The First Five Things You Need To Know Aboot Canadian Politics

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Five Essential Facts Aboot Canadian Politics:

01) Hockey, Religion & State: The biggest difference between Canadian and American politics is Canada does not have a cheerleader culture. There’s a clear separation between Hockey, Religion and State in Canada whereas in America, Football, Baseball, Christianity and State are all wrapped up into one hyperbolic message which is then shouted out in short rhythmic bursts by dynamic pyramids of young, hyper-enthusiastic, impossibly healthy, ridiculously optimistic übercitizens.

The biggest difference between Canadian and European politics is Canada doesn’t do shit which requires hundreds of thousands of European soldiers to die stopping potentially World Ending Wars.

02) Canada — We Put The ‘Social’ Back Into Socialism: We’re a Constitutional Democracy with heavy Socialist tendencies that pays respectful lip-service to its Monarchist past.

We have ten provinces, not states, which control their own education and health care spending. A provincial leader is called “Premier”, and we have a “Prime Minister” (PM) as federal leader. We also have a “Governor General” who is still, albeit nominally, the (British) Monarch’s representative in Canada.

In our system we don’t vote to decide our federal Leader, we vote in our local ridings for a local Federal Party representative. Then the leader of whichever Federal Party gets the most representatives (Seats) elected, becomes the PM, but it’s the Federal Party who decided on their leader.

We have an unelected Senate, our Senators are appointed by the PM as patronage. Basically, if you do a lot of favours for someone and that someone gets somebody elected you become a Senator. It’s literally a lifetime achievement award for services rendered. It’s rare for the Senate to matter in Canadian politics, but it can happen.

We have a Supreme Court which is doing a pretty good job. Supreme Court Justice’s are also picked by the PM with no confirmation process, and the PM is under no obligation to explain his decision. We also have “Crown Corporations” like Canada Post, VIA Rail and the CBC, our public TV and Radio broadcaster. The heads of which are all selected by our PM with no confirmation process.

We also have a national police force called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). They’re responsible for diplomatic protection, protecting the PM, and they also operate as the local police force in most provinces (most cities have their own police, and Ontario and Quebec have their own provincial forces). The head of the RCMP is chosen solely by the PM. The PM also decides who’s going to be the head of Canada’s military… also with no confirmation or debate.

Canada also has a spy force called the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) which has no obligation to report what it does to Parliament, only to the PM and his hand-picked council. The head of CSIS is chosen by the PM.

Canada’s super-secret special forces unit is called ‘Joint Task Force 2′, or JTF-2. It is illegal to report on the whereabouts of JTF-2.

And we have a super-secret intelligence gathering agency, called the Canadian Security Establishment (CSE), which operates kind of like the American NSA, and is our contribution to the ECHELON project.

03) Pot, Dipps & The Eternal Race To The Political Middle:Canada has a federal political party called ‘The Marijuana Party’. They haven’t elected anyone to Parliament yet mostly because most of it’s membership think it’s actually an invitation to a 420 event.

Most of our political parties have pretty self-evident names: the Conservative Party are currently in charge, the Liberal Party has been in charge for most of Canada’s existence; the Bloq Quebecois are a Quebec-only ‘federalist’ party whose mandate is to take Quebec out of Federation (btw: Canada’s a federation) and then there’s the perennially last-place federal choice, the New Democratic Party (NDP).

…Election 2011 Update: the Conservatives have a majority government, the NDP are the Loyal Opposition, the Bloq were annihilated and the Liberals are in third place.

If Conservatives are Reese Witherspoon in “Election” then the NDP are basically a bunch of extras in “The Valley of the Wolves” slouched around tables in a Turkish cafe waving (unlit) cigarettes around while saying things like “those fucking Ameree-cans” and “lets get out of Afghanistan and then negotiate with the Taliban, they’ll take us seriously” and “lets send troops into Sudan… but without their guns” and “why don’t Americans take us seriously”.

04) Quebecanistan: A (not really that) large number of people living in Quebec make a lot of money trying to convince the rest of the people living in Quebec that they — the people of Quebec… well, the French speaking people of Quebec who can trace their ancestry back to the 1700’s — have become so subjugated by Canada that they must break away and form their own country: Quebecanistan. Canada, they say, is divisible. They shouted this at various decibel levels for forty or so years. Then someone said “Hey, Buddy. If Canada is divisible, so is Quebec. And if you really want your own country we could give you a slice of Quebec aboot eight inches wide and three miles long.” They called it the “Clarity Act”, and it seems to have calmed things down.

05) Term Limits For Leaders: There are none. And our former Liberal Minister of Justice actually said “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms doesn’t guarantee any rights or freedoms” in a post-911 world.

