It’s often been said that the Canadian identity is defined by how we differ from Americans. We Canadians are awfully proud of our universal health care. I can’t count how many times I’ve had this conversation:
American: “So your health insurance is paid for?”
American: “So the government pays your hospital bills?”
Me: “Well there are no hospital bills. I just go, the fix me, then I leave.”
American: “And who pays the hospitals?”
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had this conversation and it’s easy to feel like you’re superior to a person who can’t wrap their head around the idea that governments guarantee citizens the right to life (even though it’s in the American constitution, but I digress), or at the very least they pay the doctors who try.
But if all we can see is that our healthcare is better than that of the USA, we’ll miss the fact that that we didn’t invent healthcare, and we’re not the leaders in healthcare. According to the most recent study from Harvard school of Public Health, we’re fourth in the world behind France, Germany, and Britain. And we certainly didn’t invent it: Germany was passing universal health care bills in the late 1800s; Saskatchewan was the first Canadian province to try universal health care and they didn’t get it until 1946. We’re not the first, we’re not the best, the only reason we have to be so proud of our health care is because we can rub it in Americans faces.
Canadians, and self-hating Americans, love to spout off stats about Canadians being healthier, less fat, making more money, living longer lives, being better educated, and it’s all true, but why are we comparing ourselves to America and not the rest of the world? And why don’t we ever talk about what’s wrong with Canada and right in America?
America has a secular constitution that guarantees government non-interference in religious matters. Canada’s constitution guarantees religious freedom for all but makes no prohibition against endorsing a single faith. Maybe that’s because our head of state is also the leader of the Anglican Church. In constitutional terms, I wish Canada could be more like our southern neighbours.
Do I think that American elections are a giant ridiculous pageant? Yes! But it makes me even more angry that the only thing Canadians seem to get upset about is the thought of exercising their democratic rights:
Canadian Citizen: “What? The Prime Minister lied to the whole country again and has lost the confidence of the house? But I just voted a year ago! We’ll just let him stay.”
So my message to Canadians is as follows:
Get over yourselves. It’s pitiful to pat yourself on the back just because you’re doing better than your nearest neighbour. Look around. This country is pretty messed up, but it’s also pretty incredibly. We don’t need to look anywhere but our own backyard to find a lifetimes worth of pride and shame.
And while I’m here: my message to Americans:
If you spend all your time telling people that America is the greatest country on Earth, you’re going to miss the fact that it’s not.
If this video doesn’t bring a frozen tear to your canuck eye, I don’t know what will.