Oh, Canada

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An article by an American writer:
By Rick Telander, Sun-Times Columnist Salt Lake City

You gotta love those cuddly hosers from Up North, eh? When I called home, my 11-year-old son was singing "O Canada,'' and I couldn't blame him. It's a simple song--a preschooler can handle the melody, and apparently the only words are "O Canada'' and "We stand on guard for thee'' -- and you have to admit the anthem looks so good coming out of Wayne Gretzky's mouth. Especially when Janet Jones is clinging to his back.

You know the Canadians smoked us in hockey -- men's and women's -- and that is a little like UCLA losing a doubleheader hoops game to the University of Saskatoon. Well, not exactly, maybe. Canada did invent hockey. But with a population about the same as New York state, Canada should be as serious a threat to our big country as Lapland is to Russia.

Those northern people also beat our women in curling, en route to winning a silver medal. Of course, we don't care about curling, and they do. When one of their beloved female curlers died of cancer not long ago, the memorial service was broadcast nationally on Canadian television.

But shouldn't we beat the Canucks (Webster's definition: "A Canadian; especially a French Canadian'') at anything that has moveable objects involved, whether French, English or pig Latin is spoken during the event? The trouble is, you can't get mad at Canadians. Anger directed north is like anger directed at a slobbering St. Bernard. Just get the mop and pat its head, and things will be fine. Canada is the buffer between us and the Arctic Circle, a province of Minnesota, the guardian of ponds and mosquitoes and bellowing moose.

We have Florida and Bruce Springsteen and real police. They have Manitoba and the Barenaked Ladies and mounties in red coats and Dudley Do-Right hats.

It had been 50 years since the Canadian men had won an Olympic gold medal in hockey. And the Canadian women had lost eight straight times to their United States counterparts before whipping the haughty Americans on Thursday. And so what we have in this deal is a kind of gentle payback.

Did you know we once invaded Canada?

We did.

In December 1775, we marched up there to fight the British and were forced to scamper home after getting our butts shellacked in Quebec. Soon after, for our punishment, agent Peter Jennings was sent across the border and instructed to make the word "aboot'' part of the American lexicon.

I have to admit that I was stunned upon arriving in this western city to see that the American Olympic team was wearing gear made by something or somebody called "Roots.'' There on every American athlete's jacket and sweatshirt, like a first name on a bowling shirt, was the word, "Roots.''

A Canadian company, for God's sake.

Apparently not Nike or Wilson or Spalding or even Target or Walgreens could get it together, or stoop low enough, to actually outfit our own people. What a great way to win a minor battle: Put the big dummies in our clothes.


I wonder if the American press, so shrill and feverish in demanding reparations for allegedly slighted Canadian pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, would be so vocal now, knowing the danged Canadians kicked our butts in the only team games we cared about.

But again: How can you get mad at these folks? They're funny. They're unassuming. They're hardy. They're like Australians living in places like Prince Rupert, without kangaroos. They're us, we like to think. If we could handle the wolverines and tundras.

Canadian men's hockey leader Wayne Gretzky had complained about "American propaganda,'' saying we southern media agents had somehow been mean to and critical of the hosers' hockey and wanted nothing more than for them to implode.

I sat and listened to Wayne's rant, and I had no idea what he was talking about. He said that if the Canadians had been as loutish as, say, the Czech Republic players were to his own little precious annoyance, Theo Fleury, the Canadians would be labeled "hooligans.'' Hooligans?

What was Wayne talking about? What is the least bit nasty about Labatt Blue or Fergie Jenkins or snowshoes?

No, this was the Olympics that had almost everybody rooting for the folks from the other side of the treeline. And it was the Olympics that made us realize the Soviet Union is gone, the Cubans don't have a Winter team, the Chinese are still figuring it out, the Berlin Wall is down, and the only Evil Empire out there, so to speak, is us. We're the bullies on the block, the strutters with the money and clout.

