Our company owns shares of a technology partner in Canada so we have interaction with Canadians just about every day. And I also seem to have a good number of Canadians in and around my life. Some are French-Canadian and other English speaking Canadians. Those two groups have difficulty agreeing on many things. But they sure were in agreement when both the Canadian women and Canadian vanquished the United States in the gold medal games in the Olympic games of this past February.
Canada has a little less than 34 million people. That places the entire population of Canada below the entire population of California. 90% of the Canadian population is located within 100 miles of the United States Border. The Vancouver Olympics were a pretty big success and during the Olympics the B.C. province as well as others ran a good number of television spots featuring well known Canadian people promoting tourism.
The perception of Canadians by Americans has evolved over the past 30 years (think of Doug and Bob McKenzie from SNL) and it is for the better. I’ve found Canadians to be fiercely proud and nearly universally not desirous of being affiliated as northern U.S people. There are Americans who feel Canada should just be annexed or could be easily absorbed into the U.S.A. for its natural resources. Oh and Canada is the world’s 4th largest country by landmass right behind the United States. It’s a large country with just a few people – lots of open space. Canada has the 10th largest economy in the world which came as a surprise to me.
With all the debate about health care in the United States, Canada has had a nationalized publicly funded health care system for quite some time (first advanced in 1946). The government plays about 70% of Canadian’s health care and Canadians have become accustomed to waiting sometimes months for various procedures. They seem to take it all in stride as part of the greater good since everyone is covered. I have talked with a number of Canadians who simply cannot understand why the United States has such difficulty with universal coverage.
I’ve had Canadians tell me that a primary difference between Americans and Canadians is the American notion of climbing up the ladder to get higher than your neighbor. A gross generalization to be sure but the idea being that Canadians are more interested in helping their own neighbors than climbing over them was an interesting concept to me.
Canadians are for the most part favorably inclined towards Americans and for good reason – the United States in general as the United States is its largest trading partner. There is much we Americans can learn from our neighbor to the north and it’s time for Americans to stop being so ignorant of this rising nation.
You’d expect the people of Canada (and Mexico for that matter) to know the President of the United States. But quick – can you name the Prime Minister of Canada without looking it up? How about the President of Mexico? We Americans might want to play closer attention to our neighbors. And not just by trying to keep them out.