The big screen beckons

A story in today’s New York Times has set me pondering about pandering. On page one of the Sunday Styles section – the one with street fashion photos, society weddings, fundraisers for elites, and coverage of Kate Moss – there’s a story about Canada. The thesis is that left-leaning Americans will flock to live in Canada if Mitt Romney wins on Tuesday.

But wait, there are no actual Americans saying they will move to Canada, there aren’t even any Americans commenting on who or how many might move to Canada. What writer John Ortved has done is contact a dozen Canadians and ask them what they think of this unlikely scenario.

Among the heavy-hitters quoted are two profs at the Munk School (Janis Gross Stein and Jeffrey Reitz), a bank chairman (Rob Prichard), a former deputy prime minister (John Manley), a writer and artist (Doug Coupland), a party leader (Bob Rae), a former party leader (Stockwell Day) and a fashion designer (Jeremey Laing). Imagine the time involved in tracking all those folks down (lengthy) and the time taken to convince them to talk (likely a nanosecond).

Canadians are so desperate for recognition in the U.S. that they will participate in the most unlikely exercise just to get their names in the Times. Let’s face it, no one’s really going to pull up stakes next week and move here from Sedona or Sacramento. Even when Americans come to Canada to buy cheap drugs, they don’t stay, the chartered bus waits at the curb while they load up on Lipitor.

The article also says that “the number of United States citizens who permanently reside in Canada doubled during George W. Bush’s presidency (from 5,800 in 2000 to 11,200 in 2008).” If there are only 11,200 Americans in Canada, I must know them all.

But why quibble about mere facts? My main worry is that the big frogs in our small pond can’t resist the siren call of a higher profile in the U.S. I walked through Times Square last month and noticed that the main attraction is not a flashing LED jumbo sign for Coke or Annie or any other consumer product, it’s a video screen that shows a portion of the crowd below. For that moment, they are part of the chichi, just like Snooki or Jimmy Kimmel.

So, too, with those quoted in this story. Someone in America cared enough to call and ask them their opinion. For a Canadian, such recognition is the height of acclaim. Or, like the folks waving at themselves on Broadway, the depth of narcissism, I’m not sure which.

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