Our latest column from William Thomas
The recent US election serves to underscore both the obvious and the distinct differences in our two countries. For instance, US election campaigns can go on for years while Canadians take just three months to listen to our candidates’ policies, do some serious soul searching as to which one is best suited for the job and then vote for the one we dislike the least.
Witnessing the Republican and Democratic camps go at each other in the US was like watching two WWF wrestlers break chairs over each others’ heads. Here Liberals and Conservatives are much more civil because we have a referee called the NDP which keeps both sides from spitting on each other.
Anticipating a change in federal government, Canadians stock up on toilet paper and alcohol. At the thought of the Democrats winning the White House, Americans bought more guns.
The November 3rd federal contest was the nastiest election in the history of the United States, much of it due to deep-seated racism, disbelief in facts and science and a litany of loony conspiracy theories. The most bitter election in Canadian history occurred in 1917 and it was fought over the military service obligation known as ‘conscription’. We like to keep things simple.
Screaming, drum beating and waving flags, Americans treat their elections like the Super Bowl. For Canadians, an election is a solemn event, like going to the dentist… dreaded but still necessary.
After this past American election had been decided, half of the US electorate believed that they got ripped off. After a Canadian election has been settled, we look at the government we have created and most of us feel we’ve been ripped off.
American candidates kept national health care low key because it was too contentious an issue. When anybody starts to mess with our universal healthcare system, Canadians threaten to put them in the hospital.
Whereas Americans distrust their government and look upon it as a necessary evil, Canadians generally consider government as a good thing and tend not to shoot their leaders.
Americans believe our two countries are pretty much the same while Canadians believe that if our border with the United States never opened again, it might not be such a bad idea.
So far Canada has not voted a deranged psychopath to power but somehow Maxime Bernier managed to get his name on a national leadership ballot.
So far Canada has not elected a Prime Minister who told almost three thousand lies in one four-year term but remember, back in the 1980s and 1990s Brian Mulroney was unable to tweet.
Likewise, Canada has never been confronted by a ‘stable genius’ but Justin Trudeau as Aladdin in blackface threw a lot of Liberals for a loop.
Canadians are obsessed with Americans and in particular whether they like us or not. Americans would adore Canadians if they thought about us at all.
Americans identify more with their state governments than the federal system controlled in Washington. Canadians relate more to a common, coast-to-coast governance except in the two provinces which have their own distinct languages — Quebec and Newfoundland.
Canadians brag about how cold it is while Americans complain about the cold… coming down from Canada.
Canadians honour their flag, the bright red maple leaf billowing from the sea to shining sea while Americans love their flag so much, they plant a sea of them on their front lawns.
Canadians travel the world with curiosity and backpacks boasting the red maple leaf, while Americans visit foreign land with suspicion and wearing camouflage in order to invade them.
America’s Star-Spangled Banner highlights “rocket’s red glare; the bombs bursting in air” while Canada’s most treasured anthem involves the words “We The North” and a photo of Kyle Lowry hugging the NBA Championship Trophy. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)
It used to be that talking politics in America could get a Canadian visitor shot. Lately here in Canada, if we were not talking American politics, we’d have nothing to say at all.
While Americans are fiercely proud of their Wild West roots, the word ‘Canada’ comes from an Iroquoian word for ‘village’. They championed John Wayne; we stole Jane Jacobs away from them.
Americans love the violence of football, the field strewn with injured bodies. Canadians prefer delicate, no contact hockey… as played by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Sometimes we can see the same thing but look at it very differently. For instance, while Canadians awarded media mogul, Conrad Black The Order of Canada, Americans presented him with the title of Federal Bureau of Prison’s #18330-424.
Americans love their grits and Canadians crave poutine. No blood drawn there, we both have an appetite for disgusting food.
Perhaps the difference between them and us was best described in an anecdote offered up by Dave Broadfoot, a founding father of Canadian humour.
A Canadian and an American are driving side-by-side down the road when the Canadian accidentally cuts the American off, forcing him up and over the curb. When they meet at the next stoplight, the American rolls down his window and yells: “You asshole!”
Same scenario, two guys driving along when the American suddenly cuts the Canadian driver off, sending him up and over the curb. When they meet at the next light the Canadian rolls down the window and yells: “What are you, an asshole?”
You see the point is, we always give Americans the benefit of the doubt.
Any of the ten books written by William Thomas are available at www.williamthomas.ca