2.06.2005

stand strong, canada - and toronto

Yesterday the Toronto Star reported that W is expected to ask Paul Martin to send troops "to help with the post-war reconstruction of Iraq" when they meet later this month. According to the Star, "highly placed sources say Canada is preparing to discuss the sensitive issue during the NATO summit" on Feb 22.

Today I read that opposition on both sides of the aisle (US expression there) is warning Martin against what would be a very unpopular decision. Conservative leader Stephen Harper is ringing the flip-flop alarm, while NDP's Jack Layton said a slightly longer version of "no way".

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Also in The Star, Trontonians wonder why the rest of Canada hates them. Toronto should borrow a page from New York's playbook. We don't wonder why Americans hate us. We know it's because they're jealous, or ignorant, or both. And we enjoy it.

But the article is instructive to me, as far as Canadian stereotypes and self-images go. Comments welcome.

11 comments:

RobfromAlberta said...

Although hatred may be a strong word, there is a fair bit of anti-TO sentiment in the rest of Canada and, yes, there is some jealousy involved. However, Torontonians bring it on themselves in much the same way that Americans bring on some of the resentment they face abroad. You can always tell Toronotonians when they are travelling in the rest of Canada by how frequently they remind everyone how much better everything is in Toronto. Combine that with fact that the "national" media is really just the Greater Metro Toronto media and you have sown the seeds of discontent.

Here in western Canada, there is the added irritant that Toronto is big enough and liberal enough to make sure that the political aspirations of the West will never be reached. I predict that in 20 years there will be a separatist movement in western Canada that is just as potent as the one in Quebec and the political influence of Toronto will play a major role in that development.

L-girl said...

One of the many things I enjoyed in that article was how many opinions are based on stereotypes, supposition and, basically, thin air. Someone criticizing Toronto who was there once in 1948, for example. Tons of examples of that.

I run into this in NYC all the time. One time after helping a couple (with advice and directions) in Central Park, I asked where they were from, if they were enjoying their visit, etc. They were from Michigan, it was their first time in the city. They told me their friends and family thought they were crazy to take a vacation in NYC - it's so dirty, it's disgusting, so much crime. People told them - literally - that they'd be mugged before they left the airport.

I asked them, When was the last time any of those people were in NYC? The answer: never. None of them had been or ever would go. Meanwhile, this Michigan couple was having the time of their lives.

RobfromAlberta said...

I have no doubt they had a great time. I've never been to NYC (odd, since I've been to Boston and Washington DC several times), but I would love to go some time. I have been to TO many times and there is nothing wrong with city itself (although Montreal has a better vibe, IMHO). The problem is that Toronto dominates so much of the national agenda. In the US, NYC isn't omnipotent. LA is nearly as big and California is a bigger state. Texas is also bigger than NY. We have no such balance-of-power. Toronto is big enough to determine who will rule the whole country, as happened in the last federal election. Were it not for a virtual sweep of Metro Toronto by the Liberals, they would not have won the election. Even the whole state of California doesn't have that kind of clout.

L-girl said...

Right. I hear what you're saying. I don't think the people in that article were talking about political power and influence, though. I think it was more the simple "ick, big city" stereotype.

FWIW, I prefer Montreal, too. But we're going where the jobs are.

L-girl said...

Re NYC and Toronto and their respective national influence, it's extremely different.

NYC - and the entire urban agenda - is virtually ignored in national politics, IMO. Everything is played to suburban middle America. So it's the opposite in that respect.

RobfromAlberta said...

I don't know if there is much resentment of big cities, in general in Canada, because so many of us live in and around major metropolitan centres. Canada is surprisingly urban, more so than the US. I think it may have something to do with the difficult Canadian climate. Winter survival is still a challenge in much of Canada. Except for a narrow strip of land a few hundred miles wide running along the Canada-US border, most of Canada is pretty near uninhabited.

L-girl said...

That's always surprising (to me) to note, how the vast majority of the Canadian population is massed around the southern border.

The people quoted in that Star article, for what it's worth, seemed to dislike Toronto for its "big city ways".

Anonymous said...

ALPF here:
For many of us that live real close to the big giant it is most definatley a like-hate relationship we have with TO. Many of my freinds and family work in Toronto (myself included from time to time) but it's just too damn big for most of to be comfortable when were there. Too many people, too many buildings, too many cars,(driving around during a weekday is an absolute nightmare).
We like the things that Toronto has to offer... sports, night life etc. We hate the fact that many of the residents have an "I'm better that than rest of you in Canada" attitude because Toronto is the centre of the universe. For me, I like visiting, when I don't have to be there during rush hour on a weekday, I love the Jays, Leafs and Raptors, I love going to the theatre district for a night out. I'm thankful there are 30+ Liberal or NDP ridings in the GTA.
I would never, ever consider living there.

L-girl said...

This is exactly the feelings of many Americans about New York, including millions who live just outside the city, as you do. Fun to visit for shows, sports, dinner... but no place you'd want to live. City life is definitely not for everyone!

And we also think we are the center of the universe. She admits sheepishly.

RobfromAlberta said...

NYC has the right to be arrogant. There are only a handful of world cities that even come close to the Big Apple when it comes to cultural and financial clout (LA, London, Paris, Tokyo, maybe Beijing). Toronto, however, is a wannabe.

L-girl said...

"NYC has the right to be arrogant."

Smart man. :)