#199 – Confederation was a Crock of Shit

The story of Confederation is not an easy one to tell, and because of this caker logic has filled the narrative gaps in Canada’s formation with revisionistic mortar and a solemn promise to not delve any further into the topic. The make-believe surrounding Confederation is so absurd that I couldn’t help but cite this crystal-clear instance of caker doublethink. I want to direct your attention to these two lines within the above-linked piece:

The historical moment we will commemorate next Saturday is Confederation — a bunch of old white guys signing a document that bound a loose collection of provinces controlled by the British Empire into a vague and discontented unity without the slightest consideration of or participation by the First Peoples…

Confederation was an attempt at compromise between peoples within a unified political framework.

Problem, Stephen: the “compromising” parties are making compromises on occupied land. Hitler and Stalin compromised on the partitioning of Poland. And instead of acknowledging foundational problems like segregation of blacks in the Maritimes and, y’know, the Indian Act, this guy decides to try and sneak the word “peoples” into the notion of compromise while noting directly that Indigenous peoples had no input and imputing that they were the victims of this “compromise” is a wonderful way to pay the white-guilt penance while trying to gloss over its implications.

So that’s the kind of doublethink we have to contend with – a bunch of unsubtle attempts to brush Canada’s unsavory past under a polite, mundane little rug. Let’s list off some of the actual stories of Confederation:

  • Nova Scotia elected an anti-Confederation government and appealed for the reversal of Confederation
  • Despite Canada’s interest in them Newfoundland and P.E.I would resist attempts at annexation
  • Quebec was practically held hostage with the prospect of greater local authority
  • The British were sick of supporting a bunch of useless podunk colonies whose useful purpose (the fur trade) had been expended and hoped that amalgamation would provide cost savings

First up, Nova Scotia. In September of 1867 there was an election in Nova Scotia, wherein 36 of the 38 elected to the lower house were against Confederation. Joseph Howe even went so far as to appeal to the Throne to reverse Confederation. Even better – Charles Tupper, the useless sack of shit I wrote about long ago? Yeah, that asshole was the leader of the legislative assembly and approved Nova Scotia’s annexation immediately before that election result where his ideas and shitty plan were rejected wholesale by the people of the province. Because London said “no takebacks lol”, Nova Scotia was dragged by sleight of hand into Canada. Such a lovely compromise – the obvious will of the people subverted by a guy who would gain personally from the Confederated project.

As a side-note, the phrasing of the government-written link I listed above there is kind of odd: “After failing to secure a repeal of Confederation in 1868, Howe recognized the futility of further protests”, it reads. Protest is futile. You will be assimilated.

Next, Newfoundland. It’s worth noting that Macdingus the Drunk and his motley synod of synchophants, sadsacks, jesters, fools, and profiteers sought more than just the four provinces they managed to absorb into their shitty idea. Indeed, Newfoundland has always taken to Canadian identity tenuously, and despite electing a pro-Confederation government led by Frederick Carter in 1865 the Anti-Confederation Party of Newfoundland under Charles Fox Bennett would win in 1869, and the issue died on its feet.

Another swing and a miss for Confederation came from Prince Edward Island (in fact, the only province in Atlantic Canada to willingly cotton to Confederation the first time was New Brunswick, and even they’re saying that they’ve gotten a raw deal), whose Premier James Colledge Pope basically called Canada’s bluff and demanded more money while also holding (ultimately pointless, because P.E.I would need royal assent in order to do again; the Crown straitjacketing her colonies into line is a common theme to Confederation, you see) negotiations with the United States that ultimately scared more funding out of Ottawa. It was ultimately a failed railroad project that would force P.E.I to take Ottawa’s money and sell itself into mendacious mediocrity.

