Stop Comparing Canada and the United States

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I remember reading a 2013 Maclean’s article titled 99 reasons why it’s better to be Canadian. My experience growing up in Canada was that we had to outdo the United States. There are many ways I would say that Canada is better than the United States.

  • Universal Health Care since 1984
  • Unrestricted Abortions since 1988
  • Marriage Equality since 2005
  • Death with Dignity since 2016
  • Less incarcerations per capita
  • Accept more immigrants per capita
  • And who can forget that we have Justin Trudeau instead of Donald Trump

But, comparing Canada and the United States harms Canada, especially in the Trump era.

Trudeau V Trump: How could you possibly say that Donald Trump is better than Justin Trudeau? It would be extremely hard to beat the levels of racism, sexism, and xenophobia that Donald Trump exhibits. But we need to start realizing that a comparison of the two doesn’t help anything except the Canadian ego.

The same thing with healthcare. Of course our health care laws are better. How can they not when everyone in Canada has a right to go to the doctor free of charge? How can our healthcare not be better when we turn on the news and see what the republican party is proposing?

When we compare Canada and the United States, it impedes potential progress that Canada is missing out on. Equality is not a competition. Equality is about striving for the end goal. Have we forgotten that  universal healthcare is not unique? Have we forgotten how difficult it is for people to purchase their prescription drugs or seek out dental care and mental health services?

How about when we look at the environment? Yes, the United States has pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, but Canada will not meet our goals as we continue to expand the Alberta Tar Sands. Even if Canada reduces emissions with our borders, we need to acknowledge that we are complicit in every bit of CO2 that is emitted from the many resources that we export.

What about women’s rights? While abortion is not under direct attack in Canada like it is in the United States, the Conservative Party has elected Andrew Scheer, which has been touted as a victory by anti-choice groups. And while Trudeau continues to call himself a feminist and picturing himself as someone who fights for women, this has not been met with action.

Or how about our national holidays, comparing Canada Day to the Fourth of July. Around this time of year, Canadians love to say that our national holiday is better, yet we fail to acknowledge that Canada 150 is a racist celebration of colonialism. While the federal government is spending half a billion dollars on the celebrations, they concurrently are fighting a Human Rights Tribunal’s decision saying Canada is not doing enough for indigenous children. We fail to see the striking similarities between the Flint Water Crisis and the water crises on reservations across Canada. How can we not see this as an explicit form of racism?

Canada is not the great bastion of love, equality, and progress that we like to think it is. It only becomes that country when we compare it to the United States. We need to either begin comparing ourselves to the countries we wish to emulate, or we need to create a new goal for equality and progress to strive towards.

Watch the following video by Brittlestar which is not an exaggeration in my opinion of ways Canadians see themselves as superior.

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2 thoughts on “Stop Comparing Canada and the United States

  1. Hi Ari – I agree that we should stop comparing Canada to the United States. I’d be interested to see you write a post on which countries you think Canada should strive to emulate 🙂 I think part of the problem is the lack of awareness and education that people when it comes to Canadian history and the issues that indigenous people face. My husband told me about this really interesting article and I thought I would share it with you: http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/out-of-sight-out-of-mind-2/. I think the article makes a good point that for many people, Canada’s racial problem is out of sight and out of mind. Interesting post – thanks for your thoughts!

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    1. I think part of the problem is that there are no countries to emulate. Some countries do it better than others but all countries have their problems. I think we need a unique solution to Canada. We should take ideas from all over, from the municipal level and the federal level. Take ideas from multiple different places and put them together. This will be no easy task but if we truly want to progress it is the hard work we need to do.

      Liked by 1 person

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