Is it possible? Is Canada hipper than the US?
July 31, 2003 7:45 PM   Subscribe

Canada: Hippie Nation?
posted by Rastafari (16 comments total)
It's about fuckin' time, eh?
posted by timeistight at 8:15 PM on July 31, 2003

While I have not been fond of Mr. Chretien's gov't., I strangely find myself applauding the actions of our Prime Minister. Decriminalizing pot, allowing same-sex marriages and vocally going against the US and their war in Iraq is a wonderful legacy to leave behind (altho that last one will probably bite us on the ass as the door closes, to mix metaphors).

Then there's NAFTA. Sonofabitch Mulroney! Why didn't he simply open up the border and invite the Americans to take what they want? Oh, that's right, he did. I can't imagine that NAFTA will be an easy thing to dismantle, nor, at this stage of the game, even necessarily desirable, despite the fact that Canada gets the short end of the stick. If Chretien wanted a legacy, he should have made NAFTA his priority. That would have placed him in the history books.

Anyway, Chretien's actions are important in that a new emphasis is placed on dignity and principle.
posted by ashbury at 8:24 PM on July 31, 2003

I liked the first half of the article better than the second. Canadians are going to relax a little, stop worrying about how each other live their lives a little, and there is real value in that. Though the Pat Buchanan comment was funny, pessimism that it will all be turned around is unfounded. Prohibitions, once stricken, seldom re-emerge with the same vehemence. Once bitten, twice shy.

Americans will talk a lot about moving up there, but it is a very hard process, intentionally so, on both sides, so that few will go through with it.
posted by kablam at 8:27 PM on July 31, 2003

Go Canada. Here's the funny part though, apart from a few newspaper types, most of Canadians don't really care what the rest of the world thinks about this. We're still deluded into believing that we're the #1 Peacekeepers and the best in hockey. 60%+ of Canadians just think the gay marriage thing is a no-brainer. That is, that it should have been done a long time ago.

But no matter what happens, we'll always be convinced that we're more polite than Americans. If you can excuse the bluntness.
posted by tiamat at 10:45 PM on July 31, 2003

You may be polite, but you never turn off your headlights.

Reform takes longer in the US due to the inherently undemocratic construction of the Constitution. Even if there is a majority against a particular issue (let's pick one out of a hat, ok, oh look slavery) a minority can block any movement on it. This causes the US to be a politically conservative (proper definition not American definition) country, even if the culture of the country is far ahead.
posted by raaka at 11:13 PM on July 31, 2003

The process of getting permanent residence in Canada really is very difficult, and I'm baffled about it. Traditionally there's been a "brain drain" from Canada to the U.S., and I don't understand why there are so many obstacles in front of the reverse brain drain. I've been working for several weeks on my application, and jumping through all kinds of hoops I never would have thought of, like notarized employment contracts for every employer for the last ten years (in addition to very detailed letters of reference concerning my technical skills), and proof of competence in English (!!!) and French. I'm frankly very surprised that Canada would be so reluctant to accept residence applications from applicants with technical/engineering backgrounds, considering the number of skilled workers they continue to lose to the U.S. every year. Like many Americans (at least from the North :)), I think the Canadian government more closely represents my views on a just society than my own government (at least in the last few years). That's why I'm so bemused by the apparent reluctance of the Canadian government to accept me and others like me without the most stringent assurances that I will contribute to an American-style capitalist economy if I relocate (even though, as a programmer, I'm sure I will). Luckily my background is more technical than creative, but I still question the practices of a theoretically more liberal society in accepting only the most capitally useful immigrants. It makes me wonder whether, even if the people of Canada are perhaps more open minded than Americans, the government, in spite of lip service towards Canadian independence and multilateralism, is really any different in principle from the government that currently controls my country.
posted by bigschmoove at 11:40 PM on July 31, 2003

not turning off your headlights during the day makes sense: it's not to improve your own ability to see, it's to improve your ability to be seen. admittedly, it makes a bigger difference when it happens to be raining all the time.
posted by juv3nal at 12:42 AM on August 1, 2003

You may be polite, but you never turn off your headlights.

I believe that it may actually be the law in British Columbia, if not elsewhere in Canada, that one drive with headlights on while on the highway, day or night.

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:07 AM on August 1, 2003

This article probably is correct about Chretien's motives - but I don't care too much about his motivations as long as he does the right things.

What I really dread is Paul Martin becoming the next Mulroney.
posted by orange swan at 6:07 AM on August 1, 2003

Hear hear, orange swan! Martin is a shifty, ambiguous, big-business-ass-kissing swine. I don't trust him any more than I can go a day without seeing the Globe/Post affirm that he'll be our next PM. (Also: note that he's a

Bigschmoove - that really sucks. Though the brain drain isn't nearly the crisis that some politicians describe it as, eager, educated new citizens shouldn't be people that we turn away. Some of the fears come from the NAFTA-exacerbated concern that Americans are taking advantage of our resources, "stealing" out jobs. Mostly, though, it probably has to do with asinine red tape.

