Who cares about Canada, anyway?


This is grossly unfair. Ric Mercer makes fun of Americans for not knowing much about Canada. I assure you, though, that Americans know as much about Canada as they do about the United States.

Comments

  1. Richard Harris, FCD says

    Okay, so Toronto isn’t the capital of Canada, but everyone knows that Yonge & Bloor is the centre of the known universe, eh.

  2. Dunkleosteus says

    I assure you, though, that Americans know as much about Canada as they do about the United States.

    That sounds scary!

  3. bernarda says

    OT, but here is the new French president, Sarkozy, at a G8 press conference. He does Bush proud.

    Perhaps he wasn’t drunk and was just having trouble with his meds.

  4. Tony says

    If you enjoy watching these sorts of things, go to YouTube (or Google Video) and do a search for CNNNN.

    It’s funny at first, but becomes depressing after a while.

  5. afarensis says

    On the plus side, it does have Presidential wannabe Huckabee congratulating Canada on the preservation of their National Igloo!

  6. says

    When you have actually had a car full of Americans, full ski racks atop their car, on a typically southern Ontario humid, hot, muggy and sweltering summer afternoon when even thinking makes you sweat, and they seriously ask “Where’s the snow?” I think you’d start making shows like Mercer’s Talking With Americans, too.

    Of course, being the mouse beside the elephant doesn’t help. :-)

  7. says

    I was so pleased when that little kid at the end of the video said, “Hang on! Canada has provinces.” Unfortunately, most of the other folks on the video were not smarter than a fifth grader.

  8. keiths says

    I saw one where Mercer had a bunch of Americans convinced that a Canadian company had bought the mining rights to Mt. Rushmore.

  9. bPer says

    Sara Robinson said:

    Ric [sic] Mercer is Canada’s answer to Jon Stewart

    Um, no. Jon Stewart is a pussycat compared to Rick Mercer. Here’s an example of Mercer’s signature, often-imitated rant. Biting, usually dead-on right, and funnier than Stewart (IMO).

    His most famous stunt was during the 2000 federal election, when he was on the cast of CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes. The Liberal Party’s main rivals were the Canadian Alliance Party (think of it as Republican wannabes), led by a Pentecostal YEC goofball named Stockwell Day. One of Day’s election planks was a proposal to mandate a national referendum for any group who could get a petition signed by 3% of the voting populace. Mercer realized that that amounted to about 350,000 signatures, so on his immensely-popular segment on 22 Minutes, he invited viewers to sign an online poll petitioning the government to force Stockwell Day to change his name to Doris. The poll had more than 350,000 signatures in only three days, and ultimately had more than a million (1/30th of the entire population), apparently. Day and the CA went on to defeat, and Day has been a laughing-stock ever since.

    But, I can see how some Americans might be offended by Mercers antics, and so I offer you an apology on behalf of all Canadians, delivered by Colin Mochrie, another 22 Minutes alumnus. He is probably more familiar to American viewers as one of the regulars on Who’s Line Is That Anyway?.

  10. JohnnieCanuck, FCD says

    We’re not Sweden’s primary trading partner and vice versa, as is the case with the US and Canada. We may be a mouse, but we’re an important mouse.

    My kids were on a trip to Oregon where they began bantering with a teenager who noted their little flags and tried to disparage them with remarks about people who live in Canadia. It was his come back after they had annoyed him by saying how dumb they thought Dubya was.

  11. Matt Larocque says

    The point is not knowing facts about Sweden, but that I doubt the average Canadian would assume Sweden lacks daily newspapers…

  12. DFX says

    Telling someone something and having them believe it is far different than having them believe it to begin with. If someone with a video camera comes up to you and starts feeding you false information, as long as it’s not completely over the top, you really have no reason to not believe them. The igloo thing I would have had doubts about, but the woodie? Why not? Am I supposed to be keeping up with Canada’s currency?

  13. Niucal says

    They should have asked Bush something else since he already talks about one of his imaginary friends without prompting.

  14. says

    That’s a fair comment, DFX. Mercer is quite skilled with leading interviewees down the garden path, whether they be individuals off the street or the Finance Minister.

    While making fun of the US is a national hobby of ours, it’s mostly meant in good fun, just like Americans are fond of looking down on us like a tag-along younger brother in junior high school: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/05/in_which_american_superiority.php

    Anyway, that show was made years ago, when we were all still upset over catching the US holding hands with Mexico behind the bleachers.

