Thursday, January 08, 2009

Big Brother Little Brother

The relationship between Canada and The United States is an interesting one.

Perhaps it is more misleading than interesting.

I do not mean politically. Nor foreign policy. Although both those relationships are equally puzzling.

Instead I mean the relationship of the nations peoples. Like national siblings.

I have at this point lived exactly half of my life on both sides of the U.S. – Canada border.

The basic foundation of the relationship is generally that the Canadians think little of Americans and claim they – not the Americans - hold the high moral ground.

Americans – on the other hand – rarely take time to consider Canada's opinion and most often consider Canada an extension of itself with much more liberal and socialist laws.

To most Americans, Canada is a huge wilderness north of the border dominated by polar bears, moose, drunkards and pot-heads. The bad weather comes down from Canada, and the bad guys do their best to escape north to Canada. Other than that – how Canadians feel about Americans is basically not an American's concern.

And I think this point drives the Canadians crazy!

The Canadian on the other hand has no choice but to concern themselves with everything American. Their television is inundated with American shows, news, gossip, movies, and sports. Either by the fact they are watching American networks or that the Canadian networks pick up American content.

And quite often Canadians know more about The States than they do about their own country.

Many Canadians believe that when a police officer arrests someone in Canada – that their Miranda rights – "You have the right to remain silent ... anything you say can and will be used in a court of law…" – when in fact there is no such statement that must be read to you on Canadian soil.

More Canadians know who the first President of the United States was than who the first Prime Minister of Canada was.

Canadians have a low opinion in general terms of the American population. They consider them to be rude, pushy, and just downright obnoxious. Of course this is true of some Americans – some I have known – but it is also true of some Canadians – some I have known.

Now there are exceptions to the American populous ignorance of Canada. Border cities like Detroit, and Buffalo are more keenly aware of their cross-border neighbors. Those areas receive Canadian television content from such networks as the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).

In fact – a very odd twist I am seeing now in Detroit – amongst hockey fans – is a desire to be more recognized by the Canadians CBC broadcast team of Hockey Night In Canada. Canadians consider hockey to be "their game". And therefore the best players of the game must be Canadians. This point is most poignantly and eloquently proclaimed by the iconic god of Canadian hockey analysts – Don Cherry. Being as flambouyant and significant an influence in Canadian culture as well as The self-proclaimed hockey subject matter expert – he gives little public recognition to the Detroit Red Wings – clearly the best team in the NHL now for its second straight year and a dominant contender for nearly a decade.

But the Red Wings are full of Europeans. Great Europeans. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holstram, and Nicklas Nystram – to only name a few. And there has always been a belief by Grapes (as Mr. Cherry is affectionately nicknamed) – that European hockey of finesse is not real "Rock-em-sock-em" hockey. And those players skilled with finesse are not real hockey players.

So Mr. Cherry chooses not to applaud the Red Wings as much as Detroit fans and sports media aficionados may like. Certainly not as much as they really deserve.

And the Detroit sports fans and media are very critical – quite openly – and quite passionately – of Mr. Cherry's attitude towards the Red Wings.

But the point is not whether Don Cherry likes European players – he prefers his good old Canadian boys by far – and promotes them whenever possible – which is his perceived role as a Canadian Ambassador of Hockey – but instead the point is – to me – a person very cognizant of both sides of the border …

This group of Americans care about what this group of Canadians think!

The only other time I have ever seen such American concern for a Canadian opinion was when Canada refused to participate in the war with Iraq – instead continuing its focus on fighting Afghanistan.

I for one watch both sides of the border and I laugh. Because both sides are really so much more similar than different. Both sides hold racists views only the are targeted at different victims. Both hold very similar principles and moral beliefs but where they differ they treat the difference as though they are irreconcilable. Both hold strong patriotic emotions – and both wave their own flags a bit too much.

I find it fascinating. I find it frustrating.

And because I have lived for extensive and equal periods on both sides of the border – I see both sides hypocrisies.

And I find them delightful.


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