August 01, 2011

Writing about the differences between Canadians and Americans isn’t as easy as it used to be.

In 2004, for instance, the night before George W. Bush made his first visit to Canada, a panicked Dallas Morning News editor begged me to bang out a quickie piece on just that subject. My submission, called “I’m an American Trapped in a Canadian’s Body,” was a huge hit. I got loads of fan mail, the DMN site logged thousands of new visitors, and that commissioning editor got a promotion. (He said he’d be in touch shortly to discuss my becoming a regular contributor. Naturally, I never heard from him again.)

All that for a comedic “essay” that was really just a 30-minute stenography exercise. I’d hastily typed up some actual conversations I’d endured here in Toronto—a city I’d call a “hotbed” of Yankee-bashing except (as an Israeli friend remarked during his first visit here): “Toronto has everything you’d ever want—except passion.”

So I wrote this:

Here in downtown Toronto, conversations like the following are a commonplace in movie lines, subway cars and coffee shops:

I know.
I hate him.
I know.
He’s retarded.
I know.

I’m often the sole partygoer to challenge even the most pathetic received wisdom.

Seven years on, writing a “Canada v. America” piece is harder, because the situation up here is more—what’s that word they like?—“nuanced”?

“Having easy access to the Daily Kos and Michael Moore’s every peep and fart, our liberal elite is even less distinguishable from America’s than before, except ours openly hates the United States, while yours tries (poorly) to hide it.”

You see, because the Canadian “identity” is so flimsy—a ghostly “negative,” based entirely on what we are not—my fellow citizens are easily disoriented. Today we have a “conservative” prime minister (ha, ha) and Americans have a black, lefty president, so…wait: Who’s the bad guy again?

Overnight, comparing the leader of the free world to a monkey was no longer socially acceptable, and my supply of ready-to-use “Bush = Hitler” eavesdroppings dried up. On every other topic, Canada’s leftists remain reliably idiotic. Yet their most distinctive characteristic—their flamboyant, stalker-ish anti-Americanism (much of which I’m obligated to pay for)—has taken a hit.

Although they do still bleat about “American-style” school shootings (even though we practically invented them).

And “American-style” healthcare, of which wealthy and powerful liberal Canadians regularly partake. Getting an MRI for grandma up here is a real bitch, unless grandma’s a real bitch.

And “American-style” zillion-dollar lawsuits over spilled coffee. (We have “loser-pays,” which keeps such legal stunts down to a dull roar. That’s in our “real” justice system, of course; our “fake” one is another story….)


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