I said that I’m never going to talk politics on my blog, and this post is not about politics, even if it has been “inspired” from the deeds of a politician.
This politician is Rob Ford, the Mayor of Toronto.
As ALL of North America knows, Rob Ford has recently admitted smoking crack cocaine, after months (after 5 months, to be fastidious) of denials.
The Rob Ford story has immediately become easy prey for nearly every wise-cracker of US TV shows: Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart , Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brian and Craig Ferguson, only to name a few.
I come from a country where the Prime Minister (not just the mayor of a major city) has been charged with accusations that make smoking crack like an innocent pastime, and for the yankees… shall we exhume that old tale of Presidents, cigars and lies?
So of course the individual Rob Ford would become a target for all sort of jokes, but this is not the point.
The point is that a lot of this jokes were also alluding to the Canadian Rob Ford.
Conan O’Brian in particular said “The Mayor of Toronto has admitted smoking crack while in a drunken stupor. The mayor has been charged with being way too exciting for Canada“.
All this only one week after Bansky, the elusive street artist, in the frame of his controversy with the New York Times, said that “One World Trade Center is a non-event. It’s vanilla. It looks like something they would build in Canada“.
So… is Canada as boring as it is depicted?
Does it even make sense to depict a country as “boring”… I mean, what exactly makes a country boring?
Sure, Canada is vast and under-populated, and it may appear not really exciting for people coming from old, overpopulated Europe: I have to admit that when I lived in Rome I was planning to visit Iceland (come on… Iceland!!!), but I never, never thought about visiting Canada.
And I felt kind of confirmed during the flight from Toronto to Fort McMurray, when all I saw from the window looked like barren wasteland.
But when I arrived here, I decided to make the most of my stay and I bought a guide: this way I understood that it was my fault for being ignorant, not Canada’s fault for being uninteresting.
The truth is that in Canada there is nearly everything you may want to visit: celtic looking Maritime Provinces on the East Coast, antique Québec City, historical St.Lawrence river, cosmopolitan Toronto and stylish Montreal, close encounters with white bears in Churchill, majestic mountains and spectacular lakes in the Canadian Rockies, trendy Vancouver, the fjord slashed Pacific Coast and even desert with sand dunes in Yukon.
That’s to say that there is nearly everything there is in the USA, only less advertised.
So maybe it’s Canadians, they’re boring? I don’t know and I wouldn’t say, as I don’t really know any Canadian, but they all seem kind people to me.
They work (7% unemployement), they do sports, they love barbecue, they drive large pick-ups with exaggerated motor cubic capacity, and when they don’t work they go out, eat steak and have a beer. They seem pretty much alike their southern neighbours to the untrained European eye.
Surely Canada has not a high criminality rate, but I guess it’s not criminality that makes countries exciting, uh?
Probably the jokes were so funny because so many people in the US are as ignorant about Canada as I was.
I’ll quote from Richard Ford’s book “Canada”:
“[…] what she knew about Canada that she felt might prove useful.
Canada was owned by England and contained provinces, not states of a union – tough there was pratically no difference, except Canada only had ten. People mostly spoke English, but in a different way she couldn’t describe, but I’d be aware of it and could learn it. She said they had their own Thanksgiving, but their’s wasn’t on Thursday and wasn’t in November. Canada had fought beside America in the same world war my father had fought in and had gotten involved in it even before we did, due to Canada’s obedience to the Queen of England, and in fact had an air force as good as ours. She said Canada wasn’t an old country like ours and still had a pioneer feel, and nobody there really thought of it as a country, and in fact some parts people spoke French, and the capital was back east, and nobody respected it the way we did Washington, D.C. She said Canada had dollars for money, but theirs were differently colored and were sometimes mysteriously worth more than ours. She said Canada also had its own Indians and treated them better han we treated ours, and Canada was bigger than America, though it was mostly empty and inhospitable and covered with ice much of the time.”
But even more probably, the truth is that they are “so glad it’s not an American this time“, as Jay Leno said in his show.