Anti-Canadianism

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Anti-Canadianism is hostility towards the government, culture, or people of Canada.

Historical[edit]

Voltaire reputedly joked that Canada was "a few acres of snow."[1] He was in fact referring to New France as it existed in the eighteenth century. The quote meant that New France was economically worthless and that France thus did not need to keep it. Many Canadians believe Voltaire's statement to be more an indictment of conquest in general.[2]

Modern perceptions[edit]

United States[edit]

In the United States, Canada is often a target of conservative and right-wing commentators who hold the nation up as an example of what a government and society that are too liberal would look like.

"Soviet Canuckistan" is an epithet for Canada, used by Pat Buchanan on October 31, 2002, on his television show on MSNBC in which he denounced Canadians as anti-American and the country as a haven for terrorists. He was reacting to Canadian criticisms of US security measures regarding Arab Canadians.[3]

Buchanan has a history of unflattering references to Canada, having said in 1990 that if Canada were to break apart due to the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, "America would pick up the pieces." He said two years after that "for most Americans, Canada is sort of like a case of latent arthritis. We really don't think about it, unless it acts up."[3]

In the wake of Canada's refusal to participate in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, as well as its turning down of the Missile Defense Plan (CMDP), conservative commentators Ann Coulter and Tucker Carlson have become prominent American critics of Canadian policies. Coulter has during interviews proposed extreme solutions to Canadian dissent, even military invasion, and has said that Canada should be grateful that the US "allows" it to exist on the same continent,[4] while Carlson has mocked that "without the US, Canada is essentially Honduras, only less interesting".[5]

In 2006, right-wing American strategist Paul Weyrich said Canadians are "so liberal and hedonistic" that they have a philosophy of "cultural Marxism."[6]

In 2009, a panel of commentators on the Fox News Channel talk show Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld satirically mocked the Canadian military for avoiding war, sparking outrage in Canada, which had troops on active combat duty in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2011 and has since transitioned to a training role. The host of the show later apologized for his remarks.[7]

Brazil[edit]

Anti-Canadian sentiment has been observed in Brazil. People boycotted Canadian goods to protest a Canadian ban of Brazilian beef imports, reportedly because of fears of mad-cow disease.[8] A few Brazilians believed the Canadian ban was motivated by a trade dispute between the two nations. Canada's subsidies to aircraft manufacturer Bombardier and Brazil's subsidies to Bombardier's Brazilian rival Embraer have been a source of much tension because they are said to interfere with each other's business.[9]

Anti-Canadian sentiment in Canada[edit]

Some hostility towards Canada as a nation can be seen within Canada itself.

From minorities[edit]

Quebec[edit]

Anti-Canadianism in the Francophone province of Quebec has its roots originally stemming from the resentment since the conquest of New France by Great Britain in 1760, even before the official existence as entities of Canada and Quebec themselves. However after the Constitution Act, 1867, which officially proclaimed a Canadian Confederation, creating "one Dominion under the name of Canada" (Dominion of Canada) on July 1, 1867, with four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, which marked the separate existence and de facto independence and de jure evolutionary independence of Canada, these sentiments developed into Anti-Canadianism. Anti-Canadianism is sometimes intertwined with Quebec nationalism.

From the invasion of New France in the 1760s and the formation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867 until the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, the economy of Quebec and its high-ranking positions were controlled by the English minority in Quebec, who were always a small minority comprising less than 10% throughout Quebec's post–Royal French Canadian history and who used to be mostly unilingual English speakers, despite the Francophone Québécois' comprising more than 80% of the province's population. This led nationalist thinkers to denounce a colonial phenomenon that, as they believed, was at work between Quebec and the rest of Canada; some hold that residuals of this are still there in the present relationship. Journalist Normand Lester published three volumes of The Black Book of English Canada detailing events of Canadian history he saw as being crimes perpetrated by the majority on the minority.[10]

Quebec, whose sole official language is French since 1974, has introduced and implemented laws since the 1970s, especially with the adoption of the comprehensive Charter of the French Language Law in 1977 that limits the visibility of English on non-official signs. Commercial signs in languages other than French (especially targeting those in English) have been permitted only if French is given marked prominence in size. This law has been the subject of periodic controversy since its inception. While the architects and advocates of the Charter of the French Language Law argue that it was adopted to promote and protect the French language, critics argue that it is anti-English Canadian in its purpose by rooting out the English language from all spheres in Quebec.[11]