Bonus Political Fact: At no time in our 350-year / 140-year history have Canadian politicians ever been responsible for starting a war, exploiting a colony or testing nuclear weapons under the ocean or on land.

But… there was that one time we did sort of, you know, starve the Natives into submission… then we kind of forced them to live on reserves where they couldn’t own property, then sent them to ‘Residential Schools’ where we tried to “save the child by killing the Indian”. And today most of those reserves are lucky to have running water that’s a lighter shade of brown. But I’m sure someone’s working that out.

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About Gabriel

I’ve lived in fifty-two places. I've been paid to pick stones out of fields, take backstage photos of Britney Spears, and report on Internet privacy issues. My photos have been published in several newspapers, and a couple of magazines.
This entry was posted in America, Canada, Canadian Music, Canadian Politics, Climate Change, Conservative Party of Canada, Humor, Humour, Liberal Party of Canada, Native Issues, NDP of Canada, Quebec, Weed. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The First Five Things You Need To Know Aboot Canadian Politics

  1. Mo says:

    First of all, that’s the best (perhaps “only other” is more precise) record sung in French I’ve heard since Plastic Bertrand graced us with Ca Plane Pour Moi.

    Secondly, here in the UK we no longer employ “soldiers to die stopping potentially World Ending Wars”, nowadays we seem to sacrifice soldiers lives in order to start World Ending Wars.

    Thirdly, good luck with the blog!

  2. Gabriel says:

    1) Quebec has really become an incredible music environment. It’s like everyone woke up one morning, shrugged a 104lb weight off their shoulders, asked themselves “Celine who?”, then they all picked up their guitars. I’m going to be posting a lot of new French-Canadian music…

    2) I think you might have misunderstood: Pretty much every war Canada has been involved in has been to stop Europeans from killing each other. Except Korea. Canada’s politics are different in that we don’t do the stuff that start these things.

    3) Thanks. Red Bull. Buy their stock now.

  3. puddlejumper says:

    “Ca Plane Pour Moi.”

    Its on an advert at the moment and I have been desperately trying to remember the name of it

    (I mean I could mouth the words but my french is limited to ordering a beer and saying thankyou and the odd Eddie Izzard sketch along the lines “Vous voulez baiser mon grand-mère ?” not really the done thing..)

    Thankyou Mo.

    I can go look for the bloody track now and have it blasting away while I do the housework.

    Mwaw!
    x

  4. Jamie Stern-Weiner says:

    Lookin’ good. Thanks for the lowdown on Canadian politics. Ever since I watched South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut I wondered if Canadian really do say ‘aboot’ instead of about, and now I know. Now, one more question you might help me clear up: in Fargo, when Canadians talk they say ‘eh’ after everything. Is that true?

  5. Gabriel says:

    Thanks. We do… and we’re proud to do it. Eh. South Park (The Movie) was pretty much a documentary aboot Canada. But Fargo was aboot the lovely people of North Dakota, who share their northern border with our southern border. They also share our love of donuts, coffee and woodchippers. Thanks to you British & French Imperialists, we are truly all cousins. Actually… when you think aboot it, if it weren’t for European Imperialism there wouldn’t be cousins scattered around the world willing to stop you all from killing each other… . Family. What are you gonna do? Eh?

  6. Queen Minx says:

    Okay … I am in no way informed about politics either in Britain or anywhere else … but, just because I want to put my ‘two pennies worth’ in … I came up with the following:-

    from this:-

    ‘Canada has a federal political party called ‘The Marijauna Party’.

    to this:-

    ‘http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legalise_Cannabis_Alliance’

    and, just to prove we are in fact, bonkers, we have this:-

    http://www.omrlp.com/?page_id=64

    and … from this:-

    ‘There’s a clear separation between Hockey, Religion and State in Canada whereas, in America, Football, Baseball, Christianity and State are all wrapped up’

    all I can say is this:-

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_(soccer)_culture#Football_as_a_religion.3F

    I wanted to find a comparative British link to this:-

    ‘Can you get these things off my genitals now? Please?’

    but, as most Brits are still trying to work out …

    a. if we have balls and,
    b. if we should discuss them with the rest of the world, considering we are such prudes, and furthermore
    c. should we admit we like playing with them (other than on a football pitch) …

    I came up stumped. That is not a reference to cricket as:-

    http://roomwithaviewblog.blogspot.com/2005/09/rules-of-cricket-for-foreigners.html

    hmmm …

    There is an English??/British??? saying ‘That’s just not Cricket’ (paraphrasing) …

    maybe the reason why us Brits are so confused with our historical/contemporary identity is because, most of us either don’t understand the aforementioned ‘saying’ vis a vis cricket, or quite simply … we just don’t understand the rules of cricket.

