A Wide World Out There


Canadian readers will no doubt dismiss this as an oversimplification, but in the scheme of things Canadians are a lot like Americans. And one respect in which they resemble Americans is that Canadians have some knowledge of American politics and history. But in another respect, this is one of the biggest differences between Canada and the United States — Canadians are intensely familiar with aspects of a foreign country, whereas Americans tend to know almost nothing of the world outside our borders. Take this account of MP Bob Rae on the stump:

He went so far as — we thought the Conservatives were the worst at this kind of hyperbole — to compare Mr. Harper to the president during the Great Depression. “From Mr. Harper … we have ideology, we have personal attacks, we have negativity and we have Herbert Hoover in a blue sweater.”

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a U.S. politician draw an analogy to any foreign leader other than Churchill or Hitler. And then there’s this from his blog:

We need to build a progessive coalition to defeat the Harperites. This isn’t about saving the NDP’s skin. It’s about defeating, and replacing, a government that doesn’t believe in child care, better health care, a new partnership with first nations, Metis, and Inuit, investment in cities and has no commitment whatsoever to the environment. The NDP doesn’t get that. Jack Layton thinks he’s Obama. What a joke. He’s Ralph Nader, hand on the horn, “no difference between Bush and Al Gore”.

Zing! Obviously in large part this just reflects the realities of Canadian geography. Not many people live in Canada, and Canada’s major population centers are all pretty close to the US border and often far away from each other. Still, it’s striking.