Canadia, I Love You, Eh?

In Life, People, Social Commentary on July 1, 2008 at 3:19 pm


I may be in Scotland but that doesn’t mean I can’t spread the Canadian love. I even had some Tim Horton’s coffee this morning, thanks to a friend of a friend and the fact that said friend did not have a coffee maker of her own. Thanks Jen!

Anyway, I have something I wrote for a new online newspaper here in Scotland that I thought I’d post, since the newspaper never seemed to get off the ground.

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The Absent Foreigners: Getting to Know Your Local Canadians

It seems that every city, county, or country has its own group of people which bears the brunt of local ridicule. In about 97% of those cities, counties, or countries, as anyone will tell you, that group is the Americans: emphasis on the definitive article ‘the,’ with a capital ‘A’ – “the Americans.” And I’ve noticed since I’ve been in Scotland that people here love nothing more than taking the piss out of Americans.

Now, I don’t intend to beg Scotland to give the Americans a break (although, to be honest, I have met quite a few Americans who can not only chew gum and walk at the same time, they can actually keep it up for nearly ten minutes without falling over). No, my concern is more with what is absent from this culture bashing: Canadians.

It’s my firm belief that over half of the stupid nonsense which is attributed to “the Americans” has actually been done or said by a Canadian, but is included in the category of ‘American’ stupidity. Of course, I understand that with an often indistinguishable accent mistakes are bound to happen. I simply feel that it’s time Canadians got their 15 minutes of fame, too. We are, after all, a very unique culture.

One way of distinguishing a Canadian by speech is the prevalent use of the utterance ‘eh.’ It is frequently a substitute for the hypothetical question ‘you know?’ which is common amongst Americans, but “eh” has more variety and thus is used more often.

However, the word ‘eh’ – and yes, to us it is a word – also serves a distinct purpose for Canadians. A Canadian will use ‘eh’ as a means of identifying people around them, specifically other Canadians. When one Canadian says ‘eh’ in the presence of another Canadian or several other Canadians, then those Canadians will feel compelled to respond with the word ‘eh’ as well, thus demonstrating their shared nationality. It’s science.

I’ve heard that people think Canadians don’t lock their doors because they’re such open and trustworthy people. This is a lie: Canadians don’t lock their doors because we all live in igloos, which naturally have no doors to lock. In fact, we are not ‘open’ or ‘trustworthy’ at all.

From an international perspective, one of the most defining aspects of Canada’s national character is their innately peaceable nature – aside from hockey. Until recently (Dear Mr. Harper: I hope you’re mauled by a bear), Canadians tended to send ‘peacekeepers’ to areas of conflict, rather than ‘troops’. Over time, Canada has gained a reputation for preferring peace… which is what we wanted you to think.

In reality, Canadians are very violent people – remember hockey? – but we are also deviously logical. Rather than openly announce our bid for world domination, we have spent years developing a key piece of machinery which, when the time is right, we will use in an unexpected way to overthrow the world powers, making Canada the most powerful nation on Earth. That’s right: the Canada Arm, long thought to be a simply brilliant and helpful staple of interstellar technology, is actually the most integral part of our master plan.

Perhaps I should be attempting to keep this Secret Master Plan a secret, but I feel it is important to give Scotland – and the world – some perspective when considering North American foreigners.

Next time you hear someone displaying their comical cultural ignorance in public, assume that they’re Canadian, not American. All we’re asking for is your ridicule and your disrespect (and eventually your forced physical labour), nothing more. Is that really so much to ask?

  1. I wish I had read this in June. I would have sent it in to the newspaper. Excellent!!!

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