Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Is Canada a nation?

August 3, 2017

In this post, I consider two authors who argue that Canada is not a nation.

Click to enlage. Source: Cyrus Dahmubed

Joel Garreau, a reporter for the Washington Post, wrote back in 1981 that the USA and Canada were not actually nations, only a collection of regional cultures.

He claimed that their territories were actually divided among The Nine Nations of North America (shown in the left map above), of which only Quebec was wholly contained within the jurisdiction of Canada and Dixie within the United States.

His conclusions were based on travels and interviews in the late 1970s, and he concluded that there really were six Canadian nations, all but one of which had a metropolis in the United States.  They were:

  • New England (Boston), the U.S. New England states and the Canadian maritime provinces.
  • Quebec (Montreal), the actual province of Quebec.
  • The Foundry (Detroit), the industrial region north and south of the Great Lakes and including the U.S. Middle Atlantic States.
  • The Breadbasket (Kansas City), the agricultural U.S. Great Plains and the Canadian prairie provinces.
  • The Empty Quarter (Denver), the thinly populated, mineral-rich Rocky Mountain states and provinces and the Canadian north.
  • Ecotopia (San Francisco), the Pacific-facing region from San Francisco to Juneau, Alaska.

Americans and Canadians within these areas, Garreau argued, had more in common with each other, economically and culturally, than they did with U.S. and Canadian citizens in other regions.

Colin Woodard made the same argument 30 years later in American Nations: a History of the Eleven Regional Cultures of North America, except that, unlike Garreau, he defined all of his “nations” except the Far West based on their cultural inheritance rather than economics and geography.

He divided Canada into six “nations”, at least four of which overlap with the United States.   They are:

  • First Nation, the newly autonomous American Indian nations in the Canadian North.
  • New France, the heirs of the original French settlers.
  • Yankeedom, roughly corresponding on the Canadian side to Garreau’s New England.
  • Midlands, which I will discuss below.
  • The Far West, roughly corresponding to Garreau’s Empty Quarter
  • The Left Coast, roughly corresponding to Garreau’s Ecotopia.

Woodard, who lives in Maine, described the sense of unity between New England and the Canadian Maritime provinces.  The Canadian Maritimes were settled from New England, he wrote, and Yankees and Maritimers were reluctant to fight each other during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

The provinces of Upper Canada (now Ontario) and New Brunswick were created after the Revolutionary War to provide a refuge for defeated Loyalists after the American Revolution.   Most of those Loyalists, according to Woodard, were pro-British fighters, neutral merchants and farmers and Quaker pacifists from the New York City and Philadelphia regions.

Some of them were loyal to the British crown.   Others were attracted by the offer of free land in Ontario—a forerunner of the U.S. Homestead Act.

British, Scots and Irish settlers came in larger numbers to the Maritimes and Ontario, but, according to Woodard, the settlers from the U.S. Midlands came first and it was they who set the tone for the culture.   That is why his hypothetical Midlands region has such a strange, looping shape.

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The passing scene: Links & comments 10/24/2015

October 24, 2015

Anxious Hours in Pivotland: Where’s My Sailthrough? by Peter Lee for China Matters.

Neither South Korea nor Australia support the U.S.-Japanese opposition to Chinese efforts to claim islands in the South China Sea.  The Chinese Navy meanwhile made a point about freedom of the seas by sailing through Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

Trey Gowdy Just Elected Hillary Clinton President by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

Or at least greatly strengthened her bid for the Democratic nomination.  The Benghazi hearings made Republicans look like fools and showed Clinton as someone who is a match for them.

Are Canadian progressives showing Americans the way? by Miles Corak for Economics for public policy (via Economist’s View)

America’s Civilian Killings Are No Accident by Peter Van Buren for We Meant Well.

The bombing of the hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, had many precedents.

What Is life? by Matthew Francis for Mosaic.  (via Barry Ritholtz)

If humans encountered extraterrestrial life, would we know it when we saw it?

