12.16.2004

provincial talk

I'm intrigued by these perceived differences in the provinces. (Read the comments.) Also in these US/Canadian correlations. Any thoughts?

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a resident of Red Canada (or actually Blue Canada since we depict the Conservatives as blue on our electoral maps), I can say with some authority that political differences in this country are exaggerated by the mostly Toronto-based national media. Most of my fellow Albertans are no more comfortable with the social conservative agenda of the Republicans than our liberal eastern counterparts. As conservatives, we support fiscal responsibility and a well-funded military. However, many of us are not especially bothered by gay marriage or decriminalized marijuana. Sure, our elected officials may oppose such measures, but remember, they are the official opposition, it is their job to oppose the government (and boy, does this government need opposition).

-RobfromAlberta-

Anonymous said...

Well, I think I mentioned that even though Albertans are called "rednecks" in Canada, they'd fall pretty much into the middle in the U.S.

And a lot of it does have to do with inter-region rivallry more than politics. Here's what we think of each other:

British Columbia: Drug haven. All Canadian crime shows use Vancouver as the locale.
Alberta: Rednecks
Saskatchewan: People in the west call Saskatchewan "the gap" between Alberta and Manitoba
Manitoba: Cold winters and mosquitos.
Ontario: Smug, arrogant, elitist.
(Toronto): Extremely smug, arrogant and elitist
Quebec: Smug, arrogant, *French* elitists who hate english people.
New Brunswick/Nova Scotia: Welfare bum fishermen
PEI: Primitive land of Ann of Green Gables
Nefoundland: Full of dumb people who talk funny.
The North: ? People live up there?

Anonymous said...

And of course, Ottawa, where I live now, is reviled across the country about as much as Toronto.

Anonymous said...

I'd have to disagree with that last comment. The federal government is in Ottawa and most Canadians despise the government (it's our national pastime), but the city of Ottawa is viewed more with pity than revulsion. Toronto, however, is despised on so many levels (it's the other natioanl pastime, at least for people outside TO), it would take far too long to catalogue them all.

Anonymous said...

You can't forget about the weather, all Canadians complain about that!

Now, for the flip side, here's the positive views of the same places:

British Columbia: Warm weather, beautiful cities
Alberta: Dynamic cities (Calgary has the most corporate headquarters next to Toronto), no sales tax, and of course the world-famous Calgary Stampede (and pancake breakfast).

Saskatchewan: Wide open skies (kind of have to see it to understand), friendly people.

Manitoba: Big lakes, and the 'Peg (Winnipeg)

Ontario: Large, diverse cities, and Niagra Falls. Despite the fact Canadians all hate Toronto, we're all fascinated by it too. (Just like New York).

Quebec: Incredible food, European atmosphere. Quebec city in particular is famous for its Euro style walled old city sitting on top of a cliff.

Maritimes: Laid back, friendly atmosphere. PEI is famous for its scenery and incredible beaches (with the warmest water north of Virginia too)

Newfoundland: Much like the maritimes, but "the Rock" has spectacular cliff-lined fiords and "screech" (a kind of strong drink.)

L-girl said...

WOW! Thanks for this, I love it!

I really like hearing about these stereotypes and Canadians trashing Canadians. All we ever see is how nice you guys are. It's good to see a little sneering, too. I'll feel more at home.

Many people have told me that Toronto is the NYC of Canada. Several Canadians have said derisively, Why move to Toronto - you might as well stay in the US? I actually thought that was kinda cool.

I'm very psyched to travel in Canada. Travel is my favorite thing in the world, and I really believe in exploring one's environs - city, state/province and country. I want to go all the places mentioned here. I'm especially interested in the Maritimes and BC. We've been to Montreal and Quebec (love it) and hope to see more of it.

Note to Immigration: I'll be very good for the Canadian economy.

Anonymous said...

Of course we sneer and make comments about each other.

But I think the big difference between us and Americans is that we don't think we're perfect. We complain about Canada as much, if not more, than we complain about the States.

I've been giving some thought to "anti-americanism", and I wonder if there is such a thing in Canada. Our "anti-americanism" basically boils down to us feeling superior to the States despite our flaws. It's not the same as "burn American infidels" anti-americanism from the middle-east, yet apparently it's as big a crime. Yet Americans are allowed to (and apparently should) feel superior without anyone calling them "anti-whatever". It's as though God gave Americans a monopoly on calling themselves "the best nation on earth", and anyone who doesn't agree is anti-American.