  15. says

    The point is not knowing facts about Sweden, but that I doubt the average Canadian would assume Sweden lacks daily newspapers…

    I know they have lovely moose there! And knockdown furniture, unless they export it all. And Ingvar Kamprad was a Quisling, but he’s sorry about that.

  16. Ted Powell says

    “… he invited viewers to sign an online poll petitioning the government to force Stockwell Day to change his name to Doris.”

    I’m told that while the poll was in progress he was asked what he would do if the numbers were attained. Not a bad answer: “Que sera, sera.”

  17. says

    When you have actually had a car full of Americans, full ski racks atop their car, on a typically southern Ontario humid, hot, muggy and sweltering summer afternoon when even thinking makes you sweat, and they seriously ask “Where’s the snow?” I think you’d start making shows like Mercer’s Talking With Americans, too.

    ROFL that actually happened to a friend.

  18. says

    As a joke, I often quip at people that “in a national survey, 7 out of 10 Americans don’t know where Canada is in relation to the United States.”
    Sadly, 9 out of every 10 people I’ve kidded mistakenly thought I was just stating a fact.

  19. says

    When you have actually had a car full of Americans, full ski racks atop their car, on a typically southern Ontario humid, hot, muggy and sweltering summer afternoon when even thinking makes you sweat, and they seriously ask “Where’s the snow?” I think you’d start making shows like Mercer’s Talking With Americans, too.

    When I was a teenager, I sold ice cream on one of those little bikes (Dickie Dee in Canada, Good Humour if you’re American). One brutally hot July day, when I was doing excellent business in the sticky heat of the Niagara Peninsula, a car with NY plates came up, the driver rolled down the window and asked where he could go to see igloos.

    At this point I’d like to say “j/k”, but I am not. This clown drove the huge long 12 miles from the border to ask an ICE CREAM vendor where to find igloos, because in Canada, there must be igloos… even when you’re as far south as California and it’s mid-summer.

    I’ve never looked at Americans the same since.

  20. says

    Oh, and I gave him directions to the Cinesphere ball in Toronto. It’s a big white geodesic dome that houses a theatre. I figured that would satisfy his curiosity.

  21. Graculus says

    The funny part is that, since the “national igloo” episode was filmed, Canada does kind of have a national igloo… the Nunavut legislature.

  22. says

    I ♥ Rick Mercer. He’s not only a wonderful satirist, but a fervent supporter of science education (and lent his voice to one of the productions, The Climate Change Show, at our local science centre, Science North).

    And I always used to have fun, traveling back to the states for family visits and research trips. Apparently my bilingual toiletries were amazing enough to cause a virtual stampede of cousins into my bathroom to gawk at the French and English print on my shampoo and toothpaste tubes.

  23. another says

    “We have provinces, not states; and Members of Parliament, not congresspeople.

    Canada has daily newspapers, VCRs, staplers, electric lights, domestic canines…”

    This reminds me of something I learned about a decade ago when I was dating a lovely woman from Canada. We’d get into border scuffles from time to time and I realized that there are two primary ways for an American to piss off a Canadian. You can 1) assume that our two countries are exactly the same, or 2) assume that our two countries are in any way different.

  24. Peter Landers says

    Way up here in Northern Ontario (actually, a bit south of most of the border between Canada and the US), and just yesterday, I saw a pickup with Ohio plates and a snowmobile in the back in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I wish I could say this was a rare occurrence in summertime, but it isn’t. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

    I don’t know, maybe it’s the metric system. Americans hear that it’s 30 degrees up here and get all anxious for some winter excitement…

  25. Hairhead says

    Rick’s gentle mocking of Americans is one of his weaker bits, the comedic equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. His best stuff, bar none, is his “rants”. They are one uninterrupted walking shot of Rick eviscerating some subject at high speed for 90 – 120 seconds. Awesome! Satirically, they are the equivalent of a shiving in the prison laundry. They are smart, angry, and have REAL bite! He’s collected them in a book called “Streeters”

  26. Hairhead says

    Okay, true story, this. Git out your geography books. In the late 1980’s I was taking the ferry from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island to back to the city of Vancouver on the mainland of British Columbia. I’m standing at the front of the ferry, enjoying the view (it is summer), and I am approached by a middle-aged American. He introduces himself as from Seattle. He says he took the Port Angeles ferry up to Victoria, went north up Vancouver Island 90 miles to Nanaimo, and was intending to come back through Vancouver.

