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  • Writer's pictureFred Guerin

Our Unhappy Southern Neighbour

Updated: May 31, 2020

I sometimes wonder what Canada would have been like if instead of the US our southern neighbours would have been Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland—the 4 happiest Countries according to the World Happiness Report. They also happen to rank in the top ten most environmentally friendly countries. See here:…/the-top-10-happiest-countries-on-eart… and here:

Canada would still have begun as a commodity-based resource economy—hewers of wood and drawers of water (and oil). But somehow, I get the impression that we would have been encouraged to do things differently. Perhaps we might have been encouraged to preserve our uniquely Canadian culture if we were not living next door to the most violent, war-mongering, imperialist, racist, selfish, narcissistic countries the world has ever known. My guess is that instead of becoming a mirror image of the US, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland would have kept us in check just because our values, attitudes beliefs and norms in the 50’s and 60’s were rather closer to them than the US.

In those earlier days we tended to be generally more collectively oriented, less atomistic, less religious and insular, less violent toward each other, less aggressive towards other countries, less war-mongering, less cynical, more respectful of human rights and international law, more accepting of cultural differences. With the massive influence of American television, free trade agreements, corporate ownership Canada has now become more like an extension of America—less tolerant, more violent, less respectful of international agreements and generally more cynical.

Nowadays Canada is known as the producer of the dirtiest oil in the world; its mining companies are easily the most environmentally destructive and least compliant towards human rights; we have become THE most wasteful country on earth producing more garbage per capita than any other country—and instead of dealing with our garbage, we ship it to Asia. Our more recent American-influenced record of economic and military interference in other countries and support for human rights abusers in Israel, Venezuela, Honduras, Haiti and Saudi Arabia is an utter disgrace. The way we continue to treat First Nations people is utterly shameful.

Recently, a declassified US State Department memo was entitled 'Canada Adopts America First Foreign Policy'—the Canadian Press has been loath to report on this, but it was largely the doing of the most repellant, ass-kissing Foreign Affairs Minister Canada has ever had: Chrystia Freeland.

Of course, it is too easy to just blame the US--and to be fair there are a whole lot of wonderful, generous Americans, first rate scholars, scientists, musicians, artists, journalists etc. And, let’s be clear, the Nordic countries also have their issues. I get all of that. We are responsible for who we are and who we have become regardless of who our neighbours are.

We compare ourselves with our closest, most violent, environmentally unfriendly and unhappy U.S. neighbour. By that standard we almost look progressive. I suspect, however, we would fare much worse if we compared ourselves to countries like Denmark and Iceland.

So, yeah, for me, there remains that fascinating and persistent question: ‘What would we be like if instead of living next to the USA we had lived next to the four happiest, most environmentally friendly countries for the last 70 years'?

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