Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Trashing Canada

I am repeatedly struck by the "Canada sucks" attitude of so many right-wing bloggers and commentators in this country. Eugene Plawiuk has a post on the topic, and here's an example. Even the Barrie Live 8 concert drew its share of scorn from the right: Canadian music sucks too, along with universal health care and Canadian institutions and values generally. Most Canadians are allegedly ignorant dupes of the corrupt socialist forces running the country. There is an almost pathological hatred among these conservatives for the CBC, which to them represents and promotes all they dislike about the country. On the other hand, the USA is typically held up as embodying all positive values. Many right-wing bloggers (especially from Alberta) dream of separating from Canada and threaten (promise?) to personally emigrate to the States.

If you're a baseball fan (and I have no hesitation in saying that baseball is a wonderful American contribution to the world), you either love the N.Y. Yankees or you hate them. Now, residents of New York can be forgiven for being Yankee fans. But why do other people cheer for the Yankees? I suspect that in many (not all) cases it's because they have a deep need to identify with a winner rather than with an underdog. Similarly, I suspect that many Canadians who trash Canada have an inferiority complex and a deep desire to be seen by others as winners in life. They measure this country by the standards of the winners (especially the USA) and find Canada wanting. Their problem is that most Canadians don't agree with them. The great majority of Canadians think that, while there are many problems that need to be fixed in this country, on the whole it's a pretty good place to live. They like universal health care and the Barenaked Ladies and, yes, even the CBC. They don't believe that Canada is shirking its duty for having failed to join the US and Britain in invading Iraq. They don't believe that Canada should be more like its southern neighbour.

The negativity of many on the right infects the federal Conservative Party, which has failed to capitalize on the woes of a very vulnerable Liberal Party precisely because the Tories are widely perceived as having so little that is positive to offer. Conservatives have had a long and proud tradition, from John A. to John G., as the makers and defenders of Canadian sovereignty and distinctive Canadian values. Until modern conservatives can start saying, in effect, "Here's what we like about Canadian values and institutions--and here's how we can all make them even better", they are likely to remain in the political wilderness.

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