Canada needs to be more like the United States.
That's the message from Sun Media's national affairs columnist Anthony Furey, who argues in his latest piece that Canada should adopt a U.S.-style debt ceiling so our "spendaholic" politicians will be forced to behave more like coupon-clipping regular folks.
You see that perpetual crisis down south? The one threatening the health of the entire global economy? Ya, can we get some of that? Pretty please?
Canada's number one claim to fame is that we're a less insane version of America. We don't need to import any of the political brinkmanship that has made the U.S. government about as effectual as a two-year-old having a tantrum.
The dystopian democracy being practiced in the U.S. today stands in stark contrast to the peace and order in Canada.
While majority governments may not seem as democratic as the checks-and-balances system south of the border, they have the distinct advantage of actually getting things done. While Canadian MPs may behave like "trained seals," strict party discipline prevents them from acting like temperamental toddlers.
As the National Post's Jonathan Kay points out, Canada avoids deadlock because "epic crises are resolved decisively through confidence votes, and (if necessary) elections," but also because "our MPs generally are ideologically subservient to their party leaders, and vote along party lines."
Furey suggests that Canada should hold a national referendum any time the government wants to raise the national debt. But this kind of hyper-democracy hasn't worked very well in America.
Look at California, where citizen-initiated referendums have helped bring the state to the brink of bankruptcy.
Not to mention the fact that what is happening in America right now is really just the illusion of democracy.
As the CBC's Neil MacDonald cogently explained this week, a majority of Americans voted for the Democrats in the last election. The Republicans only managed to win control of the House of Representatives by shamelessly gerrymandering congressional districts.
And this was an election fought over Obamacare. The American people voted decisively on health care, but GOP congressmen are now threatening to use the renewal of the debt ceiling in mid October to derail its implementation. A bill that, while hideously complex and far from perfect, will result in tens of millions of uninsured Americans getting coverage.
But Furey thinks that what is happening in the U.S. is a model of democracy. He lauds the Tea Party representatives who ran and were elected on the government being too indebted.
Gerrymandering aside, the view Furey shares with the Tea Party that governments are too indebted and should behave more like families or businesses fundamentally misunderstands how economies work.
Governments are not like families or businesses. Families and businesses can't print currency and are not tasked with managing the money supply for the purpose of encouraging economic growth and curbing inflation. Deficit spending is an essential tool used by every reasonable government on Earth and growth is the best way to reduce debt. Not cuts.
Austerity has been disastrous in Europe, while huge deficits in Canada and the United States have kept our economies growing. Cutting spending in the midst of a recession or depression simply depresses growth further and can, ironically, lead to deeper deficits.
This is something that Canada's Conservative government thankfully understands. The Tories have run large deficits and spent heavily on public works in the wake of the financial crisis. Of course, Harper and Flaherty hypocritically decry debt at every opportunity, but behind closed doors they continue to behave sanely.
It's that kind of sanity which will be needed if the U.S. is to ever tackle its long-term debt problems. It's true that America's debt-to-GDP ratio is getting dangerously close to 100 per cent and threatens to become a serious drag on growth in the future. But the sort of all-or-nothing crisis politics encouraged by the debt ceiling will not lead to the studied entitlement reform necessary for America to get its financial house in order.
Canada doesn't need to be more like the U.S. It's the other way around.
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A toonie is a $2 Canadian coin, which followed the cue of the loonie (named after the image of the aquatic bird that graces the $1 coin). <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Hey buddy, can I borrow a toonie? I need to get a Double Double (see the next slide)."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A Double Double refers to a coffee (often from Tim Hortons) with two creams and two sugars. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Yes, hi, I'd like to order a Double Double."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> When food, however unappealing it is, is all you <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/05/10/newfoundland-tourism-video-gutfoundered_n_3254578.html" target="_blank">crave at the end of the day. Or, you're just very hungry.</a> <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> “Your mind wanders when it’s gut-foundered. Is it going to be take-out? Is it going to be pizza?”
