Smugness doesn't look good on Canada


mentalfloss
#1
Smugness doesn't look good on Canada

Welcome to the Age of Canada, in which the peaceable kingdom abandons modesty, finds smugness, talks loudly and carries a new self-importance.

Our shift in character didn't begin with the lecture Stephen Harper delivered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, but it suggested a new-found aggressiveness on one hand and a familiar sanctimony on the other.

Harper didn't have to unveil his legislative agenda in Switzerland; the purpose, allowed his advisers, was to accentuate Canada's need to avoid Europe's "stark choices." Hence, his subtle contrast between the profligate, spendthrift Europeans and the frugal, prudent Canadians. Listen closely and you hear Harper's disdain for soft social democracy.

His warning: if we don't act now to shrink the size of government, reduce debt and rethink pensions and other social benefits, we'll end up like them. And we don't want that, do we?

Given the venue, forgive the Prime Minister a little boasting. Surely Jim Flaherty "is the best finance minister on the planet," and our net debt-to-GDP ratio is "the lowest in the G-7." Of course we're the best place to do business "on the planet" and our banks are the "soundest in the world."

It's good here - terrific, really - because the Conservatives have implemented some of "the most extensive and targeted economic stimulus measures of the G-20." It goes on, this little flight of narcissism, but we get the point: My, aren't we wonderful!


This is what leaders do among the plutocrats of Davos: you sell yourself, relentlessly and shamelessly. For a country that has long hidden its light under a barn, a little selfcongratulation isn't a sin - even if many of Harper's claims are false, as columnist Stephen Maher has astutely noted in these pages.

Leaving the salesmanship aside, what's striking is the sense of superiority. Having celebrated Canada, Harper asked his interlocutors what they're doing, doubting that economic growth and jobs are their priority.

"Or is it the case," he asked, "that in the developed world, too many of us have, in fact, become complacent about our prosperity, taking our wealth as a given, assuming it is somehow the natural order of things, leaving us instead to focus primarily on our services and entitlements?"

Of course, the "too many of us" doesn't mean lil' ole Canada, home of the world's best finance minister. It means the Greeks, Irish, Italians, Spanish, Portuguese and those other indolent continentals.

In finger-wagging, Canada is particularly adept; self-righteousness has long been a part of our genetic code. Our penchant for moralizing was mocked in 1966 by former U.S. secretary of state Dean Acheson, who called Canada "Stern Daughter of the Voice of God."

We lived up to his billing in 2005 when prime minister Paul Martin criticized the Americans for their record on climate change. The trouble was that our record was worse than theirs. The hypocrisy so angered David Wilkins, then U.S. ambassador, that he blasted Martin and set the record straight.

In a speech in Philadelphia in 1965, Lester Pearson differed with Lyndon Johnson over Vietnam. Pearson made the right argument in the wrong place. LBJ summoned him to Camp David, grabbed him by the lapels and told him not to "piss on my rug."

We get this way when we feel superior about ourselves, as we do now. The cover of The Walrus in March, for example, has a picture of Uncle Sam with a black eye over the triumphant headline: "That Time We Beat the Americans."

Maclean's, which loves the big statement, declares on a recent cover of its own: "On Top of the World. America is despondent. Europe is crumbling. Not us. Why Canadians have never been more confident about their future."

From Davos, Scott Gilmore sees foreigners wrapped in Canada Goose coats and declares that "Canada is back." Yet Canada needs to swagger, he says in a recent commentary in the Citizen, advising "less modesty, more brashness and a cocky stride."


Gilmore, whose intelligence and enterprise in international philanthropy give him ample reason to swagger, need not worry. As Harper shows, given the opportunity, Canadians can be insufferably immodest.

Beware, though, the sententious Canadian. As a European ambassador said after hearing Harper, it's easy to crow and criticize when you have oil and gas.

Canada deserves credit for making sound choices, but it's easy to be a moral superpower when you sit on riches. We can drill, mine and log, yes, but we are less good at manufacturing. Isn't it startling how we patronize IKEA without considering why a northern people with the same natural and human gifts as the Swedes can't do the same thing?

Our household debt to personal disposable income ratio is 151 per cent and climbing. Income disparity is reaching perilous levels. A mortgage crisis threatens. Our cities lack infrastructure and riots do happen there. Our universities are credentialing more than educating. Aboriginal Canada is restive.

Canada is a blessed country with much to celebrate. Canada is also a complacent country of comforting self-delusion.

Smugness doesn't look good on Canada (external - login to view)
 
Walter
#2
Andrew Cohen sounds constipated or he just hates living in Canada.
 
mentalfloss
+1
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by WalterView Post

Andrew Cohen sounds constipated or he just hates living in Canada.

And your reputation on this forum is sparkling and holds a lot of weight.
 
DaSleeper
+2
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by WalterView Post

Andrew Cohen sounds constipated or he just hates living in Canada.

And like his followers, can't stand critics
 
mentalfloss
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by DaSleeperView Post

And like his followers, can't stand critics

Followers?

I don't know who this guy is, but he makes some good points.

We're not Americans.
 
Walter
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalflossView Post

We're not Americans.

