I was interviewed about this story by the CBC! Click here to listen.
September 12, 2017
by Domenic Casciato
As an American student at McGill, many of the things I’ve heard some Canadians say about the United States—particularly its politics—have been false, absurd, and, on occasion, hypocritical. More concerning, however, is the apparent failure of many Canadians to understand American politics and learn from our mistakes. In my experience, Canadians distance themselves from the wave of populism that swept the U.S. during the 2016 election, but this isn’t indicative of Canada’s moral superiority—it’s suggestive of unpreparedness. To understand the challenges they might face in this era of post-truth politics, Canadians need to step outside of their ivory tower and treat Trump as a lesson, not a punchline.
I first noticed the trend of condescension toward Americans during my orientation week in 2014. A girl I had met at Frosh complained to me about how she wanted to visit Vermont, but was seriously concerned about the risk of being shot in the United States. She was worried about Vermont, the state that has consistently scored the lowest per capita violent crime rate in the entire country.
It only became worse as classes began. As an aspiring political science major, I enrolled in a number of introductory courses, excited to learn about Canadian government and politics. Yet it seemed not a day went by without my professors disparaging, satirizing, or criticizing the United States. Quips about climate change denial, American jingoism, and worsening race relations in the United States became regular. It wasn’t that I hadn’t heard these criticisms before, nor that I disagreed with most of them. But, they were recycled and uninsightful, and hearing them from…