Still, you should stick with it. Canada is a wonderful place to live - diverse, beautiful, culturally vibrant, socially progressive. Our economy may be smaller, but it is doing better than that of our Southern neighbours, and isn't really showing signs of significant sputtering. Among the many, many Americans I met when they came up here for cheap (quality) university education, a great number decided to try and stay. Also: we have better beer.
posted by Marquis at 6:44 AM on August 1, 2003

You may be polite, but you never turn off your headlights.

I believe that it may actually be the law in British Columbia, if not elsewhere in Canada, that one drive with headlights on while on the highway, day or night.

Every new car sold in Canada since 90 (91?) has to be equiped with daytime running lights.

posted by mzanatta at 8:31 AM on August 1, 2003

As someone who lives outside of Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto, and therefore is not one of the elect, most of Canada is like living in a North Dakota where you can smoke pot instead of owning a gun. For all that people talk about this "diverse... socially progressive" Canada, rural Canada is basically ignored by the government except when they shove fistfuls of farm subsidies at them to buy votes, hospitals suck, there's one newspaper worth reading, my boss gets called "Paki" or "Apu" to his face by half his customers, and democracy is at best a formality, if not an outright joke. Oh, and you can't get a job here because you don't have "Canadian experience", sorry. But don't worry, there's a Tim Horton's on every block!
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:42 AM on August 1, 2003

"Tim Horton's on every block!"
Not so much in vancouver.

On my visits to Toronto, thats one thing I noticed, Toronto has alot of tim horton's and alot of hotdog vendors on the street.
And tons of people eat at both.
posted by Iax at 9:54 PM on August 1, 2003

Pseudoephedrine: where exactly are you talking about? Not all of Canada outside of the three biggest cities is rural, nor is it necessarily bigoted. I grew up in Kingston, where your bio says you apparently live, and I have no idea where this experience of yours is coming from. I have brown skin and an Indian name, but I was called "paki" all of twice -- in seventeen years. Kingston has a Japanese bubble tea lounge, at least three Cambodian restaurants, and for many years had a Caribbean grocery store. Not as diverse as Toronto, but what is? As for socially progressive, it did elect a socialist to provincial parliament in 1990.

Besides, Tim Horton's rules.
posted by ramakrishna at 11:11 PM on August 2, 2003

Kingston's had a huge surge in racism the past year or two, if you've been following the news. It's gotten so bad that the cops had to hold a townhall meeting a month or so ago to respond to accusations of racial profiling, let alone to account for what's going on in the streets these days (as an off-the-cuff example, two black guys walked into the Pizza-Pizza on Division and Princess and got called "niggers" by some asshole, who they then proceeded to get into a fight with). That's just the overtly criminal stuff, of course. As a white guy working for a Pakistani family at a convenience store, I get tons of customers coming and saying stuff like "Shit, is this place still Paki-run?" and "Watch out those money-grubbing Pakis don't rip you off, eh?" And iron crosses with skulls on them are all the rage these days in fashion. Four Cambodian restaurants (Cambodian Village on King is the best of the lot, by the way) and an Oriental grocery store do not make us "multicultural".

And don't even get me started on how broken pogey is in Kingston. You can tell when the welfare inspectors are coming around because we get a flood of half-hearted resumes from the same twenty people we rejected last time who need some sort of evidence that they've been "job-hunting". I'm acquaintances with most of the homeless and disabled folks in the downtown area, it tends to be that most of the ones that shouldn't be working do, and most of the ones that should, don't. Weston Bakeries staffs cooking crews with guys so retarded they can't pick the snot out of their nose, while one of our customers gets a thousand a month from Worker's Comp because he "hurt his legs working" - as a taxi dispatcher.

And, to generalise this beyond Kingston, when I go out east to visit the rest of the clan in the Maritimes, the situation is exactly the same. Pogey fraud, rampant racism, and economic depression.

Sure, like I said, Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto are wonderful places, full of many people of diverse ethnicities getting along, relatively well-functioning social services, an economy that's doing pretty well despite SARS etc. and lots of cultural activities. The Rest of Canada is not like that.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 6:49 AM on August 3, 2003

Well, there's something about the grass being greener on the other side, I guess. (I actually hated Kingston when I lived there -- though it wasn't anything to do with racism, just smallness, dullness and homogeneity -- but have been finding it more diverse, pleasant and interesting every time I return.) I would hardly say social services function well in Toronto, where the doctors are so in demand that they can regularly charge you with user fees that they pretend aren't user fees. I lived there for a few months in 2001, and found it wasn't nearly as wonderful as I had always thought it was from a distance -- the air is filthy, and if people aren't racist it only means that they're as rude, pushy and obnoxious to nonwhites as they are to whites.

And yet, living in the US as I do now, I'd jump at the chance to move back there or anywhere in Canada. (I'm getting a doctorate in the humanities, so choosing where to live is not really an option unless I switch career paths entirely.) Canada has always been home, but the events chronicled in Klein's article have made me far more proud to call it home, and far more eager to return. Supposedly the place I live now is the US's great outpost of liberalism and tolerance, but in September 2001 a guy got beaten up here for having the skin colour that I do, and a taxi driver refused to pick me up for the same reason. I've never had that happen to me in Canada, urban or rural, and I doubt that it will in the future.
posted by ramakrishna at 7:56 PM on August 3, 2003

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