    He wanted to know, “Does Vancouver have any motels?” Now, I’m polite. Vancouver is a metropolis of 2 million people less than 200 miles directly north of Seattle, whose port does more business than Seattle’s. So I tell him that, yes, Vancouver does have motels, but since he’s landing in the downtown, he’ll first have to make his way past all of the hotels. He is polite and appreciative.

    While we talk, the ferry moves closer to Vancouver, and the Lion’s Gate Bridge hoves into view; the Lion’s Gate bridge looks a lot like the Golden Gate Bridge, except 1/3 the size. The American’s jaw drops. “You got a bridge!”, he exclaims.

    I maintained a perfectly polite and non-mocking attitude and did tell him where he could go, not only for motels, but for other amenities. He was particularly shocked that metropolitan Vancouver was the same size as Seattle.

    I don’t expect people from Georgia, Arizona, hell, or even New York State to know much about B.C.; it’s unreasonable to expect people to know much about anyplace more than 3 or 4 hundred miles from where they live — but this guy lived a 2 1/2 hour car ride away!

  27. Chinchillazilla says

    What I have learned about Canada from public school:

    My Theatre teacher is Canadian. He can’t vote here because he’s not a citizen.

    Something about maple leaves.

    Something about South Park.

    I actually, literally, think that covers it.

  28. says

    There is some tremendously fascinating sound art coming from Montreal! I’d put it right up there with New York, San Francisco, and Osaka.

    But you can take Rush back any time now, seriously.

  29. says

    Thank you for linking to this, PZ! I grew up in Western New York, about 45 minutes from the border. I love this show (along with The Red Green Show, although I’m not sure if that one’s still on) and particularly like this feature. I saw one once where he was getting people to congratulate Canada on their recent decision to get electricity. I’m moving back to the area in about 3 weeks, and am hoping my antenna can pull in CBC. It should. If I’m still in the area next summer, I’ll have the wonderful luxury of being able to see their Olympic coverage! They seem to emphasize different sports than we do, and between them and a good American channel, you can catch virtually everything.

  30. says

    Given the fact that we’re inundated by American broadcasting 24/7, I would suggest that Canadians know a LOT more about Americans than Americans know about Canadians – including your currency, who’s in the primaries, and where your Governors are touring.

  31. commissarjs says

    Facts about Canada.

    Flag: 2 vertical red bars and a red maple leaf on a white background.
    Coat of Arms: A remorhaz and a polar bear holding aloft a jar of maple syrup.
    National Anthem: Freewill by Rush
    Total Area: 3,854,085 sq mi
    Total Area Not Covered By Glaciers: 6,452 sq mi

    Little know fact about Canada: Everyone knows Canada exists but tends to forget.

  32. thecdn says

    As a Canadian who has lived in the US for eight years, I have to agree with the observation that very many Americans are geographically challenged. As PZ said, not only about Canada, but their own country.

    When I moved to Louisville, KY, I told people that the city I came from, Calgary, AB, was about a two hour drive north of Montana. More than half the people I stated this to did not know where Montana was.

    A friend at work played golf with a group who would often go to a bar and play the video trivia games said that if the guy from India didn’t go with them they couldn’t answer any of the geography questions.

    I do get a kick out of it when I know far more US geography than the average American :) The attitude of ‘this country is so great nothing else matters’ seems to go down to the state and even county level. The ‘uncuriousness’ displayed by GWB is a national epidemic.

  33. says

    Best-ever 2 item segment on the BC news:

    1) Semi-amused outrage over the comments of an American sports commentator about a local-born hockey player who plays for a US team. FYI, Mr Yankee, New Westminster is a suburb of Vancouver, is the original provincial capital, is a built-up area and does NOT have moose wandering down the street as you suggested in your commentary last night. Idiot.

    2) And finally, a young bear broke into Safeway supermarket in Coquitlam today. Animal control experts believe that the bear was attracted by the smell of baking bread.

    (map at http://www.relocation2bc.com/images/map-gvrd.jpg)

  34. Chili Pepper says

    About 25 years ago, my brother was involved in this big cross-Canada exchange student program with a school in Massachusetts – two dozen Canadian students from all across the country.

