Not So Fast, Canada

It’s the hangover after the night of blackout debaucheries that was the American election. And every Canadian on my newsfeed is, while resisting the urge to vomit, expressing relief that we live in Canada. The world is also remembering Canada and our peaceful legacy; The Canadian immigration website is reported to have crashed from overwhelming traffic, reinforcing a narrative that’s been passed around this election cycle–that Canada is better than America.

And it is! We have all the trappings of American culture with none of the shittiness. We’re America lite; America, but nicer. But it’s not particularly hard to be nicer than America right now.

Yes, we haven’t elected an incompetent man who calls Mexicans “rapists”. But that’s only because we have a couple of things Americans seem to be lacking; universal healthcare, a reasonable minimum wage, gun regulations, and more.

The fact is, it’s easy to vote for the status quo when the status quo is a little less shitty, and that’s exactly what we do here in Canada. We twiddled our thumbs for 9 years while Stephen Harper eroded much of our peacekeeping, environmentalist identity, all because he didn’t explicitly want to deport all Muslim people. And for all that we have over America, there are a number of ways in which we bear an uncomfortable resemblance to our southern neighbours.

Here’s an abbreviated list of some of the things we share with America:

Racist policing practices. Our own Toronto police are best known for their racist carding practices, and we’ve had our share of police shootings.

Our own, unique history of genocide against Indigenous people. Here’s a link to the atrocities committed in residential schools. And Indigenous people in Canada enjoy a lowered standard of living and disgustingly high suicide rates to this day.

Environmental destruction. The Harper years were hard for this one, with Canada sliding pretty far down the list of nations for protecting the environment. And we have the shame of the Alberta Tar Sands to live down, too.

And thanks to the election, we’re likely to enjoy some of the same violence against people of colour inspired by Donald Trump‘s rhetoric. There are Trump supporters here, too. Even if many of us reject his ideology of hatred and violence, nationalism won’t protect us or the most vulnerable members of our society.

We have some housework of our own to do here in Canada: cause if you’re thinking this whole thing wouldn’t have happened to us in America’s position, you’re not learning. Nobody expects the bloviating bigot, and we would do well to try and learn from what we’ve seen in the U.S. this election season.

But at least we have Trudeau.

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