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An example of a positive campaign ad

August 28, 2015

Canada’s Texas elects a leftist government

May 6, 2015

Alberta is to Canada as Texas is to the United States.

alberta_oil_sands_mapIt is the heart of Canada’s oil industry and the site of the tar sands industry which hopes to pump corrosive bitumen through the Keystone XL pipeline.  And it is the stronghold of the Conservative Party, Canada’s counterpart to Republicans here in the USA.

But yesterday Alberta’s voters gave a plurality of their votes and a majority in the provincial legislature to Canada’s leftist New Democratic Party.  The results are roughly equivalent to Bernie Sanders being elected governor of Texas and the Tea Party being swept out of office.

Not that the New Democrats are going to shut down the tar sands industry or anything like that.  Its platform is:

  • an increase in the corporate tax rate from 10 percent to 12 percent
  • a $15 an hour minimum wage;
  • a review of the royalties that petro-carbon producers pay (which have plummeted in recent years);
  • a ban on corporate donations for elections;
  • a phase out of coal power

Canada’s politics are more changeable than U.S. politics, and Canadians have a wider choice of political parties, so it’s hard for me as an outsider to gauge the significance of this.  That said, it seems to me that this could be the beginning of the end of Canada’s pendulum swing to the right.

I’d be particularly interested in comments from Canadians on this.

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The death throes of Alberta tar sands?

March 3, 2015
Alberta tar sands.  Source: The Economist

Alberta tar sands. Source: The Economist

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

The dangerous and destructive Alberta tar sands project may be in jeopardy economically because of falling oil prices, the Washington Spectator reported.

An end to the project would be good news, but the desperate struggles of the dying industry to survive by any means necessary could cause even more damage before it disappears.

Tar from tar sands is extracted by a process as environmentally destructive as strip mining and hydrofracking combined.  Tar Sands Solutions says an area of northern Alberta the size of Florida is being devastated.  Scientists say that the tar sands project in and of itself could have a measurable effect on global warming.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Extraction products a product called bitumen, a corrosive slurry that must be brought to a refinery to be converted into a useful product.  This creates a high risk of pipe breaks or leaks from tanker train accidents along the way.

As oil prices fall, the higher the volume of bitumen that must be shipped from northern Alberta to generate enough revenue to keep the project going.  Mark Dowie, writing in the Washington Spectator, says this creates an opportunity to block the project.

It is not necessary, he wrote, to stop all tar sands pipelines—the two planned for Canada’s west coast, the one planned for Canada’s east coast or the Keystone XL pipeline through the United States to the Texas Gulf Coast.  Blocking two or three would be enough to make the project economically unfeasible.

This makes sense.  But tar sands in its death throes could be even more destructive than it is now, as the owners try to ship their product by tank cars or by any other means necessary.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

President Obama vetoed a bill requiring him to approve the Keystone XL pipeline on his own.  But he still could approve it on his own authority.  Canada could ask a NAFTA tribunal to order the United States to pay penalties if he doesn’t.  Or it could wait for until a new President is elected in 2016.

I used to look upon Canada as not just a good neighbor to the United States, but as a good example.  That’s no longer true under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

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Veterans Day and the Great War

November 11, 2014

Veterans Day, which is called Remembrance Day in Canada and other Commonwealth nations, was originally called Armistice Day.  It honored the Allied troops who died in what then was called the Great War or the World War on the anniversary of the official end of hostilities during the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

The following is from the Notes to Ponder web log.

When the first war called, Charlie Perkins and 4 close friends left the serenity of Fraser Valley farmland. Charlie, a flight instructor with the Royal Flying Corps was the only survivor.

Charlie's TreeOn his return in 1919, he honored fallen comrades by planting ivy at the base of a massive Douglas Fir, a tree close to the swimming hole they frequented – a simple act of remembrance.

The following year fire ravaged the 210 foot behemoth Fir – the Perkins family managed to save some of the tree.

Ivy unscathed and flourishing, Charlie’s tree rested quietly until 1960 heralded the Trans-Canada Highway.