We live in Canada. I like to make obvious statements.
 
bill barilko
#7
Canada has always been smug.
 
Durry
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by bill barilkoView Post

Canada has always been smug.

Only if your from the east!!
 
mentalfloss
+1
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by DurryView Post

Only if your from the east!!

 
EagleSmack
+1
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalflossView Post

Followers?

I don't know who this guy is, but he makes some good points.

Lot's of good points.

Quote:

We're not Americans.

Well.... not really...but....
 
karrie
+1
#11
People need to make up their damn minds. Either this is a new attribute, or one that's been around so long that it's been remarked on since 1966. Which is it?

Canada has every right to toot its horn and talk about what it's done right to avoid the global financial crisis. And frankly, Stephen Harper can't talk about anything without coming across as smug so they'll just have to deal with the fact that it will come across that way on this issue too.
 
lone wolf
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by DurryView Post

Only if your from the east!!

There's a rumour you're from Cape Spear....
 
karrie
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by DurryView Post

Only if your from the east!!

Yes, your 'west is best' ridiculousness doesn't come off as smugness at all.
 
Durry
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by karrieView Post

People need to make up their damn minds. Either this is a new attribute, or one that's been around so long that it's been remarked on since 1966. Which is it?

Canada has every right to toot its horn and talk about what it's done right to avoid the global financial crisis. And frankly, Stephen Harper can't talk about anything without coming across as smug so they'll just have to deal with the fact that it will come across that way on this issue too.

Simmer low a little....eh!! Your not sounding Canadian...eh !!!!
 
CDNBear
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by karrieView Post

People need to make up their damn minds. Either this is a new attribute, or one that's been around so long that it's been remarked on since 1966. Which is it?

Canada has every right to toot its horn and talk about what it's done right to avoid the global financial crisis. And frankly, Stephen Harper can't talk about anything without coming across as smug so they'll just have to deal with the fact that it will come across that way on this issue too.

Not to mention, when you want people to invest in you, or your country in this case, a little chest thumping does wonders.

Some people just can't get past their ideologies...
 
Cliffy
+1
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBearView Post

Not to mention, when you want people to invest in you, or your country in this case, a little chest thumping does wonders.

Some people just can't get past their ideologies...

Is that why he doesn't have any hair on his chest?
 
lone wolf
+2
#17
Ewww.... I don't know what to worry about more - three more years or the fact you know his chest is barren
 
dumpthemonarchy
+2 / -1
#18
Canada, the "energy superpower" and we sell our oil for $10 less a barrel than Arabs do.

South Korea, a country with few natural resources, has larger multinational corporations in Hyundai, LG and Samsung.

And Harper about ten years ago wanted Canadian banks to become like American banks and go into shady practices. Luckily, Paul Martin told the banks where to get off, you get your monopoly but you must be cautious. Won't hear Harper giving any thanks to Martin for this. And Harper supported the war in Iraq. The guy has issues.
 
L Gilbert
+1
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by dumpthemonarchyView Post

Canada, the "energy superpower" and we sell our oil for $10 less a barrel than Arabs do.

South Korea, a country with few natural resources, has larger multinational corporations in Hyundai, LG and Samsung.

And Harper about ten years ago wanted Canadian banks to become like American banks and go into shady practices. Luckily, Paul Martin told the banks where to get off, you get your monopoly but you must be cautious. Won't hear Harper giving any thanks to Martin for this. And Harper supported the war in Iraq. The guy has issues.

aPALLing Martin was no saint either. Screwed the provinces over healthcare for years to come, screwed seniors programs left, right, and center for a few years, single-handedly caused the skyrocketing of student debt, etc. ad infinitum. Why? Just so he could say he balanced the budget for a year or two. Then there's this (external - login to view) stuff from earlier on in this century.
 
lone wolf
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by dumpthemonarchyView Post

Canada, the "energy superpower" and we sell our oil for $10 less a barrel than Arabs do.

South Korea, a country with few natural resources, has larger multinational corporations in Hyundai, LG and Samsung.

And Harper about ten years ago wanted Canadian banks to become like American banks and go into shady practices. Luckily, Paul Martin told the banks where to get off, you get your monopoly but you must be cautious. Won't hear Harper giving any thanks to Martin for this. And Harper supported the war in Iraq. The guy has issues.

Speaking of Hyundai.... Remember the Pony? ...a piece of crap car that was dumped here at a far cheaper price than even Japanese cars?

It worked for them....
 
L Gilbert
+4
#21  Top Rated Post
lol Didn't work long for the dolt who was tailgating me in a Pony one time. I reduced speed, changed lanes, pulled over and the goof wouldn't back off or pass. I figured eventually I'd have to stop and I did. The back end of my Cordoba got a little nick in the rubber thing that was on the bumper and the whole front end of his Pony accordioned.

Anyway, Martin's smugness suited him, but he didn't look very good in it. Canada has a right to be smug about some things.
 
Cliffy
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by lone wolfView Post

Ewww.... I don't know what to worry about more - three more years or the fact you know his chest is barren

I don't but I can't get the image of Lego Man out of my head and I was just playing with the image of the chest beating thing and I admit I have a weird sense of humour.
 

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