Saturday, November 14, 2009

Canadians Are Terrific ... All Except For Laverne

Irish Emigrants Waiting for a Train
Erskine Nicol

Like every other Canadian, I am a descendent of immigrants to this country. My father's family was from Scotland, and my mother's family was from England and South Africa. I grew up in a small town on Vancouver Island, and I considered myself to be 100% Canadian -- in fact, I took it for granted that I was Canadian. But as I grew older, and learned more about the world, and more about my own country, I became quite proud of the fact that I was Canadian. We are large in land mass, and rather small in population, and we are -- for the most part -- very nice people. In fact, it could easily be argued that we are rather boring. We are peaceful, and are known as the peacekeepers. In 1957 Prime Minister Lester Pearson -- arguably one of our most boring Prime Ministers -- won the Nobel Peace Prize "for his role in trying to end the Suez conflict and to solve the Middle East question through the United Nations", and establishing the United Nations peacekeeping force.

We're very easy-going people, we don't take things too seriously, we're open-minded about everything, and we learned long ago to laugh at ourselves. That may be why some most of the best comedians -- from Jim Carey to Mike Meyers -- come from Canada. We have universal health care, and yes, it works. We have legalized same sex marriage, and we look the other way when we see someone smoking pot. Unless, of course, we want them to pass the joint to us...

Most of us live along the 49th parallel, so all of our television and radio programs are from the U.S. We watch everything Americans watch, from "Dancing with the Stars" to "Survivor" to "Desperate Housewives" ... and everything in between. When I was growing up on Vancouver Island, my favorite radio station was out of Sacramento, California.

The other day I was reading a blog from the United States, and the blog owner had published an e-mail he had received from a Canadian named Laverne. I have left it unedited, complete with typos, misspellings and grammatical errors, because somehow these things seem to add to the wonderful flavor of Laverne's e-mail.

Here is a comment on radio talk from a Canadian. She cannot listen to Rush or Hannity or FOX News. Why? Because the left wing government of Canada did not want its citizens to hear free speech.

Author: laverne
I am a Canadian Living in Btitish Columbia,. I cannot get Rush by radio , as the last Liberal gov’t appointed members to the CRTC which control radio& TV stations allowed to air on Canadian Airways . We now have a conservative gov’t, but they cannot clean up all Liberal appointments , such as CRTC and Immigration Boards, as we don’t yet have a majority gov’t .The other opp party is also left (NDP) they would do everything in their power to keep Canadians from listening to FOX’s right wing shows . Some people have installed “dishes’, but in many ares , a dish is considered ‘eye polution’ .

I’m afraid this is the situation that is developing right there in your own (used to be) wonderful free country. I PRAY that that downward spiral can be stopped before it’s too late – GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Obviously Laverne doesn't understand much about radio waves. Anyone in Canada can listen to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck if they choose to do so. They can also listen and watch them on their computers, or watch them on television. Fortunately, not many Canadians -- at least none that I know -- choose to do so. The CRTC and the Immigration Boards are not blocking anything. They certainly are not "doing everything in their power to keep Canadians from listening to FOX’s right wing shows". What on earth would we do for our comedic material, if we were to do that?

Sometimes I wonder what on earth the rest of the world thinks of this quiet nation "north of the border". Do you folks really see us as a bunch of uneducated, boorish rednecks, who come in from the bush every Saturday night, sitting around in our toques drinking moosehead beer?

The world will be coming to Vancouver in a few weeks for the 2010 Winter Olympics. You are going to be pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful, cultured, cosmopolitan city, with sophisticated, educated people living here.

... Well, that is, all except for Laverne ...


Deedee said...

Well Jo, unfortunately we have a lot of "Lavernes" down here too. For me this is just more proof that they don't know what the heck they are talking about - Same is true for Rush, Hannity and all their listeners, in my opinion. As TV personality Ed Schultz would say - that's just psycho-talk! Also, you needn't worry. I'm sure most Americans think Canada is beautiful and admire the Canadian people. Each one that I've met is a friendly, smart, lovely person. My husband's family came from Prince Edward Island and we've spent some time there-heaven on earth.

Jo said...

Deedee, yes, I think Canada is beautiful too. And you know, if people want to listen to Limbaugh or Hannity, or whomever, we don't care...! *heh*

Nicole said...

Growing up one of my favorite summer vacations was going to Prince Edward Island. Lucy Maud Montgomery and Anne of Green Gables! My mother's childhood friend moved to Canada from England and we were fortunate enough to visit her many times in Thunder Bay, Toronto, and Fredrickton (sp?) New Brunswick. I've always loved visiting Canada and hope I will be able to take my children to Prince Edward Island someday. Yay for our kind neighbors to the north!

Jennifer D said...

