During a week that we celebrate Canada Day above the 49th parallel and the 4th of July in the United States, it might be worth a look at the similarities and differences between us cousins.
We do share a continent, at least one official language, more than a couple million cultural similarities and a border that may be closed at the moment but is usually open, and although guarded against some abuses, is for the most part open and friendly.
I use the word cousins a bit loosely, as we were both children of the Commonwealth back in the day but we definitely took different paths on the road to nationhood.
America was like the big brother who not only left home early but flexed his muscles and went to war against Mother England and its corrupt, royal ways and proclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
It got both after a lot of casualties in the Revolutionary War and its independence in 1776, as it never looked back on its way to becoming the most powerful nation on Earth.
It was largely based on paying too much taxes, which funnily enough is still the mantra of the Trump government today.
Us Canadians, we love paying taxes, as long as there’s “peace, order and good government.”
Up in British North America where little brother still lived at home, we weren’t quite ready for liberty and definitely weren’t that fond of death. So we patiently stayed part of the family for another hundred years or so when, in 1867, the BNA Act kind of gave us independence as a dominion within the British Empire, although with an English system of laws and government and the Queen on our money.
We waited once again until 1931 when the Statute of Westminster, passed by the British government, gave Canada equal status within the Commonwealth.
We boldly struck out in 1965, although with much internal opposition, to adopt our own flag, sans Union Jack.
And in 1982, we asked the Queen if it would be OK if we had our own constitution. Finally, triumphantly, true independence was ours.
Well, except we were still part of the Commonwealth and the Queen was still on our currency.
So, take that America. There’s more ways than one to gain one’s independence, it’s just when you’re as nice as us Canadians it takes 200 years longer.
Although mom’s still around the house…but only as a figurehead, OK? It’s not a race, OK?
And maybe we’re not a world power or anything, but we’re at least a middle power, and we almost became a United Nations Security Council member but lost out in a not-so-close vote to powerhouses Norway and Ireland.
But it’s soooo Canadian of us to define ourselves by how we’re not American.
Hey, you have a bit of an inferiority complex living next to your more powerful, more dominating, more successful, former older brother, OK?
Hey, we have socialized medicare, and the U.S. is the only civilized (ahem) country not to, so there.
And we have a hip, young, good-looking prime minister who is probably too liberal for his own good and they have a crotchety, old, orange-haired president who is so right-wing, even Republicans are starting to disown him (along with a few other reasons).
But you know what really separates us from the Yanks? We’re funnier, although in a more subtle way, of course. We don’t want to get beat up or anything.
It started with Rich Little, Wayne & Shuster, David Steinberg and others, and continued with Martin Short, John Candy, Mike Myers, Lorne Michaels, Seth Rogen, Norm MacDonald, Russell Peters and a few hundred others. Besides, Americans think all these people are their own anyway, another inside joke for us Canucks.
Sure, there are funny Americans but we have that slight degree of separation, and maybe a little bit of Monty Python influence, that allows us to be keener, wittier observers of the North American landscape.
So maybe the big, bold U.S. is bit more successful than we are, but, hey, we know it just doesn’t matter. Plus they left home 200 years before we did, the 21st Century is definitely all ours – the second half, anyway.
Happy 153rd Dominion/Canada Day to all of us, and happy 244th Independence Day to our southern neighbours.
Glenn Mitchell is a columnist and former Black Press Media newspaper editor.