In the past few couple of months, it has become evident that Donald Trump is a serious threat to win the Republican nomination for President of the United States. With this realization, many celebrities who don’t have much between their ears, voiced their new plan to move north if he is elected. He’s down in the polls recently, but stranger things have happened.
The first problem with these people, whether celebrity or not, saying they will move up here, is that Canada doesn’t just open its doors to everyone just because they throw their arms in the air and say “I don’t like it where I live, it sucks, can I come hang out with you guys?” In fact, there are criteria that must be met in order to qualify to immigrate to the country, even from our delightful neighbor, the United States. Secondly, another concern is that, Canada may not be what these people think it is.
There are a ton of misconceptions and rumors that make certain people think Canada is a lot better or worse than it really is. From healthcare and politics to history and climate, here are fifteen rumors and myths than everyone needs to stop believing about the northern ice block known as Canada.
15. Canadians Burned Down the White House
I’ll give out a free history lesson right off the bat. Many patriotic and misinformed people seem to think that Canadian soldiers or people from Canada burned down the White House during the War of 1812. The event happened, there is no question, but it was not Canadians. It was soldiers from Great Britain. Canada, the country, did not exist until 1867 and while the lands now known as Ontario and Quebec were called Upper and Lower Canada, respectively, but Canada was not an independent nation and the burning of Washington D.C. and the White House was carried out by British soldiers.
This myth is often trumpeted by Canadians as a way to build up nationalism, but it is unnecessary. Real Canadian military achievements include a decisive victory of the Germans at Vimy Ridge in 1917, and taking Juno Beach on D-day. But still, our history teachers keep indoctrinating kids with this 1812 nonsense.
14. The Beer
Plain and simple, folks, beer is not stronger or necessarily better in Canada. In terms of strength, beers from all over the world vary in alcohol by volume and as such, different brews pack a quicker buzz. In terms of quality, it also depends on what you shop for. In Canada, we have our share of garbage, mass-produced beer that is basically carbonated sewage. But if you go anywhere that craft brewing is allowed, you will find superior selection and quality. This is as true of the United States as it is Canada and anywhere else where there are dedicated, passionate brewers. This is not to say Canada doesn’t have great beer, but rather to indicate that beer is an art, and when diligent brewers, regardless of location and nationality, commit to their craft, it is a true thing of beauty.
On a side note, that picture is of a government run Beer Store in Ontario: the only way Canadians in most provinces can purchase beer (with the notable exception of Quebec). Because many states regulate the distribution of beer far less than Canada, I’d say the situation to the south is better.
13. Everyone Is Really Friendly
Canadians are often spoken of as kind, friendly people. This should be modified slightly; Canadians are polite. Not just polite in fact, but polite to the point that the word “sorry” is said in nearly every sentence. But aside from our awful national word, being polite does not necessarily translate to friendliness. There are some incredibly impolite Canucks out there. I recently witnessed a brief fist-fight in the middle of an intersection in Ottawa, Canada. It was during a snow storm and two drivers had rolled down their windows and criticized each others’ driving.
12. Everyone Speaks French Fluently
Canada has two official languages; English and French. Most of the country speaks English, while there are a few places where French is the most common tongue. The province of Quebec, along with communities in Ontario, and New Brunswick are the places in which French is primarily spoken, or on par with English. However, the entire country does have some French language ability, because it is mandatory to learn throughout elementary and secondary school.
11. All Canadians Play (or like) Hockey
Don’t get us wrong, the country still shuts down if the Canadian national team is playing for the gold, but there are plenty of Canadians who do not care for hockey. Furthermore, hockey is not our only national sport, until 1994 it was lacrosse.
The country is hockey crazy, but there are zealous baseball lovers up here, mixed martial arts fans everywhere, football fanatics, and basketball nuts. Aside from those Canadians who like other sports, not everyone plays hockey for a few reasons. Some just don’t care for it. We tolerate them, but keep and eye on them too, because that ain’t right. Others can’t afford equipment, as it is quite expensive, and others are concerned about injuries. Much like concussion concerns with regard to football, hockey involves fighting, aggressive body checking and hits to the head are inevitable. Some parents are just trying to avoid all of the above.
