Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Canada - not a panacea
Prowling about others' weblogs (for instance, the comments in one thread on Making Light - there's 2 references), and listening to my friends here in New York -- I don't know if it's joking, or being frustrated, or what -- everyone keeps talking about how "given things are this bad in the U.S., I should just move to Canada." Or "I guess we could always move to Canada!" Or "Hey, that Canada place - they've got it figured out" (and then they mention things like healthcare. And good public schools. Usually healthcare. Nothing to attract a graduate student's attention like state-covered healthcare. Very few people I go to school with right now have health coverage - Fordham's plan is pretty expensive). (I wonder how much of the "move to Canada" rhetoric is passed down from the Vietnam war era and draft dodgers)
These are usually offhanded comments, for the most part. I've had friends who talked about wanting to move to Canada who don't know the name of the current Prime Minister, for instance (or that in February or thereabouts he'll be replaced by the centre-right Paul Martin). (Then again, I was completely out of the loop for a while about the Progressive Conservative party being about to become to Conservative Party... damnit, they were my prime example for a long time of the reasonableness of the Canadian right).
Canada is fantastic from a number of angles (my favourite, of course, being that it's my home, and I'm perpetually homesick). Healthcare, yes. Affordable universities (even with the relatively astronomical increases of the last eight years, the best schools in Canada are still less than the SUNY public/state schools here in NY). A system of politics that includes an "Official Opposition," which means that no matter what the governing party does, someone is Obliged to argue against it without fear of being called unpatriotic (my friend Josh particularly loves the concept of "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition" - especially when I told him of the days that the Bloc Quebecois filled that role!). I could go on.
But all the fuss about impending legislation that Chretien is pushing through before he leaves -- all of that is at the mercy of whatever Paul Martin decides to do once he comes in.
Many Americans are rightly frustrated with their government, but ultimately conclude that they should stay in America and fight the good fight for what they believe in. Canada is experiencing the same rightward shifts, the same shifts away from conserving the things they value (a small-c conservative, I suppose?) and toward money-driven instant-political-gratification kind of nonsense. I'd ask the Americans who talk (or joke) about moving to Canada not only to read the stuff on the CBC archives about the October Crisis & the War Measures Act (1970, civil liberties suspended in Canada in response to terrorism), but also about Paul Martin and his CSL company (see Fly our Flag, an NDP site).
My overall point? Canada - not perfect. Same need to fight. If an American, frustrated with America, were to move to Canada in hopes of a socialist utopia, they would find many of the same battles. I guess a battle fought for better priorities in politics is a battle worth winning anywhere...
Two caveats -
(1) The religious right is Much Less Scary in Canada than in the US.
(2) At least we're signed onto Kyoto, the Ottawa agreement on landmines (yay Ottawa), the International Criminal Court, etc., etc.
An anti-caveat -
We're just as corrupt. While Canada didn't participate in a bunch of the US's conflicts, we still made weapons for them. woo hoo.
I guess my argument doesn't really come through clearly. I've been working like mad this week trying to get a presentation together as well as a conference to be held this weekend. Maybe my comments will be working again and someone can put all this together better than I. I just feel like I've been having endless conversations about Canada since I moved here, and I wanted to try to put some of it down to see where I had ended up.
jane 10:38 AM [+]