Culture Clash

Americans, Canadians—What’s the Difference?

August 01, 2011

Multiple Pages
Americans, Canadians—What’s the Difference?

Writing about the differences between Canadians and Americans isn’t as easy as it used to be.

In 2004, for instance, the night before George W. Bush made his first visit to Canada, a panicked Dallas Morning News editor begged me to bang out a quickie piece on just that subject. My submission, called “I’m an American Trapped in a Canadian’s Body,” was a huge hit. I got loads of fan mail, the DMN site logged thousands of new visitors, and that commissioning editor got a promotion. (He said he’d be in touch shortly to discuss my becoming a regular contributor. Naturally, I never heard from him again.)

All that for a comedic “essay” that was really just a 30-minute stenography exercise. I’d hastily typed up some actual conversations I’d endured here in Toronto—a city I’d call a “hotbed” of Yankee-bashing except (as an Israeli friend remarked during his first visit here): “Toronto has everything you’d ever want—except passion.”

So I wrote this:

Here in downtown Toronto, conversations like the following are a commonplace in movie lines, subway cars and coffee shops:

I know.
I hate him.
I know.
He’s retarded.
I know.

I’m often the sole partygoer to challenge even the most pathetic received wisdom.

Seven years on, writing a “Canada v. America” piece is harder, because the situation up here is more—what’s that word they like?—“nuanced”?

“Having easy access to the Daily Kos and Michael Moore’s every peep and fart, our liberal elite is even less distinguishable from America’s than before, except ours openly hates the United States, while yours tries (poorly) to hide it.”

You see, because the Canadian “identity” is so flimsy—a ghostly “negative,” based entirely on what we are not—my fellow citizens are easily disoriented. Today we have a “conservative” prime minister (ha, ha) and Americans have a black, lefty president, so…wait: Who’s the bad guy again?

Overnight, comparing the leader of the free world to a monkey was no longer socially acceptable, and my supply of ready-to-use “Bush = Hitler” eavesdroppings dried up. On every other topic, Canada’s leftists remain reliably idiotic. Yet their most distinctive characteristic—their flamboyant, stalker-ish anti-Americanism (much of which I’m obligated to pay for)—has taken a hit.

Although they do still bleat about “American-style” school shootings (even though we practically invented them).

And “American-style” healthcare, of which wealthy and powerful liberal Canadians regularly partake. Getting an MRI for grandma up here is a real bitch, unless grandma’s a real bitch.

And “American-style” zillion-dollar lawsuits over spilled coffee. (We have “loser-pays,” which keeps such legal stunts down to a dull roar. That’s in our “real” justice system, of course; our “fake” one is another story....)

And don’t forget those “American-style” fast-food chicken sandwiches. (No, really.)

Having invented a grand total of basically nothing since insulin, Canadians still boast about the weirdest things, like mechanical appendages (robot arms and artificial legs) and singer-songwriters with irritating voices.

All that being said, in the decade since Pat Buchanan dubbed us “Soviet Canuckistan,” my country’s culture has shifted and settled, mostly thanks to that great leavener and leveler: online technology.

The result is, alas, anthropologically anticlimactic: Having easy access to the Daily Kos and Michael Moore’s every peep and fart, our liberal elite is even less distinguishable from America’s than before, except ours openly hates the United States, while yours tries (poorly) to hide it.

Hell, even most Canadian “conservatives” are really only low-tax lefties who believe in “diversity” and gay “marriage.” But they hate political correctness, admire America, and love the armed forces, so our liberals call them names. Even “right-wing” students dream about getting a government or Conservative Party job-for-life instead of starting their own business. (Which is weird because Canada has less red tape and lower business taxes than you do, plus a more stable economy on account of our banks not giving mortgages to welfare bums.)

However, except for not realizing that our most famous “Rush” is a rock band—any “red state” American would feel pretty comfortable (if a bit fatter) in Calgary, Saskatchewan, and northern Ontario.

My husband and I spent last Monday afternoon firing .44 Magnums at a gun range an hour outside of Toronto with a one-time New York State Communist Party member. And I am not writing this from jail.

You realize how much even Hogtown has changed when you show up at a local event starring Geert Wilders or Mark Steyn, dreading the prospect of an almost-empty house ringed with protesters, and find yourself squished into a cheering, SRO, heckler-free crowd.

A few Fridays back, I similarly braced myself and went to see politically incorrect comedian Adam Carolla (author of In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks) perform a routine that could easily get him charged under Section 13 of our “hate-speech” laws.

In fact, the place was jammed with rabid fans. As he launched into one of his trademark rants, Carolla paused and asked from the stage:

“Hang on. You guys got…MEXICANS up here, or…?”

Actually? Not a whole lot. Yet. I really wish we had a First (and Second) Amendment—not to mention just one goddamn Target—but deciding to pick our own crops worked out really well for us. So you guys can keep George Lopez. We’re good.


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