10. It’s Always Cold
Granted, if you go far north enough, yes, it is always cold. But the vast majority of the Canadian population lives close to the U.S. border, and as such, the annual climate is roughly similar to that of Minnesota, New York and other northern states. Up here there was no snow until after Christmas and now, in late March, the snow is gone and it’s above zero. Come May and June, the temperatures will be in the 70’s and 80’s, and they will stay there (and get hotter) until September, maybe October if we’re lucky.
9. It’s a Weed Wonderland
When some Americans think of Canada, they think marijuana. Apparently the weed up here is great, plentiful, and not frowned upon or illegal. Well, it is still illegal, and while small amounts for personal use are seldom prosecuted in any serious way, if a cop does see you smoking a joint, he’ll likely take it away and issue a stern warning. Medical pot is legal everywhere, but if you dare to roll one to unwind at the end of the day, you should probably do so at home and quietly.
To grow or distribute pot however, is still quite illegal. Our new “leader” Justin Trudeau pledged during the 2015 election that he would legalize pot but he’s slow to act. Sure, it’s a better place to be a pothead than some places in the states, but it’s not like anyone can toke up wherever and whenever they want. What does this look like, a free country?
8. Canada is Incredibly Safe
The thing about safety in Canada is a lot like safety anywhere in the developed world. You’re probably okay if you stay in a nice neighborhood, and even if you go to the nasty part of any city, you should be fine as long as you mind your own business and don’t go looking for trouble. With that said however, crime does happen.
In terms of violent crime in developed nations, Canada is lower per 100,000 citizens than the United States, but in both Canada and the U.S. it varies a lot province to province and state to state. Canada is usually around 1.5-2 homicide deaths per 100,000 citizens while the U.S. is between 4-6 such crimes per 100,000. But several provinces are below 1 per 100,000 while the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are often higher; in some cases getting up around U.S. numbers. Obviously murders are just the most severe crime, and just one example, but Canada is no crime-free paradise.
7. There are No Guns
Fair enough, compared to the United States, Canada doesn’t have a lot of guns. It’s relative, the United States has tons of guns (good for you guys/them) and Canada has a lot less. According to gunpolicy.org (reasonably reliable source) Canada has about thirty privately owned firearms per 100 people. This is low compared to the U.S. in which there are more guns than people. But it’s still 12th in the world. There are plenty of guns up here, but the government makes it nice and complicated to get them, and every now and again, they arbitrarily decide a gun “looks scary” (such as the VZ 58 rifle) and decide to outlaw it, sending cops into the homes of law abiding citizens to seize lawfully held guns.
6. Canada Lacks a Military
As we indicated in point fifteen, the Canadian military has punched outside its weight class in World Wars One and Two, despite a history of being poorly equipped. More recently, our uniformed personnel participated in the conflict in Afghanistan. Canadian soldiers didn’t go to Vietnam, but Canucks did serve in Korea.
Today, the Canadian Armed Forces have had their budgets routinely slashed, but remain a solid fighting force. Between active force and reserves, the CAF are around 90,000 strong. Obviously much smaller than the United States, but we also have a tenth of the population.
Look at it this way, much like gun ownership, this is all relative. Imagine your neighbor has a tank in his driveway, a machine gun nest on the roof and a minefield in his backyard, while you just have a couple of AR15’s and a Glock for home protection. Your home would seem completely unsecured compared to your neighbor. It’s the same with Canada and our heavily armed buddy to the south. The U.S. has stealth bombers, heavy bombers, ludicrous amounts of A1 Abrams tanks, aircraft carriers and so on. Canada has CF 18’s (the Hornet), C2 Leopard tanks, and smaller naval vessels. Of course it seems underwhelming compared to the awesome destructive power of the States.
5. The Cops are all Dressed in Red
Canada’s federal level police force is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Thanks to a few movies such as Dudley Do-Right, some have the misconception that the “Mounties” wear their red uniforms on the job. The “Red Serge” is their dress uniform, worn ceremonially.
In fact, when on duty, uniforms vary from city to city, and province to province, but they are all a variation on the standard blue or black with a distinctive hat. For more serious situations, cops who work in large cities will likely be decked out in body armor and carry rifles or shotguns.
