Canada’s New Nationalism: Part Two of Two

On Monday, I wrote about my theory on Canadian nationalism: how I perceived we had changed from a whiny bunch of America haters to a bunch of patriotic, nationalistic individuals who just loved their country – like Americans, I guess. I mean, that was the response a lot of my post-Olympic discussions were about; how the outcry of pride struck people as being so American, as if that meant anything. It was my theory — and the theory of dozens of Canadian journalists and politicians, too — that something had happened (and what it was wasn’t exactly obvious). With a bit of time to think about it, I think I’m only partly right… well, maybe completely right. But like I said at the end of my last post (in what those in the know call a cliff-hanger or hook), I kind of wish I was completely wrong.


It’d be easy to write a thousand words about how the Vancouver Stanley Cup Riot of 2011 was completely stupid: how millions of dollars in damage was caused in several hours, how regular people turned into idiots under the mob mentality, how the Vancouver Police Department was lil-prepared, in no small part due to the city administration, and how, well, absolutely preventable the whole thing was. Sure, I could write that, but I’ll save us all some time: it was absolutely stupid.

So, what happened? How did we go from a mature bunch of friendly Canadians who could host the world without an incident to a bunch of ignorant Canadians intent on setting their own city in flames? While a large part of it has to do with police presence (ie, the city was crawling with cops during the 2010 Olympics; during the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, not so much), I think part of it is well, that nationalism Canada once seemed to yearn for. Maybe. It’s hard to say that when one contrasts this riot with the one in 1994; while there seemed to be a lot more focus on Canada this riot (more anthems and flags, whoo!), what you have at the end of the day is, well, another riot.

But it was my hope that our experience, our growing up since last riot, would have prevented this. But I think it exacerbated it.

I think Canada still has huge penis-envy for the USA. Sure, we spend all our time talking about how much better we are than the USA, but at the end of the day, I think there is some serious jealousy. Canada gets shat on all the time, especially in Hollywood. And while our credit overseas might extend a bit further, let’s be honest with ourselves: we (Canadians) watch more American TV and movies than we do Canadian or international ones. So when South Park declares war on Canada or Robin’s Canadian heritage is made the butt of every joke on How I Met Your Mother or when every other episode of The Simpsons has a Canada joke, it hurts a little.

I’ve been to a lot of hockey games (because I’m Canadian?), and this is something I’ve only noticed Canadian fans do: they boo the American National Anthem. The last game I went to, in fact, one fan shouted “This song sucks!” during the US anthem and a bunch of folks laughed; another person just straight up booed the thing. And while it wasn’t sung particularly well, that’s not a good reason to boo it (on a side note, and hockey fans can relate, it really bugs me when people shout out “free!” in response to the lyric “glorious and free!” in the Canadian anthem; it’s stupid and, well, disrespectful). Part of this, I think, is due to Canada’s love for the anti-American nationalism movie Bowling for Columbine; I think that movie has left an indelible mark in the Canadian psyche on how we view America. Especially, since (like I mentioned), so much of that movie is spent saying how much better Canada is than the US. Regardless,  booing the national anthem of any country has to be one of the most disrespectful things you can do. I mean, ignoring the fact that the US anthem is awesome (bombs bursting in the air? ramparts? sounds like a Michael Bay movie in the making, if you ask me), it’s just plain tacky: which is why you have this crazy response from American fans when the Canadian anthem is played:

I don’t want to read too much into it or to argue that all Americans are like this, or that all Canadians are like this (because I’ve never booed an anthem myself, anyway). But I think it’s terribly tacky and terribly, well, unCanadian to boo an anthem.

And I suppose that’s my next point. For a country of allegedly polite, warm, and friendly people, Canadians are fucking rude. And I think while this anti-anthem bull had been going on before the Olympics and thus before my timeline suggests, I think its gotten worse. A big thing that a lot of people noticed during the Olympics was how often the anthem was sung; and since the Olympics, I think it gets sung (especially at Canucks games) with more vigor. But there are so many tales of drunk Canadians heading south of the border to American events to boo the US anthem and sing their own, off-key, slurred, and with incorrect lyrics, that it has gotten pretty absurd.

Here’s where I’d like to end it, I guess: I’m not positive Canada has truly grown or changed at all in the last ten years, and if we have it must be for the worse. Following the Vancouver 2011 riot, a lot of people blamed the thing on a “small group” of anarchists, but one just has to watch the footage to see how many fucking people were involved. Sure, a bunch of folks, the very next day, went to help clean up. But I tire of the rhetoric that it was these people — and not the rioters (though the groups are not mutually exclusive) — that were the “true” fans, as though (especially in Vancouver), there is such a thing as a “true” fan, as though a particular group or person can “own” fandom. No. When sports riots happen elsewhere, it never happens when the final game is lost by the home team in the home city. Of all the instances in North American sports riots, it has only happened twice, both times in Vancouver, British Columbia.

So, this article and the last (over 2000 words), and the paper on which the first article is based, have all reached this conclusion: things really haven’t changed. Me? I still think Canada is the best place on earth and I’m more proud to be a Canadian than I was a few years ago. But I find myself wanting to spend less and less time around other Canadians.


Last June this open letter popped up on the Canucks forums, and I think the OP — an American — has some insightful things to say about Canucks fans. Check it:

For most of my life I’ve often wondered why Canadians hate America and her people so much. Sure, I’ve been told over and over and over again that we’re ignorant hicks who treat Canadians rude when they come to Canada to visit her cities or fish in her lakes. The same can be said for French-Canadians in the east who visits cities like Boston quite frequently, due to the proximity. I used to live in Boston (went to school there), and by far the most rude people I’ve ever met were French-Canadians! They would literally tell us to our faces how dumb and ignorant we Americans were. They wouldn’t even try and hide their resentment. Folks in Western Canada are far more subtle about their resentment, but when given the opportunity, will freely share with us all of our short-comings, weaknesses, fallibilities, etc. About ten years ago I sad down at a restaurant in Vancouver and the waiter was very friendly and cordial. He asked us where we were from and my heart sank, because I knew that as soon as I said the USA, his attitude towards us would change, and sure enough, it did.

At first I thought Canadian hatred towards Americans must be jealousy, but as time went on, I learned that it wasn’t jealousy at all – it was the opposite. From my perspective, and from the perspective of many of my friends and even family members who now live in British Columbia, its seems most likely to be a bad case of superiority complex!

I do think it’s a combination of jealousy and superiority complex. We wish we could be an economic/militaristic/cultural superpower, and still be this bastion of civil rights we perceive ourselves to be. We think we’re better than the US overall, but wish we could combine what the US is great at with what we’re great at, and we’ve subscribed to the philosophy that if we bring America down to raise ourselves up, it’s fair game (like the old joke: you never have to outrun the bear when you’re running away, you just have to run faster than your friend).


One Comment on “Canada’s New Nationalism: Part Two of Two”

  1. who-cares says:

    well said my friend, I am sorry to say that after living in Mexico, USA, China and now in BC Canada, I find this the most discomforting and spiritually poor place I ever set my foot on. I hope locals ever get their act together, and let the super-inferiority complex behind. there is an old prover that sounds something like: “Politeness does not diminish braveness”..

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