Yo, Canada

Yo, Canada

: Here’s a heretical thought coming out of four nice days in Toronto:

Would our world in America be all that different if we had not revolted against England?

I don’t mean to piss off Canadians with another observation that, gosh, we’re so much alike. Of course, there are differences, cultural and philosophical. Robertson Davies used to argue that Canada actually has more in common in its worldview with Scandanavia than with the U.S. and I think he had a point. And I will say that Canadians are lousy at making left turns.

I also don’t mean to piss off Americans by devaluing that which we value so strongly: our Constitution and Bill of Rights (well, except when we find the First Amendment politically inconvenient) and dogged individualism. Nor do I necessarily want to get into an argument about what I still view as the superiority, even with its problems, of the Canadian health-insurance system.

And perhaps one could argue that we’re similar because of the gravitational pull of our oomph and that oomph comes from the independence bred of the revolution.

But having given all those caveats, it is still true that we and our lives are remarkably similar for having taken such different paths 200 years ago. And our lives are similar to the lives in England and then by extension in Europe and what we haughtily call the “modern” Western world.

What ties us together, I think, is not history or revolution or philosophy but simply democracy.

What ties us together is that when you give people the right to determine their own destiny, they will find the water levels of freedom and civilization.

: I was sitting in the Toronto airport thinking about this as I read a Q&A with Natan Sharansky in the National Post (which, stupidly, won’t let us see the story; I wish I could tell you to read the whole thing but I can’t) as he flogged his new book, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror. Sharansky makes powerful arguments in favor of democracy for all people and against the prejudiced and wrong-headed belief that some people do not want or are not ready for democracy.

Why are you optimistic that people will be achieved in the Middle East?

Because I believe that every society on earth can be free and that if freedom comes to the Middle East, there can be peace. The question is whether the free world will do everything in its power to help this region become democratic.

Amen to that. Ultimately, democracy is what will tie the people of the world together. We may seem to be on radically, dangerously different courses now but in the long run, let people govern themselves, give the people control of their lives, and people will be people.

: By the way, here’s the proof that the U.S. and Canada are alike after all. I pick up Maclean’s magazine and what’s the cover story but:

The War Between Town and Country. Cottagers vs. farmers. Suburbs vs. small towns. Urban cash vs. rural clout. This is Canada’s next culture war.

AKA red provinces vs. blue.