When I left Canada 15 years ago, I had a Canadian flag on my backpack. Now, when someone asks me if I'm American, I don't even blink. For a while, I'd even say yes just to keep the conversation short. The minute you say, "No I'm Canadian" you are struck with a barrage of apologies; the apologies being for the assumption of Yankee as opposed to the fact of Canuck.
Having lived abroad almost half my life, I've grown to believe that no wiser words were stated than when Oscar Wilde said, "Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious."
When the anti-French spam started hitting my e-mail two weeks ago, I was shocked at how quickly the Americans could turn on their allies. Were political maps being redrawn?
"The only thing worse than a Frenchman is a Frenchman in Canada." - Ted Nugent
Being from Montreal, that was the only amusing quote I could find in the lot. Even the Simpsons had turned on the French.
It was an omen. Now, apparently, the Americans are turning their ire onto their northern neighbours and asking, "What kind of friends are they?"
Canada's refusal to not join the war is being viewed as a gross lack of support. Well my mom always said, "If your friend was going to jump off a bridge, would you do that too?"
Canada's little show of independence does have some benefits for Americans. It turns out that travelling Americans are now posing as Canadians. This is rather easy to do given that few people know the difference between an American and a Canadian. We're the pale Puerto Ricans of North America. Kinda American... Kinda not... sort of.
I'm still waiting for an American friend of mine to give me my "Kiss Me I'm Canadian" T-shirt back. It seems, however, she is holding it ransom in order to extract my "Canadians have nice Beavers" shirt.
How to spot a REAL Canadian.
Ask the following questions...
- Are you American?
Any Canadian under 30 will start to curse you immediately.
- What is a Toque (pronounced Toooook)?
This is a kind of woolly hat that makes you look like a dork.
- Do you recognise this symbol?
An American will tell you it's a Beaver. Any Canadian worth their salt will say its a ROOTS Beaver. Look for Roots clothing. Older Canadians (30+) should be able to tell you that Roots started out as a humble shoe shop.
- Name three famous Canadians that aren't politicians or Celine Dion.
Bryan Adams is always the first answer... usually followed by Michael J Fox and someone from Saturday Night Live. If you are told Pat Sajak from Wheel of Fortune, you have a true Canadian. An American may break down when confronted by this fact. If you are uncertain, tell them to repeat "All great Americans are actually Canadian" five times. Any Yank will choke by the third repetition.
- Canada is very cold, isn't it?
A real Canadian will say, "No it gets VERY warm in the summer time! Up to 40 degrees Celsius!" The only exception to that rule is Canadians who have lived in the tropics for any length of time who will usually say, "Yes it's barbaric. I'll be damned if I'm going back."
Be suspicious of anyone who tells you they own a dog sled or live in an igloo.
Just for the record, I'm back to correcting people when they assume I'm American.
|A truly Canadian Apology to the USA... Courtesy of Rick Mercer from This Hour Has 22 Minutes, CBC Television: |
On behalf of Canadians everywhere I'd like to offer an apology to the United States of America. We haven't been getting along very well recently and for that, I am truly sorry.
I'm sorry we called George Bush a moron. He is a moron but, it wasn't nice of us to point it out. If it's any consolation, the fact that he's a moron shouldn't reflect poorly on the people of America. After all it's not like you actually elected him.
I'm sorry about our softwood lumber. Just because we have more trees than you doesn't give us the right to sell you lumber that's cheaper and better than your own.
I'm sorry we beat you in Olympic hockey. In our defence I guess our excuse would be that our team was much, much, much, much better than yours.
I'm sorry we burnt down your White House during the war of 1812. I notice you've rebuilt it! It's Very Nice.
I'm sorry about your beer. I know we had nothing to do with your beer but, we feel your pain.
I'm sorry about our waffling on Iraq. I mean, when you're going up against a crazed dictator, you want to have your friends by your side. I realize it took more than two years before you guys pitched in against Hitler, but that was different. Everyone knew he had weapons.
And finally on behalf of all Canadians, I'm sorry that we're constantly apologizing for things in a passive-aggressive way which is really a thinly veiled criticism. I sincerely hope that you're not upset over this.
We've seen what you do to countries you get upset with.