On to Quebec, a province which was forced into Confederation by way of that most classic point of Canadiana, failing civic governance caused by civic failure. This piece from Claude Bélanger at Marianopolis College speaks to the hostage-taking that transpired in Quebec. With the previous mechanisms shackling Quebec to Ontario collapsing and increasingly unable to function, the terms of a new union had to be made. Indeed, there were elements overtly supporting annexation into the United States, like the Parti Rouge. And despite Quebec’s powerful landed English elites and having few alternatives, 40% of the population still voted against Confederation. At some point the rational calculus of the Quebecois voter turned to “turds all around me, and I’d rather faceplant into any other cowpie than the caker cowpie”. Fantastic compromising skills, Stephen!

And finally, the big ugly truth rumbling underneath the entire Confederate project. This is the point cakers hate to be reminded of, in no small part because Canada becomes a lot less romantic when it is revealed to be a child of accounting more than anything else. I’ve been pointing to several instances of the English royalty effectively enforcing Confederation, and the reason for that is simple – the British didn’t want to pay for the defense of Canada. The British too brought their finest Mafioso techniques: Ged Martin writes of the bind that the erstwhile Confederates found themselves in, writing that there would be “a question mark” over British committment to Canada should the union not succeed.

All this is to say that this week’s narratives, complete with bait-and-switch white-guilt tithes and eager to forget how fractuous, non-consenting, and unsatisfying Confederation has been for all of its members save Ontario. Fully 30% of the provinces were bribed into union; with Nova Scotia being hoodwinked and Quebec choosing out of desperation, at least half of Canada had serious doubts about the very idea of Canada. Be sure to remember that when some mouthbreathing caker claims that “Canada was built on orderly negotiation”, because it fucking wasn’t.

Fuck John Macdonald, and fuck Canada.

 

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#62 – AmeriKKKa, Part Six: Pro-Choice, Anti-Access

People like Rick Mercer love to use abortion access as a way to highlight differences between Canada and the United States. According to these special souls women in the United States live in a state of being not unlike the Handmaid’s Tale. Without any knowledge of their own history regarding abortion, cakers will point to (ridiculous) new anti-abortion legislation in a backwards American state as evidence that the next generation of American women will all be named Offred. Typically, the American judiciary will do what it is constitutionally charged with doing and block stupid legislation from stupid places. But cakers ignore the finely-tuned instrumentation of the American system in favor of screeching like apes so as to mask their own ignorance of their own systems. Having said all of that, let’s take a walk through Canadian history to talk about how abortion access works in Canada, shall we?

We start with a woman named Emily Stowe, who was the first case I could find of Canada bringing the hammer down on an abortion provider. Stowe, who was Canada’s first (not-really but it’s complicated) licensed female doctor couldn’t even get into medical school in Canada, so she had to be trained in New York. In 1879, Stowe provided a minute quantity of a drug that could cause a miscarriage to an “annoying” 19-year old. By minute quantity, I mean “too little to actually do anything” minute. The result was a raucous trial which eventually saw her acquitted on the basis of her prescription being too small to do anything. Abortions would remain illegal under Section #251 of the Criminal Code of Canada until 1969.

It was in that year that the Great Liberator of Canada, Pierre Trudeau would take steps to decriminalize abortion pursuant to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. Only a year before Hawai’i legalized abortion on request, California and ten other states legalized access to abortion by writ and Washington state held a public vote legalizing abortion access, Canada finally passed some kind of “permissive legislation” regarding abortion access. The “permissions” required for a Canadian woman to have an abortion performed were strict, to say the least. Remember that Commission that recommended legalizing abortion? Yeah, that was only up to the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. By contrast the “stupid legislation” I pointed to from Mississippi is a ban after fifteen weeks.

