Canada isn’t a perfect utopia

Image via Thinkstock
Image via Thinkstock

Why we shouldn’t be glamourizing the nation

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor

Many Canadians (mostly the more privileged ones) seem to think that Canada is some kind of socialist paradise. Surely the problems of racism, a lack of clean water, income inequality, the one per cent controlling everything, homophobia, and environmental destruction aren’t a problem in our true and native land!

As any news story or visit to an impoverished community will tell you, these issues are far too common. In Canada, the child poverty rate is 19 per cent. In the US, it’s 21 per cent. Our minimum wage laws and tax benefits are better than our neighbours’, but economic inequality issues are pretty much the same, and it may only be getting worse.

Our own first family may not be as rich, bigoted, sexually predatory, or stupid as the Trumps are, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect rulers. Trudeau still grew up under extreme privilege, and continues to be a member of the elite. That’s not even getting into his divisive policies, which (shockingly!) are not always progressive, or in the best interests of the working class. Using a photo of Trudeau smiling and holding a child to counter one of the US president making a woman uncomfortable may be nice, but it doesn’t change the reality of context and policy.

It would be unfair to suggest that Canada is exactly like the US. In many ways, we genuinely are a lot better. Our health care system, while not perfect, does introduce a single-payer platform so that no one goes bankrupt or dies because they can’t afford treatment. Many of our laws protect marginalized groups in our society in ways that the US has yet to address. Our national attitude is generally more liberal, even though our society is deeply divided on many issues, something common in almost every country.

However, the struggle continues in Canada every day, particularly for the underprivileged. It can be incredibly frustrating to hear someone claim that racism isn’t an issue here, that all Canadians enjoy a fair standard of living, or that our government is incredibly progressive on indigenous issues. Social justice and inequality problems are an issue in every society, and to downplay their effects comes from a place of true ignorance. Just because a problem is not as prominent does not mean it is not a serious problem.

And hey—if you think that the election of someone like Trump—a super-rich, arrogant fellow with zero political experience—to highest government office could never happen in Canada, I’ll remind you that the super-rich, arrogant, politically-inexperienced Kevin O’Leary is currently leading in polls for the new Conservative leadership.

The US and Canada are really not that different.