    Any Brits out there who care to elaborate/explain, I for one, as an English person, would love to know:-

    1. how we play cricket and …
    2. the offside rule in football/soccer

    That’s my ‘two pennies worth’, I don’t know the rate of exchange … Canadian dollar v English pound .. but I guess it’s about 4 and a half cents!!

    xx

  7. Queen Minx says:

    You have this:-
    ‘Canada has a federal political party called ‘The Marijauna Party’.
    And … we have this:-
    http://www.lca-uk.org/displayitem.php?articleid=1023
    You say this:-
    ‘We’re a Constitutional Democracy with heavy Socialist tendancies that pays respectful lip-service to its Monarchist past.’
    And, in return, I give you this:-
    http://www.omrlp.com/
    You say (I am tempted to sing ‘You say patato, and I say potato’ … but I won’t do that … ya hear me!?! I won’t!! No .. No … Stop with the thumbscrews!!) this:-
    ‘There’s a clear separation between Hockey, Religion and State in Canada whereas, in America, Football, Baseball, Christianity and State are all wrapped up’
    And … I give you, this:-
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_(soccer)_culture#Football_as_a_religion.3F
    But, anything really, really important about Britain, and the best example of how us Brits honestly live our lives, can only, and I repeat, ONLY be found here:-
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/littlebritain/
    I, thank you.
    xx

  8. John says:

    Are you serious? The US has very clear seperation of church (any church) and state. Unlike in Canada, Catholic schools get no public funding for example. Canada’s head of state is also the figure head of an official state religion! And she/he by law can’t marry a Roman Catholic! Canadians lecturing Americans aboot religion and religious fevor are beyond pompous and arrogant, they’re also apparantly ignorant.

  9. John says:

    As for English (i.e. British whatever exactly that means) likewise lecturing Americans about alleged religious fevor I’d suggest you abolish all political attachments between the Church of England (there is no Church of America LOL) such as the prime minister making church appointments and the head of state (hereditary queen/king) being the titular head of a state established religion. And God forbid the queen/king should marry a Catholic *gasp*…..or an athiest….this kind of crap would be unthinkable in the US. There is once again strict seperation of church and state. What about that can’t non-Americans get into their thick skulls?

    • Isaiah C. says:

      The titular head of the Church of England is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, holding the office of the CoE head is part of the office of the BRITISH Monarch, When acting as the CANADIAN Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II has no ties to the CoE… Basically the Queen of the United Kingdom is a completely different Crown and office as that the Queen of Canada, It is just held by the same person… Another way to explain it is the President of France is also the Head of State (the Prince regnant) of Andorra, though his/her French and Andorran duties and responsibilities are completely different… Queen Elizabeth leads the CoE in the capacity of the British monarch while she does not lead it in the capacity of the Canadian monarch…. Remember it is the Queen of Canada who reigns over Canada, Not the Queen of the UK who reigns over Canada!

  10. Gabriel... says:

    John, I think you’re taking this particular post a little too seriously. I have written posts on secularism and religion you might find interesting, and which have ongoing, interesting and long conversations… for example, this is from something I wrote called “America May Be The Gun, But Europe’s The Trigger”…

    “Forced assimilation is becoming the policy of Europe, their argument: Without secularism there cannot be democracy. None of this is new, but what is amazing in these recent discussions is, with the same breath these politicians who are setting policies calling for the forced integration of Muslims into European’s various Secular Societies, they then condemn America for having “racist” tendencies.”

    In the meantime I don’t understand your argument of the Queen of England’s inability to divorce then marry a Catholic being a sign of American supremacy in church v. state. First, it doesn’t apply as the Queen stopped having anything beyond a symbolic political role in the United Kingdom a long time ago. Second, the Queen has no influence whatsoever over Canadian politics and represents a living historical reference, nothing else. At the same time, Canada’s “head of state” is a purely honorary role. Chosen unilaterally by our Prime Minister the Governor General does not — in any way — represent any religion or foreign power, even as a figurehead.

    I think you’re reacting to number one on my list: “The biggest difference between Canadian and American politics is Canada does not have a cheerleader culture. There’s a clear separation between Hockey, Religion and State in Canada whereas in America, Football, Baseball, Christianity and State are all wrapped up into one hyperbolic message…”

    I was not referring to the Constitutional separation, but to the political gamesmanship… religion plays a much more important and even vital role in American politics than it does in Canada. Religion, in Canada, has very little political capital.

    Thanks very much for the aboot, but if you do decide to continue this conversation on the other post I would ask that you take the indignation down a few levels. I’m sure you can make your points without insulting the entire Commonwealth.

    OR… you could visit Jamie Stern-Weiner, I’ll bet he still hates Americans. Except Noam Chomsky of course.

  11. John says:

    Gabriel, I was being facetious. It didn’t translate well.

