North neighbors keep close eye U.S.

How much do you know about Canada? If you’re like most Americans, not much.

  • Wednesday, November 22, 2017 12:35pm
  • Opinion

How much do you know about Canada? If you’re like most Americans, not much.

Canadians know a great deal more about the United States than we know about them. There’s a reason for that. We’re the dominant power and what we do, Canadahas to follow. It’s a matter of survival.

Most of Canada’s 35 million people live within 40 miles of the U.S.-Canadian border and avidly observe American actions and behavior. The U.S. population is more than 325 million.

Canada’s government is different from ours in several ways and those differences help us gain an insight into our own country’s government and attitudes.

In Canada, the queen is the head of state, while the prime minister is head of government. Canada’s government is parliamentary.

That means that the executive and legislative branches are combined. Whichever party wins the majority number of seats in the House of Commons gets to elect the prime minister. The prime minister’s term can last as long as five years, but he/she can be replaced if there is a vote of no confidence, or if the ruling party loses its majority.

Canada has two houses of Parliament, with the upper house, the Senate, appointed by the governor general, the queen’s representative to Canada. Voters elect representatives called ministers in the lower House of Commons.

The U.S. government also has two legislative houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. Each acts independently and voters elect representatives for both houses. Terms in the House are for two years, encouraging short-term thinking, and six-year terms in the Senate, which encourages long-term thinking.

The U.S. president is both head of state and head of government. He can be elected to up to two four-year terms and can only be removed from office by impeachment, incapacity or resignation.

Attitudes about government differ a great deal between the two countries.

Americans tend to be distrustful of authority. That’s why we have all those checks and balances and our government is divided into three branches to prevent the abuse of power.

Canadians are more trusting and deferential to authority and tend to obey the government even when they don’t agree. Many Canadians of English descent were Tories (Loyalists) during the American Revolution who either fled or were driven out of the United States after the war ended.

The United States declared its independence in 1776 and then fought an eight-year war to free themselves from British rule. Canadians gained their independence in 1867 without a revolution are still are members of the British Commonwealth.

Britain made several concessions to Canada because of their loss of the American colonies.

Canadians are more collectivist in orientation and therefore emphasize the common good more than Americans who are probably the most individualistic nation in the world. Canada sees its many ethnic groups as part of a mosaic.

Americans have seen themselves as a melting pot where immigrants are encouraged to take on American values and blend in. This perspective has been challenged by what some call the American rainbow where diversity is encouraged.

American society tends to be more confrontational and aggressive, while Canadians favor a softer, less aggressive approach, which some Canadians have called more passive-aggressive.

Canada is a confederation, where the provinces hold most of the power. The United States has a strong central government where states have had to concede many of their powers over the past 219 years since the ratification of the Constitution.

Canada’s great distances and diversity in its three major provincial areas, the western provinces, French Quebec, and the eastern provinces, have forced it to create foreign policy that is “nice” to avoid causing the provinces to split due to those many differences, according to a “Geopolitical Futures” article by George Friedman called, “In Canada, Deep Divisions Brilliantly Managed.”

Now Canada is being faced with a major economic crisis over the future of NAFTA. In 2016, Canada exported $320.1 billion and imported $307.6 billion in goods and services between the United States according to the U.S. Trade Representative. Neither Canada nor the U.S. can afford to have a breach in that trade deal.

Most of us may be largely oblivious to Canada, but Canadians watch the U.S. with great concern and interest. Being aware of what the U.S. is doing is a major pastime for our neighbors to the north. It’s a matter of survival.

More in Opinion

Amendments have changed constitutional values

Do you know why we have the electoral college to vote for the president?

Why Republicans voted against a property tax cut

One of the bigger surprises of the just-completed legislative session occurred in… Continue reading

Trump’s luck may be running out

Nowhere in the world has seen improvement as a result of Trump’s actions. Eventually, Trump’s luck will run out and the chickens will come home to roost.

Common ground found on prosecuting officers

To fully appreciate a peace accord reached last week on rewriting state… Continue reading

2017: KCLS, a year in review

Every spring, King County Library System presents its annual report to the… Continue reading

Danger lurks when people have got nothing to lose

“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ to left to lose.” These words… Continue reading

Dems, Reps want to lower property taxes

Last June, at the end of a gnarly session, lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee boosted the state’s portion of the rate by 30 percent to a flat $2.70 per $1,000 of assessed value. It marked the largest one-time rate increase in state history.

Black Diamond should move toward a seven-person council

The cost is almost nothing, as these are almost entirely volunteer positions, but the safeguards to our local citizens would be significant.

Maybe it’s time Congress takes back its power

Which of the three branches of government was intended to be the… Continue reading

Poking dead things with sticks

Geez, it’s dark down here. Oh, and small. They don’t mince words… Continue reading

America is denying three hard truths

“Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.” —… Continue reading

Proposed asphalt plant shouldn’t come to rural area | Letter to the Editor

Proposed asphalt plant shouldn’t come to rural area The proposed asphalt facility… Continue reading