5 Comments

Canada's or Canadians' relationship to the US has always fascinated me. Yes, there is some inferiority complex going on, and at the same time, the self-congratulatory sense of superiority, that has no basis in truth.

We are good at saying how we are friendly, and nice and how we are liked everywhere in the world, unlike those arrogant Americans. I guess we forget about the incidents of Canadians killed at Mexican resorts from some 10 years ago. Nobody asks themselves why. Could it have anything to do with Canadian mining companies using slave labour, polluting the environment with impunity etc.? Perish the thought! We are not Americans! Except, we kind of are. Just a less powerful, more perfidious version. It is time to look in the mirror, fellow Canadians and I'm afraid the reflection will not show anything like the self-image we nurture and which our klepto-oligarchs encourage. If you don't believe me, read the excellent "Canada in the World" by Tyler Shipley (though the blurb on Yugoslavia is straight out of the Goebbels-likr Serbian propaganda).

The measure of a country is how it treats its most vulnerable populations and I'm afraid both countries fail miserably in this regard. Maybe we're more alike than we'd care to admit

Expand full comment
Oct 24, 2022Liked by Deanna Kreisel

As you know, i spent only three years in Canada. And it was in London, Ontario, not in Vancouver. I have a weirdly ambivalent relation to what you're describing here. I mean, I, too, heard some anti-American sentiment that was kneejerk and unthought. And that it was coming from supposedly liberal and enlightened Canadians--and not from whatever counts as "rednecks" there--made it harder to take.

But maybe I have a higher tolerance for such things. Or maybe it wasn't the same in Ontario. Or maybe I hate America more than you do. (I'm not sure about any of those things). What I'm trying to say is that I didn't get tired of it, or tired by it. It seemed better to me than the kneejerk taking of all American things as just universally true and human--also as widespread amongst liberal and enlightened Americans as amongst supposed "rednecks"--that I was immersed in for my whole life, and have been again immersed in since (even, yes, in New York City, where I live now). I'm not saying it was good--nothing kneejerk and unthought is good--but at least it felt different.

And also not very personal. Maybe it was that fabled Canadian politeness, and maybe that politeness goes deeper in Ontario than it does in Vancouver, but even the most kneejerk of comments was always framed as not being about me. I sometimes even had to contest those assertions, to assert that no, in fact I really was an American, and my father made his money collecting hospital bills (a profession lower on the scale of Canadian morality than Mafia hit man), and I had to tell them that I had shot guns in my life. Which, it turned out, shocked almost no one in Ontario. I met more gun owners in three years in Ontario than I did in the following thirteen years that I lived much of the time in Indiana. They just weren't gun nuts; they liked either target shooting or hunting moose. Really, I met more than one person who liked hunting moose.

Importantly, thought, in nearly every context where there was a kneejerk expression of anti-Americanism, there was also a Canadian ready to criticize their fellow Canadian's prejudices. So maybe I didn't get tired because I very rarely had to do that particular rhetorical work?

I'm not saying any of this to put your experience into doubt, by any means. And again, some aspects of it are very familiar to me (including the expensive beer!). I'm just describing a somewhat different experience that I had...

Expand full comment