I had the opportunity last week to visit Canada for the first time in several years, spending a few days in Toronto, an astonishingly civilized place where the subway turnstiles seem to operate on the honor system and all you need to do to cross a busy street downtown, it seems, is point to it.
Socialist Canada (or, as my conservative Canadian friends call it, the Former Soviet Republic of Canuckistan) is now ruled by Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party–Samantha Power’s former Harvard colleague, Michael Ignatieff, having failed rather badly in the most recent elections.
Unlike his counterpart to the south, Harper doesn’t have the might of the U.S. Armed Forces at his disposal, but he has shown a great deal more moral courage on the world stage than Nobel laureate Barack Obama, especially in the face of the continued ideological challenge of radical Islam.
Canada is also plowing ahead with fossil fuel development, mining, and economic development in general. It avoided our redistributive housing policy, and therefore missed the worst of the subprime mortgage crisis and its aftermath. Construction is booming in Toronto, which supposedly has more cranes than any other North American city.
They’re stuck with a single-payer health care system, of course, but it works for them since many can escape to Buffalo or Minneapolis for the most advanced treatments, thanks to an American system that remains the most innovative in the world (until Obamacare kicks in, anyway).
The Blue Jays haven’t won a World Series in 20 years, but they took a series from the Yankees while I was there, and the spectacle of the Skydome–excuse me, Rogers Centre–opening in the middle of a game to reveal the enormous CN Tower is still one of the coolest sights in sports.
My friends say that even though the U.S. and Canada have reversed political roles, culturally Americans remain more libertarian, less risk-averse, more confident and less fearful of success. They add that Canada lacks America’s racial or economic dramas, but wonder if social tension also gives the U.S. some of its unique spark.
Regardless, we’re taking such giant steps backward with Obama in office that the tensions risk becoming more destructive than creative–and permanently so.
Up North, the weather is worse, but the beer is better, and right now they’re doing a better job of standing up for our values than we are. Time to get our act together!