Skepticon: Not my Canadian pride!

Debbie Goddard fired a shot across Canada’s bow, viciously savaging us during her talk at Skepticon where she related her deconversion. She said — I am horrified to even have to type this; someone fetch my couch! — that we’re “not really foreign.”

More specifically, she related her experience visiting Oslo, where she was in “for the first time in a really foreign country, not like Canada”.

The GALL. The unmitigated NERVE!!! What a HORRIBLE thing to say to a Canadian! I cannot stand for this. No Canadian could. Now, on behalf of all of Canada, I am forced to apologize!

Wait, no, not apologize. Explain. Prepare yourselves, I’m about to Cansplain all over this.

She and I went back and forth in emails about this — when I tweeted my mock horror, she took the objection very seriously, even despite the fact that I was teasing, and I tried to make it clear that I understood what she was saying and understand well enough the phenomenon wherein Canadians can “pass” as Americans. To her great credit, Debbie thought deeper about the phenomenon and found it to be problematic enough to ask me my thoughts on the matter. In doing so, she laid out a few of her thoughts about American hegemony and erasure, about whether we viewed it as punching up vs punching down (which is a whole other post, honestly), much of which I agreed with and I’ll give you the synopsis as preamble.

See, America has this cultural tendency — bear with me on this one, I know it’s going to be shocking to you — to thinking its culture is the best and pretty much only culture. Foreignness is fetishized, something to be viewed at a distance, maybe through glass at a zoo. So since Canada’s so physically close that we cross-pollinate media-wise, and since we share a language with no more difference in inflection or patois between your average Canadian and your average American than, say, your average Georgian and your average New Yorker, we just aren’t foreign enough. Oh, sure, we’re foreign enough for your average American to see your average Canadian and throw a few “Canadian jokes” at them (trust me, I get it all), but given about five minutes, we’ve heard every single trope. That particular river runs very shallow. Observe: “eh”, apologizing, poutine, Terence and Phillip, maple syrup, moose, and those three things in my blog banner that I suck at. There, I’ve saved you the time. So there’s this phenomenon where we’re different, but close enough to pass.

Only these things that are jokes are known because they’re actually part of Canadian culture — at least to some extent (Matt and Trey’s offering notwithstanding). So I wrote a very long email back to Debbie talking about the cultural differences I saw, and I figure most of it could be repurposed for this blog. The cure for erasure is talking about the culture, after all.

While cultural blending happens more easily along the borders than elsewhere, there’s always a significant amount of bleed-through thanks to media — not only do many big-name talents move south to work Hollywood, but we get almost all the TV and movies northward. It’s tempered, though, by Canadian television, much of which doesn’t bleed south as much — or, rather, people in America care less about Canadian TV than vice-versa.

That’s not to say there aren’t Americans with whom I can bond over Kids In The Hall, or who know who The Tragically Hip or Amanda Marshall are. It’s just more rare than that a Canadian knows about The Rolling Stones (post-pub edit: whom I’m told are actually Brits, heh) or Kanye West, or who watches American Idol or Saturday Night Live.

I think that might contribute to the not-foreign aura we give off. Because we’re steeped in the same media, with slight alterations insofar as there’s a Canadian regulation requiring some percentage of Canadian content minimum on Canadian-owned broadcast stations, we come out shaped by society in many of the same ways. (The SCTV “Great White North” sketches make fun of these rules, by Bob and Doug McKenzie certifying them to contain 100% Canadian content.) And even in school, every one of our textbooks except perhaps the Canadian History ones seemed to have been published in the States.

And the diversity and easy blending of cultures seems to happen more readily with a shared language. Quebecois culture is very unique in Canada, and bleed-through even into New Brunswick is limited, despite it being officially bilingual (the only such province — well, I’m informed Manitoba is too, but NB is actually fairly evenly split population-wise whereas Manitoba is decidedly not). Canada is officially bilingual, but pockets of French happen more often than uniform bilinguality. I imagine the dynamic between English and Spanish is similar in the States. When I moved to Nova Scotia, it was very difficult to keep up on my French, and I’ve grown rusty at it from lack of use. I can impress with a well-practiced stock phrase or two, and carry out a conversation with some difficulty, but I still understand it significantly better than I can speak it.

