Sunday, 28 June 2015

America vs. Canada

There has been an image going around Facebook of a map of the U.S. that has been divided up into "nations".  It includes the southern part of Canada as well; Quebec has the appelation "New France", Ontario has been lumped in with the American "Midlands", and the Maritime provinces have been made part of "Yankeedom".  The image is attached to an online quiz entitled "Which of the Eleven American Nations do You Belong In?"

Um. No. Just... NO.

A friend of mine, a fellow Canadian and a school teacher, has written a terrific rebuttal:

Ontario is not, in any way, politically, culturally, historically, linguistically, part of "Midlands".

Case in Point: There is no real correspondence between our political systems, values, or scope, and yours.  Your two-party representative system is narrow and crabbed and skewed to the right.  We have more parties with more of a spectrum of policies.  The first question [in the quiz] omits any of those options and mistakenly and simplistically lumps our Liberals in with your Dems and our Conservatives in with your Republicans.  It ain't that simple.

Our Liberals still maintain some of the leftover resonances of classical liberalism - so they are tied to the business community in a much more clear and open and unapologetic way than any Dem Pol could ever be.  Our Conservatives do have a grafted-on reactionary element that could, if you squint, look like a Tea Party... Just not as loonie.  The Religious/Social element of the party is withering on the vine.  Our Conservatives stand in support of single payer health care, not the kludged together ACA that Americans have had to settle for.  We have a government directed health system.  You have government mandated insurance markets.  Big difference.

We have a bona fide Socialist Party that has a very good chance of winning the next national election.  In Ontario the leader of the provincial Cons, a social conservative, marched in this week's Gay Pride Parade.

Our version of "Fox News" up and died last year.  It was widely seen as a joke.

Case in Point: The Great Lakes Vowel Shift.  Check out the accent in Buffalo and Detroit, now check out the accents across the rivers in Niagara Falls and Windsor.

Case in Point: Gun Culture.  We have about 1/4 the guns per capita than you do.  One would expect that we would have 1/4 the per capita gun fatalities/gun crime.  Nowhere close.  Chicago has 400-500 gun deaths a year.  Toronto, about the same size, has fewer than 60.

We do not have a death penalty, and no one has been executed here for 50+ years.

Case in point: Political Culture.  Winter teaches us that we can make noise all we want that we are rugged individualists who can build it all on our own... but reality is that we are all in this together. Our founding documents based on 300 years of colonial experience and an appreciation for winter, mention our summit values as "Peace, Order, and Good Government".  Yours are "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness".

Case in Point: History. Your country was founded on the violent overthrow of one faction of Bourgeois land owners by another faction of Bourgeois landowners.  In that way you all were inculcated with the mistaken belief that something vital and important was exceptionally changed, and that such illusory changes can be made through violence.

Canada was founded by French colonists and explorers who were too late to get to the good bits, British Loyalist refugees from American ethnic cleansing, and Native Peoples who somehow survived the wars between them.  We were founded by Fur, Railroad, and Resource interests as a collection of company towns.  A bunch of losers in a place we didn't own.

But something funny happened. We too tried armed revolt, but all that taught us was that we weren't as good at it as the Americans seemed to be, and the aftermath taught us that the real strength wasn't in direct armed resistance, but in political pressure.  We have slowly discovered our own strength and our own directions.

Case in Point: Immigration.  We have a higher percentage of our population being first generation immigrant than you do.  And the gap is getting bigger.  We also eschew any talk of "melting pot" and encourage people to keep their culture and language.

This image might have some information on American reality, but leave Canada out of it.

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