I think Canada and its people seem wonderful...

Jo said...

Nicole, I hope you make it to British Columbia one day too. It's BIG country, and I think you would love it...!

Jennifer, thank you!!! :-)

Paula Slade said...

I've spent a great deal of time in Canada, mostly Toronto and Montreal - and a toe into Vancouver. ;-) Toronto was to me, just like Chicago where I grew up (only the Canadians seemed even a bit more genuine!) I think you have a wonderful heritage Jo, and one to definitely be extremely proud of - you all have worked out many issues that our country still struggles with. Hopefully, some day we will get it right. As far as Rush, Hannity and Beck - NO COMMENT. - Actually, I think Jon Stewart (next to Katie Couric) does the best job with real news.

Jo said...

Paula, thank you. And yes, I love Katie Couric and Jon Stewart. And yes, the CRTC does "allow" us to watch them. *heh, heh*

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Laverne has plenty of relatives here in the USA! Someone commented on my blog once that there are those among us who kick a pile of shit just to see if it stinks..... I promise not to judge your country by Laverne, if you can please overlook our native idiots, too.

Alicia said...

Hahaha, very good post! I've never met a Canadian in person, but I've known many online and they seem just as normal as we Americans! :-)

Charles Gramlich said...

I have certainly enjoyed my few visits to Canada. Very nice people and great beer.

A human kind of human said...

Oh dear, and here I was thinking all the time that the USA was defined by being just South of Canada... live and learn!(lol)

Kathryn said...

Well, when i think of Canada i think of LM Montgomery, & Mrs. Mike (in the NW Territories, not your provinces) (& i guess Jeanette Oke, tho to me she doesn't count!) And i think of PEI & Toronto & Lake Louise.

You do have a beautiful country, tho most of it is rather cold for my taste!

Kathryn said...

Oh, & i meant to say when she said she can't listen to Rush - i thought of the music group! I'm so out of current culture - either Left or Right.

Avril Fleur said...

Love your post, as usual Jo! I am very much to the left of centre politically speaking, practically a socialist, if you will!

I must however, comment on the very first line of your blog.

"Like every other Canadian, I am a descendant of immigrants to this country."

Not every Canadian is descendant of immigrants. Let's not forget the original Canadian citizens, Native and Aboriginal Canadians, who should not be overlooked or forgotten, although I'm certain that wasn't your intent at all.

the walking man said...

There is though the Canadian quota mandate for content aired by the CBC and other Canadian broadcasts outlets. A rule that by law requires that 50% of content be Canadian source origination.

Canada is not a land of ignorant boobs but it IS a protectionist society and is getting more conservative year after year.

Re: The Fowler Commission (1956)

Russell said...

No matter where you live, you are subject to stereotypes. I live in the middle of the United States in farm country. Often people on the coasts and/or from large cities make fun of people who live in rural areas.

And, to be fair, people who live in rural areas often talk about city slickers and make fun of them, too. It is human nature I suppose.

However, with the internet and mass communications, our societies and communities and countries are learning more about each other.

And you know what? We are all just people. And it is good for us to realize that people are people no matter where they live.

Take care.

Hilary said...

"Do you folks really see us as a bunch of uneducated, boorish rednecks, who come in from the bush every Saturday night, sitting around in our toques drinking moosehead beer?"

Never been to Newfoundland, Jo? ;)

Yes, I'm kidding.. mostly. ;)

Luckily, most of us are not like Laverne, and surely that's the same for both countries in discussion. Truth is, that I only said that so that I could say "Laverne and surely" ;)

The pale observer said...

Hi Jo - just found your blog - loved this post!!! I'm a displaced Canadian - I've been living and working in Ghana, West Africa for the past 13 years.

I'm from Toronto but BC is my favourite part of Canada.

We definitely do have our fair share of redneck types - go to the small towns!!! - but the great thing about Canada is that you can find ALL TYPES of people. Really. It's great.

Glad I found you - I've become your newest follower :)

Shaista said...

Dear Jo, all I know is that the time I spent in Vancouver left me feeling it was one of the most healing places in the world. Something about the high trees, the water, the quiet... in fact I loved the airport!! The moment I arrived I felt at home :)

Jo said...

Kathy, omigoodness...! What a ghastly expression, hey? I think the blogger who posted Laverne's e-mail may have been doing just that.

Alicia, *heh, heh* Normal as Americans? I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. :-)

Charles, oh, yes, Canada is famous for its beer. :-)

Anna(?) :-) Yes, they are that big country just to the south of us. *heh*

Kathryn, yes, most people don't think of the country west of the Rockies, but that's where the "real" Canada is. *heh*

Avril, oh, yes, good point...! I did forget, silly me. Of course, I was thinking about recent immigrants. But then again, even the First Nations immigrated here from across the Bering Strait from Asia. :-) But, you're right ... good point.

