Canadian politics, like Canadian television, isn't half as exciting as our neighbour's

Posted on October 20th, 2008

"Not life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but peace, order and good government. Oh, and a huge cultural inferiority complex."     -W. L. Morton, The Canadian Identity

Most of the time, it's great to be Canadian. We have free healthcare, the world's soundest banks and we're actually pretty well liked internationally. If you're into it, we also have same-sex marriage, legal marijuana and enough maple syrup to render every diabetic in the world permanently comatose. We're the place celebrity Democrats threaten to move to if the election doesn't go their way and global warming will almost certainly kill us last.

And yet...

We grew up watching American movies and shows, reading American books and magazines and listening to American music, almost exclusively. I've no doubt that the average Canadian can effortlessly name American heads of state going back thirty years or more and still be unable to name their own current head of state.*

For the last two years, we've had to watch our next-door-neighbours gearing up for the most fascinating and important election we've ever seen. The end of the Bush era would be reason enough to watch, but Obama's run is already the stuff of legend, destined for the history books regardless of the outcome. And if he does win – if the African-American son of an immigrant becomes the 44th President of the United States – it will be seen around the world as proof that the American Dream is more than just hyperbole. I couldn't be more interested in the campaign, and not just because Tina Fey is smoking hot.

By contrast, last week's Canadian federal election was announced on September 7 and limped to a conclusion five weeks later with the lowest voter turnout in Canadian history – just 59%. To be fair, Tuesday is cheap movie night.


*Nope, not Prime Minister Harper. He's Chairman of the Cabinet and head of government, but not head of state. Neither is the Queen. Not since 2005, anyway. No, the Canadian head of state is a black, female, Haitian journalist appointed by the Queen of England.

I voted for the one that creeped me out the least. It was a really tough call.


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