Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The American Dream is More Possible in Canada Than the United States These Days

Would you look at that! Canada has been doing it very differently than the United States, and they long ago implemented the single-payer healthcare system that so many Americans are deathly afraid of. Yet, there was no Hitler or Stalin that took over, and in fact, Canada looks and feels a lot freer than the United States. Plus, their standard of living not only caught that once enjoyed by Americans, but has surpassed it. And their leaders - all of the recent ones, to my knowledge - can speak two languages eloquently, while ours can barely put one coherent sentence together. This is definitely a sign of the times!

I have felt that this was true since at least the 1990's, if not earlier.

That is why I felt driven to try and make the move to Canada, although it never actually happened. But to me, especially given my French background, Canada always seemed like the ideal place. It blended the best that North America had to offer, with much of the most pleasant aspects of Europe - particularly Quebec province. There is a joie de vivre that exists there that seems largely absent here in the United States. 

A lot of Americans tend to be dismissive of Canada, and Canadians. The stereotype is that Canadians are incredibly polite. They do tend to be more polite than many Americans, especially those from large urban areas, and perhaps especially from the greater New York/New Jersey metropolitan area that I have lived in for most of my life. 

Other than that, Americans tend not to know much about Canada. Many think it is cold there, even all year round. I would tell them that summer is warm there, just like most other places. 

Most Americans dismissed it, assuming it was a cultural wasteland. But nothing could be farther from the truth! Canada is very rich and diverse, culturally. Toronto was considered the most ethically diverse city in the world by no less an authority than the United Nations years ago, and the fact that French and English are both official languages should tip many Americans off that there was a lot more to Canada than many Americans seemed to believe. And the third language there - unofficial, of course - is from Asia, due to the great number of Asian immigrants there. 

For many years now, I made a point of going on trips to Canada in general, and especially to Quebec province. Being French, it is a much closer and cheaper alternative than going to France, which takes time and money, of course. Quebec City is absolutely stunningly beautiful, with a very distinctly Old World feel, making it among the most unique cities in North America. There is also a section of Montreal that has the old town, and has a European feel that is quite distinct from the United States, and even the rest of Canada, for that matter. And even in small towns throughout French Canada, there seems to be richer nightlife, particularly with outdoor cafes and musical festivals during the warm summer months.

But Canada as a whole feels different than the United States, and often times, in a better way. Parks seem cleaner and more well-tended to. The healthcare system is better and more affordable, as is childcare and other essential facts of life. And one big thing that Canadians have which I noticed, as both an American and a Frenchman, is that sense of their own self-importance. The weight of that can be crushing, and I truly think that is why Donald Trump, of all people, became president. No one precisely like Trump could have won in any other country but the United States, where people are  far too often preoccupied with their own greatness.

Yet, Canada is an enormous country in it's own right, and like the United States, it enjoys an abundance and rich diversity of natural beauty, as well. From the soaring mountain peaks of the Cascades and the Rockies out west, to the plains of the middle provinces, to the gentler mountains and foothills to the east, and the pleasant countryside of the Maritime Provinces, to the rich and fertile farmland scattered throughout, and even the difficult to access Far North, Canada is a country of immense, almost boundless, natural beauty and plenty of open spaces.

Beyond that, however, there are certain realities about everyday life in Canada that Americans might just want to pay attention to. Healthcare is cheaper, even far cheaper, and many Americans nowadays get their medical needs from Canada. Canadians enjoy more vacation time (although not nearly as much as their counterparts in Europe), and there are government programs there that make certain other things, like childcare, more affordable, as well.

Americans have long held dismissive stereotypes towards there norther neighbors, frankly to the point of being shameful. Canadians themselves make jokes about the ignorance most Americans exhibit towards their neighbors. The truth of the matter is that Canada is a country in many respects quite similar to the United States, yet the differences that exist between the two countries have begun to be more pronounced over the course of years now. And while Americans of every political persuasion are wondering what happened to the great country that they knew, Canadians are feeling more proud than ever of what they managed to build there together.

Also, it is a nation that presently enjoys a higher standard of living than the United States, and has for a couple of decades now. If Americans are smart and, frankly, patriotic enough to do what is difficult and actually give the reasons why some serious thought, they might do well to examine what Canadians did to get to where they are today, and specifically, to look at where Canadians and Americans parted, as the Canadian standard of living rose, while the American one fell.

If you are wondering why, then it might be a good idea to take a look at the article below, where the greater opportunities for upward mobility in Canada are examined, and why the "American Dream" seems more realistic these days on the other side of the northern border:

The American Dream has moved to Canada By every measure, Canada is the true place to find ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ Let’s stop squandering our good fortune. Scott Gilmore February 28, 2017

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