One of the charter's articles stipulates that all children under 16 must receive their primary and secondary education in French schools, unless one of the child's parents has received most of their education in English, in Canada, or the child themselves has already received a substantial part of their education in English, in Canada. Access to elementary and secondary English language schools by non-anglophone immigrants have also been limited with this law.[12]

Lucien Bouchard said that Canada wasn't a "real country", sparking outrage across Canada. He later apologized for the remark.[13]

Newfoundland[edit]

Many in Newfoundland harbour an ambivalent attitude towards Canada. Many blame the federation for economic difficulties experienced since the dominion joined confederation in 1949. Some Newfoundlanders perceive a disrespectful attitude toward them from the rest of Canada, and Newfie stereotypes and ethnic jokes that depict Newfoundlanders as stupid and/or lazy are a source of ire. There is also a fear that Newfoundland culture and Newfoundland English are diminishing. Newfoundland premier Danny Williams notably ordered all Canadian flags removed from provincial buildings during a dispute with the federal government in 2004.[14] Williams was, and remains, personally popular in Newfoundland, at times receiving as much as 85% support in polls.[15]

First Nations[edit]

As for indigenous peoples, some First Nations[which?] call Canada an illegal nation state built on stolen land .[citation needed]

Political accusations[edit]

Sometimes Canadians accuse each other of being anti-Canadian: For example, Manitoba Premier Gary Doer (NDP) accused the governments of Ontario and Alberta of being "anti-Canadian" due to their dislike for equalization payments.[16]

From the political right[edit]

Some anti-Canadian criticism from a few in the right of the political spectrum is coupled with proposals that the province of Alberta secede from the country to form a new nation, either on its own or with other Western provinces. A separatist party obtained more than one tenth of the vote in the 1982 Alberta general election although no other separatist party in Western Canada has obtained a similar share of the vote in a provincial election before or since 1982.

An example of conservative anti-Canadianism arose in 1997 when Stephen Harper, who was at the time vice-president of the conservative lobby group the National Citizens Coalition, stated he believed "Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it."[17] The speech was made to members of the American conservative think tank the Council for National Policy. In the years since, claims have been made both that Harper's words were heartfelt, and that they were not, and that he was embellishing for the benefit of his audience. Harper himself dismissed the comments when they were cited by the centre-left Liberal Party in attack ads against him during the 2006 Canadian federal election, saying that they were meant as humour, not serious analysis.[18] (Harper became prime minister of Canada in 2006.)

From the political left[edit]

Some communist organizations in Canada view a Canadian nationalist or isolationist line as revisionist, anti-communist and anti-internationalist. They believe the communist view of the national question in Canada should be internationalist and consider that other nationalities exist within the nation-state, such as the Québécois, First Nations and Acadian peoples; as well as the borders being artificial boundaries put in place during the colonial period and held in place under capitalism. These views are usually held by Maoist, Trotskyite and other revolutionary groups that tend not to participate in mainstream activities such as elections. Such alternative views can be viewed as anti-Canadianism by more nationalist tendencies on both the left and right.[citation needed]

Anti-Canadianism and humour[edit]

Humorous anti-Canadianism often focuses on broadly-known attributes of Canada and Canadians such as cold weather or public health care,[19] as the finer details of Canadian culture and politics are generally not well known outside Canada. The sport of curling is also treated with some irreverence in the United States. However, these broad targets are more accurately caricatured within Canada itself. The fact that others are perceived to know surprisingly little about Canada is a frequent theme in Canadian humour and such examples of self-deprecating humour are nearly universal among Canadian humorists. In keeping with this attitude, some genuinely critical anti-Canadianisms such as "Soviet Canuckistan" are embraced by some Canadians as humorous, in defiance of the original intent.