4. The People are all Liberal
The voices of Canadians on the right side of the political spectrum are often drowned out by the constant drone of the decidedly liberal media. One of our largest sources for news, is of course a left wing government-owned outlet known as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; which is taxpayer funded to the tune of just under a billion dollars per year.
While our liberal party is in charge right now, and many Canadians are happy about it, many are disgusted. This happens every time we have an election. Just like U.S. we have people who say things like “if X candidate gets elected, I’m moving to country Y”. Until just last year, our conservative party, who were notoriously tough on crime, reduced funding for many government agencies and departments (but mismanaged money in other ways) had been in charge since 2006. Along with liberal and conservative parties, Canada also has the Green Party (environmental focus), the Libertarian Party (limited government, personal responsibility, lower taxes), the New Democratic Party (socialist), a few communist-leaning parties, and an absurd amount of other parties that rarely get many votes at all, which range from fascist to anarchist.
Overall, the conservatives in Canada are probably more liberal than those in the U.S., but we are not all dope-smoking flower-children. Right now for instance, many Canadians are furious over the talk of legalizing pot, others are enraged that Canada is letting in Middle Eastern refugees, and more still are concerned that the country is not being proactive enough to destroy ISIS.
3. “The Mosaic”
The Canadian “mosaic” versus the American “melting pot” is an idea that young Canadians have viciously rammed down their throats from a young age. The “melting pot” or so we’re told, is the system whereby anyone who lives in the United States is told to act American and leave their past behind, while our precious little “mosaic” country loves people of all colors, cultures, sexual preferences and so on. It’s a cute idea, but it’s just that; an idea.
The fact of the matter is: there is intolerance of every kind in Canada. There are homophobes, transphobes, racists, religious bigots, and every kind of prejudicial person on the globe. The government likes to play up this idea that everyone in Canada is a friendly, shining beacon of stupid, giddy love, like a country of golden retrievers that walk upright, but this is not the case.
2. The Health Care System is Amazing
When we go to see a doctor in Canada, we seldom pay for it right then and there. But to call it a “free” healthcare system is a misuse of the word. We pay thousands every year, whether or not we use it. While this may sound like a small price to pay, most Canadians are unhappy with the service they get according to recent surveys, and Canada has among the longest waiting times of any developed nation.
While waiting for an appointment to see if you’re allergic to cats is one thing, waiting several months for leukemia treatment is another thing. A recently publicized situation in Canada saw an 18 year old girl die from that disease because of a bed shortage. She needed a bone marrow transplant, had a donor available, but only a certain number of patients can be taken per month, and she was not on that list and was required to wait. Canada has thousands of capable doctors and dedicated nurses, but a wasteful and uncaring bureaucracy stands in the way of their life-saving trades.
Some in Canada say things like “the wait times may be ridiculous but at least I don’t go broke paying for treatment”. But I imagine many Canadians with dead relatives who died waiting for operations would love to go broke to save their families. Even that isn’t an option up here.
1. Canada is Socialist
This is a hard one to determine. There are some socialist programs in Canada. We have a taxpayer funded healthcare system, and no private alternative, which is textbook socialist. We have a national pension fund; not optional, and everyone in the country who works pays into it. Some provinces are currently looking into the idea of provincial pensions as well. It’s a nice idea that government can provide for all old people, but doing some quick math indicates that being financially diligent and funding one’s own retirement account from a young age will likely bring a much better nest-egg.
We have disability packages for those who are unable to work (not really a problem, is it?), and a generous safety net for those who get laid off (we call it employment insurance), or those who don’t feel like working, called social assistance or income support, but more commonly referred to as “welfare”. While some people use these for just a short time and then get back to “contributor” status, these programs are abused routinely.
With all this said, Canada still has a competitive, capitalist economy, and while one can scrape by in social programs funded by the taxpayers’ dime, it is better to work, and Canada does remain a good country in which to start a business. Obviously it’s not perfect, as there are a slew of regulations in any line of business, cronyism, and of course rampant corporate welfare (just look up the company Bombardier for an example) but these things are found everywhere. In short, it is imperfect, and social programs are available, heavily bureaucratized, and frequently abused, but it is not a full-blown socialist country.