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Oh Canada!

February 14, 2005

Some 10,000 to 20,000 Americans, unable to come to terms with the re-election of President Bush, are believed poised to leave the United States and become Canadians. Many, of course, will remain permanently in the poised position, just like Alec Baldwin, who has apparently been on the tarmac for four years awaiting a plane to some other country.

But suppose the disaffected 10,000 to 20,000 actually depart. Will they find happiness? Will they achieve peace of mind north of the border? No, they won’t. Instead they will find the following:

· Strange and maddening football games. For reasons nobody can fathom, Canadian football is played on an enormous field, with 12 players on a side and only three downs, so every third play tends to be a punt. Canadian football alone is said to have driven an estimated 2 million Canadians across the border to become U.S. citizens. Many believe Bush could not have won without the disaffected Canadian football vote.

· More Canadian music than you can imagine. Radio stations must play Canadian music at least 35 percent of the time. Strict rules determine what music is Canadian enough to fill the quota. Though Celine Dion is Canadian, her hit “My Heart Will Go On” was insufficiently Canadian, since the lyricist, the songwriter and the recording were non-Canadian. As a result, thoroughly Canadian pop music stays on the radio long enough to drive many Canadians to distraction, drink and even Canadian football.

· Except for murder, a rate of violent crime as disgraceful as that of the United States. Many U.S. newspapers salute Canada for its low crime rate. But according to the International Crime Victimization Survey, the rate of certain “contact” crimes (robbery, sexual assault and assault with force) is more than 1.5 times higher in Canada than in the United States.

· A national political leader every bit as hard to look at as George Bush. People who detest President Bush’s syntax or cocky gait must consider Prime Minister Paul Martin’s disastrous smile. Martin’s speechwriter said the PM’s “fake smile leads one to assume that Martin’s foot is being stepped on by an antelope.”

· Perplexing food decisions. Never ask a grocer in Canada for “American” cheese or “Canadian” bacon. Un-Canadian anger may ensue. Also, approach the famous national dessert, the Canadian butter tart, with extreme caution. It is made with brown sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla, and lead. Strong men have been known to eat two at a single sitting, though, because of the lead content, they are usually unable to move for several days afterward.

· The customary problems of socialized medicine. A 2000 report from the Heritage Foundation found long waiting lists, government rationing and substandard care in Canada’s system. Drug spending is controlled, according to the report, by limiting the number of approved drugs and slowing down the approval process. In one four-year period, Canada approved only 24 of 400 new drugs. Keep coming down here for health care, Canadians.

· A national infatuation with censorship. Canadians tend to be a benign people who value niceness. So they have a strong tendency to suppress speech that they see as lacking in niceness. Un-nice books and videos are seized at the border or banned from libraries. Any material cited for “undue exploitation of sex” or for being “degrading or dehumanizing” can be banned. Speech is illegal if it “promotes hatred” or spreads “false news.” Advertising “directed at children” can be ruled illegal. If the recorded message on your answering machine is deemed discriminatory, you can be prosecuted for it.

In Saskatchewan, a newspaper ad listing four biblical citations against homosexuality (just the listing, no text), accompanied by two hand-holding male stick figures with a line drawn across them, was ruled a human-rights offense, and the man who placed the ad was directed to pay $1,800 each to three gay men who were offended by the ad. “Canadians put up with an insane amount of crap that Americans might not,” said David Sutherland, former director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

· Canada’s trying to be European. Canada has been aping trends in Europe, from the obsession with multiculturalism, the rising contempt for religion, greater censorship and even a declining birthrate. Canada’s birthrate is 1.49 children per woman, well below the replacement level of 2.1. Canada’s elites behave much like those of the United States, favoring judicially imposed decisions over democratic and legislative ones. In Canada, a smaller and less varied nation than the United States, the elites meet less resistance.

But there are signs of a pushback. Though the Canadian and American press consistently give the impression that gay marriage is overwhelmingly favored in Canada, a Feb. 2 National Post/Global National poll found that two-thirds of Canadians oppose gay marriage and would likely vote against it in a national plebiscite. The polls suggest that Canadians are close to Americans on this issue. It’s elite opinion and judges that make Canada look different.

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