Mark, the U.S. is actually more protectionist than Canada -- the softwood lumber dispute being one instance. However, I think we get so inundated with American culture, that some folks try to keep us at least a little bit Canadian. But then, all the good Canadian entertainers go to -- the U.S. I do apologize for Celine Dion, however. :-)

Russell, you're so right -- people are just people, no matter where they live. I have discovered that fact with blogging. The more different people are, the more we are all the same.

Hilary, LAUGH OUT LOUD...! Ya got me... *heh*

The Pale Observer, welcome! Oh, yes, Canada is such a big country, we have our fair share of just about everything, don't we? As Hilary said, just go to Newfoundland. *heh* Actually, I would love to go to the Maritimes.

Shaista, I think you have picked up on something that a lot of people feel when they come here. There is a peacefulness, very much so!

The Bug said...

I once had a very nice encounter with a Canadian engineer in Zambia. Yum! I loved to listen to his accent - but otherwise he was just like every nerd everywhere :)

Land of shimp said...

Hey Jo, you already know a lot of my thoughts on Canada. I think Canada is much more socially progressive, and that is something I'd love to see the United States adopt. Currently in the U.S. certain elements, who also happen to be quite loud, are embracing wholesale Xenophobia where Canada is concerned. Their feelings about Canadians are not based in any semblance of reality, but rather in their own, narrow-minded fear.

The majority of people I personally know are social liberals -- they all speak well of Canada, and seem to have a more clear-eyed view. They are also the people far more likely to have gone to Canada at some point in their lives.

As for Laverne...yeah...hmmm. I think the radio waves might be bouncing off her tinfoil hat. Although it is amusing to imagine the Canadian government jamming radio waves with the use of a huge Maple Leaf, or something. Methinks that's either a crazy Canadian, or perhaps someone engaging in a little bit of role playing, shall we say? Someone in...Delaware, perhaps ;-)

Yeah, I suspect Laverne might have some smoldering trousers going, either by pretending to be Canadian, or pretending to shine light on life behind the Steel Maple Leaf (Giant.Thundering.Eye-roll).

I do have a funny story for you. A person I know went to Canada within the last two years and fell quite ill while there due to a recurrent problem with her stomach (completely unrelated to being in Canada, in other words) ...and was rushed to a Canadian hospital, where she, previously in possession of every narrow-minded, stereotypical view of Canada you can name, found herself to be taken care of splendidly. She was soooo impressed with Canadian health care.

Upon returning home Tammy (for that is her name) began to spread the word far and wide, "Wow, it was great! I loved Canada, and their health care? Amazing. I've had this problem for years, and I think I'm actually cured now, by Canadian doctors!!"

The response from the people she knew ranged from, "Really? Wow, I didn't know that...that's great." to, "Yes, I know, because Canada is, in many ways, a more progressive country than our own." to...and this is the bad one:

"You know they only took good care of you because you're an American, right?"


Jo, there's no arguing with that kind of ignorance because it's not based in any kind of reality other than wishful thinking.

I really do think it's a minority of people, they are just very vocal at times. Kind of like the Nation of Laverne. Nothing she's saying has any basis in reality, and she's as amusing as she is embarrassing.

Luckily, she's not indicative of the whole. Although she might be indicative of a specific type of hole.

Jo said...

Alane, "I think the radio waves might be bouncing off her tinfoil hat." That made me LAUGH OUT LOUD...!

Also, I had no idea Americans had such a low opinion of Canadians. I always thought Americans considered us exactly the same -- which of course we are! How on earth can Americans think otherwise? How did that happen!? It's unbelievable to me.

And yes, Canadian health care is actually better than American, and we are ahead of America in both the United Nations and the World Health Organization ratings, as far as health care is concerned.

It puzzles me how Americans can think of Canadians the way they do, but perhaps when they come here for the Olympics, they will see the truth for themselves.

It's very sad -- for Americans. :-(

The pale observer said...

I'd also love to visit the Maritimes - never been yet!

Steven said...

I hope I'm not too late to post the fact that I love Canadians? 49 years ago, I spent a fantastic weekend in Montreal. And I loved the radio show, The Dead Dog Cafe... do you need more proof? And through the years, I've discovered we're all alike. Fate has us born where we were and that doesn't give us the right to demean anyone else.

June said...

I got here by way of Original Art Studio.
I will be staying as a result of reading the last line of the eighth paragraph in this entry.

I like Canada and Canadians...knew some very handsome hockey players when I went to college in the far northern hinterlands of New York State, got great tips from the Very Big Eaters who passed through the restaurant where I worked on their way to Florida, love Terre des Hommes and the semi-European fashion sense...