Saturday, December 3, 2022

The Myth of Canadians

Canada used to be America's cool cousin.  What the hell happened?

It wasn't long ago that people joked that Canadians were overly polite and logical and smarter than Americans.  A "meme" online shows a Canadian "swear jar" (where you put money in, whenever you swear) next to an "unnecessary apology" jar.  Canadians are so darn polite!  Right?

Well in recent years, this seems to be less and less the case.  And Canada, like any other country, is not one homogeneous mass.  On one side are the maritime provinces, which have their own vibe, and in the middle is Quebec, which is almost its own country (and some Quebecois think it should be so!) and then there is Ontario - the largest province in terms of population, which tends to look, act, and think, a lot like America, right down to its own Trump admirers.

It is said that 90% of the population of Canada lives within 100 miles of the US Border, and that would be most of the population of Ontario, which, thanks to the Great Lakes, sort of extends Southward to latitudes lower than some US States.  And Southern Ontario can look just as ugly as the States - with miles of divided highways, endless strip malls, fast-food outlets and chain stores.  The names may be different - Tim Hootin's, Canadian Tire - but the effect is the same.  Southern Ontario isn't America's cool cousin - it is the nerdy Uncle.

As part of the worldwide trend toward insanity and right-wing thinking (and I am being redundant here) Canada is no exception.  They used to have this obnoxious Trump-like guy named Rob Ford, who was mayor of Toronto.  He was belligerent and corrupt and died very young (drug use?) and everyone heaved a sigh of relief when the Rob Ford show was over.

Then they elected his brother as premier of Ontario. Yes, there are a LOT of conservatives in Canada, you just don't hear about them much - until now.  Doug Ford was in the news lately by trying to enact legislation making it illegal for government workers to strike, and imposing draconian fines if they did.  It sort of backfired, as it was a complete trampling of liberty.  But that is just an example of his assholeness - and it doesn't make the papers South of the border because as Americans, we just don't give a shit about Canada much.

People like to say Americans are grossly overweight and just gross.  And they are right, of course.  But take a gander at the Ford Brothers - they'd fit right in at a MAGA rally in Texas.  And maybe they have, for all I know! They looked like Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

America just doesn't care about Canada much. I mean, no offense, but that's the truth.  Canadians are by and large great people and the country is beautiful.  But in terms of economics and politics, it is a blip on the radar to America.  We gave up on invading Canada (and we did try, on at least one occasion) because we realized it was pointless. We could keep Canada in an economic headlock without having to do the messy business of governance.  And so far, that has worked very well - for the US. When the Canadians get a little uppity, we cancel their pipelines or slap huge tariffs on their softwood imports or close American factories there.  Most of the economy is based on resource extraction and export, much like Russia.

And speaking of which, I neglected to mention the Western provinces and territories.  There is a lot of space out West, and it is not unlike much of the North central United States.  And the big businesses are agriculture and oil sands extraction.  As you might expect, folks in these provinces tend to be a little more conservative than, say, back East.  The only exception might be Vancouver, which like Seattle (or our own Vancouver, in Washington State) is very urban and hip and might be a little more to the left.

Speaking of which, America doesn't have much of an imagination, it seems.  If you talk about "Vancouver" you might be talking about the city in British Columbia, or the island of Vancouver (which does not encompass the city, but rather another city called "Victoria") and of course, America's un-originally named "Vancouver Washington" which I am sure has resulted in more than one hilarious mix-up after another over time.  If you have a chance to visit Vancouver island, I highly recommend it.

But like Washington State, where you have Seattle to the Left and the agricultural heartland to the Right (geographically and politically) BC is about the same way.  Maybe folks in downtown Vancouver are all liberal and woke, but once you get 20 miles out of town, it changes.

So maybe Canada isn't too much different from the USA - or the rest of the world.  And in this regard, recent revelations have shown that foreign powers are trying to influence politics and Canada and cause disruption.  Russia has admitted that they interfere with elections in the USA and promise to continue to do so.  Can you guess which political party they are rooting for?  Hint:  It's the one that sucks Putin's dick all day long - the party of insurrection and traitors. 

In Canada, it appears the Chinese are getting their hands dirty. There is a large Chinese immigrant population in Canada, since both Canada and Hong Kong were part of the Commonwealth. When things started going sour in China for millionaires, they all planted a foothold in Canada.  And the Chinese government did as well - opening up "Police Stations" in Toronto, to keep an eye on Chinese Nationals. But it goes beyond that - the Chinese have been trying to influence politics as well, including giving money to candidates of both parties they think will be favorable to their causes.  And of course, Canada and China had quite a spat a while back, over the Huwei scandal.  China held several Canadian businessmen hostage as a result.

No offense, but I am not traveling to China anytime soon - or any other country that practices "hostage diplomacy."  That is just uncivilized and China is showing its hand here - it is not ready for the big leagues of civilization just yet.

And I suspect these foreign forces are behind some of the more wacky things going on in Canada, including "Trucker Convoys" which are protesting.... they forgot what they were protesting.  They kept protesting even after CoVid restrictions were lifted.   Not the brightest bulbs in the universe.  Canadians, like Americans and people across the world, are being driven insane by social media and the bots and trolls who are stirring up dissent.

Qanon has taken on a odd Canadian flavor (much like poutine) in the form of the "Queen of Canada" who is a Filipino lady who claims to be the rightful monarch of the Great White North. She has told her followers that she has "decreed" they no longer need to pay their water and hydro (what Canadians inexplicably call electricity, just to be different) bills and their mortgages and credit card debts.  She has abolished these debts!   Well, you can guess what the predictable result is.

What is sad about this is, well, we expected better of Canada.  Sure, America is full of gun-toting crazies and oddballs and whatnot.  We are anarchy.  Canada was, well, so much better organized and common-sense, or so it appeared to us, South of the border.  Canada was your cool cousin who smoked pot.  You wanted to be like him, but you realized you never could pull it off.

All that has changed.

I trace the downfall of Canada to one event - Burger King buying Tim Hootin's. Never been the same since - and they started treating the employees horribly!  We went to an outlet in Ontario once - half the store was Burger King and half was Timmy's.   Canadians were lined up for coffee at Tim's, but no one was patronizing the Burger King half.   At lunchtime, the drive-through line can go on for blocks.  For some reason, Canadians have this patriotic fervor for Tim Hootin's, much as Americans in the South have for Chik-Fil-A.

But recent reports seem to indicate that even revered Canadian institutions like the Hoot are under attack and becoming more and more Americanized.   Employees are treated like slaves rowing in a Starbucks galley. One wonders what is next - burger and fries at St. Hubert?  Canada is at risk of losing its identity!

I am not taking a piss on Canada - well, maybe a little bit.  And maybe it is a bit of Schadenfreude, as well.  Canadians have always played us in the past - taking advantage of their pseudo-American status when it suited them to do so, and then acting all European when America did something awful (which is to say, most of the time).  They had the best of both worlds, indulging in American excess on one hand, and then eschewing it when convenient.

But seriously though, Canada and Canadians are great. It is just that the whole world has gone nuts on this authoritarian binge.

Every single country! Even Canada!

What's next? The Swiss?  Oh, right. That.