Poor Canada: first Goneril, then Regan, now Benn

Benn Steil recently argued that we should eliminate “monetary sovereignty,” claiming that most of the world’s currencies are an illusion of autonomy that only gets their holders into trouble (think Argentina several years ago). Poor Canada, this would be the last straw.

Nationhood in Canada has been diminishing quietly for some time now. It is regarded as appropriate for nations to have a military with which to defend the borders that assert its territorial autonomy. Recently, the Danish laid claim to one of Canada’s distant islands, and we could barely bring ourselves to rattle a sabre. (Canada has a sabre?)

National airlines have been another way that countries have declared themselves on the international stage. Canada’s airline is suffering insolvency. For a moment, it looked like it might be rescued by an investor from Hong Kong. He backed out and now it appears that the rescue will be accomplished by a German bank.

Robust economies are another marker of difference, and here too Canada limps forward. Even little Finland is more remarkable. There are dark rumors about the security of Canada’s membership in the G8. There are even questions about whether, over the long term, Canada can sustain first world status.

Culture is often seized upon as a way of defining the national difference. (Deborah Silverman notes that the French did this in the 19th century.) Canada did an especially stupid thing during the Massey commission of 1949 and insisted that the national culture would be anything that popular culture was not (so to distinguish us from the Americans). This was foolhardy and unsustainable.

Sports are sometimes still grounds for national difference. Hockey continues to do its goonish best, but scratch a Canadian exemplar in any other field and almost certainly you will find an athlete trained at an American university.

You could argue that these are small things, that they do not finally matter, that Canadianness exists somehow sui generis. But recall what Lear said when told that he didn’t really need the trappings of majesty his daughters were systematically stripping him of, “Reason not the need, else men’s lives are cheap as beasts.” “Minor” differences are major ones without which the world grows mere, dubious and contestable.

Benn’s argument may make sensationally good sense from an economics point of view, but from an anthropological one, it is dubious. You start by giving up your currency and before long you’re on a slippery slope. Before you know it, you’re Canada.

Litt, Paul. 1991. The Massey Commission, Americanization, and Canadian Cultural Nationalism. Queen’s Quarterly 98, no. 2: 375-87.

Shakespeare, William. King Lear. (Please treat this quote with caution. I have not checked it.)

Silverman, Debora. 1989. Art nouveau in fin-de-siècle France : politics, psychology, and style. Studies on the History of Society and Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Steil, Benn. 2004. The Curse of Currency Autarky. Wall Street Journal. April 22, 2004. (Not available on line.)

3 thoughts on “Poor Canada: first Goneril, then Regan, now Benn

  1. Joshua

    You might want to install MT-Blacklist, so that you can nuke comment spammers like the above in one easy step. Very satisfying.

  2. Anonymous

    I totally agree with this blog and I think Canada is very poor. Many Chinese who cannot get into university in China, or even good high school in China can become professor in Canadians universities such as University of Toronto. This suggests how bad Canada is. I think these charlatans, incapable people will make future Canada exactly like current Brazil which even loses the democracy and freedom.

    Canada is considered developed country simply because it is near the USA; however, the uncontrolled immigration, quacks and incapable people, and communism from Asia, Middle East and South America will destroy the democracy and freedom in Canada and will eventually make Canada another Brazil.

    I think Canada shall not continue to be a member a G8 because even current China’s living standards and economy is much better than Canada, and lots of countries such as Australia, the Netherlands, and Denmark are much much advanced, modern and developed than Canada. Compared with these high standard countries, Canada is simply a developing and poor country.

  3. Anonymous

    The educational corruption in Canada is very severe. There is no university entrance exam in Canada, and university admits students on the basis of their high school final year scores. In order to earn money, the private schools in Canada give every students high scores in order to earn money. The average score in Canadian high school is about 98 out 100 in maths, but those students who get 100 in maths do not even know Sin30 degree is 0.5. And even Canadian university professors do not know how to prove it either, though they claim they got PhD in maths. This fact hightlights how poor and corrupt Canadian education is.

    In public schools, the students give teachers money and the teachers give them high scores. This kind of culture was brought in Canada by those Chinese communism who immigrated from China. The Canadian diversity and multiculture are really excellent. The whole society has been diversified by communisms’s corruption, dictatorship and crimes. There are so many Chinese criminals that Toronto police department has to open a Chinese version website.

    Nowadays, you can even buy university diploma with money. For example, Canadian York Univeristy’s Schulich business school’s diploma can be bought by 20000 CAN because there are lots of Chinese who immgrate China’s Cash for diploma to Canada and make Canada a part of communism union.

    In Canada, the exam questions are always leaked out before the exam. For example, many teachers open the file and tells their students the questions of Canadian nations maths competitions of University of Waterloo before the exam.

    Right now, Canada is even more corrupt than China and Canadians like to cover up everything because they really feel it a sham that they have so many bad immigrats and communisms in their country, and they regret that they made the immgration policy. They wish they had never allowed any immigrats but now, it is too late to change. They understand very clearly that current Brazil will be future Canada, and probably future Canada will be much worse than current Brazil because there are too many Asian communisms in Canada.

    The good and capable people all go to the USA, and the bad leftover go to Canada, which looks like and garbage can.

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