Popular culture[edit]

  • "Blame Canada", a song from the film South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut in which the town's parents blame Canada for the trouble their children have been getting into, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The song was generally understood to be using anti-Canadian statements as a parody, such as a perceived tendency toward scapegoating and the shirking of parental responsibility, rather than a statement of actual anti-Canadianism, as the singers end the song saying it is a good idea to blame Canada before someone blames them.
  • "Canadian Idiot", by "Weird Al" Yankovic, a parody of the song "American Idiot" by Green Day, is a friendly critique of Canadian stereotypes. The American character that "Weird Al" Yankovic plays in the song uses many common Canadian stereotypes, such as the statement by some that Canadians supposedly "live on doughnuts and moose meat". Near the end of the song, Weird Al Yankovic (through his character) proclaims that the United States should preemptively strike Canada, as he has no idea what they are up to.
  • Canadian Bacon, a film by Michael Moore starring Canadian John Candy, also parodies anti-Canadianism, depicting a post-Cold War American president (Alan Alda) who provokes anti-Canadian sentiment in a gambit to produce an economic stimulus through a new Cold War and boost his poll numbers: the movie's tag line is "Surrender pronto, or we'll level Toronto." The movie makes heavy use of irony in driving home the message that many aspects of Canadian culture are superior to American culture, such as one scene in which an RCMP jailer writes heartfelt letters to ex-inmates, and another in which a crew led by the Sheriff of Niagara Falls, New York (played by Candy), "attacks" Canada by spreading litter in a public park.
  • "The Canada Song", a song from the movie-mocking TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000, features Mike and Crow singing about Canada's perceived failings while Tom Servo attempts to persuade them that Canada should be praised, not mocked. Eventually, Mike and Crow convince Servo to join in the Canada-bashing, which he does with a gusto that alarms the other two.
  • In the fourth season episode "Little Minnesota" of the American sitcom How I Met Your Mother, Marshall takes Robin (a Canadian) to a Minnesota themed bar in which she discovers that Minnesotans believe that all Canadians suffer from nyctophobia (Fear of darkness).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Will Ferguson, Bastards & Boneheads: Our Glorious Leaders, Past and Present, October 1999.
  2. ^ Jean-Yves le Branchu, "The French Colonial Empire and the Popular Front Government," Pacific Affairs, Vol. 10, No. 2. (Jun., 1937), page 125.
  3. ^ a b Nancy Carr, "U.S. talk-show host Pat Buchanan calls Canada 'whining,' 'freeloading' nation," Canadian Press, November 1, 2002.
  4. ^ Hannity & Colmes, Fox News Channel, December 1, 2004.
  5. ^ Wolf Blitzer Reports, CNN. November 30, 2004. Quoted in Bomb Canada: And Other Unkind Remarks in the American Media, Chantal Allan, Athabasca University Press, November 15, 2009.
  6. ^ "Canadians 'liberal and hedonistic' but can change, U.S. right-winger says," CBCNews, 27 Jan 2006.
  7. ^ "Fox host apologizes for mocking of Canadian Forces". CBC News. March 23, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  8. ^ Canada Bans Brazil Beef Products – Protection Against Mad Cow Disease
  9. ^ Robert Westervelt, "Potash Firms Caught in Brazil-Canada Trade War," Chemical Week; February 28, 2001, Vol. 163 Issue 9, page 16.
  10. ^ Description of The Black Book of English Canada, Amazon.com, URL accessed 29 June 2006.
  11. ^ Google Books: "The English Language in Canada: Status, History and Comparative Analysis" (Page 9) By Charles Boberg
  12. ^ "Can’t Speak French – You are a Second Class Canadian! Time for the NATION of Quebec to leave Canada" Vigile.net
  13. ^ http://sen.parl.gc.ca/sjoyal/e/articles/C-20%20and%20the%20sov_people_cit%C3%A9libre.html
  14. ^ Maple Leaf flags removed in offshore feud
  15. ^ CBC News item
  16. ^ Link Byfield, "Far from equal," Fri, June 16, 2006, URL accessed 20 December 2006.
  17. ^ http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20051213/elxn_harper_speech_text_051214/20051214/
  18. ^ Susan Riley, "Harper's suspect evolution", 16 December 2005, A18.
  19. ^ See Canadian Bacon for jokes about the weather and health care, and The Simpsons episode "The Bart Wants What It Wants" for jokes about Canadian health care