    I’m from Boston and have visited Canada many times. I’m aware the Queen is a figurehead and the Governor General is appointed by the Prime Minister, etcetera etcetera…but, never the less, the part about the Queen being the titular head of a state religion is true and the fact she or a future monarch can’t by law marry a Catholic is perfectly true.Just yanking peoples chains a bit. I don’t mean to imply America is superior in this regard, I’m just pointing out something I think is bizarre by 21st century standards in a modern secular democracy.

    Regarding the role of religion in American politics, I think you’re only partially right. You really need to be more nuenced if that’s the right word, maybe something stronger.Religion is a zero issue in New England and other parts of the country. It doesn’t matter anymore than it would in say Ontario or British Columbia. The so-called bible belt is a different story but even there it’s influence is exaggerated. The United States at the end of the day is a modern secular society just like Canada. There’s by law strict seperation of church and state. I’ve seen there’s a brouhaha in Ontario regarding government funding of Catholic schools…this wouldn’t happen in the US where it would clearly violate seperation of church and state.

  12. John says:

    The Prime Minister is an evangelical Christian isn’t he? George Bush was raised a Methodist, a mainline Protestant. He comes from an old New England Yankee family. He was born in New Haven, CT, and attended high school at Phillips Andover Academy in Andover, MA. He attended Yale and Harvard.These places are as old school, middle of the road, noblesse obliges as they get, yet he got elected Governor of Texas. A man who’s the epitome of the Eastern Establishment Old School Yankee got elected Governor of Texas, speaks with an exaggerated Texas/Southern accent when it suits him, and pretends he’s just a good old country boy. Nothing is as it seams.

  13. John says:

    My previous comments make it appear I think I don’t apprecate the difference between constitutional speration and political gamesmanship: regarding political gamesmanship and religion, I think you’re correct in your assessment of the US overall but you should realize the majority of Americans aren’t evangelical Christians and aren’t overly religious anymore so than the average Canadian. Politicians recognize there’s a constituency that they can play to, they certainly aren’t a majority like some (many) misinformed non-Americans would think, but they do tend to vote as near to a block as can be expected. I think non-Americans and some far left Americans pay way to much attention to this phenomena. As an example, George Bush has proven to be much less conservative and right wing than many true believers would like. And President Hillary Clinton would be much more middle of the road than many true believers would want.

  14. Gabriel... says:

    Titular = in name only.

    Our Prime Minister is “evangelical” but politically it means something different in Canada, and is only an issue for the far-left who require something to tie him and his politics to George Bush, as though the current Prime Minister’s religion is any different than the religion of the other 28 Prime Ministers. Using the word “evangelical” in the political arena is a commonly used and ridiculous fear tactic.

    The “Evangelical” Right in Canada is a virtually non-existent voting bloc, the “Right” wing in Canada is also very different than the “Right” in America. The anti-American Left, however, has some voting relevance through political parties such as the New Democratic Party and the Green Party.

    I know all aboot GWB’s makeover, I don’t think it’s something he has particularly tried to hide. I also know the role religious makeovers play in American politics. I don’t think John Kerry had ever been in a church until he decided to run for President. However, just by virtue of the makeup of American voters religion is more important there than here. For example, a Republican must pay homage to the Religious Right by attending a convocation or some event at an otherwise mostly irrelevant Christian University. At the same time a Democrat must stand in front of a black congregation, usually at a Baptist Church, and talk about the 300 years of slavery and segregation. It is very rare to find a Canadian political leader in a Christian Church, although temples can sometimes be popular. We do have a large population of the Sikh and Hindu faiths. But “Faith Based Voting” has become mostly a myth here. Until twenty-years ago immigrants voting as a block either based on ethnicity or religion was common, but even then not overwhelmingly so. Since twenty-years ago immigration to Canada has changed from a policy of “labourers first” to one of “money/business first”. This has changed voting practise substantially away from the Liberal Party of Canada to a mix of Liberal and Conservative Party of Canada.

    The problem I think we’re having is we’re pulling apart a short, irreverent piece of writing… if you want to discuss some of this in more detail I have written other, more serious posts on these subjects which, I think, agree with some of the points you’re trying to make. But if you want to stick here we can carry on if you’d like.

    1. America May Be The Trigger…

    2. Or you can try this one: Good And Evil vs. Victimization And Justification, it’s one of the first things I ever put on this blog but I think it still holds up.

    3. And this one has always been a crowd favourite: Canada: Offering A Safe-Sex Environment Where Humanity Can Fuck Itself Back Together Again

  15. Pingback: Three years in Toronto » Final Transit

  16. 2cents says:

    I know this is an old post but to John I say look it up, the US Deptartment of education does provide some funding to catholic schools if the schools choose to accept the funding, here is a link:
    http://www2.ed.gov/programs/titleiparta/index.html

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