Due to their online moderation work for a Canadian news website, Bruce and Mary have gained some insight into Canadian culture and the Canadian psyche. And they are embarrassed to realize that prior to this job they knew so little about Canadians despite the fact that they know so much about us. Bruce thought he would do a small service and share what he has gleaned in his short time working this Canadian site.
Martinique Beach near Halifax, Nova Scotia
Quickly, who is the PM (prime minister) of Canada? What is the capital of Canada? How many Provinces and territories constitute Canada? Please keep in mind that Canada is our next door neighbor, shares our language (except for Quebec), is our largest trading partner and has gone to war with us. No te preocupes, don’t worry, Mary and I could not answer these questions, either, prior to our moderation jobs. Any how, the answers are: Steven Harper (a Conservative, who is hated on the order of George W. Bush and is closely associated with him), Ottawa, 10 and 3.
Canada has a population of 33 million, or as many commenters like to point out, about the same population as California. Speaking of CA, the province of British Columbia is the CA of Canada. In fact if a commenter wants to make fun of another’s post he’ll make some comment like that poster “must have been smoking some BC bud”. Speaking of which, judging by the posts, Canada cannot be too far away from decriminalization or even legalization and Health Canada already allows medicinal use. In 2004, 4.5 million Canadians, about 18% of those over age 15, admitted to smoking pot.
Alberta is the Texas of Canada and also the home to the oil sands which is why Canada is the number one supplier of oil to the good old US of A. Other provinces refer to Albertans as red-necked cowboys and judging by some of their policies (parents can now opt their kids out of science classes when evolution is discussed) the characterization seems deserved. Now Alberta’s cowboy rep may not surprise a lot of you because even I had heard of the annual Calgary Stampede, reputedly the largest and best rodeo in the world.
Saskatchewan is mostly known for being an empty land of never ending plains.
WPG or Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba and situated close to MN’s border, is known to Minnesotans as a safe haven for 18-21 year old drinkers (right Joey?) but what we didn’t know is that this city is becoming increasingly violent and when a murder happens on the north side a typical comment is, “just another day in the north end.” But in its defense WPG has a rich and storied past which is blended into the present in iconic film producer Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg, a must see film for anyone curious about St. Paul’s sister city to the north.
Winnipeg has a significant Aboriginal population. Aboriginal? What Australian connection does Canada have (?), was the exact same question in my mind when I first heard the term. We Americans generally call native people, American Indians. In Canada they are most commonly referred to as Aboriginals or First Nation people. Compared to their US counterparts, Aboriginals have a much higher profile in Canada because Canada, evidently, actually honors the treaties they signed in the 1870s and annual payments for leases of land total in the hundreds of millions. There are many First Nations casinos in Canada as in the States and a common fallacy is that Aboriginals do not pay taxes. If they reside off reservation, they do. Just as in the States, Aboriginals have difficulties with alcohol and have a disproportionately high percentage of their population at poverty level and involved in crime. When we moderate FN, First Nation stories we have to always be on the alert for Aboriginal hate speech.
TO, Toronto, Ontario is Canada’s largest city, with a population of 2.5 million in the city proper, and 5.5 million in the GTA, Greater Toronto Area. Toronto is castigated by other Canadians as really being an American city and a NYC wannabe. Toronto is home to hundreds of thousand of immigrants with a Tamil population, alone, of over 250,000. That’s why we know all about the Sri Lankan 26 year long civil war which ended this past summer after the Sinhalese dominated government finally wiped out the Tamil Tigers, a terrorist group. The Tamil population of Toronto practically shut down the city for a week with organized protests.
Quebec has as its official language, French, and to apply for any government job, an applicant must be fluent in that language. The separtist movement is still part of the platform of the Bloc Quebecois Parti but on the back burner for now. The FLQ, Front de Liberation du Quebec, a terrorist organization was responsible for the October Crisis of 1970 and before all was said and done, the FLQ had bombed everything from mail boxes to Gill University, assassinated Pierre LaPorte, Quebec Minister of Labour, and Canadian troops had poured into Quebec City arresting everyone in sight. Pierre Trudeau was PM at the time and probably the only reason we Americans know his name is because of his wife Maggie’s scantily clad appearance at Studio 54. Well anyhow Quebec is still part of Canada but came dangerously close to seceding in 1995 when 49.4% voted to leave the Union.
