’s, which consists of nothing more than “a tape-recorded message yelling ‘I surrender!’ in thirty-two languages.”
What many don’t consider is how much Canada has oversold itself in the areas where it purportedly does succeed. While it’s true that the government has been much friendlier than ours to gay marriage, only 39 percent of Canadians decidedly support it. While Canada is supposedly more environment-friendly, it has been cited for producing more waste per person than any other country. While Canada is supposedly safer, a 1996 study showed its banks had the highest stick-up rate of any industrialized nation (one in every six was robbed). And while a great deal is made of Americans’ passion for firearms, the Edmonton Sun, citing Statistics Canada, reported that Canada has a higher crime rate than we do.
Canadians are supposedly less greedy than Americans, yet they lead the world in telemarketing fraud, and most of their victims are Americans. Are they more generous? Not by a long shot. The Vancouver-based Fraser Institute publishes a Generosity Index, which shows that more Americans give to charity, and give more when they do.
Is the Canadian “mosaic” more successful than the American “melting pot,” a distinction they constantly make? You be the judge. Imagine every decade or so America’s Spanish-speaking southwesterners holding a referendum over whether to secede. It’s happened twice since 1980 among the Francophones of Quebec, and some say it’s going to happen again. While America has figurative language police on its college campuses, Quebec has literal ones–“tongue troopers,” the locals call them–who ruthlessly enforce absurd language laws requiring, for example, that restaurant trash cans feature the word “push” on their lids in French instead of English.
Apart from the Anglo/Franco teeter-totter that Canada can’t ever seem to get off, are Canadians less racist, as many of them claim? Well, like America, they saw both slavery and segregation. If Canadians today are less racist, someone ought to tell their aboriginal peoples, who’ve spent centuries getting their land annexed and being generally mistreated (as of 2000 in Nova Scotia, there was still a law on the books offering hunters a bounty for Indian scalps).
Recent polling shows 35 percent of Canada’s “visible minorities” (such as blacks and Asians) have experienced discrimination in the last five years. Another poll showed 54 percent of Canadians believe anti-Semitism is a serious problem in Canadian society today. It certainly was yesterday. Around World War II, a few Jews did manage to squeak in–despite the policy summed up by Canada’s director of immigration as “None is too many.” Will Ferguson points out that more Nazi war criminals are thought to have found sanctuary in Canada than refugees fleeing the Holocaust.
But even when Canada succeeds, it carries the whiff of failure. For nearly a decade, the country sat atop the United Nations quality-of-life index, a fact that Canadian schoolchildren could parrot in their sleep. When Canada dropped to eighth, just behind the United States, its collective psyche took a beating. The next year, Canada shot past us again, but not back to the top. The headline in Ontario’s Windsor Star tells you all you need to know about Canadian triumphalism: “Cheers to us, we’re No. 4.”
IN A SENSE, Canada is the perfect place for American quitters
On an almost-related story, last evening‘s France2 news (a rich source of material for my blogging!) reported that yesterday was the day to celebrate those furthering the French language and culture. Among them (25 minutes into the program) was a lady from Quebec, Nicole Rene of — what else — the Quebec Office for the French Language, who, waving clenched fists, insisted that it all came down to resisting being taken over by Americanization.
Going by the Labash article, I can safely say she has nothing to fear.