Tag Archives: canada

Taking It Lying Down

It’s generally acknowledged among the younger, libertarian, left leaning crowd that Harper is our enemy, yet heated discussion on the topic is hard to come by, few citizens are really aware of what is happening in Canadian politics, or care for that matter, we are not inundated with political campaign propaganda,  extreme mouth pieces like the states, no Fox news or satiric Daily Show. We lack the controversy, the flash and essentially the significance. Of course, there are many countries who probably don’t feel their politics are of global influence, but the sentiment is more acute for us because of our powerful neighbors who look, act and are exposed to the same things we are, yet  constantly are getting international press coverage, whereas when we make it to global news, the immediate reaction is, what stupid thing have we done now? Although, being constantly in the press is not usually a good thing, other than feel good pieces like the Olympics the top nations to grace the front page are usually undergoing tumultuous times. So, when we hear, on a local level, of threats to our public healthcare, privatization of our resources and infrastructure, all the changes that Harper is planning, and has actually been able to implement now that he has a majority government, such as raising retirement age, pulling out of the Kyoto protocol, we shrug, we don’t really feel threatened. We hear about how the protest movement is dead with the dawn of the internet, but then we see the occupy movement that spawned a global trend, when we have a demonstration, for example the tuition protests in Quebec, the rest of Canada looks on a little baffled, is this where our energy is going, an already privileged group that does not want to give up its spoils.

Pacifism is in our nature, but with this also comes indifference and complacency. This goes even to the top, take for example when the controversial painting of Jacob Zuma, South African Prime Minister, was destroyed by saboteurs, there were protests, attempts by the government to get it removed from the museum, likewise when a compromising depiction of Harper surfaced, reclining naked on a chaise lounge there were maybe a few snide giggles, even Harper took it with good humour, the only controversy was whether it was appropriate to hang it in a room where children might see it. Not that this attitude is a bad thing, being good natured is something that defines us along with our politeness, bacon and hockey, but how far do we have to be pushed before we feel compelled to act. To use my friend as an example, he is a strong NDP supporter, he donates to the party, he volunteers and avidly follows the issues, yet he maintains that there is no point in being angry with Harper because it will get no where, whether this is a personal decision to quell the rage that would otherwise be brewing inside him, or a representation of how we as a country approach politics, likewise, if an American were in a similar position it would take very little to witness party bashing. There’s no doubt we have a good situation in Canada and it’s hard to predict how much this is at risk, but considering how our country is already established, Harper’s ideology would be a huge step backwards, unless he were to fulfill his agenda completely, and therefore change a system that is working for Cananda, we might be left with a few half-baked schemes that will require a lot of backtracking and huge sums of money when (and if) we switch parties. It is already telling that the NDP, which was always an outlier party, only having much popularity in BC, has become a major opposition to Harper,  this could be a further emulation of Americas polar parties or signify a deeper dissatisfaction that is furthering the divide between the two leanings. There was always an issue of regions feeling under represented in Canada, due to our huge geographic dispersion and varied interests, but with the resource rich prairies getting all the attention, dissatisfaction is becoming apparent with citizens turning to a more polar parties, but very little public opposition is visible to the standing party, aside from snide remarks made at social gatherings.  Not saying that we should become like the states, which has turned into a circus, but a little more interest in what’s going on in our country would help prevent the shock and feeling of helpless when these changes actually start affecting us on a personal level.

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Pictures taken at Royal Roads and Esquimalt Lagoon in Victoria, BC

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Who Am I?

Canadian born, daughter of two immigrants, living in a city that essentially borders on the states, where  every Canadian flag seems to be accompanied by a an American one, I have suffered an identity crisis, or basically a lack of national identity. This was brought to my awareness when abroad and I was made to answer questions about my country, to define myself and where I came from. I not only realized how little I knew about Canada, why we’re still attached to the monarchy and what that means for us, about our countries policies on drugs, immigration, hell, I’ve never even been to the Rockies. When having a discussion with a British friend about Canada I started listing Canadian achievements and celebrities, did you know Neil Young and Jim Carey are Canadians? Did you know we invented penicillin and basketball? he told me of a Canadian roommate he had who did the same thing. Therefore trying to prove ourselves, a sign of an inferiority complex, seems to be a trait shared by fellow Canadians. Knowing an astonishing amount of US affairs and politics, and then feeling indignant when Americans don’t know we have provinces, not states, think that we all speak French, are amazed that we listen to the same music they do, and not only do they know nothing about us, but don’t seem to care to, maintaining their hard set stereotypes about our hockey loving, free healthcare possessing, arctic cold, polite but boring Nation. There influence has be disconcerting, since there’s a big blur between American and North American. Our high exposure to their media, which is unavoidable if you have cable or listen to the radio, or go to the movies has been so ingrained in us from an early age that there is little distinction between Canadian and American content.

Another factor in our identity crisis is the large flux of immigrants that have moved into Canada’s major cities. Cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal where half of the population are immigrants, all bringing in their own cultural traditions and lifestyles.

Canadians are generally not very patriotic people, especially not in comparison to our neighbours south, and only on rare occasions, such as The Olympics and The Expo do we dust off the flag and are reminded of national pride. Other then the previous reasons listed, other factors play a part, like our vast landscape, which makes it hard to create unity when so many different sub cultures exist. Vancouverites probably identity more with Washington and Oregon then the East Coast of Canada. Their even being a movement for the creation of Cascadia, and independent country consisting of BC and West Coast states. Whereas the Quebecois have long held a separate identity from the rest of Canada, making a point of disregarding Canada, for example celebrating Jean Baptiste day instead of Canada Day.

Overall, being exposed to various cultures has giving me a worldly awareness that I might have lacked if I had grown up in an ego-centric nation, and left me without the arrogance and false invisibility ingrained in the people. In the end I know I’ll live in Canada, because even though it’s cold, can be boring, and Justin Beiber’s birthplace, I realize how lucky I am to be from here and appreciate it more every time I come back from a poverty striken, dirty country. I still have so much to learn about this country and who I am as a part of it.

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