Articles, Princeton writings December 1, 2003

A few of the many reasons to envy Canada

by Kai Chan

Admit it. All of you secretly wish that you were Canadian. From flag-waving American undergraduates to overseas graduate students, you are all envious of the Canadian mystique. I do not blame you for being jealous. I understand that it is this jealously that leads you to tease us “poutine” and “beaver tail” eaters.

Some of you may be sheepishly asking what is so good about Canada that others would be envious. For sure, most of you are not envious of having winter nine months of the year, and neither is it that you care for eating mooseburgers or cod tongue (although they are tasty!). But if you think about it, Canada really is a great place. In addition to pristine wilderness and the best damn maple syrup in the world, Canada is a progressive country that produces progressive people. In what other country can you be in a part of a city known as Little Italy yet dining in an Indian restaurant that is owned by a Jew, albeit eating Vietnamese food and drinking “Maudite” with your half-Brazilian, half-Croatian date, while being served by a Chinese waiter, watching Anson Carter (who is black) score for team Canada to win the world hockey championship, and have the table beside you be full of Arabs and Native Indians screaming wildly in French and think this is normal? You see, while other countries are desperately building walls or promoting ethnic cleansing, we in Canada (except Albertans, maybe) enjoy the mosaic that we are creating.

Growing up in Canada one acquires an easygoing demeanour. Sure we sacrifice a bit of GDP, but our conscience is clear because we don’t evict indigenous peoples from their ancestral land to drill for oil. Furthermore, us Canadians need not worry when we travel abroad. We are too busy fishing and playing hockey to be dropping bombs on impoverished nations and stirring up trouble in distant lands to get people roiled at us. Moreover, Canadians are not in the business of occupying other nations or installing puppet regimes to maintain a banana trade. Also, where else but Canada can you have the leaders of the country be cream-pied by protestors? (Heck, in some countries you can’t even criticize the government without being labelled unpatriotic!) And there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that your tax dollars are not being squandered. I mean, what kind of a society would tolerate having millions of children live without adequate healthcare simply because they had the misfortune of being born poor, yet have the resources to build nukes?

Human rights are actually respected in Canada, and you won’t find your kidneys stolen in your sleep (although missing teeth do seem to be a problem — but that’s from playing too much hockey). Xenophobia is not the paradigm in Canada, and demagogues are quickly shot down. Canadians do not believe that they are a superior or special race — in any case, we are a multiracial society. So even as other countries that desperately need 29

immigration to sustain their populations have balked at the idea of having “foreigners” in their land, Canada is happy to continue accepting people from around the world.

Canadian undergraduates, you are away from the motherland during these formative years, so try hard to resist the pitfalls of life abroad. Remember that it is “hockey” not “ice hockey”, “grade three” not “third grade”, and our governors are “left-handed”. My fellow Canadian graduate students (who attended college in Canada), we must show the youngsters the correct path: Degrassi Street is a real street; “Schwartz’s” makes the best smoked meat; and “Club Super Sexe” is a fun place for a first date. Ours is the first generation that is growing up with the ideals of tolerance and multiculturalism. We are the new Canada — let’s make the world wish they could chew whale blubber with us!

For sure Canada is far from perfect, but after watching the nightly news and putting up with overt racism in my travels (including the United States), I am happy to accept cold winters and constant ridicule as a price for more fishing days and a tolerant society. Anyhow, here are the top 10 reasons why Princeton students wish they were Canadian:

10. You get to be a hockey superstar here (even if you stink in Canada).

9. Going home for the breaks is not far, yet you get to cross an international border (duty free!).

8. You get to ridicule the impotent American beer and their arcane alcohol laws.

7. You could survive the winters here with just a sweatshirt and a toque.

6. You would kick ass in snowball fights.

5. You would have a higher appreciation for haute cuisine like ketchup-flavoured potato chips and “Coffee Crisp”.

4. You get to pass off “Canadian Tire” money as Canadian currency to unaware CVS attendants, and you get to slip in Canadian coins in the vending machines.

3. The opposite sex finds the words “eh” and “tird” (not “third”) oh so sexy!

2. You would be eligible to become the next President of the university (à la Harold and Shirley). And finally . . . (drum roll)

1. You would appreciate this article and would refrain from sending me hate mail.

Kai L. Chan is an economics graduate student from Toronto.

The Daily Princetonian: “A few of the many reasons to envy Canada”

Published: Monday, December 1st, 2003