Anonymous said...

There is certainly a strong streak of anti-Americanism in Canada (more precisely, in Eastern Canada) and it often takes on a very shrill, self-righteous tone. We Canadians have this stereotype of being polite, tolerant people and for the most part, it's accurate, except when it comes to our southern neighbours. As a people, I consider this our least endearing quality.

-RobfromAlberta-

L-girl said...

"Yet Americans are allowed to (and apparently should) feel superior without anyone calling them "anti-whatever". It's as though God gave Americans a monopoly on calling themselves "the best nation on earth", and anyone who doesn't agree is anti-American."

Please know that for many of us, this is the worst part of being American. We abhor this attitude and are extremely embarrassed by it.

We do what we can to dispel the stereotype wherever we go - but those that are the stereotype are so much louder than us!

Anonymous said...

Rob: I agree its not endearing, and we should be nicer.

But my point was for the Americans that complain about our anti-Americanism, it's a one way street. The same ones who complain about (eastern) canadian anti-americanism are the same people who've been calling us stuff like "Soviet Canukistan" for years. It's frustrating that we are expected to give these americans respect and yet it seems like they won't return the favour.

When Bush came to Ottawa, he had a whole list of things he wanted us to do (missle defence, immigration, etc) but he wouldn't commit to things on our end (like reopening the border to Alberta beef).

Essentially, we Eastern Canadians are feeling bitter that it seems like a one way relationship. We do get access to the biggest market in the world, but then so do the Japaneese and they at least get some recognition for their efforts. This doesn't really excuse our lack of manners, but it is the reason behind it.

--Kyle

Anonymous said...

There is a certain truth to the adage "familiarity breeds contempt". The large majority of countries in the world engage in the sames sorts of activities that we condemn the US for. The Chinese have killed thousands of Tibetans, the Russians have slaughtered Afghans, Chechens, Ukrainians and Poles, the French brutalized the Algerians and their nuclear tests in the south Pacific displaced many indigenous peoples and our own treatment of the First Nations has been far from stellar. I just think we ought to examine the behaviour of others before always taking up the fight with the Americans. Given the relative imbalance of power, the fact that we are still a sovereign nation speaks volumes about the inherent goodness of Americans.

As for trade issues, the beef ban and the softwood lumber tariffs hurt western Canada far more than eastern Canada, yet we are able to remain friendly with our American neighbours.

Sorry if this thread has gone a little off the tracks, but it is instructive with regard to one of the important sources of rancor between eastern and western Canada.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, forgot my handle. That last one was mine.

-RobfromAlberta-

L-girl said...

"Given the relative imbalance of power, the fact that we are still a sovereign nation speaks volumes about the inherent goodness of Americans."

Are you saying that because the US hasn't invaded and colonized Canada, we see the goodness of the US? Or am I reading this all wrong?

I believe in the inherent decentness of most people - that is, individual people, each on her/his own. But America the nation does not have inherent goodness. It has a lot of nice words - liberty, freedom, democracy - that are empty of all meaning. The history of the US is not one of goodness, except where its people have dragged it kicking and screaming towards actual democracy.

This doesn't let China, the USSR or any other oppressor off the hook! But please don't soft sell the US. There's enough of that charade all over the mainstream without bringing it here.

Anonymous said...

Final comment:

Americans have been up to now by far the most beneficial superpower in history. Things like Abu Gharib pale in comparison to horrors that the British Empire or the Soviets or various other powers have done.

And there's a certain truth that geography divides us more than nationality. The people aren't very different between Ontario and New York or BC and Washington state, but both an Ontarian and a New Yorker seem to have more in common with each other than say someone from Alabama.

Despite all our ranting, we certainly could have worse neighbors. I'm taking a vaction in Boston in February, and it's very easy for me to do even with the tighter security that came after 9/11. Things like that couldn't happen in many places in the world.

But things seem to be changing. We in eastern canada didn't have the same attitude towards the U.S. 10 years ago. I mean there's always been little spats back and forth across the border, but it isn't like it is today.

Half of America though seems to share our misgivings, otherwise there wouldn't be blogs such as this.

I suppose another factor for why Western and Eastern Canada differ on our views of our neighbors is because of what we see right across the border. An Albertan will go across the border and see friendly, quiet Montana. An Ontarian will go across the border and see dying, rundown industrial cities like Detroit and Buffalo.

--Kyle

--Kyle

Anonymous said...