And the horror of Canada’s “legalization” doesn’t stop there. In order to access abortion legally under Pierre Trudeau’s regime, you had to get approval from a Therapeutic Abortion Committee, or TAC. The role of the TAC was to effectively judge whether a woman could bypass the existing criminal prohibitions on abortion. TACs were given tons of wiggle room because of the wording of the legislation, meaning that decisions were often arbitrarily in the negative. A TAC that was too lenient was often shuttered and replaced by the hospital in question with one that was harsher. This cockamamie system would remain in place until 1988, which you might recognize as really not that fucking long ago and also recognize as 15 years after the permissive ruling of Roe v. Wade (we’ll get into the difference between permissive and non-permissive rulings in a bit) To this day, hospitals are still notoriously shy about the provision of a service cakers pretend is elementary and regularly available.

The province that actually forced Canada to confront its Victorian attitudes regarding abortion was of course Quebec, the only province in this shithole with the stones to stand up to obscene regulation. Enter Henry Morgentaler, who actually served jail time and endured a firebombing of his clinic in Toronto in this country of unending tolerance and respect for women’s rights. Morgentaler’s tireless work providing abortions where hospitals refused (and still refuse) to earned him unending legal troubles until the infamous R v. Morgentaler ruled that the arcane insanity of the TAC was unconstitutional.

After that, we get an attempt from Brian Mulroney to pass new legislation regarding abortion which would entrench restrictive bureaucracy and penalize women who are so desperate that they seek to self-abort. A tie vote in the Senate killed that first and last attempt to legislate abortion in Canada. And here’s where I talk about the difference between permissive rulings and the Wild West that Canada lives in. Roe v. Wade sets in law the right to have an abortion; R v. Morgentaler merely cancels Canada’s abortion legislation. Since then, Canada hasn’t bothered trying to pass any kind of ruling on the issue.

The problem with this is that the Wild West mentality tends to restrict abortion access. New Brunswick doesn’t allow for abortions broadly speaking, and there’s not a goddamn thing Canada can do about it. Outside of Ontario barriers and restrictions to abortion are common, especially in rural areas. Even with rule changes the lack of ultrasound machines coupled with a non-medically-necessary requirement to have an ultrasound before medication inducing abortion can be provided still hampers access in rural Canada. Without legalized abortion in Canada training for abortions is still haphazard and often wanting. If #RealChange gave a shit he could fix this mess, but he won’t because that’s hard…and because Canadians on the whole aren’t particularly liberal on the matter themselves.

#60 – The Job Fairy, Part Three: A Poverty of Sense

We’ve touched before on how shitty Canada is at collecting statistics. Now we’re going to talk about one facet of this problem: namely, the fact that Canada has no official definition of poverty. Instead, what it has are three obsolete, obfuscating measures, two of which are used in Canada and nowhere else. One of these metrics, the Low Income Meaure (LIM), wasn’t even designed to catch the poverty rate and relies on ten-year old data. Other metrics like the Market Basket Metric (MBM) has been developed almost entirely without public input and thus can be used to artificially lower the stated poverty rate in Canada. And the old stalwart, the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) doesn’t account for differences in rent between major centers and rural communities. Spoilers – it’s a bit more expensive to live in Toronto than it is to live in Bumfuk Falls, Alskatchetobador.

I’ve got a super-handy chart of the types of poverty metrics that Canada collects instead of following the Irish lead and just…having a poverty rate that makes sense. Fuck sense, am I right?

Shit About Canada Poverty Metrics.png
(S)

Check out the variations in play here! Anywhere from 9-14% of Canadians by these measures are living in poverty, though every metric we used stands accused of understating poverty in some way or another. Despite Statistics Canada warning that LICO should not be used as a “poverty rate”, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing for decades. Genius! Oh, and did I mention that the practically-useless LICO is the only consistently-collected metric of poverty in Canada? Gotta keep that useless, antiquated statistic running. Then again, it’s not like Statscan is prepared to accept any other metric that it produces as an actual indicator of poverty. It’s like watching a shitty golfer constantly call mulligans after slicing a ball into the water hazard again.