The people of the Maritimes, New Brunswick, PEI (Prince Edward Isle), and Nova Scotia are known to be a quirky and strange lot, with a heavy French influence, particularly in NB where there is a sizable Acadian population. The Maritimes are dominated by commercial fishing issues.
The newest province to join the union is NL, Newfoundland and Labrador. NLers are regarded as hicks and if you want to start a fight, refer to a Newfoundlander as a “Newfie”.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Canadians love to rip each others provinces and cities.
Canada’s government is a “Constitutional Monarchy”. The Sovereign and Head of State is Queen Elizabeth who is represented by the Governor General, currently Michaëlle Jean, a refugee from Haiti. As in the UK, the queen virtually never exercises these duties and the de facto head of state is the PM, currently the aforementioned Stephen Harper of the Conservative (they’re still commonly called Torries) Party. The other dominant party is the Liberal Party with the lesser parties being the NDP (New Democratic Party, the Cons like to call these guys socialists or communists depending on the mood they’re in, and they call the leader, Jack Layton, “Taliban Jack”), the Green Party, and the Bloc Quebecois Parti.
Currently Stephen Harper has a minority government having garnered fewer than 154 MPs, Members of Parliament, in the last election. The leader of the Liberals is Michael Ignatieff. “Iggy” is widely criticized for his Harvard education and for being more American than Canadian. Despite Harper’s unpopularity the Liberals have made no ground because, at least in my mind, Iggy is an idiot. His every move has such obvious political motivations that even many members of his own party have abandoned him.
In a Parliamentary democracy, a vote of no confidence can, at any given time, remove a government and force an election. Because of this simple fact, politics are on virtually every Canadian’s mind every day. Canadians are not only passionate about Canadian politics but they know more about our politics than most Americans. The CBC story about that idiot Joe Wilson shouting “Liar!” during Obama’s Health Care address, generated more than 1000 user comments. Currently the divide between the Cons and Libs is a mirror of the Repub/Dem dysfunction.
Canadians are much more social in their thinking then Americans as demonstrated by their universal health care system, which they will admit has problems but none the less, works just fine, thank you. They think we are absolute morons for being held hostage by our private system.
Canada has a very liberal immigration system that, because of historic worker shortages, encourages immigration. With large enclaves of Asians, Muslims, Tamils, etc. springing up in every major city, “multi-culturalism” is a huge buzzword. “Canadian of Convenience” is a popular phrase for any immigrant who benefits from Canadian infrastructure but does not make any effort to learn English or adopt Canadian culture. And there are a lot of them. Many posters express fear about the exploding Muslim immigrant population and references are commonly made to France’s Muslim immigrant problems.
Canada’s justice system is perceived as a joke by many, even liberal posters. Recently the ringleader of the “Toronto 17” was sentenced. He was convicted of a terrorist plot to blow up several buildings. With the “two for one” law he only has to serve another two years, in addition to the time held in custody, for his crime. The two for one law stipulates that every day incarcerated prior to conviction counts as two days of the eventual sentence. Strange, eh? Many Canadians, although mostly of conservative bend, long for Texas’ capital punishment.
Anyhow, in wrapping up this post, which as usual got a little windy, it is my opinion and I know one shouldn’t speak in stereotypes, but I will anyhow, that Canadians are a generous, loyal people with a strong sense of national pride who love to drink beer and party (even though beer costs about $38/case) and they have a great sense of humor and produce a disproportionate number of entertainers. Did you know William Shatner is Canadian? I could go on and on in that area. But for now I will say that our favorite comedy series at this time is the Trailer Park Boys. If you can handle more F-bombs per minute than the Big Lebowski, then hang on as Julian, Ricky, and Bubbles find a way, with their hair-brained adventures, to land in jail at the end of every season. We just downloaded their new movie, Countdown to Liquor Day and can’t wait to watch it. But actually the most amazing thing about Canadians is that, for the most part, they love their American cousins even though they know that we are barely conscious of them.
Thanks for visiting gentle reader. Bruce would love to hear from you on how you did on the test at the start of this post. And to his Canadian friends he says please point out his errors as he is a rather lazy fellow when it comes to research. Hasta Luego!