The political climate is very significantly different in Canada, too. Most Canadians eye your political system with distrust and no small measure of disdain, as we see your Democrats as your centrist party and your Republicans as your crazy-far-right party. With only two parties, there’s no real balance, and we see your political atmosphere as something approaching bipolar — where on the one hand you have people trying to do right by everyone (but failing to have the teeth to do it), and on the other you have people trying to do right by only themselves (while having the willingness to forego even the facts to achieve such). There’s been a shift in that climate in Canada in recent years though, and I fear it trends toward polarization. Once upon a time, we had several “big” parties:

– The Reform Party — equivalent to your Tea Party, though significantly less openly religious (you can’t get elected in Canada by professing your love of Jesus — you’ll actually hurt your chances!)
– Progressive Conservatives — the semi-reasonable right-wing
– Liberals — the centrist party, slightly leftist (yes, yes, I know)
– NDP — the New Democratic Party, the left-wing progressive party
– Greens — the actual environmental party, and yes, they get seats now and again, making them politically viable
– Bloc Quebecois — a party almost entirely devoted to helping Quebec secede, so fairly “nationalistic” (prior even to there being a nation for them!), though they are, politically, slightly more left than Liberals.

So at one point, Stephen Harper negotiated a coalition party between the Reforms and the PC. Now we have the Conservative Party of Canada, and it’s unfortunately giving a lot of legitimacy to the furthest right elements that were once in the Reform Party. It’s something like how Tea Partiers couldn’t take over if they were a whole different party from the Republicans, and yet here they are.

In answer to this, in the last election, the NDP — who until now had not been very politically viable — made huge electoral gains, becoming for the first time the loyal opposition to the Conservatives, where most of the time the Liberals had that distinction when they weren’t themselves in power. So the Conservatives are still the majority, with (from memory) ~36% of the vote in this last election, but the NDP has something like 28% and Liberals 22%. I probably have these numbers wrong, but they feel about right without looking them up. The Bloc has all but disappeared – Quebec turned almost entirely NDP, and the Greens made huge inroads and has a Member of Parliament for the first time in fact. They and the remainder of the other unmentioned parties (e.g. the Alberta Wild Rose party, which is basically Christian dominionism!), split the vote.

And the attack ads now, under Harper, are entirely unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Canada, and they’re largely unprecedented in a country that has always prided itself on its political rationality and civility. And the attempts at building a cable station called Sun, essentially a Fox News equivalent, and the further attempt to gut the media laws that disallow lying on a “news” program, are evidence that Harper’s trying to build a similar propaganda machine to what you have here. It’s more than slightly scary that the “bad guys” are willing to lie, cheat and steal to gain power, and the “good guys” can’t bring themselves to respond in kind (by which I don’t mean use dirty tactics themselves, but rather vociferously expose these dirty tactics and decry them).

So yeah. Politics gives Canada much of its flavour.

So does quasi-British spelling! Flavour!

There’s also a lot of vastly different cultural norms with respect to food. The laws for what can go into your foods different (so you’ll get less high-fructose corn syrup in most things — Coke was for a very long time sugar-based, like in Mexico, for instance, though that’s weakened under Harper so it’s “corn syrup” or “corn sugar” there now — same product, different names). And you have regional foods that everyone seems to know down here as uniquely Canadian.

And some you don’t! Garlic fingers are a thing I miss here — essentially, take a pizza dough, slather it in garlic butter, grate mozza over top of it, crumble bacon or sprinkle with parsley, and cook. Good garlic fingers are comfort food to me, but they were even entirely unheard of in Toronto when I lived there for a year, which was weird to me. Garlic fingers are to be served with donair sauce, which is a reduction of sugar, evaporated milk, garlic and vinegar.

Donair sauce is originally a thing made for donairs, which is a Maritimes-unique doner kebab (originating in Turkey) minus the kebab. To make donair, you take a pita bread, cover with spiced meat loaf on one of those big spits that you shave with a knife to get the long strips of meat you want (I think it’s mostly meat, parmesan, bread crumbs and some spice combination I couldn’t begin to define without looking it up). Then you top with diced tomatoes and (often raw) diced onion, slather with donair sauce, and *maybe* add mozza cheese, bacon and/or green onions if you’re getting a “loaded” one. It’s something I still crave, and I haven’t found anything that’s quite like it here, not even doner kebabs.

And of course, we have poutine, and Kraft Dinner. Something about Kraft Macaroni and Cheese here doesn’t quite do the original product justice — the name is culturally identifiable as Canadian, even though it’s basically the same thing. Even the ads in Canada for it are ridiculously proud of the “KD” brand.

