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Canada's View on Social Issues Is Opening Rifts With the U.S.

kuba

TRIBE Member
From the NY Times...

December 2, 2003
Canada's View on Social Issues Is Opening Rifts With the U.S.
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS

ORONTO, Dec. 1 — Canadians and Americans still dress alike, talk alike, like the same books, television shows and movies, and trade more goods and services than ever before. But from gay marriage to drug use to church attendance, a chasm has opened up on social issues that go to the heart of fundamental values.

A more distinctive Canadian identity — one far more in line with European sensibilities — is emerging and generating new frictions with the United States.

"Being attached to America these days is like being in a pen with a wounded bull," Rick Mercer, Canada's leading political satirist, said at a recent show in Toronto. "Between the pot smoking and the gay marriage, quite frankly it's a wonder there is not a giant deck of cards out there with all our faces on it."

Mr. Mercer acknowledged in an interview that he was overstating the case for laughs — two Canadian provinces have legalized gay marriage, and Ottawa has moved to decriminalize use of small amounts of marijuana. But in the view of many experts the two countries are heading in different directions, at least for the time being.

Recent disagreements over trade, drugs and the war in Iraq, where Canada has refused to send troops, has made the relationship more contentious and Canadians increasingly outspoken about the things that separate them from their American neighbors.

"The two countries are sounding more different — after 9/11, dramatically more different," noted Gil Troy, an American historian who teaches at McGill University in Montreal. "You hear a lot more static and you see more brittleness."

Of course there have been frictions before, for instance during the Vietnam War, when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau welcomed American draft evaders, but the differences in those years were more political than social. Analysts say that Canada and the United States have always been similar yet different, and that the differences are often accentuated at the margins.

But today, many analysts and ordinary Canadians said in interviews around the country, the differences appear to have moved center stage, particularly in social and cultural values.

The nations remain like-minded in pockets, but the center of gravity in each has changed. French-speaking Quebec, with nearly a quarter of the population and its open social attitudes, pulls Canada to the left, just as the South and Bible Belt increasingly pull the United States in the opposite direction, particularly on issues like abortion, gay marriage and capital punishment.

None of those have resonated much over the last decade in Canada, where the consensus on social policy seems more solidly formed, its fissures narrower and less exploitable.

Chris Ragan, a McGill University economist, observed: "You can be a social conservative in the U.S. without being a wacko. Not in Canada."

Drugs are one point of departure. A bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana is working its way through the lower house of Parliament, bringing threats from the White House that such a law could slow trade at the border.

Recently, while musing about his retirement plans, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said he might just kick back and smoke some pot. "I will have my money for my fine and a joint in the other hand," he said with a smile. The glibness of the remark made it nearly impossible to imagine an American president uttering it. But in a nation where the dominant west coast city, Vancouver, has come to be known as Vansterdam, few Canadians blinked.

When Massachusetts's highest court ruled for gay marriage, the issue loomed over American politics. Conservatives vowed to change the Constitution. President Bush said he would defend marriage. Even the major Democratic presidential candidates backed away from supporting gay marriage outright.

Contrast that with Canada, where two provincial courts issued similar rulings this year. With little anguish, Canada became only the third country — after the Netherlands and Belgium — to allow same-sex marriage as a matter of civil rights.

Canadians themselves are not wholly united on the issue. Most elderly and rural Canadians express reservations, and the Canadian Anglican Church is almost as divided over homosexuality as the American Episcopal Church. Still, Canadians remain tolerant of the shift.

More than 1,500 gay and lesbian couples have married since the court rulings. "The Canadian reaction to same-sex marriage has been mostly positive," said Neil Bissoondath, an acclaimed Trinidadian-born Canadian novelist and social critic.

But the same issue in the United States "has upset the fundamentalist Christians who drive a lot of the politics in the country, especially with the present administration in power," Mr. Bissoondath added.

Rachel Brickner, 29, a political science graduate student at McGill originally from Detroit, said that despite her own liberal views, she sometimes tired of the anti-Americanism she encountered among Canadian students.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, she said, an old roommate told her that "the U.S. deserved 9/11 because we're bullies."

"Canadians are quick to blame the United States for not knowing about Canada," she said, "but Canadians make a lot of ignorant statements about the U.S." No Canadian city reveals differences as much as Vancouver. It looks like any American city, except for a drug culture that is so abundantly open. The police rarely interfere with bars, storefronts and even offices where people can buy or smoke marijuana. A "compassion club" distributes marijuana legally to cancer patients and others who have doctors' notes.

The city opened a publicly financed and supervised injection site for heroin users in September. The federal government, meanwhile, is preparing to start an experimental heroin distribution program for addicts in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver in 2004.

The changes in marriage and drug laws, said Michael Adams, a Toronto consultant and polling expert, "means Canada is moving in the opposite direction with the United States and closer to Europe."

In his new book "Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values," he argues that greater Canadian tolerance reflects a fundamental difference in outlook about everthing from the ethnic and linguistic diversity of immigrants to the relative status of the sexes.

Mr. Adams notes that weekly church attendance among Canadians has plummeted since the 1950's while American church attendance has remained virtually constant.

To many commentators the two countries seem to be exchanging their traditional roles, one founded in America's birth as a revolutionary country and Canada's as a counterrevolutionary alternative.

During the Depression, under the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the United States was the progressive force, while Canada stubbornly held on to conservative economic policies.