With such spotty data collection and a lack of ways by which Canadian figures can be compared to global ones, there’s no real way to tell if Canada is meeting domestic or international obligations regarding poverty reduction. Our data collection is designed to create a situation where comparison is impossible. The one metric that we do have that we can use to compare with the rest of the world, the LIM, can produce counterintuitive results because it is pegged to average income. If average income falls, the threshhold for poverty does too, reducing the stated number of impoverished people. And as for the MBM, Statscan consistently whinges about how expensive it is to produce.

The upshot of all of this bullshit regarding statistics is that Canada flies blind in terms of poverty reduction strategies and that our governments can arbitrarily declare success by lying with numbers. Just like with the Quadriptych of Death, poverty lines and metrics can be bent to bury practical realities under political spin. We also don’t account for poverty relative to assets held. If you own a house outright, your required income is different than if you rent. Even if you do have a mortgage, a house can in theory be liquidated in a way that rent can’t. But nuance and careful consideration of societal needs is too complicated and expensive in Canada, so the timeless strategy of declaring endless victories while stressing that “more must be done” (while, of course, nothing is done because we have no yardsticks to work with) continues apace. As we continue to ignore serious catastrophes that loom in Canada’s future, the entire country is allowed to drift on with vague platitudes and do-nothing make-believe.

Clearly, hoboes and the underemployed just need to be dynamic team players and they too could ride the Job Fairy’s Magic Job Carpet to Jobland and out of poverty…however that’s defined.

#35 – The Cult(ure) of Hockey, Part Four: What Injuries?

Fairly recently, the NFL had a bad moment of PR when it was revealed by Congressional report that the League had attempted to influence studies of concussions caused by playing major-league football. What really stuck with me about the whole disaster was an idle thought – what would Cakerstan think about an investigation into the injuries caused by major-league hockey? To answer that question, we need only turn to Don Cherry, a man who once called people critical of rampant fighting in the NHL “nerds“.

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(S) The man on the left is taken seriously by English Canadians. I am not kidding.

With St. Cherry’s Divine and Final Word on the matter of fighting (which is completely tangential to the point of hockey, which appears to be scoring more goals than the other team), it seems that Canada has decided to not give a shit about brain trauma in hockey. This is a small problem because, well, Canada has this thing about drilling young children into the hockey (cult)ure. Said children are getting smoked on the ice and experiencing head injuries, which in classic Canadian fashion they are told to hide from others.

Hockey, it is important to repeat, is a fundamentally reactionary activity in English Canada. It hearkens back to (badly distorted) images of Canada’s past, when brown people could be actively sneered at, winters were “real” winters with literal mile-high snowbanks, cigarettes were practically mandatory, and seatbelts were a socialist plot. The reaction to Rogers adding MuchMusic host and obnoxious #engagedyouth George Stroumboulopoulos to the Hockey Night in Canada ecosystem was fucking nuclear. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that kind of conservative method of cultural preservation, I start taking issue with it when the call to preservation expressly masks known problems and cruelties. As was the case with the NFL, the NHL has a serious head injury problem. But unlike the American people, Canadians are happy to hide from that fact amongst the reactionary reeds.

Let’s be perfectly frank here – the NHL absolutely has a head injury problem. Its coaches and players won’t even use the right terminology when discussing the problem, but as we’ve learned here before pretending that problems don’t exist shockingly doesn’t magic them away. People have had their lives ruined because of their time in the NHL, and the teams as late as 2016 still try to withhold information about head trauma that relevant authorities might need to, oh, I don’t know, save that person from a life of disability and pain. The NHL has even eaten several lawsuits over the matter. The linkages, despite what commissioner Gary Bettman would have you believe, are perfectly clear – fixation on hockeymans means a greater chance of having little Timmy’s grey matter coming out of the game less intact than the average Canadian flag flying today.

torn_frayed
(S) This is your brain on Canada, folks

The trauma and savagery of the major-league version of hockeymans is transmitted down to the minors, too. Almost half of the brain injuries experienced by young athletes in Canada are caused by hockey. And what has the response from Canada been? Well, caker parents and caker coaches, their heads addled with star-struck visions of vicariously living through their children and proteges, are still pressuring their children into ridiculous training regimens. In the process, a shit ton of caker businesses are taking huge sums from parents who can’t really afford them. Hockey parents are perhaps the worst subset of caker, to the point where even other cakers have agreed that the hockey moms of the world need mandatory training so as to be halfway decent people. The whole thing is a festering ball of Canadiana, a way to separate cakers from their money by using their own insecurities, sense of patriotism, and children against them.

