Saturday, October 20, 2012

Oh, Canada!

This post on the 11 things people don't know about Canada inspired me to ponder how has Canada surprised me over the past ten plus years.  Before I got the job offer and even after I accepted it and started the move to Canada, I hadn't put much thought into the whole "Canada" thing.  That made me a typical American, of course.  Sorry, but as someone put it to me in the past week, not being on the top of American minds may not be a bad thing.  Take a look at Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan.  American attention is not always a positive thing for the locals.  To be clear, I could repeat many of the eleven ones that were listed in the post cited above: Canada got its constitution only thirty years ago, the Queen still has a role (sort of), Canada is underpopulated.
  1. As I mentioned before, I was surprised my first day--that invisible line between the US and Canada really matters--my credit rating disappeared as I crossed it. 
  2. Canadians like the idea that Americans might flee north when an election produces an undesirable outcome.
  3. Not only does the parliamentary committee on defence lack security clearances, but the parliamentarians seem to prefer to be ignorant critics.
  4. The efforts to make Canadian history sexy always surprise me.
  5. Bags of milk.
  6. That its separatists are incredibly persistent but also amazingly non-violent (with one very brief exception).
  7. Winters are really, really, really long.  I knew that winters could get very cold and have heaps of snow (two years in Vermont taught me that), but I didn't really internalize the reality that winter ends in mid-late April (except for last year).  
  8. Fur.  I was surprised not just that Canadians wear fur, but criticism of the fur trade is taboo.
  9. Crown. Not the booze but the prerogatives and all that.  Catch my twitter feed on an average weekend morning, and I am exchanging barbs with about the role of the Crown as an institution in Canada. 
  10. Not how much attention hockey got, but how much attention the NFL gets when they have their own football league.  
  11. That you have to buy the rules of the road--not just in Quebec as I thought but also in Ontario.  In the US, states hand out the rules of the road so that we know which laws we are breaking.  Perhaps budget cuts have changed that. 
  12. I am surprised that folks think that one war has turned Canada into a warrior nation for good or bad.  Sure, Canadian Forces killed folks in Afghanistan (as they did elsewhere), but the country and its culture are hardly militarized.
I am sure I can think of more and will eventually post a part II.  What has surprised you about Canada?

1 comment:

Vladimir said...

I would make one point regarding the committee on national defence. A clear difference is seen in the performance by members who have experience serving on the committee. Bryon Wilfert in particular I recall as someone who genuinely tried to understand the issues, specifically on procurement. Perhaps what might strike some as odd about Canadian politics is that DND is not much more than a middling portfolio , unlike in the US it's not a place that a real heavyweight is going to vie for and I don't see much incentive for the ambitious and able MPs to try and make a mark on the committee.