Thursday, August 27, 2009

Canadians; polite or fearful?

"Americans yell at each other in full confidence that their country is the finest place on Earth and that it will always endure. Canadians keep their voices down for fear an honest argument would wreck the country."
Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson

When I read this article, my first instinct was to be defensive. Canadians were a more "civilized. and "polite". society. We don't carry guns to town hall meetings, we don't assassinate our leaders (apart form that unfortunate incident in 1868 (see Thomas D'Arcy McGee).

However given the many pragmatic and vision-less governments that we have suffered through in the last two decades, I have come to long for a vision of my country that no longer is palatable for our politicians to espouse; a strong, centralist Canada.

As for his take on Americans; I agree. They hate each other, but like a good old Italian family, don't let anyone dare to attack any one of them or else they'll be all over you. There's a reason why The Soprano's was such a huge success.

Are Canadians always walking on eggs, afraid to break this very tenuous confederation of regions? Are Americans bulls in a china shop, oblivious to the damage they are causing, only intent on getting to where they're going?

Canadians keep their voices down for fear an honest argument would wreck the country...Canadians seek to avoid big political fights. Americans revel in them.
Because we started out as a union of English and French – two cultures that had been at war for centuries – Canada never congealed as a nation.

There are advantages to this. We may be the most tolerant place on Earth precisely because we have no strong sense of who we are. Nonetheless, we are left with a residual fear of Canada's fragility.

The sanctity of individual liberty is why American society is so dysfunctional and so robust. Canadians believe we are a free people, and we are. But at a certain level, we defer; Americans don't.

Put it this way: How confident are you that, 100 years from now, the United States will still be here? How confident are you that Canada will still be here?

Well, Mr. Ibittson, I am confident that Canada will be here in 100 years (assuming the planet will be). If not, it wouldn't be because we failed to find a way to accommodate our differences. It is more likely that our destruction would be the unfortunate result of being in the crossfire of warring elephants and donkeys.

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