You are reading it right. Whether we like it or not, all superpowers in history have been very difficult to live with. Canada shares a continent with a nation so much greater in economic and military might that our very existence is nothing short of a miracle and something of which we as Canadians can be very proud. Having said that, we should not deceive ourselves, if the US was as aggressive as some of its detractors claim, we would not have lasted as long as we have. There is something unique and different about the American Empire that sets it apart from the Roman, British or Soviet Empires, some sort of restraint those other empires did not possess. When it comes to having giant neighbours, we could do far worse.

Of course, I do not wish to absolve the US of the blame for the mistakes it has made. The war in Iraq, for example, is clearly a mistake, a war of choice based on faulty intelligence, but I think we need to maintain a more balanced perspective on things. We should hold the US to higher standards than we do Iran or China, but we shouldn't set the bar so high that no nation on earth could ever hope to reach it.

L-girl said...

"There is something unique and different about the American Empire that sets it apart from the Roman, British or Soviet Empires, some sort of restraint those other empires did not possess."

It sounds like you should read up on your US history.

Ask the Filipinos, Cubans, Mexicans, Panamanians, Dominicans, Salvadoreans, Puerto Ricans, Vietnamese, Koreans and Iraqis (and others) what they think of the United States's restraint. While you're at it, ask the Chippewas, Sioux, Lakotas, and what's left of the few hundred other native nations. I'm sure they'll be happy to tell you about the US's restraint.

Whatever you do, please stop defending the US here.

L-girl said...

"Despite all our ranting, we certainly could have worse neighbors. I'm taking a vaction in Boston in February, and it's very easy for me to do even with the tighter security that came after 9/11. Things like that couldn't happen in many places in the world."

I assume you are white? And your last name is not Arabic or East Asian sounding?

Moving across the US border is a nightmare for people who are brown-skinned and have foreign-sounding names, no matter what their nationality. Americans of Arab descent have been driven from their homes, imprisoned, tortured, denied access to counsel, etc., without even being charged with a crime.

I understand that the US appears to be a mostly benign phenomenon. But the more you know, the less it will seem that way. If only Abu Ghraib was an exception.

Moral relativism has no place when it comes to human rights. Yes, the USSR was horrific. But for the people seemingly permanently imprisoned in Guantanamo, that hardly matters. And this from the country claiming to be a beacon of democracy and freedom.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I won't make any more effort to defend the US, but I will say this. Before you assume Canada is any better, you might want to read some of our history. The Huron and the Beothuks would have some stories to tell you, unfortunately they're extinct.

-RobfromAlberta-

L-girl said...

I realize Canadian history is full of conquest and destruction, too. Since there were people there before the French and British arrived, it has to be!

However, Canada soon became beacon to runaway slaves. (Did Canada ever have slavery? I'm not sure about that.) And in the modern era, the two nation's histories simply do not compare.

As I say very early on in this blog, when was the last time Canada invaded another country for no reason - or, more accurately, to control its resources?

L-girl said...

My recent comment appeared twice and I deleted one. I haven't censored anyone. Yet. :)

Anonymous said...

Canada did not have slavery in the same way as the US, we did not have plantations. Slavery was legal in the British Empire until 1833, however, so many wealthy British subjects in the colonies did own slaves before that time, mostly as servants in their households. Also, many wealthy British colonials owned sugar plantations in the West Indies so Canada had some connection to that. The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 ended all slavery in the British Empire.

-RobfromAlberta-

redsock said...

One difference I can see:

Americians (actual people) have contributed many great things to the entire world -- baseball, jazz, electricity, etc. -- but America (the nation (or its government)), err, not so much.

As Laura says, the US (or parts thereof) has had to be forced to adopt many of the things we now take for granted -- child labor laws and allowing women and blacks to vote, for example. (Actually that whole voting thing still has some kinks that need working out ...)

I'm not sure you can become a powerful nation like the US (or even Canada, to a lesser extent, of course) without running roughshod over the rights of a shitload of people. It sort of goes with the territory. Pun intended.

L-girl said...

Thanks for that info. I plan on studying the history of my adopted country. I love history and I really look forward to learning about Canada.

I also appreciate the goodwill you show towards Americans and America. I find it astonishing, but really very nice.

L-girl said...

Oops, my thank you was for RobfromAlberta.

I agree with Redsock, but then, I generally do.

redsock said...

I really wish you could edit spelling mistakes in posted posts. Sigh ...

