A Canadian Mindset (8/10)

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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.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Wow, I had no idea about some of that. Very intersting. I’ve been to British Columbia and it was beautiful. I would love to make it to Quebec one day and see some of the areas that I’m studying through my ancestry!

    Tanya’s last blog post..Taking a Break

  2. I’m sure there’s some cons to living there…like uh…Mexicans! (cheap labor, good food, spanish speakers)

    I will say this much about Canada; They have pro-wrestling (a love of mine) and great skateboard parks (another love of mine) so maybe Canada is more than just American Jr.

  3. I was very glad & proud that Canada “chose not to join the United States’ “Coalition of the willing” during the invasion of Iraq and opted out of the war”.

    “Canada adopted multiculturalism as a national politic. We are diverse, yet united.” I think that’s what some of us hope for the USA. Canada is like the older sibling. And the USA still playing in the park.

    The cons: long cold winters, and huge blood sucking mosquitoes

    Spyder’s last blog post..Ask me about the meaning of Life

  4. Liberals in this country tax the crap out of us, are slow to spend it and when they do it’s on everyone who didn’t put into the fund; conservatives cut taxes and give businesses more money, but start wars and send all the work to other countries!

    If I defect to Canada, will you and your hubby give me sanctuary? :o)

    Ghosty’s last blog post..This Blog Isn’t Named Like It Is For Nothing

  5. Salut Zhu,
    Thanks for your visit to my blog.
    You can also put me into the vast expat category,being a US citizen who lives in France.But, I enjoy meeting all sorts of bloggers.
    You are giving me some interesting posts to read on Canada before my trip there in Sept.I’ve never traveled there, but of course, I’am looking forward to it.

    Great blog; keep up the good work.

    barbara’s last blog post..Photo play

  6. Thanks Zhu for this post and yes I did feel the distinct culture difference once I crossed over to Canada 😀

  7. Hi Zhu,

    I am familiar with Canada’s Universal Health Care program which was born out of the efforts of Tommy Douglas and his Saskatchewan Hospitalization Act. This was later adopted by the New Democratic Party of Lester Pearson in the 1960’s.

    The Douglas concept was for comprehensive and universal health care. This is perhaps one of the best in the world. The US is still debating the concept. Their efforts are being opposed by the neo-conservatives who control Washington and who continue to lobby for the continuation of the war in Iraq.

    Canada is a Paradise compared to the USA. The diversity in Canada is not as volatile as that of America, and all the animosity expressed by America towards Canada is just plain envy. Imagine, the current US President never once visited Canada in his 8 years in office? Their loss. Your gain. Lucky you! :-)–Durano, done!

    durano lawayan’s last blog post..Recession Rocks the Republicans

  8. Related to Canadian health care, one thing that has really surprised me is the push for more privatization here, especially in Quebec. Yes there are long waiting lists and it can be hard to get a doctor, but this has more to do with the a shortage of medical specialists. When you give everyone access to doctors, they will be more in demand. Also, most people outside of Canada don’t realize that the government provides no drug benefits and no dental benefits. Canadians spend a lot on private healthcare getting coverage for non-medically necessary services. Whoa, I need to stop . . .

    Disclaimer – I am employed with a nonprofit organization whose sole purpose is to defend Canadian healthcare from unnecessary privatization.

    johnada’s last blog post..100th POST – The Johnadian Economy is Strong and Will Not Be Brought Down By the U.S. Recession

  9. I find this very interesting – a great comprising and explanation. It support my feeling of that Norway and Canada has very much in common. I mean the fauna and the climate is obvious, but politically too.
    You call yourself left-wing (and I wasn’t surprised!) and I call myself a social democrat. I know most Americans (at least not in US will understand that expression), but to me it means that you build a society where everyone has equal opportunities for e.g. healthcare and education, no matter their fortune or income. That means that we pay more taxes and that more are governmental run, but that is much better than having an elite of rich people running for their pure and selfish interest. I want a society where people talk, not the money!

    So then: Do you still invite me to Canada? 😆

    RennyBA’s last blog post..Slow Food Catfish delight and quality time

  10. @Tanya – Quebec is a really nice place to visit. The province is beautiful… good side of genealogy is to find ancestors everywhere!

    @sir jorge – Of course there are cons of living in Canada… that said, I really don’t think we are America jr.

    @Spyder – Can’t disagree with the long winters thing… but I haven’t had much troubles with mosquitoes so far!

    @Ghosty – Sure! Canadians welcome all ex-American 😉

    @barbara – Same here, will be back to your blog. I love seeing France through foreign eyes… it’s fascinating!

    @shionge – Smart girl, I knew you will understand this post!

    @durano lawayan – I didn’t know Bush never officially visited Canada! I guess it’s a good thing that said 😆

    You’re one smart guy — you seem to know a lot about various places!

    @johnada – I’m with you on that one — I don’t understand why people here seem to thing privatizing is the key to docs shortage.

    The health system in France is very similar, except prescriptions are usually paid for by the government. Dental fees are expensive everywhere as far as I know and never taken care of, unless you have a good private plan. Anyway, I like the Canadian health system… I just hope there will be more docs on the market in a few years.

    @Theresa – But you know, summers are surprisingly hot and fall is just beautiful. You just have to get away during winter, that’s all!

    @Art – Nope! Come in the fall, it’s warm and beautiful. Summers are almost too hot.

    @RennyBA – I like social-democrats as well 😉 I can totally see your point and I don’t think we’re far politically speaking.

  11. yeah, ive met a few canadians and they seem like totally different people from the americans i know! wierd how close they are though and yet have such a big difference. i guess its because their army has no guns :p

  12. If you don’t mind dissent in your blog, you have a couple factual errors. Canada DID go to war with the US in IRAQ! Just google it: [“Canada’s Secret Contribution to the Iraq War”] It is a well-hidden secret in Canada. But most people in other countries are aware of it.

    You also probably want to read this as well and thoroughly if you are open-minded and are interested in different perspectives that focus on more of a balanced outlooks as opposed to some “dreamy utopia”.


    It’s always easy to shine a pretty light on any country and hide what is bad. There are two sides to every coin.

    I recommend that you look at an issue/nation from several angles.

  13. Very funny and true.

    I have tried many times to figure out why and how Canada is different that US. Living in both places, I have come to believe that from birth, Canadians just are on a different thought pattern. Like twins- one is raised by a scientist, the other by a philosopher. They will be very similar, but very different.

    Ah, but I am still trying to really put my finger on it!

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