And let’s not forget “Canadian bacon”. Most of what you call that here is basically just smoked back ham, and thus unrecognizable to a Canadian who encounters it. There’s a bit of cultural appropriation going on there. The real “Canadian bacon” is called back bacon or peameal bacon, and it’s mostly a Toronto thing. It’s smoked back bacon prepared super-lean and rolled in peameal or yellow corn meal for preservation purposes. I think the smoking process is different, too, since what you get there is more bacon-like whereas the stuff here is more ham-like. It’s hard to define qualitatively, but if you’re in Toronto, it’s worth hunting down a back bacon sandwich vendor. So when people ask me about Canadian bacon, I usually joke that Canadians call that “ham”. The counter is “what do you call bacon then?” more often than I care to say, to which I have to answer, “um, bacon.”

The overall stereotype of Canadians being apologetic and selfless is totally true. I don’t know why, but I think it has a lot to do with the political factors I’ve mentioned above. But that apologetic nature erodes significantly in the Prairie provinces — Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (aka “Alsama”). Very religious (as evidenced by the existence of Wild Rose Party), very spoiled and self-entitled. Part of that is, the Alberta tar sands mean the province enjoys a huge tax break because it’s making so much money. And by huge, I mean they don’t pay any provincial taxes whatsoever, and I believe they have a steeply discounted goods and services tax.

I haven’t even touched on gun culture, or the strangeness that is your Iced / Sweet Tea which varies by region, or your units of measurement being lifted wholesale from British Imperial units, whereas every other country in the world (and your own government and scientists, even!) has moved on to the more sane Metric, our health care system (which some of your politicians are more than happy to disparage without knowing any of the facts on the ground), or Canadian icons being completely unknown in America where American icons are completely known in Canada. Maybe I’ll talk about all those in a future post. I’m sure there’s a hell of a lot more, but I think this is long enough to show you that there’s a very vastly different culture in Canada than in America.

You’re essentially our slightly-older sibling — slightly-richer, slightly more entitled, and slightly more prone to getting into drunken bar-fights and doing everything you can to pass off the cost and the repercussions of such. We’re normally the ones to come in and apologize on your behalf, help you clean up some of the mess, and quietly try to make peace with all parties behind your back. Though, with our conservative government, we’re souring on that role, and are more likely to feel lately that we are owed something too.

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Skepticon: Not my Canadian pride!

70 thoughts on “Skepticon: Not my Canadian pride!

  1. 51

    Jason, yah, you’re thinking of Christian Heritage when you say a party of Domionists (and not the kind of Dominionists whining about how we shoulda stayed ‘Dominion of Canada’) but we forgive you because we know you’re from “Down East”.

    The Wild Rose party has its generous share of Christian theocrats trying to run as candidates until they open their mouths to honestly speak their Bible Law Uber Alles and get removed from the stage for queering the WR pitch.

    Wild Rose is the latest incarnation of the undead SoCred party hoping to grow up into US Republican wannabees. They can’t get elected as SoCreds so they invented a new name. Same mentality for the “Saskatchewan” party and the BC ‘Liberals’. Can’t get elected under their old corruption ridden names so they went full wolf in political sheep ghillie suit.

    But if you want a big difference between Canada and the US, how about the fact we have NO laws restricting women’s right to safe, legal pregnancy termination and national equal marriage, both for yars and yars now without Armageddon descending upon us. AND the great majority of our population favours both to remain legal?

    Also too, three downs, not four; this seems to freak USians out a lot. I still remember Fran Tarkington being asked on NFL tv who was the greatest quarterback EVAH and he unhesitatingly replied “Ronny Lancaster” to the blank-eyed confusion of the other commentators…which segues into RIDERSRIDERSRIDERS!!1!! being screamed from sea to sea to sea this past weekend.

    And maybe I’m wrong about you Easterners, but it seems Canadians still have awareness of our natural spaces and ‘small towns’, even when raised in cities, which could be a result of having 1/10th the population of parts south of the Medicine Line.

  2. 53

    WTF is AlSaMa?! Never heard the term before. Must have been made up in the CotU, because nobody on the prairies uses it.

    You’re hearing from a lot of Albertans, but I’ve lived in Saskatchewan most of my life, and have recently relocated to Manitoba. Neither of them are like Alberta!