Horrified the tree he tended for 40 years was about to fall beneath asphalt, Perkins appeared before highways Minister Phil Gaglardi.

Perkins efforts go down in Canadian history as the only time a major highway was diverted to protect a tree.

Traveling east on Highway 1 between 176 & 200th St. – the Trans-Canada takes a noticeable bend at Charlie’s memorial.

via Charlie’s Tree | notestoponder.

Most historians now think that the First World War was a terrible mistake, in which all combatant nations were losers to greater or lesser degrees, and from which all nations that had a choice would have done better to stay out.

The First World War was supposed to be the war that ended war.  It was supposed to be the war that made the world safe for democracy.  But it gave rise to Bolshevism, fascism and an economic crisis that led to the Great Depression, and set the stage for the even more bloody Second World War.  It was one of history’s greatest tragedies.

Yet the patriotism and sacrifice of the troops who fought is worthy of honor.  They did not send themselves.  They were serving their countries and their fellow citizens as best they knew.

I think most wars are tragic mistakes and many of them are crimes.  Yet if my own country, the USA, did not have citizens who were willing to fight for it at different periods of history, the United States would not be an independent nation, it would have been broken up in order to preserve slavery, the Axis powers would have dominated the world and (maybe) the Soviets would have done so, too.

Germany’s Chancellor Otto von Bismarck said there was one criterion for deciding whether a war was just.  Could the leader who decided to fight the war tell the wife, mother or sister of the soldier who was killed what the soldier’s death accomplished?

I think the best way to honor the troops is to refrain from using their patriotism and sense of duty in a cause that isn’t worthy of it.  And to not abandon them when war is over.

Tommy Douglas on the definition of fascism

October 25, 2014

TommyDouglas.fascism1_n

Via Notes to Ponder.

Tommy Douglas, as virtually all Canadians know, was the father of Medicare in Canada, which was first introduced in Saskatchewan and then rolled out into Canada as a whole.   Canadian Medicare inspired U.S. Medicare, but it covers almost all Canadians while the U.S. plan only covers the 65 and older population.

Douglas was a champion of civil liberties.  As a member of Parliament, he had the courage in 1970 to refuse to support the War Measures Act, which, in response to terrorist activity in Quebec, expanded police and military powers and curtailed civil liberties throughout Canada.

In 2004, Douglas was voted the greatest Canadian in a nationally televised CBC contest.

Simon & Finn on environmental restoration

March 25, 2014

sf-oilsands1small

Whether it is hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, surface mining for coal or processing tar sands for oil bitumen, it is never going to be possible to put the petals back on the flower (figuratively speaking).

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-cohen/the-political-power-of-en_b_859287.html?view=print&comm_ref=false

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/03/20/1286250/-Guess-who-s-the-major-stakeholder-in-Canada-s-oil-sands-Of-course-it-s-the-nbsp-Kochs

Click on simonandfinn for more cartoons.

Winds of change in Quebec

September 26, 2012

The Parti Quebecois has come to power in Quebec, after months of protests against the incumbent Liberal government involving hundreds of thousands of people, led by students but not limited to them.  The new government has agreed to cancel university tuition increases, the original cause of the protests.

The new government also announced an indefinite moratorium not only on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, but on exploration for shale gas as such.

It goes to show what a determined and well-led mass protest movement can accomplish.

Click on Quebec’s Not-So-Quiet Revolution for cartoonist Ted Rall’s graphic report on the Quebec protests.

Click on ‘A beautiful day’ for environmentalists for background on the shale gas issue from the Montreal Gazette.

Quebec’s not-so-quiet revolution

September 19, 2012

Double click to enlarge.

The cartoonist Ted Rall, working as the equivalent of a photojournalist, recently went to Montreal to observe the protest movement there.

I had been vaguely aware of an ongoing student protest there, but, until I read Rall’s report, I hadn’t been aware that the protests drew hundreds of thousands of people, including students, the unemployed, blue-collar workers, advocates of Quebec independence, anti-capitalist radicals and others discontented with the system.

