When I was last in Canada, Michael Ignatief was a dude who wrote books and lectured. I'm not entirely sure I know what he's up to exactly these days, but from what little I hear, it's apparently quite a change.
I am very out of touch with Canada. I last lived there in 2002/2003, in Vancouver, which to be honest I didn't particularly like. So, since I've had this book called What Canadians Think (About Almost Everything) by Darrell Bricker & John Wright of Ipsos Reid (I had a principal called Mr. Wright and I just thought I'd mention that; moving on now), I figured perhaps I could read it and get reaquainted with the homeland. That decision led to a couple of hours of me going, "What the fuck?!? 85% of Canadians are complete freaking idiots!" or alternately thinking that I'd rather like to move to Quebec, if people there wouldn't hate me for my poorly-accented French and rather spotty vocabulary.
Within the first chapter I got my first chance to think WTF?!? Apparently a majority of Canadians (59%) say they oppose the Supreme Court's decision to uphold Robert Latimer's mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prision. Which really does make a majority of Canadians idiots, as I am not in the slightest chill with the idea that that many of my fellow citizens think it's not so serious to kill disabled children. Canadians, fucking hell. Not ok AT ALL, people.
The book says in its introduction to trust in today's society that: "Unfortunately, many humans richly deserve the suspicion with wihch they view each other. Their capactiy for deceit and betrayal and violence, to say nothing of shoplifting, fraudulent bookkeeping, false advertising. legal caviling, pool sharking and the failure to return library books in a timely fashion, seems limitless. It's a wonder we trust at all." Now it doesn't seem so bad that I overspend on novels, right? At least I'm not eroding society's trust by failing to return my library books (and folks, I hate to say it, but that is very much one of my faults.)
The percentage of Canadians who dread going on vacation because of the volume of e-mail they will face upon return is at 34%. I have to say I wonder who the hell these people are. Now, going on vacation these days for a week would likely leave me with about 150 emails on return and a Facebook notifications list that would possilby hit 4 numbers. And yet, I can still manage to happily envision myself on a beach, getting a massage, and drinking a rum something-or-other with an umbrella in it. (Which part of the world has beach drinks with umbrellas??? I've yet to encounter any.) I'd like to meet these people who'd rather stay at home and check their email and help them get the therapy they need. Or point out that even in Cambodia I've managed to find Internet access, so maybe they should just chill out a bit and dedicate a half hour or so to checking their shit while relaxing. After all, if we're Facebook friends, I'd be curious to see the odd status update on the cool fish you saw today while scubadiving.
I'd also be curious to meet the Canadian households with a car who indicate that during a typical year their cars are washed on average three times per month. Either my parents had strong environmental beliefs as regards to not wasting water for cleaning their car or I come by my laziness honestly, because I can't really recall car washing happening more than two or three times a year in my house.
There are less atheists and way more people who believe that the devil is active in the world today (1 in 2) than I would have thought. Fellow Canadians, the 27% of you who believe you can chanell or communicate with the dead, and 40% of you who believe in out of body experiences and that 29% of you who believe in past life regression - you all freak me out, just a little bit. I'm going to have to go and read some Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens just to calm myself down.
The section on gardeners provoked some unexpected laughs: "Let's assume that gardening is not a solitary endeavour - and keep in mind that we aren't talking about nude or contact gardening." Ninja Gardeners, Competitive Gardeners, Gardeners with Bored Spouses - as subheadings go, those kick some ass.
Apparently only 37% of Canadians could identify the first line of our national anthem. As the book says, "To answer our question correctly, you must memorize only two words, one of which has one letter in it, and the other of which is the name of the country you live in. It can be done." And I thought I was bad because there are two lines in there that I can't pull off well in English, as I always sang them in French.
One of these days, I'm going to return to Canada. I suppose I could make more of an attempt to keep up with the news back home. Maybe I'll start reading a Canadian newspaper online every day - although the odds on that are less likely than me getting a hickey from a gay man on a Saturday night, most likely.