    Well, Saskatchewan is becoming more of a caricature version of Alberta. Conservative government is trying to out-conservative the Wild Rose party without saying so directly right now (which is why I moved), but that’s the province that gave us all socialised medicine, so give us SK lefties a nod, would you please? Certainly there are some dyed in the wool socialists in the urban centres in Saskatchewan, we just didn’t have electoral power because the ridings were set up to split urban neighbourhoods and combine them with largely rural populations.

    Manitoba is light years to the left of Alberta politically. It’s actually got an NDP government provincially and has a totally different attitude to the arts and culture sector to either of the other two prairie provinces – they actually value and support theirs. Alberta has chronically starved the arts and has killed off its TV industry a couple of times. Saskatchewan just killed theirs even deader (like I said earlier, trying to out-conservative Alberta) and Manitoba has the best supports for cultural industries in the entire country. Night and day!

    It’s true that all three provinces have “bible belts”, but Alberta’s is the most pronounced. Saskatchewan’s tends to be an extension of Alberta’s in the southwest region. Manitoba has their as well, but it doesn’t seem to be quite as pronounced. Most of it tends to be very rural. Winnipeg has a small but thriving Jewish community as well.

    In short, the prairies are not at all homogenous.

    The politeness factor: Anecdotally, I was retrieving my suitcase at an airport in Washington when a man ran his Samsonite over my foot while I was wearing open-toed shoes AND I APOLOGISED. I know, very Canadian. But honestly, people are usually very friendly out here and mostly very polite. You can drive like a total idiot and nobody honks at you. Drivers stop for pedestrians whether they’re at crosswalks or not – try cutting across mid-block in TO or Montreal! As much as Toronto. In fact, I find that Torontonians, out here, have a rep for being ruder, but don’t see it when I’m in TO. I think it’s just general bias. Torontonians think we’re all stupid for being out in “the regions” and we think Torontonians are by definition snotty. Well, sometimes they are. But not always.

    And CanCon. Well, I make CanCon for a living (television documentaries). It’s interesting that even the television channels that are offshoots of American channels, like Discovery, are different in their programming. What works for the Discovery audience in the US does not work for Discovery here, even though there is some crossover. We do have different tastes up here – we’re more likely to go for some of the smart programming, even though we like a certain amount of the dumb stuff. Really, we’re sort of in between the UK and US in our likes as tv content consumers.

    Our music scene is also quite a bit different, too, and unusually strong in “the regions” (includes Maritimes as well!).

  3. 54

    @ cuervodecuero

    Urgh, the Riders. People are total idiots about “Rider Pride” in Saskatchewan. It’s like they’ve been collectively lobotomised during football season. One of the things I don’t miss about SK.

  4. 55

    Well, Saskatchewan is becoming more of a caricature version of Alberta.

    That’s a shame.

    but that’s the province that gave us all socialised medicine, so give us SK lefties a nod, would you please?

    For sure. Let’s hear it for Tommy Douglas, the Greatest Canadian!

    Manitoba has the best supports for cultural industries in the entire country.

    I think the Winnipeg Fringe has begun to rival the Edmonton Fringe in terms of attendance over the last five years or so.

    Drivers stop for pedestrians whether they’re at crosswalks or not – try cutting across mid-block in TO or Montreal!

    A friend from Toronto who stayed here for a couple of years used to laugh at how little Edmontonians knew of the ‘art’ of jaywalking. (Bred and born in TO, he took his jaywalking seriously.) But my favourite story was from an Australian friend of mine who was here doing her PhD. One day she happened to be standing on the sidewalk, a little too close to the curb. A motorist, thinking she was about to jaywalk, stopped for her. So, even though she had no intention of crossing the street, she did so just to be polite, and waited for the motorist to pass before walking back across the street to her original position. That’s when she realised she’d be Edmontonianised.

  5. 56

    In fact, I find that Torontonians, out here, have a rep for being ruder, but don’t see it when I’m in TO. I think it’s just general bias. Torontonians think we’re all stupid for being out in “the regions” and we think Torontonians are by definition snotty. Well, sometimes they are. But not always.

    No discussion about the characteristics of Canadians and Torontonians in particular is complete without a reference to this most likely untrue urban legend.

  6. 57

    24fps, The Riders are to Saskatchewanian expats as the Newfoundland tv cable channel in the mine camps is to thems away from “The Rock”. A piece of the sod you can take with you when you’re forced to leave for economic reasons. I live in Alberta but I still tell people I’m *from* Saskatchewan. The Shibboleth is pronouncing our Cree originated provincial name without hesitation or fear.

