January 25th, 2009
My wife and I, like millions of other people on the planet, watched the United States President Elect Barack Obama’s inauguration speech on the 20th of January. Our curiosity was piqued by the significance of the event, his undeniable charisma and the hope that his positive vision will inspire our troubled world.
A co-worker wondered aloud why so many Canadians, especially younger Canadians apathetic as they are about Canadian politics, are being caught up by Obamamania. Judging by the reaction of many Canadians being interviewed, you’d have thought Canadians actually had some say in how he was elected.
It has been my observation that American influence on Canadians is as old as the relationship between the two countries. Our preoccupation with life in the “Excited States”, to quote former Regina Leader Post Editor Bob Hughes, preceded the electronic media age, but since radio, television and now the internet allows unlimited access to what’s happening south of the 49th parallel, one would have to be a hermit to not know what’s going on down there and be influenced by it.
For many years now many people, mostly from the mass media, have been trying to define what a Canadian is. While never being able to exactly establish what we are; we continually state what we are not…and that is Americans.
I, too, am caught up by the nationalism displayed in things like the “Joe Canadian Rant” ad that was made by Molson Breweries a few years ago and nothing makes me feel better than to see a Canadian team or individual athlete defeat the Americans on the international stage.
While expressing my great Canadian pride, right down to my maple leaf tattoo, I am also very aware of America’s influence in the many facets of our daily lives, be it through television, music, movies, the vehicles we drive or the clothing we wear. Commodity prices, foreign affairs, imports, exports and political leaders all have some influence on Canadians in varying degrees.
In keeping with my great Canadian pride I am a huge fan of the CBC, (not just on Saturday nights during hockey season either), and one of my favourite shows is “The Rick Mercer Report”. Coincidently the first post-Christmas Rick Mercer Report show happened to be on the 20th of January and he succinctly summed up the answer to my co-worker’s question in his rant regarding the current climate in both American and Canadian politics.
Customarily, I close my column with a short quote appropriate to the subject matter so this week’s quote is from Rick Mercer’s rant from that episode.
“Think about it. In the last American election, the defining themes were “change is possible” and “hope”, and they had the highest voter turnout in 40 years. In our last election, the defining themes were “stay the course” and “destroy the enemy”, and we had the lowest voter turn out in our entire history. Cleary we are on two different tracks.”-Rick Mercer (b.1969- ).