November 23, 2002
LESS FILLING:AMERICA LITE: IS THAT OUR FUTURE?: For all our talk about differences, Canada is becoming more and more like the U.S. (JONATHON GATEHOUSE with WILLIAM LOWTHER, November 25, 2002, MacLean's)
It has always been easy for the rest of the world to write us off as "kind of" Americans. We have common roots, most of us speak the same language, our popular cultures overlap. And in turn, it has always been relatively simple for us to point to the substantive distinctions between the two nations: cleaner streets, less violent crime, better access to health care, no capital punishment, more players in the NHL.
Over the last two decades, however, those once indelible lines have started to fade. Today, 85 per cent of Canadians still believe our quality of life is superior to that of our American neighbours, but take a long look around. Gunplay on the streets of our major cities is no longer a rarity. Homelessness is a national crisis. Food banks are a permanent fixture in communities across the country. Free trade has made the border (at least for goods) practically a thing of the past. Eatons and Front Page Challenge have been replaced by the Gap and American Idol. Our foreign policies are almost indistinguishable. Culturally, commercially, politically, Canada and the United States are closer than ever. And if we're going to persist in branding ourselves in opposition to the Yanks, we'd better be careful that truth-in-advertising laws don't force us to start using the label "America Lite."
It seems likely that the real crisis of Canadian confidence will come when its national health plan collapses under its own weight. It's nearly the sole source of Canadian feelings of superiority. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 23, 2002 6:39 AM