Canada, sometimes humorously referred to as “America’s little brother” and “America’s hat,” known around the world for being arbiters of peace, hockey fanatics, and poutine lovers, is now known for something a little more sinister, courtesy of our southern neighbours.
According to recent results from the US National Assessment of Educational Progress, 33% of American 8th graders believe Canada to be a dictatorship, a distinction apparently shared by Australia and France. When asked what all three national governments have in common, 23% of students answered “they have leaders with absolute power,” 12% answered “they discourage participation by citizens in public affairs,” and 10% answered “they are controlled by the military,” which is interesting coming from a nation whose President has no problem bypassing Congress and whose police forces are becoming increasingly militarized.
So is Canada really a dictatorship? Could it be that we aren’t free in our own igloos?
Unfortunately for the 54% of students who chose to answer that all three nations “have constitutions that limit their power,” the answer is yes.
Canadians are unable to take advantage of many of the rights and freedoms afforded by other Western nations and are constantly monitored for indiscretions in public by elite police in military tanks. Canadian women must always cover up, cannot run for office, and are unable to access abortions. Putting maple syrup on everything is mandated by law and we are actively prohibited from leaving the country. Protests are virtually non-existent, and if they do occur, all involved are immediately arrested and charged.
The most common penalty for violation of Dear Leader Stephen Harper’s rules is re-education, which generally includes 10 continuous hours of listening to Justin Bieber. Failure to comply inevitably results in being on the losing end of a fight with specially trained combat soldiers.
It’s a tough life in Canada, and it appears as though American youth are beginning to wake up and recognize the vast human rights violations that are occurring right next door.
Or perhaps Canada and the United States have more in common than it seems, insofar that public education is failing our children. 33% of 8th graders may not be a massive number, but it’s a large enough statistic to question what exactly kids are being taught in the classroom. It’s a large enough statistic to be baffled by, and despite being slightly humorous, it does serve to undermine the plights of those living under real dictatorships.
Regardless, Canada will embrace its new role on the world stage as a dictatorship. Come and visit us sometime – we won’t arrest you.
No promises, though.