Yes, hockey enrollment is down in Canada. But that’s likely because of cost, not because Canadians have somehow figured out that children and head trauma go together as well as Canada and civilization. Oh, and if the hockey squire does in fact make it, guess what? They’re treated like shit by Hockey Canada, which was actually created by the federal government in 1968. Say what you will about Americans and football – at least they had the good sense to use their federal governmental powers to demand better of major sporting leagues instead of creating yet another avenue of unfairness for those pressured into a dangerous sport whose physical harms are shouted down and ignored by reactionary cakers like Don Cherry.

#31 – The Magical World of Caker Papers

Immigration and its foibles are among some of Canada’s most closely-guarded revisionist histories. Canada’s governing traditions, which are closely associated to its pseudo-nobility couples with Canada’s extractive economic impetus to produce a nigh-constant need for fresh blood and talent. The upshot of this is that Canada has since inception encouraged an underclass to move to this country. Migrants are historically lied to, lured to this hellhole by promises of land or a chance to use one’s labor, and for their efforts receive not only physical pain but serious mental strain and depression.

What’s novel about immigration in Canada is that it serves as the host for so many revisionist defenses of Canada as a country. For those on the left, the misery and toil of the average migrant is relegated to mindless identity politics or ignored in favor of some good old fashioned self-aggrandizement on the basis of Canada being “accepting”. For the right, immigrants are the perfect scapegoats to blame declining services and a failing economy on. In both cases the sanctity of Canada is protected; the leftist sees the struggles of the engineer-cum-Tim-Horton’s cashier as merely one facet of a global conspiracy, and the right harkens to some imagined time when Canada wasn’t shit by claiming that immigrants somehow “changed” Canada for the worse.

The topic of immigration will come up often on this blog because of how wrapped in revisionism the concept is to the caker conception of Canada. To be blunt there is just so much to work with that one post would never cut it. To avoid this post being nothing more than an introduction to how shitty Canada is to migrants, let’s grab one of the right’s favorite memes about people suckered into moving here and use it to bludgeon Canada. Let’s call this trope the “Anchor-Caker Complex”.

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(S) Here’s an anchor surrounded by cakers. Close enough.

At the core of the anchor-caker complex is the mythology that people who have no intention of living in Canada collect Canadian citizenship so as to have a means to evacuate the country that they actually live in should the shit hit the fan. The term “Canadians of convenience” was coined by MP Garth Turner, who was upset by his made-up number (fun fact, Garth – $85M divided by 15,000 comes to about $5,667 per evacuee, not $75,000) as to the costs associated with evacuating Canadian citizens from Lebanon in 2006. To make a side-note here, isn’t that just so polite and civil of Canada? We’re here to help the world…unless that costs money, in which case the world can fucking burn. Ain’t spending my Timmies money on icky foreigners.

My real upset isn’t that Garth doesn’t like how readily we hand out caker papers. I think fewer people should be exposed to this toxic cesspit, so naturally I’m all for fewer cakers and fewer caker papers. But the implicit undertone of Garth’s assertion (that is, that Canada is a competent country that foreigners would want to treat as little more than an insurance policy), is of course absolute nonsense. First off, actually getting caker papers is fucking expensive (the link here is just the amount of money that a migrant needs to have on-hand to even begin the application process; there are hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of attendant fees to be paid as the paperwork is shit through the gross organs of Citizenship and Immigration Canada). It also takes a fucking long-ass time and is ferociously annoying. Oh, and did I mention that you also have to actually live in Canada for two years to keep your residency status?

