November 2, 2008

On Being Canadian-American.

To begin this post I should tell you a little bit more about myself. I was born in Quebec in 1990 and my family moved to the US when I was a child. I lived there until I came to Mount Allison except for a year living in British Columbia. I lived in the US as a permanent resident, officially a "Resident Alien" in the country I had spent most of my life in until 2001 when the immigration law changed and I automatically became an American citizen. Growing up in the US I remember being told by my parents that this is my country now, but that was combined with the reality that we drove 'home' to visit family. I've crossed the border between the US and Canada more times than I can remember. When I turned 18 and was legally able to choose one citizenship over the other I chose not to.

While I've spent most of my life in the US, I don't have a one-sided American nationalism. In school I was told that I didn't have a say the pledge of allegiance (but did out of respect), and I felt disappointed when I heard Barack Obama say "in no other country on earth, is my story even possible". During the past five or six years, seeing the negative impact of the Bush administration's policies, I along with most Americans people became disaffected by the ruling party. I think that there is a distinction that needs to be made (especially with Bush holding the record for highest disapproval rating since the polls began) between the actions of the Bush administration and the views of most Americans.

From going to high school on both sides of the border, I've heard a lot of stereotypes and jokes about Canadians and Americans alike. From years of observation I've found that J. Bartlet Brebner put the basic difference between American and Canadians best when he said "Americans are benevolently ignorant about Canada, while Canadians are malevolently well informed about the United States." During my twelve years living in the US I've never heard of any serious qualms about Canada, but since I've moved back to Canada it seems like I haven't gone a week without a sarcastic remark about the negative influence of the US or someone making a mockery of the presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle

When it comes to popular Canadian opinion towards the US, one place to look at would be the TV show "This Hour has 22 Minutes": essentially the Canadian equivalent of The Daily Show.

This Hour has 22 Minutes -Apology to Americans

Besides the actual arguments between the US and Canada, there is the problem of some Canadians taking the radical right wing pundits as the voice of Americans in general. Canadians, myself included, see the words of some right wing pundits and are rightly offended. For example, in late 2004 as President Bush visited with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin to fix "strained relations" between the two countries. Tucker Carlson said:

I'm surprised there was anybody left in Canada to attend the protests. I noticed that most sort of vigorous, ambitious Canadians, at least almost all comedians in Canada, come to the United States in the end. Doesn't that tell you something about the sort of limpid, flaccid nature of Canadian society, that people with ambition come here? What does that tell you about Canada?"

Canada's essentially -- essentially a made-in-Taiwan version of the United States.

I think if Canada were responsible for its own security -- you would be invaded by Norway if it weren't for the United States.

Canada needs the United States. The United States does not need Canada.

Ann Coulter added:

Conservatives, as a general matter, take the position that you should not punish your friends and reward your enemies. And Canada has become trouble recently.
It's -- I suppose it's always, I might add, the worst Americans who end up going there. The Tories after the Revolutionary War, the Vietnam draft dodgers after Vietnam. And now after this election, you have the blue-state people moving up there.
There is also something called, when you're allowed to exist on the same continent of the United States of America, protecting you with a nuclear shield around you, you're polite and you support us when we've been attacked on our own soil. They [Canada] violated that protocol.
They better hope the United States doesn't roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent.

But, despite what the boisterous rants from right wing pundits would have you believe, Americans like Canada, in fact 92% of Americans have a positive opinion of it.

Also, 91% of Americans surveyed by Macleans believe that their quality of life would improve if they moved there. And thirdly, a majority of Americans surveyed said that Canada has become a global leader in human rights and peace.

Macleans Article Special Canada Day Report: How Canada stole the American Dream.

I consider myself proud to be a Canadian and am glad to be back home. Also, while it is sometimes hard to explain, I also consider myself fortunate to be an American, despite the republican party, and even if it means I'm at the wrong end of more than a few jokes.

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