A question: Does anyone know of a book about Canada that is similar to Howard Zinn's "People's History of the United States"? ... That is something I'd like to read, if it exists.

Anonymous said...

I think the point is that although most Canadian's really don't agree with a lot of US policies, we don't generally hate American's or the US in general. We really just hate your gov't and what it is doing... much like yourself!

Anonymous said...

That last one was me btw...

Anyway in regards to history books, I haven't read that much on the subject outside of the standard school readers... I have read: "A Short History of Canada" by Desmond Morton, It was well written and not too dry. They are constantly updateing it as time progresses... I believe it is available on B&N or Indigo. Another one to check (I haven't read it but I intend too) is "A brief History of Canada" by Roger E. Riendeau.

Peter

Anonymous said...

Redsock, it's funny you should mention some examples of great American inventions. One of the other annoying habits of Canadians is cataloguing to Americans all the things that were invented by Canadians. In that spirit, I will start (trust me, once you live in Canada for awhile, you will get your fill): insulin, snowmobiles, zippers, hockey (of course), American football (derived from Canadian football, sort of...long story), basketball (yup, Naismith was a Canuck), fish sticks (we're especially proud of that one), electron microscope, IMAX movie system, Macintosh apple (not the computer, the fruit), Standard Time and Trivial Pursuit.

Anonymous said...

I keep forgetting to sign my verbal diarrhea. That list of mindless gibberish was mine.

-RobfromAlberta-

Anonymous said...

More that everything you could ever want to know about Canadian History ....
http://www.civilization.ca/orch/www04b_e.html

L-girl said...

Rob (and Kyle, Peter, et al): if you register with blogger, you get a name/handle, and you don't have to remember (or forget) to sign your posts. It's free, and you don't have to start a blog.

Rob: I have noticed that about the laundry list of Canadian contributions to the world. Canadians also seem to catalogue their countrymen who are well known in the US: Joni Mitchell (my idol, I must list her first), Peter Jennings, Alex Trebec, Neil Young, Mike Myers, of course the incomparable Margaret Atwood. Etc. etc. etc.

Thanks for the history tips, too, you guys.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Well, I signed up. Actually, I think I will start my own blog over the christmas holidays.

L-girl: You wanted thoughts, and you certainly got some! Anyway, a clarification. My statement about "most beneficial superpower" wasn't about morals. It was more of a historical comment. The U.S. has generated far more economic and technological benefits for outsiders then most other title holders of "great power". And in the same historical context, Rob's "miracle that Canada has survived" is correct. Previous super powers always have absorbed their neighbors.

Whether the U.S. is morally superior is a far different (and more subjective) matter.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

And yes, as a white male I do have little trouble crossing the border.

As for my middle-eastern friends, the say they've always been treated like suspected terrorists when travelling, it's just more so now.

L-girl said...

Ta-da, Kyle registers! :) Yes, comments in droves. Tons of visitors and page loads for the last few days, too.

Yes, I see what you mean re US's beneficial contributions to the world. That is definitely true. I misinterpreted your comment. As you will have noticed, I am prickly about pro-American sentiments.

That's also very interesting about superpowers "absorbing" their neighbors, but the US not doing that to its neighbor to the north. I wonder what the historical dynamics of that are.

Obviously the US expanded west as far as possible. To the south, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada and parts of Colorado were all Mexico once. The US did try to claim Canadian territory a few times. (48-40 or fight!)

I don't know enough history to understand why Canada and the US ultimately settled on the current borders. Somehow I doubt it has anything to do with the American govt's beneficence.

Anonymous said...

The current border was established largely as a result of the War of 1812. That was the last serious effort by the US to annex the territory now known as Canada. It was quite a heroic effort on the part of the British colonists, a small force of British regulars and their Indian allies (the contribution of the Indians has been sadly overlooked until recently). You could say this war was Canada's "War of Independence".

Regarding the list of Canadian developments, I must amend one thing. Canada did not invent the electron microscope (teach me to fact check). It was invented by Germans, but the first one in North America was built in Canada.

-RobfromAlberta-

L-girl said...

Thanks Rob. I thought it was 1812, but didn't want to guess. I'm pleased to know my grasp of history is a bit firmer than I thought.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Can I make a shameless plug for my new blog
http://progressivelibertarian.blogspot.com/ here?

Too late, already did it! :)

redsock said...

You have to buy my book before any plugging of blogs!

I would have expected Laura to have explained that earlier.