It began with college students protesting increases in tuition rates.  The Quebec government responded with a law that outlawed large protests.  The students did not back down, and their movement grew larger and more militant.

The Classé Quebec protest movement is harder-edged than the Occupy Wall Street movement, Rall reports.   Instead of consensus, they decide by majority vote.  Instead of acting spontaneously, they plan strategy, sometimes years ahead.  Instead of a do-your-own-thing ethos, they have a hierarchical structure and follow leaders.  Instead of nonviolent resistance, they actively confront police, and sometimes intimidate police into backing down.

I’m not sure what to make of the Quebec protest movement, and don’t know where it will lead, but I do see that it is important.

Click on Quebec’s Not-so-Quiet Revolution for Ted Rall’s full 10-page report on Cartoon Movement.

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The Canadian roots of Labor Day

September 3, 2012

This is from the History Channel.

Who are richer than us Americans? Quite a few

July 21, 2012

Click to enlarge.

I find the information in this chart, which I came across on Angry Bear, to be highly interesting, but I’m at a loss to know how to interpret it.   I can’t figure out what common factor, if any, distinguishes the countries at the top of the chart from the countries at the bottom of the chart.

Maybe there is no common factor.  Maybe we Americans have a low median net worth because so many of us are in debt, and maybe the Swedes and Danes have a low median net worth because they can rely on their extensive welfare state for security in sickness or old age and don’t need to save as much.  Somebody in a comment thread said Australians have a high average net worth because their housing bubble hasn’t collapsed yet.  But how did Italians come to have such a high average net worth?

I would like to know what other people think about this.

Click on U.S. Trails at Least 15 OECD Countries in Median Wealth for the post I read on Angry Bear.

Click on Hardheaded Socialism Makes Canada Richer Than U.S. for opinion by Stephen Marche on Bloomberg Business News.

 

All these commentaries are responses to an article which appeared earlier this month in the Toronto Globe and Mail, but I haven’t been able to link to the original article.

 

[7/23/12]  Click on Canadians are richer than they think for the article in the Toronto Globe and Mail which apparently sparked interest in international wealth comparisons. (more…)

Chart of Canadian health care migrants

January 14, 2011

Economist Aaron Carroll made this chart to summarize an article in the peer-reviewed journal Health Affairs.

This study examined Canadians crossing the border for care in a number of ways:

1) First, they surveyed United States border facilities in Michigan, New York, and Washington.  It makes sense that Canadians crossing the border for care would favor sites close by, right?  It turns out that about 80% of such facilities saw fewer than one Canadian per month.  About 40% saw none in the prior year.  And when looking at the reasons for visits, more than 80% were emergencies or urgent visits (i.e. tourists who had to go to the ER).  Only about 19% of those already few visits were for elective purposes.

2) Next, they surveyed “America’s Best Hospitals”, because if Canadians were going to travel for care, they would be more likely to go to the most well-known and highest quality facilities, right?  Only one of the surveyed hospitals saw more than 60 Canadians in one year.  And, again, that included both emergencies and elective care.

3) Finally, they examined data from the 18,000 Canadians who participated in the National Population Health Survey.  In the previous year, only 90 of those 18,000 Canadians had received care in the United States; only 20 of them had done so electively.

Carroll noted that this study does not necessarily prove that the Canadian health care system is flawless or that the United States system is completely bad.  What it does prove is that there is no truth to the widespread belief that Canadians flock to the United States for medical care because of long wait times in their own country.

Look, I’m not denying that some people with means might come to the United States for care.  If I needed a heart/lung transplant, there’s no place I’d rather be.  But for the vast, vast majority of people, that’s not happening.  You shouldn’t use the anecdote to describe things at a population level.  This study showed you three different methodologies, all with solid rationales behind them, all showing that this meme is mostly apocryphal.

Via The Incidental Economist.

Click on Phantoms in the Snow for the Health Affairs study.

This chart was named Chart of the Year for 2010 by Andrew Sullivan on The Daily Dish web log.