So obviously caker papers are not worth investing in unless you plan on making the life-changing mistake of actually moving here. And that’s not to mention that your “insurance country” is still going to charge you for evacuation and could very easily end up doing a piss-poor job. The thought that someone would opt for years of Brazil-esque bureaucratic fuckery in hopes of paying for a badly-managed evacuation is laughable. Passports aren’t Pokémon cards, shits-for-brains.

 

 

#29 – Statscan’t: Three Decades of Failure

Canada is a low-information society, where data is scorned in favor of revisionist make-believe and fairy tales about the functionality of the country. I’ve provided a few examples of this trait, but I think it’s time to explore the failure of Statistics Canada, a substandard body whose glory days are long behind it and whose future appears to be one of fidgeting and failing under ever more onerous burdens.

We begin with StatsCan’s glory years, when it was at least a respectable institution. Respectable and Canadian are words that simply don’t go together, but let me explain. Statistics Canada was born in 1971 out of its precursor, the Dominion Bureau of Statistics. Back in those days it did its job with competence. They even published yearly information in a helpful, albeit massive tome called the The Canada Year Book. Here’s the Canada Year Book from 1967 if you’re interested. I was until I encountered that godawful pagination system. Fuck that shit. Whatever Canadian competence with paper infrastructure might have been this country is notoriously complete shit at digital management.

Anyways, Statscan was once a respected institution until it too was hit by that great caker succubus, laziness. Brian Mulroney takes the first dance at our failure ball by demanding that Statscan operate on a cost-recovery basis. You might recognize this as a pants-on-head retarded idea, but it wasn’t nearly as idiotic an idea as the plan to cancel the 1986 census. Yes, a supposedly developed country considered and nearly decided to ignore the collection of data. The response from cakers? A dim protestation that only worked when business groups got involved.

Laurentian shitlords, if they could read and deigned to consider Canada with a modicum of criticality would be nodding right until this point, where I make special note of the Liberals’ attempts to kneecap the census. The people who brought to Canada the concept of austerity are not exactly defenders of the realm when it comes to economic non-starters like statistics collection. To quote the piece from the Toronto Star that I cited earlier, during the Cretin and Martin years:

The agency stopped publishing interprovincial trade figures; cancelled its quarterly survey of business start-ups and shutdowns; reduced the sample size for its monthly labour force survey (which contains the official rate of unemployment) and increased the purchase price of many surveys.

Ah, that’s okay. Who needs statistics on business development or a proper unemployment rate, right? Numbers are for losers.

After all of that backstory we finally get to the part of the sadsack saga of Statistics Canada that most cakers know – the Harper years. To ask the average Canadian Statscan was a paragon of efficiency until those meanie Conservatives took all of the data away, presumably while dressed like Robbie Rotten from Lazy Town.

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(S) Stephen Harper, circa 2009

At this point most of Canada is aware that Harper removed the mandatory long-form census in 2011 while also sending some of the work to Lockheed Martin, because nothing screams legitimacy and trustworthiness to Canadians quite like a company known for espionage and data mining. The elimination of the mandatory long-form census did incalculable damage, though the culmination of decades of cutting and slicing and trying to hide scary numbers that spoke to scary trends within this Soviet bog are conveniently forgotten when shouting from the rooftops about how bad ol’ Stephen Harper was. There are literally thousands of hand-wringing screeds about how bad the 2011 census was, so I won’t waste your time by linking a pile of them. What I will say however is that a good number of them assume that the problem was a Harper one.

Sadly, this assumption is untrue. Under Dear Leader and sentient hair-carrier Justin Trudeau Statscan has continued to fail and sputter, this time under the aegis of one of Canada’s most familiar bugbears – shitty digital infrastructure. Faced with the prospect of the shambolic disaster that is Shared Services Canada controlling Statscan’s IT systems, former Chief Statistician Wayne Smith tried to warn the public of the danger of leaving statistics collection and management under effective federal control by resigning. And, in classic caker style, what did Canada do when confronted with the prospect that the guy billed (falsely) as the savior of science in Canada is a fraud and a charlatan?