    Maybe this kind of familial regional bickering is another cultural difference between Canada and the US.

  7. 58

    Well, Jason, no huge criticism but your history of Canadian politics is not terribly accurate, detailed or historical. Then again, perhaps that wasn’t the intention of the post after all.

    cassmorrison @#12:

    What about having high environmental standards that are finally enforceable because of changes at a federal level? What about progressive anti-bullying rules for schools? The PC party is taking on business by making changes that tilt things in the favour of workers. How does that fit in with your narrative about the west?

    Are we talking about a provincial Conservative government here? Because the Federal Conservatives have done nothing to protect the environment, children or workers and have actively worked to weaken protections of all of those groups/things in the past 8 yrs. The current “budget” omnibus bill will roll back workers rights and health & safety about 60 yrs and that’s par for the Conservative course. Cuts to government programs have consistently been to information gathering and fact-based work (particularly at Parks Canada and Environment Canada) which has set back environmental knowledge and protections. The current “anti-online bullying” bullshit bill is more about monitoring Canadians than protecting children from bullies. I mean, Harper IS a bully, for crying out loud.

    But maybe you’re talking about a provincial government and I’m misunderstanding your post.

  8. 60

    Actually, regarding school textbooks, the vast majority of science books I’ve seen in schools have been Canadian-published (usually Ontario or BC). Also, the curricula amongst the Western provinces (Ontario-west, excluding Alberta, I believe) have been re-written over the last decade, and I am almost positive the recommended texts are all Canadian (even if some schools are choosing to stick to the ones they already have from the 80s).

  9. 61

    I am Manitoban by birth and residence, although I lived in Montreal for several years recently, and I have come to the conclusion that people in the big eastern urban centres are basing their understanding of Prairie culture (political, religious, socio-economic, etc.) from information that *might* have been partially true in the 1980s. As Anthony K mentioned, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes are all more religious, overall, than every single Prairie province. We have a significant and increasing immigrant population and yet the integration factor seems to be much higher here than out East. That’s not to say that the “mosaic” model isn’t fully functional here, just that it seems that the people who benefit most from the cultural traditions brought here by recent immigrants are the rest of us, those whose grandparents were born here. Although the point of a cultural mosaic is that the whole society benefits from its diversity, it seems more people here consciously recognize just how more enriched their lives are because of that diversity (than in Quebec and the urban jungle that is southern Ontario). And while rural areas tend to be more conservative and religious, there really aren’t that many people who live in rural areas anymore.

    Politically, we’ve had a series of NDP majority governments since 1999, and while the provincial NDP is perhaps slightly more centrist than the federal NDP (providing wider appeal), they still have managed to stick to their socialist principles (although raising the PST by one percent to help pay down a deficit caused by severe flooding in 2011 is not a popular move, it was a necessary one I think, and in accordance with left-wing politics). Also, as unpopular as the tax hike was, I fully expect the next provincial election (in 2016) to be a real battle, not a shoe-in for the PC, because it may end up that the tax hike stimulates the economy as jobs are created to re-build infrastructure and put into place new flood defense measures. You can bet that the NDP did polling to judge the fallout of their (then-proposed) legislation and are unsurprised thus far.

    And finally, unlike Saskatchewan and Alberta, Manitoba has no real oil wealth (a few wells in the extreme far west of the province notwithstanding), and thus no oil money to be greedy with and pissed-off about when it is shared with everyone else. The trigger-conservative issue here, where everyone turns into a racist fuck, is aboriginal policies, probably because Winnipeg has such a high aboriginal population and because the cultural mosaic model continues to fail us here (though I’m not sure why). Amongst recent and distant immigrants, diversity is mutually-beneficial, while there is still an accepted range of cultural norms that are adopted by everyone. People don’t move to Canada because they want to make it exactly like their home, but some of the practices and traditions they do wish to continue make all our lives better. Why cannot native Canadian culture flourish in the same way that East Indian, or Chinese culture flourishes? Why is there still rampant racism in the country that was second in the world to embrace gay marriage? I am told Australia faces similar problems…interesting anyway.

  10. 62

    “AlSaMa?” I can’t believe Manitoba got somehow sluiced together into Alberta in this. I’m as shocked by this as anything an American visitor has gotten wrong about the place where I live (and I’ve been asked, “where do you keep all your dog sleds?”).

