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"Five axiomatic propositions of Canadian Nationalism vis-a-vis the Americans:

1. Boy, we hate Americans.

2. We really do.

3. Really.

4. I'm not kidding. We really hate them.

5. So how come they never pay us any attention?"

--Will Ferguson, Why I Hate Canadians, Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997, p.105.


Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Now I understand. As an American living in Canada, one of the things that I notice is how often Canadians congratulate themselves on having constructed such a harmonious juxtaposition of cultures -- unlike that crucible of conflicts slightly south of Niagra Falls. I don't see that much difference between the disagreements among groups (and the disagreements over specific rights) in each country, so I've never quite understood how or why this view gets propagated.

But now I understand. A recent court case in Quebec pitted the right of a boy to wear a kirpan (a ceremonial dagger important to the Sikh faith) to school against the right of the school board to ban the kirpan from school grounds, just as it does other knives. Yesterday the boy won in court, although there may be an appeal.

And, as the Globe and Mail reporter put it:

The controversy was a typically Canadian dispute where well-meaning people on both sides had a hard time finding an acceptable compromise for their clashing, divergent traditions.

So now I get it! In Canada, when different groups fight in the courts over conflicting rights, it's a case of well-intentioned people working toward a compromise. But when this happens in the U.S., it's a case of malevolent absolutists demonstrating the fraying of the American cultural fabric.
Oh, Canada, we sort of stand on guard for thee. The National Post covers Rubert Mueller's announcement that suicide bombers are "inevitable" in the U.S. About six paragraphs down we get insight into why Canada need not worry so much:

Neither the RCMP nor the Canadian Security Intelligence Service would comment yesterday on the likelihood of a suicide bomber striking here, but some experts said the chances are extremely slim.

Reid Morden, a former CSIS director, said terrorist organizations operating in Canada would likely avoid attacking local targets because the groups quietly benefit from lax Canadian laws.

"If you're raising money [for a terrorist organization], this is the place to do it," he said. "You put all that in jeopardy by walking into a supermarket with a suicide bomb. We know that there is substantial terrorist presence in Canada, and I think that [terrorists] are going to be very reluctant to take away the one place where they have, in some ways, been left to themselves."

Yep, turn a blind eye in the hopes that they attack someone else. How community-minded.

[UPDATE: Angie Schultz notes that this excerpt makes it sound as though Reid Morden favors Canada's lax laws, when in reality he probably does not. I think Angie's right about Reid's personal view; I didn't intend to ascribe motive to Reid, but rather relate his words as an incisive account of the situation in Canada today. Sorry if this didn't come across. Check out the linked article for more!]

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