Oh Canada, eh?

Canada and the USA are very alike, yet very different. And one of the things Canada seems to struggle with, is how to define its culture, when its culture is so similar to it southern cousin…at least, this is what my Sociology prof used to tell me all the time.

In class, it was easy to define what it meant to be American (i.e. How can you spot an American a mile away?), and sometimes it wasn’t always flattering. There is a perception in the world of Americans as arrogant, ignorant about any country other than themselves, easily swayed by propaganda (i.e. the constant resistance to universal health care b/c it’s deem socialism, meanwhile, their citizens are dying for want of treatment). But they’re also fiercely patriotic, independent, the proverbial “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” (which may also explain the resistance to health-care).

Comedians, American & non-American, love to use these perceptions for comedic effect.

When the tables are turned on Canada, however, it becomes much more difficult to define what it means to be Canadian. Sure, we’ve got the stronger beer, we’re considered a polite people, and we’re liked throughout the world. But these definitions are comparisons to our Southern cousins, i.e. we have stronger beer than America, we’re considered more polite than Americans, etc.

Anyway, I was watching Corner Gas, which has got to be the epitome of Canadian humour and I realized a few things about my country and her people…

1) The head of our country, be it Paul Martin or Stephen Harper, have no problem doing cameos on television shows. Nor do they seem to mind taking part in jokes where they’re the punchline.

2) Our humour is really low-key and dry. It seems to focus on observations of humanity and life that aren’t roll in the aisles funny, but as you think about it and ponder, it becomes funnier

3) Our politician’s ads are also really low key. I saw one featuring the Ontario Premier (at least I assume it was him. See #4) talking about a vote to make companies clean up their emissions. What I found interesting is that while he took a shot at the Conservatives voting record, there was no grainy black and white image to go with his words, no voice-over with a Prophet of Doom voice.

4) We divide up according to occupation. The fisherman are all together (Maritimes), the white-collar guys (Ontario & Quebec), the farmers (Alberta & Saskatchewan), the beatniks (British Columbia) and the pioneers (NWT, Yukon and Nunavut). All of us make fun of the others, and the Maritimes gets the brunt of the joke…the real joke is that the most powerful men/women in the military all come from Newfoundland.

5) West Edmonton Mall has more submarines than our Navy (or so I’ve heard). This makes me think we’re really not particularly war-minded, but then again, we have JTF2. Here we are, with a military force every bit as fierce as Britain or USA, and we’re totally nonchalant about it.

I can think of more things, but my time’s up. I gotta get back to Autumn, now that Elf’s in bed.

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