    They knew they were in trouble when the bus from the airport pulls up at the US high school, and they got their first look at the gigantic banner proclaiming “Bienvenue les étudients canadiennes”.

    Their US hosts were thrilled and amazed at how quickly their Canadian guests acquired English fluency.

  35. Steve LaBonne says

    While making fun of the US is a national hobby of ours, it’s mostly meant in good fun…

    Why? If I were Canadian, I would be mocking Americans with all the malice I could muster. ;)

  36. Keith says

    Okay, true story, this. Git out your geography books.

    My turn! My turn!

    So I’m working at a campground in New Brunswick one summer when I was in high school, and this car shows up. Station wagon (this being the mid 80s when they were still around), Massachusetts plates…ski rack on the roof and parkas and ski suits in the back ready to be donned as soon as they hit the Canadian cold front. The campground was situated pretty near as far north as you can go in the province so the impression I got was that they came across and kept heading north, hoping to hit snow.

    This is, of course, the the back end of July, temperatures in the high 20s-low 30s (Celsius).

    So, genius dad says “I guess there’s no snow, huh?”

    I agree. He asks if there’s snow further north. I concede there probably is, but given there’s no roads to Baffin Island, he probably won’t be able to drive there.

    Then he asks about the Rockies. I say yes, it’s possible there’s some place you can heliski on a glacier that time of year. He nods happily and says, and I shit you not, they’ll stay overnight at the campground, head out in the morning and should be at the Rockies by afternoon the next day.

    At this point my jaw drops and I was forced to ask him if he was aware how big the country actually is.

  37. twincats says

    Re #14 – both of those videos were spot on and funny!

    Just one observation: The alleys had impressive graffiti!

    And one question (for anyone at all): Why, oh why was Colin Mockerie dancing and rapping with Carl Rove???? My heart was broken when I saw that video clip on The Daily Show!

  38. b_nichol says

    I was working in Erie PA a few years ago and was asked (since I had a rental car) whether I would be returning home (Edmonton) for the weekend. A quick check of MapQuest showed a 39-hour one way trip – no stopping, and no thanks.
    As Krakus pointed out, given the sheer volume of American media Canadians are exposed to, it would be difficult to not know more about our good neighbours than the reverse; but just in case one thinks that this is a new phenomenon:
    http://tinyurl.com/yt7l7h

  39. says

    One from me:

    For a few years I worked in a little glass box surrounded by tiny spotlights where my hand were frequently covered in Vasaline(tm) and people game me money for services rendered – that’s right, an engraving kiosk in a mall. It was in the tourist-trap town of Victoria, BC, so we had a LOT of Americans coming through. In three years, four times I had American tourists throw a handfull of bills and change on the counter and say: “I can’t tell what this money is. Taks what you need.”

    Granted, the Canuck dollar was only worth 69 cents or so at the time, but still: it is a base ten system, folks. Numbers on the corners and everything: it shouldn’t be that tough!

    Recommended reading: A Souvenir of Canada, by Douglas Coupland.

  40. Graculus says

    at our local science centre, Science North

    OK, snowflake or UFO? ;-)

    I drove past it every day for a year, I say UFO.

  41. says

    Thursday,
    and Canadian money has different colours for the different notes, unlike one particularly peculiar currency I could mention. Try telling US notes apart in a dark bar after a few beers.

    Still I can a story in reverse. I was talking with a fellow aussie in the shower block of campground in Ontario, and a rather drunk Canadian overheard us. “You guys have a strange accent, he said, I know what you are, you guys are yankees” he said proudly. Hey, maybe we can’t tell the difference between a Canadian and an American accent, but not being able to distinguish that an Aussie accent is different from an American! Sheesh!

  42. jrochest says

    All the Canuck comments above are spot-on, except for the assertion that Mercer is funnier than Stewart. He’s not — he’s gone downhill of late.

    The very saddest thing about this story, though is that
    the Pentecostal YEC goofball named Stockwell Day. is now our DEFENCE minister. Bring back the Libs, say I.

  43. says

    VancouverBrit: Be careful with the wild animals, though. There have been coyotes seen repeatedly in Burnaby, for example. (Including by an uncle of mine.)

    Thursday: Base ten system and the numbers in the corners and the words are (in part) in English, no less. Hrmf.

    jrocest: “Public Safety”, isn’t it?