Oh, Canada

For years I’ve been struggling to understand why Americans are so much better at so many aspects of life than Canadians. After all, we have drawn on the same pool of immigrants and we are both democracies with excellent education systems. Canadians even have a few advantages such as a universal health care system and a safer environment. 

To be sure, we both have problems. The U.S. has a racial divide. We have native Canadians who are routinely ignored even when they’re murdered by the hundreds. But we should also have the same opportunities as Americans do to grow, invent things and do well.

In a few pursuits, you can easily name dozens of Canadian successes in the U.S. or globally including comics (Jim Carrey, Martin Short); singers (Shania Twain, Justin Bieber); actors (Christopher Plummer, Mary Pickford) and writers (Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro.) But these are all entertainers. I used to think that we had so many successful songsters because of the Canadian content rule requiring airplay. While that may have been helpful, it no longer matters. Today’s stars are made by social media. The singer who won the most Junos Sunday night, Kiesza, started with one hit, Hideaway, that led to more than 200 million views on YouTube.

But where are the dozens of Canadian business leaders, jurists, academics or inventors with international reputations? Even The Netherlands, with a population that’s half of Canada’s, has as many Nobel Prize winners as we do. I’ve come to the conclusion that too many Canadians are just plain lazy. You can count the number of Canadian-based global manufacturing firms over the last 150 years on the fingers of one hand. Sweden has that many right now. This country began with British and French interests killing beavers to make hats for London gentry. We’ve lived off our natural resources ever since. Send iron ore to Cleveland or bitumen to Texas for the more difficult value-added portion. That way we don’t need to act or think for ourselves. That’s no way to spend a life. Or 33 million lives. 


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