Absolutely nothing.

#12 – Sports and Weather, Part One

English Canadians suck at shooting the breeze because they can’t let down the massive caker shields that protect them against new and potentially-challenging information.

When I’ve gone Stateside, I’ve struck up some really neat conversations with ordinary people who wouldn’t look like they did a whole lot otherwise. I met a colorful retired couple from Minneapolis about 4 years ago (hi Bert and Andrew!) who were really interested in the fact that I was in post-secondary schooling. Andrew was a schoolteacher before he retired, and Bert drove a bus in the Twin Cities. Collectively, they should not be terribly exciting; in fact, they had heartfelt opinions and the courage to express them to a random stranger who might not agree with them. Our conversation was all the more interesting because there was obvious mental investment behind it from all parties.

Asking for that kind of investment in Canada is a disappointment waiting to happen. Caker society is so profoundly defensive and untrusting that conversations devolve into either thoughtless condemnation or mindless banter about dreck. Opinions, particularly those that aren’t politically popular are profoundly unwelcome and debate takes the form of being barked at before being ignored. The standard point of entry for Canadians trying to converse with one another is thus empty, meaningless banter – how the hockeymans are doing, what the weather has been like the past few days, or complaining about a problem only to then apologise for Canada’s uselessness. It’s the sort of fluff that reveals nothing about a person and demonstrates nothing of a person’s analytical or social prowess.

Bert and Andrew like most Americans were not immediately off-put by me working on a degree in political science. The act of learning is understood as important and worth doing; being more informed is on the whole is a good thing, and it’s expected that you’ve learned things from your degree. By contrast, having any interest in government or history in Canada brings about snide comments about how useless understanding government is. Rather than potentially learning things that could challenge and defeat the idiocy of caker revisionism and make-believe the English-Canadian will instead decry academics and intellectuals as biased un-Canadian haters with no understanding of the “real world”. Because as we all know professors and scholars are hatched in labs and never interact with the outside world.

This streak of smugly passing judgement on strangers comes to a head when it comes time to actually have a chat. Since controversial opinions or ideas for improvement could come with a chance that the other guy’s going to pass caker judgement, the impulse is to cower and stick to rote conversation topics. Conversations revolve around consumer goods, cliché, and shadowboxing on an endless loop. Buying a new couch is a singularly uninteresting activity, but I’ve found myself trapped in conversations where the fabric, the salesman, fucking everything needs a lurid description. I’m sorry, Skeezix, but you telling me that the salesman looked like a beluga (though not in such colorful terms) doesn’t give me much in terms of new knowledge about you.

Even the cliché topics can bring caker-judgement. Cakers love to chide one another over what constitutes a “real winter”. Are you struggling to get around after the city dropped the plowing ball yet again? Huff, says the stranger – you should see where I’m from! Your opinion of bad weather doesn’t count and in fact lowers my opinion of you because there’s always someone in the room who has seen a worse snowstorm, been trapped in more dire straits on a snowed-out road, or has otherwise sucked Jack Frost’s wintery dong harder. Even the shitty parts of Canada that cakers acknowledge can’t be spoken of unless there’s a cutesy curtsey to Canadiana at the end. I can’t get anywhere because our cities suck ass but this is Canada and it’s probably worse in Indian Cabins, AB so guess I can’t ask for better.

Not even English Canadians are cold and rude enough to make friendships and acquaintances a impossibility, and you can talk to those people about certain topics outside of Sports and Weather. But God help you if you want to talk about anything important to you with an English Canadian stranger, because then you’ll get to inevitably hear a litany of reasons why your ideas for self-improvement are bad. And about how it sure is warming up this week, eh?