By the mid-1960's, though, Canada shifted to a far more activist government, moving to a national health insurance system. Not long afterward, the Vietnam War began siphoning popularity from the Great Society experiment of President Johnson. The trends have only widened since.

Not all analysts see a big, lasting divergence. Some like Peter Jennings, the ABC News broadcaster who was born in Toronto and became a dual American and Canadian citizen in May, believe that Canadians have actually drawn closer to Americans. Nevertheless, Mr. Jennings said Canada had become "a socially more relaxed kind of place."

"Canada, as it is with some of the European countries," he added, "is trying to balance some of the market forces with public policy, which is not as apparent in the United States, where the pursuit of happiness and individualism are very much alive."

Still, a cultural gulf is widening.

"In the 70's we were taught Canada would be absorbed by the United States, and in the 80's it looked like it was happening," recalled Douglas Coupland, the Canadian author known for his cultural commentaries on both sides of the border. "Then came the latter part of the 90's and it was like some high school class 16-millimeter film where you see the chromosome duplicates, then realigns, and finally the cell splits.

"And that process only seems to be quickening in recent months."
 

mingster

TRIBE Member
yay canada.

i'm prouder and prouder to be canadian. and i'm so glad we are taking a stand to be different, to be leaders instead of followers. and to make choices because it's the right thing to do, and not because we fear our neighbours.

(please don't move this thread to politics)
 

The Tesseract

TRIBE Member
Revolution is simply an extension of evolution.

Americans are not evolving to meet the demands of their modern society. They are still the same stupid KKK white-robe-wearing gun-toters who beat up black people and say it's law enforcement......


I feel sorry for people like Ralph Nader and Michael Moore, who have to point out how stupid shit is, only to be heard by the mass populace, but not listened to.
 

JMan

TRIBE Member
And we don't sue for this sort of shit:


The Stella Awards are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald's. That case inspired the Stella awards for the most frivolous successful lawsuits in the United States .

Unfortunately, the most recent lawsuit implicating McDonald's, the teens who allege that eating at McDonald's has made them fat, was filed after the 2002 award voting was closed. This suit will top the 2003 list without question.

Here are this year's winners:

5th Place (tie):


A jury of her peers awarded Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, $780,000 after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving little toddler was Ms. Robertson's son.


5th Place (tie):

19-year-old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Mr. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.

5th Place (tie):

Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was leaving a house he had just finished robbing by way of the garage. He was not able to get the garage door to go up since the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the house and garage locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation, and Mr.
Dickson found himself locked in the garage for eight days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found, and a large bag of dry dog food. He sued the homeowner's insurance claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to the tune of $500,000.

4th Place :

Jerry Williams of Little Rock , Arkansas , was awarded $14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next-door neighbor's beagle. The beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. The award was less than sought because the jury felt the dog might have been just a little provoked at the time by Mr. Williams who had climbed over the fence into the yard and was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun.

3rd Place :

A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, $113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink and broke her coccyx (tailbone). The beverage was on the floor because Ms.Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.


2nd Place :
Kara Walton of Claymont , Delaware , successfully sued the owner of a nightclub in a neighboring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out her two front teeth. This occurred while Ms.
Walton was trying to sneak through the window in the ladies room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses.



1st Place :
This year's run away winner was Mr. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mr. Grazinski purchased a brand new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On his first trip home, (from an OU football game), having driven onto the freeway, he set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the drivers seat to go into the back and make himself a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly, the R. V. left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mr. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising him in the owner's manual that he couldn't actually do this. The jury awarded him $1,750,000 plus a new motor home. The company actually changed their manuals on the basis of this suit, just in case there were any other complete morons buying recreational vehicles.
 

Persephone

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by The Tesseract


Americans are not evolving to meet the demands of their modern society. They are still the same stupid KKK white-robe-wearing gun-toters who beat up black people and say it's law enforcement......
Correction...some Americans may be like that...but I can also find you some Canadians like that.

Not good to make that kind of generalization.

You are making Canadians look ignorant.

I'm 1/2 American...and some of my American family really is ignorant...but they aren't all oblivious.

I am prouder than ever to be a Canadian...but comments like those are embaressing and could burn potentially useful bridges.
 
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Chris

Well-Known TRIBEr
"Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt. "
 

The Tesseract

TRIBE Member
Yeah, but those kinds of Canadians don't run the country.

Actually... statistically, Canadians who own guns and rifles, are typically hunters..... or thugs.

...neither of which, as you know, have any control
Except maybe over a few acres or blocks.


:)
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
The McDicks case was totally legit!!!


They nuked the coffee for almost two minutes because oit was cold and than handed it to her. the coffee in the cup was so hot that it actually melted the cup and the boiling coffee cause second degree burns on a part of an 81 year old woman that I just don't want to picture!!
 

The Tesseract

TRIBE Member
5th Place (tie):

Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was leaving a house he had just finished robbing by way of the garage. He was not able to get the garage door to go up since the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the house and garage locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation, and Mr.
Dickson found himself locked in the garage for eight days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found, and a large bag of dry dog food. He sued the homeowner's insurance claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to the tune of $500,000.
wow... talk about stupid.
He was smart enough to drink the pepsi and eat the dogfood(that's debateable) but not smart enough to either smash the garage door so he could get out... or even smarter still... open the garage by disengaging the garage from the opener.

that's pretty damn funny.
 
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