Crazy like a fox


 

John Ibbitson laments for Washington, then remembers how much more lamentable are things in Ottawa.

They argue because U.S. society is cleaved by region, race and class more deeply than in Canada. But they also argue because they care. They believe their federal government matters and they have strong opinions about how that government should act.

Canada always struggled to define itself as a nation, and in recent years appears to have given up that struggle, retreating into regional isolation. What Canadian federal politician has a clear sense of what this country should look like in the 21st century?

Politics in America is loud, rude, messy and sometimes deeply weird. But at least the U.S. matters to its citizens. Do we keep quiet because of our famous politeness? Or is it that we just don’t care?


 

Crazy like a fox

  1. I agree with the first 3 posters after the link. I would go on but the premise of the point he is trying to make here is absurd.

    • First 3 posters?

  2. "Do we keep quiet because of our famous politeness? Or is it that we just don't care?"

    Canada was founded upon the logic of allowing heterogeneous peoples (regions, langaugages, etc.) to coexist in a federation without requiring a generalized surrender to a mythic self definition of homogeneity.

    There's good and bad that comes from such an arrangement of compromise, but it surely precludes blind patriotism. It's allowed us to avoid the more ominous and harmful manifestations of 'groupthink' and quashing dissent.

    My sense is that with the notable exceptions of a decreasing number of Ontarians and Don Cherry, most Canadians don't want a strong central goverment (they may say so at times, but we seem to circle the wagons in our own neighbourhoods and provinces at the drop of a hat).

    Also, there's a real limit to how far we can push our internal squabbles without undoing the federation, I'd suggest.

  3. "Do we keep quiet because of our famous politeness? Or is it that we just don't care?"

    Canada was founded upon the logic of allowing heterogeneous peoples (regions, langaugages, etc.) to coexist in a federation without requiring a generalized surrender to a mythic self definition of homogeneity.

    There's good and bad that comes from such an arrangement of compromise, but it surely precludes blind patriotism. It's allowed us to avoid the more ominous and harmful manifestations of 'groupthink' and quashing dissent.

    My sense is that with the notable exceptions of a decreasing number of Ontarians and Don Cherry, most Canadians don't want a strong central identity, (they may say so at times, but we seem to circle the wagons in our own neighbourhoods and provinces at the drop of a hat).

    Also, there's a real limit to how far we can push our internal squabbles without undoing the federation, I'd suggest.

  4. Ibbitson lost me at "they argue." Americans don't argue, they yell at each other.

  5. How tired. I've seen this column at least a hundred times in the last four years.

    • Really? Journos must have been rather prescient if they knew Sotomayor was going to be nominated to Supreme Court four years ago.

      • Huh?

      • I'll guess that Anon meant he/she had seen the general theme 'a hundred times in the last four years', while granting that this version has a currnet lead in.

  6. I envy the Americans and their culture of arguing over everything. But I think there culture is slowly changing and their pols will start treating Americans like three year olds who need to be mollycoddled their entire life, like we experience here in Canada.

    "They argue because U.S. society is cleaved by region, race and class more deeply than in Canada."

    I disagree with this sentence. Americans are certainly more cleaved by race than we are, for good or bad, but we have more argy-bargy over regionalism and class is about equal.

  7. "and class is about equal."

    An observation resulting from years of reviewing socio-economic research, no doubt.

    The US is a very class-stratified society compared to Canada (communities segregated by income, gated communities, elite establishments only accessible to those of a certain pedigree, etc. etc.). Americans are just not allowed to talk about it, or refer to their class wars as "culture wars" or "race issues."

  8. So, I guess if I think he's right (other than about Boehner's statement being "lunacy") that makes me crazy too, eh?
    Oh well. I can live with that.

  9. What Canadian federal politician has a clear sense of what this country should look like in the 21st century?

    Michael Ignatieff has a very clear sense of what this country should look like. It's just that he can't share it with us. If he told us, the Tories would either steal his ideas or make fun of them. So we'll just have to take his word for it.

  10. 2008 US voter turnout: 61.7% (highest in 40 years)
    2008 Canadian voter turnout: 59.1% (lowest in Canadian history)

    Are we really doing that much worse than the U.S. as far as 'caring about Federal politics'?

    • hmmm thank you Mike I have never searched on this – food for thought isn't it?

  11. We weren't allowed to criticize the US during eight years of an administration screwing it up (too smug and morally superior, don't you know), and now we have to feel inadequate that we don't have enough screw ups to fix.

    Canadians never live up to expectations of our elites.

  12. I envy the Americans and their culture of arguing over everything. But I think their culture is slowly changing and the pols will start treating Americans like three year olds who need to be mollycoddled their entire life, like we experience here in Canada.

    "They argue because U.S. society is cleaved by region, race and class more deeply than in Canada."

    I disagree with this sentence. Americans are certainly more cleaved by race than we are, for good or bad, but we have more argy-bargy over regionalism and class is about equal.

  13. Canadians debate, think critically, engage in the process, and identify issues of importance to them, every bit as much as our friends to the South.

    The difference is its transmitted and heard through a more diverse mass media than in Canada. In the US you have the networks, but also talk radio, wildly successful blogs, and cable news networks of varying political slants.

    While we are catching up, it will be awhile before we have the diversity of transmitted expression.

    In the meantime, our handful of mass media outlets that present a world view in lockstep (often ignoring or even belittling other viewpoints), will occaisionally scratch its head and wonder why there's a lack of diversity – as in this article.

    There's plenty of vigourous debate. It just doesn't enter Canadian legacy media's myopic worldview.