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J.J. McCullough

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Media Bites: What's More Canadian Than Boring Editorials and Obamacare Entitlement?

Posted: 07/02/2012 11:57 am

It's the Canada Day long weekend, and though I know we're all enjoying our illegal fireworks and botany-themed pastries, let's not lose sight of another one of our nation's proudest patriotic traditions -- the vapid Canada Day editorial!

Obviously, these charming opinion page-fillers can seem incredibly intimidating to the layman, what with all their uplifting prose and all, but there's no reason to be scared! With a little beaverish know-how, you too can learn to cobble together a few jingoistic tropes to deftly disguise the fact that your all your best writers left early on their five-day holiday to Key Largo!

To begin, it's important to repeatedly note how Canadians are "usually" very modest and quiet about their patriotism. In fact, be sure to emphasize how Canadians are probably the most quiet and modest patriots in the entire world, which is why all foreigners love us. This sort of humility will help the reader generously forgive to the brag-fest that's to follow.

Now, what precisely you'll want to brag about will depend on the paper you're writing for. If you're at some fussy right-wing place like the National Post, be sure to puff with pride at the fact that Canada has a "stable banking system and investment sector, a sound and pennywise government, a booming oil and gas sector" and various other money-grubbing things that make us the envy of "of all other Western nations." If you're at some lefty place like the Toronto Star, in contrast, you must mention how Canada is "a rich, industrious, caring, open, liberal nation" of ethnic diversity and affordable health care that is not at all like the United States (not that we are insecure enough to be thinking about the United States on our national holiday or anything).

Still got some column space left? Well, you can always pad a few extra inches with irrelevant historic trivia (or, as it's known in the journalism biz, "Conrad Blacking"). Maybe take some inspiration from the Globe and Mail and simply recite a bunch of historic anniversaries, or copy David Warren at the Ottawa Citizen and cram in so many references to the Botheration Letters and Sir Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine that readers will be too busy scrunching their eyebrows to notice your article has no point.

Lastly, when all else fails, why not make a fun little Canada Day quiz! Or better yet, just get the Historica-Dominion Institute to make one, then run that! These things are always a very popular feature in Canadian newspapers around July first -- I assume because they give the editor's kids something to play with in the back seat as the family Volvo rockets towards Pearson International.

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Still hungry for some patriotism? Well, what could be more proudly Canadian than loudly telling Americans how to run their country?

In the wake of Thursday's big important U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming the constitutionality of Obamacare, Canada's opinion pages quickly reacted with smug satisfaction that our backwards neighbours had finally done the right thing -- which is to say, a thing that makes them more like us.

In most cases, papers patted Yankee heads by syndicating a pro-Obamacare editorial from whatever American publication was in their proximate price range (i.e. the Calgary Herald ran something from a Pulizter Prize-winning columnist at Washington Post, while the Vancouver Sun rummaged through the bargin bin of the Kansas City Star-Tribune) but there were a few uniquely Canadian responses as well.

The Globe and Mail editorial board, for instance, expressed patronizing approval that Chief Justice Roberts made the "right" decision to uphold the President's health care regime, a move they hoped would help tame the "bewildering complexity" of the American health care status quo. (I mean, they get insurance from their employers and -- ow ow ow! Brain spasm!) It would have made much more sense for Obama to just copy Canada's monopolistic ban on private medicine entirely, they add -- "there was no doubt that a universal health-insurance plan à la Canadienne would have been constitutional" -- but I guess that's what you get when you leave running America to Americans.

Jon Kay at the National Post soundly agrees. "Why do Americans have to be dragged kicking and screaming into a policy choice that the rest of the civilized world decided long ago was a cornerstone of a humane society?" he wonders, before concluding, once again, that it's mostly a problem of Americans being dopes.

Americans have all these weird patriotic hang-ups about health care that make the system impossible to reform, he says. I mean, you can barely even broach the topic without triggering a "existential national-identity trauma"!

Health care as a sacred cornerstone of national identity? What a simple people.

 

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