Bad things exist in Canada too
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor
Canadians have always been proud of their national identity, and of the many privileges we enjoy in this country. While it’s not perfect, or as comprehensive as many healthcare systems, we are able to go to the hospital without declaring bankruptcy. We are known for our politeness, tolerance, and diversity in our national identity and in how we treat others.
In the nightmare that is the US presidential election, many Americans are considering moving to Canada and are feeling very jealous of our position. We’ve got a popular, liberal, attractive man as our leader. We do not have a terrifying, growing movement based on racism, sexism, and pretty much every other kind of prejudice there is. Americans crave the stability and tolerance exhibited in our borders. Naturally, we feel pretty smug about it—we’re rightfully grateful to not have to deal with this nightmare.
But, too often, Canadians become too smug about our stability and lack of Donald Trump. Racism, xenophobia, and nationalism exists in Canada as well. Although it is not as obvious or popular as in the US, it remains a serious problem. Our Aboriginal communities often have conditions comparable to a developing country, with some areas experiencing more poverty than most places in the US. Distrust of immigrants and non-Christians remains a viewpoint expressed by many Canadians. Bigotry and anti-gay platforms exist all across the country, even if the LGBTQ+ are protected by human rights codes and have widespread acceptance.
Rob Ford was a popular city councillor and mayor of Toronto, Canada’s largest city. He was well-known nationally and internationally for his substance abuse issues of drugs and alcohol, as well as his bigotry, sexism, and racism. He had been visited by police at his home for domestic abuse of his wife several times. Ford may not have had quite the insane views or national leadership ambitions that Trump does, but the two do share a lot of similarities. Millions of people supported Ford despite his scandals and generally awful behaviour. Sound familiar?
Canadian government is and always has been less conservative than our counterparts in American politics. In particular, we’re currently enjoying a liberal government led by a popular and progressive leader. But some problems like bigotry and racism are independent from whoever is in power. These are sad truths that exist in all societies. Canada is unfortunately not an asshole-free zone just because we have progressive laws and mostly tolerant citizens.
When you get smug about Canada’s supposed superiority to the US, you’re being ignorant and denying the many common problems we face. You do not exhibit the tolerant values we’re supposed to represent, because you’re refusing to acknowledge the universal problems that exist in society, or the issues that so many Canadians face.
I doubt that someone like Trump would make it as far as he did in Canada, but I don’t believe we’re free of dangerous people like that. The Conservative government was issuing and promoting Islamophobic laws and policies only a year ago. In the right circumstances economically and socially, movements of nationalism, racism, and general ignorance could easily arise. It’s our duty as citizens to be educated and honest about what makes our country good, and what can be improved on. We aren’t immune from toxicity in society, and we would do well to remember that more often.