And guess what? Oh, Canada, you sweeties. You nicked us where it hurts.
 

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What do you expect from an American, who is looking to piss off us Canadians?

GO-CANADA-GO:D
 

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE
"It's not just the weather that's cooler in Canada"
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

You live next door to a clean-cut, quiet guy. He never plays loud music or throws raucous parties. He doesn't gossip over the fence, just smiles politely and offers you some tomatoes. His lawn is cared-for, his house is neat as a pin and you get the feeling he doesn't always lock his front door. He wears Dockers. You hardly know he's there.

And then one day you discover that he has pot in his basement, spends his weekends at peace marches and that guy you've seen mowing the yard is his spouse.

Allow me to introduce Canada.

The Canadians are so quiet that you may have forgotten they're up there, but they've been busy doing some surprising things. It's like discovering that the mice you are dimly aware of in your attic have been building an espresso machine.

Did you realize, for example, that our reliable little tag-along brother never joined the Coalition of the Willing? Canada wasn't willing, as it turns out, to join the fun in Iraq. I can only assume American diner menus weren't angrily changed to include "freedom bacon," because nobody here eats the stuff anyway.

And then there's the wild drug situation: Canadian doctors are authorized to dispense medical marijuana. Parliament is considering legislation that would not exactly legalize marijuana possession, as you may have heard, but would reduce the penalty for possession of under 15 grams to a fine, like a speeding ticket. This is to allow law enforcement to concentrate
> resources on traffickers; if your garden is full of wasps, it's smarter to go for the nest rather than trying to swat every individual bug. Or, in the United States, bong.

Now, here's the part that I, as an American, can't understand. These poor benighted pinkos are doing everything wrong. They have a drug problem: Marijuana offenses have doubled since 1991. And Canada has strict gun control laws, which means that the criminals must all be heavily armed, the law-abiding civilians helpless and the government on the verge of a massive confiscation campaign. (The laws have been in place since the '70s, but I'm sure the government will get around to the confiscation eventually.) They don't even have a death penalty!

And yet ... nationally, overall crime in Canada has been declining since 1991. Violent crimes fell 13 percent in 2002. Of course, there are still crimes committed with guns -- brought in from the United States, which has become the major illegal weapons supplier for all of North America -- but my theory is that the surge in pot-smoking has rendered most criminals too relaxed to commit violent crimes. They're probably more focused on shoplifting boxes of Ho-Hos from convenience stores.

And then there's the most reckless move of all: Just last month, Canada decided to allow and recognize same-sex marriages. Merciful moose, what can they be thinking? Will there be married Mounties (they always get their man!)? Dudley Do-Right was sweet on Nell, not Mel! We must be the only ones who really care about families. Not enough to make sure they all have health insurance, of course, but more than those libertines up north.

This sort of behavior is a clear and present danger to all our stereotypes about Canada. It's supposed to be a cold, wholesome country of polite, beer-drinking hockey players, not founded by freedom-fighters in a bloody revolution but quietly assembled by loyalists and royalists more interested in order and good government than liberty and independence.

But if we are the rugged individualists, why do we spend so much of our time trying to get everyone to march in lockstep? And if Canadians are so reserved and moderate, why are they so progressive about letting people do what they want to?

Canadians are, as a nation, less religious than we are, according to polls. As a result, Canada's government isn't influenced by large, well-organized religious groups and thus has more in common with those of Scandinavia than those of the United States, or, say, Iran.

Canada signed the Kyoto global warming treaty, lets 19-year-olds drink, has more of its population living in urban areas and accepts more immigrants per capita than the United States.

These are all things we've been told will wreck our society. But I guess Canadians are different, because theirs seems oddly sound.

Like teenagers, we fiercely idolize individual freedom but really demand that everyone be the same. But the Canadians seem more adult -- more secure. They aren't afraid of foreigners. They aren't afraid of homosexuality. Most of all, they're not afraid of each other.

I wonder if America will ever be that cool.
 

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