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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Dear Canada...

So, in the past few days I have been both disappointed by Canada and extremely impressed with Canada. Before moving here for grad school, I didn't have much of an opinion of the country; it has always been our friendly-but-not-that-exciting neighbor to the north to me. As most Americans do, I had preconceived notions about Canada--it is by and large a very cold country that delights in winter sports such as hockey and curling. (An aside here--I am pretty sure that Americans almost unanimously do not understand the appeal of curling. To us, it looks like pushing big discs around ice with brooms, something that, while it might be an amusing way of passing the time in the eternal winter of The Great White North, does not have one-tenth of the popularity and speed of hockey. We understand hockey. We understand the fights and the strikes and we almost--almost--take hockey seriously as a sport. You have to understand, it's just not football.)

Anyway. Clearly, Americans have ideas about Canada that may or may not be true. One thing that I was pretty much promised when I told people I would be living in Toronto for grad school is this: You will freeze to death during the hellish, unbearable 9 months that Canada considers winter. I was promised -20 degrees C on a good day.

Canada, I'm Disappointed
So, Canada. I've been waiting. I didn't say anything in November when you threw a bit of snow at me (I figured that I shouldn't start complaining about the cold until at least my third blizzard). I didn't say anything in December when you threw a bit more snow at me. I didn't say anything when I got back from winter break and found--well, not much. So, where the hell is it? Where is the winter that I was promised? I know you can do better than this. I mean, if all I wanted was some rain and overcast skies and some wimpy sleety slush, I would've stayed in Portland.

(I almost didn't want to write this for fear of that whole "be careful what you wish for" phenomenon, but seriously. This weather? It's pathetic.)

Elections Canada--I'm impressed!
Ok. Here's the thing. The last two elections in the US have been closer to three-ring circus performances than decorous acts of good citizenship. I mean, how hard is it to elect a president? First of all, the campaign season seems to last approximately 2 years (I'm not freakin' kidding). Toward the end of the last campaign season, I would say that 80 % of the ads on television were political in nature--and they were veering toward the unintelligible and trippy (does anyone remember the wolves in the forest with the glowing eyes and the accusations of either being the total pussy that the wolves were hunting or being the conscience-free predator himself? Yeah, all I can remember are those damn eyes; I have no idea if the ads were for or against Bush.). And people take it all veeery personally--if you were for Kerry, it was virtually inconceivable that you could even speak the same language as the Bush supporters, and vice versa. And then on elections day. Oh man! First of all, in Miami people were encouraged to vote early (and often! No, totally just kidding.) because of the supposed 7-hour waits on voting day. Like it was a bread line in Russia or something. And tallying up the votes--of course that couldn't be done on election day.

So compare that with the scene here on Monday. First of all, I know that the campaign season this time was artificially short, but somehow the election managed to not dominate everything. Well, except the Globe and Mail. But I didn't see like five million ads on tv. And maybe since I'm not Canadian, it didn't seem to me like the Liberals/Conservatives/NDP camps were so divided that they literally could not speak to one another. On election day, my roommate voted, and she reported that the entire process--listen up, America--took twenty minutes. That's right. From start to finish. And! Even though this country has more time zones than the US, somehow they managed to coordinate it so that not only were all of the votes tallied, but that an actual prime-minister-designate was called on the same day of the election. Yeah, yeah, Canada has millions fewer voters than the US, blah blah blah, but somehow, I suspect that even if Canada had the population of the United States, it would still figure out how to make the voting process take only a single day, instead of the four-days-to-two-months window of opportunity that we give our elections.

From this American to Canada--bravo!

1 Comments:

  • YAY Canada! Despite the terrible election results, the process certainly did go smoothly. I particularly liked that they closed the polls in Western Canada early so that TV coverage of the results could start before midnight!

    By Anonymous Lorien, at 8:40 PM  

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