Canada – the 51st State?

Posted: June 6, 2012 - 11:04 , by Patti McCabe
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Programs and Events, Canada, History | Comments (0) | Comment

How would you describe the relationship between Canada and our closest ally and neighbour? Child/Mother? Sibling rivalry? Victim/Bully? Worshippers/Idol? Friends? Enemies? Frenemies?

Some would argue that in everything but name we are effectively the 51st State with a puppet Prime Minister whose strings are pulled by a puppet master President, while others would counter by saying that our countries share a very close and mutually respected bond that allows for tree trade, cross border shopping, and a wealth of partnerships.

You can’t deny the influence the United States has over what we watch, wear, hear and think. How many of us watched Obama’s inauguration? Was Harper’s swearing in even televised? Oscar vs Genie party – let’s be honest. When it is cheaper to make movies up here we become Hollywood North and filmmakers toss garbage in the street to transform Toronto into New York – but when the going gets tough The Terminator commands that filmmakers boycott Canada. Just ask GM workers in Oshawa how friendly they feel towards our southern neighbour at the moment.

Over the years it would seem like we are silently living through a corporate coup d’état as iconic Canadian institutions such as Eaton’s, Molson Breweries, Canadian Pacific Hotels, Stelco, CN Rail, Bauer, Cooper, Hespeler, The Hudson’s Bay Company, and even Tim Hortons are sold to American companies. Every day we are living more and more the American life, with Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Victoria’s Secret and Bed Bath & Beyond on every street corner. Just look at the buzz being generated by the recent Target pop-up stores as they gloss over the fact that Target is being built on the corpse of 189 Zellers stores across the country.

If you asked the average American, would they know that Justin Bieber, Nathan Fillian and Stana Katic (both stars of Castle), Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy), Seth Rogen, and People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive 2010 Ryan Reynolds are all Canadian?

How do the American’s see Canada? As the world’s second largest country, an ally and friend or a limitless resource of wheat, oil, water, celebrity talent and consumers? The US has tried unsuccessfully to invade Canada in the past with muskets and bayonets during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. The latest invasion has been more subtle, more insidious, and one could argue, much more successful.

What do you think?

Opinionated historian Jack Granatstein engages never-back-down political scientist and professor Stephen Clarkson in a battle of national importance as they debate the question of whether the US has coveted Canada since the War of 1812 in the latest History Wars event. This time the debate takes place in Koerner Hall as one of the opening night marquee events of Luminato. Buy your tickets today.

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