    Manitoba and Alberta are nothing alike. Bill Blaikie and Judy Wasylycia-Leis are from Manitoba. Steve Harper and Ralph Klein are from Alberta. See? Bill. Judy. Steve. Ralph. Different!

    And in keeping with the Manitoba-Saskatchewan rivalry that has been our way for-like-ever, I can’t say anything good about Saskatchewan without suffering a twinge of pain, so I’ll just say instead that they’ve at least made an excellent buffer zone between the goodness that is Manitoba and the awfulness that is Alberta!

  11. 64

    @ cuervodecuero – The Rider Pride thing wears thin when you live in Saskatchewan, and particularly in Regina. I’ve lived within earshot of Taylor Field for most of my life. And I think football is possibly the second most boring sport in the world. So between that and the green zombies, it’s a piece of Saskatchewania I do not miss!

    I also don’t have any problem saying I’m from Saskatchewan. And yeah, I had to move for economic reasons as well. But the province is going through a serious character change over the last 5 to 10 years, and it’s not for the better. The provincial gov’t wants to be Alberta – but not the Alberta of Naheed Nenshi and Redmonton, the charicature version where we’re all oil cowboys. Lots of dick-swinging, lots of mashing down the socialist history of the place – and there was some serious socialist fermentation back in the day!

    So my Saskatchewan is dying, and I don’t wish to know the “new” Saskatchewan that is emerging. Hello, Manitoba!!

  12. 65

    Another important distinction seems to be the Canadian sense of regional identity vrs the American sense of national identity. I don’t know if this is quite as true throughout the country but from Quebec eastward most folks identify quite strongly with local communities and cultures (Quebequois, Acadians, bands of first nations, baymen Newfoundlanders, etc) while identifying only incidentally as Canadian. Americans on the other hand seem to have a strong sense of national identity that is just as important or more so than more regional identities. You can always tell you are in the states when playing Geoguesser because every other person has an American flag on their lawn.

    This sort of thing might go some ways towards explaining Canadian politeness. Our identity is connected to actual people and communities around us which promotes a sense of solidarity with and responsibility towards fellow humans. American identity is tied to an abstract geo-political entity. I’m not really sure what that does but I’m pretty sure it’s not helpful.

  13. 66

    A reluctant Albertan here, chiming in. The GST is the same in Alberta as it is in the rest of the country: 5%. Some provinces have harmonized sales taxes, and Alberta does not have a provincial sales tax to harmonize with the GST. That may have led to the belief that our GST is “steeply discounted”.

  14. 67

    A travesty and massive insult of the country occurred at a hockey game. (I’m 50% each serious and sarcastic here.) A third-rate American “singer” altered the lyrics of “O Canada” to include some from a hideous American “song”.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/islanders-anthem-singer-replaces-o-canada-lyric-line-050232711–nhl.html

    I’m no fan of religious mention in “O Canada”, but that’s a non-issue compared to this abomination.

    The lunatic fringe really are in the twilight’s last gleaming.

  15. 68

    In regard to Oslo, I would say places like Oslo and Stockholm are just part of Ur-Canada where they still speak Norse. I mean after the Iapetus Ocean closed up, Laurentia and Baltica were one single unit
    Besides, both Canada and Norway have fjords and reindeer. Much more important than some silly “flags”.
    (BTW, the Swedish national anthem does not mention Sweden, so we are not comitted to nationalism that way)

  16. cee
    69

    oi! calgarian here, and this shit ain’t true. well the making buckets of money while destroying the earth, that’s true. but Alberta has a 10% flat rate tax, the most regressive tax in the country. there is no provincial sales tax, and albertans do not pay health care premiums (something I still think is a huge mistake, but I objected to ralphbucks, and nobody here listens to anyone who objected to ralphbucks because only communists do that.)

    And calgary might host the biggest rodeo in the world or whatever but Calgary is a bunch more liberal than you make it out to be. Not saying there’s no right wing jabberwockies, because there are – it’s more like people have no idea how socialist they really are because they don’t know what socialism really is.

  17. 70

    and albertans do not pay health care premiums (something I still think is a huge mistake

    One of the odder ‘benefits’ of Albertans’ paying health care premiums was that Alberta Health could make fairly good inter-census-year population estimates based on the number of people who paid premiums (and those whose premiums were paid by their employers or the federal government.)

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