Don’t ever mistake a Canadian for an American. I mean, seriously! It’s the best way to get a snowball thrown at you.
The truth is, despite being influenced by American culture, Canada has a true distinct society.
Historically speaking, Canada has been influenced by European culture, especially British and French. Later on, it also incorporated Aboriginal culture into mainstream Canadian society. Various immigration waves shaped the country as well.
French culture is the most obvious example in Canada. Quebec, the province with the most francophones, as well as New Brunswick and pockets of French-speaking communities across the country, have a strong cultural identity. Relationship between French and English communities hasn’t always been easy and both parts occasionally resent each other… while the rest of us laugh about it. In 2006, the Canadian blockbuster, Bon Cop, Bad Cop, told the story of two cops, one from Quebec and the other from Ontario, who are forced to work together. The movie deals with both cultures’ stereotypes — and the tagline is actually “Shoot first, translate later“.
As for dealing with other cultures… as I explained in a few weeks ago, Canada adopted multiculturalism as a national politic. We are diverse, yet united. Although some issues do arise from time to time, Canadians are pretty relaxed about the open immigration politic and generally consider newcomers as Canadian, not as foreigners.
Politically speaking, even though Canadian and American governments are currently both right-wing, the Canadian Conservative Party is still more left-wing than the Republican Party. Both countries also recently disagreed diplomatically speaking. Indeed, in 2003, Canada chose not to join the United States’ “Coalition of the willing” during the invasion of Iraq and opted out of the war — an initiative of then Liberal PM, Jean Chretien. Canadian citizens were largely in favor of the government’s decision.
Canada also introduced some of the world’s most liberal social policies:
- Medical marijuana was legalized in 2001
- Gay marriage was legalized throughout the country in 2005 (starting in 2003)
- Health care in Canada is funded and delivered through a publicly funded health care system
- We have a welfare state and services include: unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, family allowance, guaranteed income support, old age security etc.
As a left-wing supporter (come on, it wasn’t really a secret, was it!), I feel quite comfortable living in Canada. True, I’d rather have a Liberal PM but I like the general open-mindedness here and the balance between Socialism and the Capitalist word we live in seems to be about right.