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong>Shit-Kickers are nicknames for cowboy boots. Hee Haw! <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "I can't go to the Calgary Stampede without my shit-kickers."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Something that is in a diagonal direction from something else. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "The grocery store is kitty-corner to the school."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A warm wind that blows east over the Canadian Rockies, warming up Calgary in the winter. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "This chinook is giving me a headache."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A slang term for cigarettes <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Get your darts out."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Stagette is another name for bachelorette party. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Are you heading out to that stagette this weekend? There's going to be a stripper."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Cowtown is a nickname for Calgary. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "I've been living in Cowtown my entire life."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Another name for underwear used mainly in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and often referring to men's or boys' briefs. A gotch refers to women's underwear. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Pull your pants up, I can see your gitch."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> According to the Dictionary of Newfoundland, a bedlamer is a <a href="http://www.heritage.nf.ca/dictionary/azindex/pages/291.html" target="_blank">seal that is not yet mature.</a> <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "This harp seal is giving me a hard time, it's such a bedlamer."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A toque is a hat most people wear during winter months. And sometimes, you will see this hat reappear in the summer. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Listen son, don't go out into this weather without your toque."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> No, no one is getting married. In Western Canada, a matrimonial cake is another term for a date square or tart. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "I wish this coffee shop had matrimonial cakes."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Someone who loves spending time on an ice rink. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "I can't get any ice time, I have to deal with all these rink rats."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Slang for homogenized whole milk, but shockingly, this term is actually used on milk packaging. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "When you go to the grocery store, don't forget to pick up the homo milk."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Common slang for a case of 24 beers. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Are you heading to the beer store? Pick me up a 2-4 of Molson."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> The Canadian way of saying coloured pencil. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Do you have a pencil crayon in that pencil case?"
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Another word for soda. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "That can of pop has 200 calories."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Another word for bathroom or restroom. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "This washroom doesn't have any toilet paper."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Slang for "what are you doing" in Newfoundland. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Did you just get in? Whaddya at?"
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> For the most part, a mickey is a flask-sized (or 375 ml) bottle of hard liqueur, but on the East Coast, a mickey is an airplane-sized bottle. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "We're going out tonight, can someone grab a mickey."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Not a slang term, but this is how Canadians pronounce the letter "Z". Not zee.
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A hockey (surprise, surprise) technique when a player gets past their opponent by "faking it." It can also be used to replace the world detour. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "I am going to deke into the store after work."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Hydro refers to electricity, particularly on your energy bill. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "My hydro bill went up $10 this month."
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A mountie is a nickname for a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> "Stop speeding, a mountie will catch you."
Poutine — French fries generously slathered in gravy and cheese curds — is a classic Canadian treat that is said to have originated in Quebec in the 1950s. Since then, it has been adapted in many weird and wonderful ways from <a href="http://crownsalts.com/gardemanger/" target="_blank">gourmet versions with lobster</a> and <a href="http://www.restaurantaupieddecochon.ca/menu.html" target="_blank">foie gras</a> to —believe it or not — a doughnut version. It's also inspired <a href="http://smokespoutinerie.com/" target="_blank">a crop of trendy "poutineries"</a> and a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/14/doughnut-poutine-psycho-donuts_n_2875921.html" target="_blank">"poutition"</a> to make it Canada's official national dish.
There are some snacks that define a nation, but not many that taste good to only those who live there. What do we love? The fact they leave our fingers dyed red after we've had a whole bag. Ketchup has never tasted so salty, non-tomatoey and outright good. Our U.S. friends may go nutty over Doritos, but we love our ketchup chips. Did you know that <a href="http://www.thestar.com/business/2013/02/28/heres_why_you_cant_buy_chicken_and_waffle_chips_in_canada.html" target="_hplink"> Lay's dill pickle and Munchies snack mix are also exclusively Canadian?</a>
What could be more Canadian than syrup that comes from the maple tree, whose iconic leaf has come to symbolize Canada and its national pride? Quebec is the largest producer of maple syrup in the world, accounting for about 75 to 80 percent of the supply. Maple syrup — <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1372549/Maple-syrup-joins-ranks-broccoli-blueberries-new-stop-shop-superfood.html" target="_blank">recently elevated to "superfood" status</a> — is a classic sweet topping on pancakes and waffles. Still, that hasn't stopped some people from thinking of surprising savoury pairings such as <a href="http://www.toromagazine.com/lifestyle/food/toro-tv/c3df4a2e-74ba-c154-9172-99d497567a76/Caplanskys-Maple-Bacon-Donuts/" target="_blank">maple-bacon doughnuts</a>.
It's no secret that Canadians are <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/15/tim-hortons-new-bacon-taste-test_n_2884834.html" target="_blank">obsessed with bacon</a>. The delicious cured pork product can be made oh so many ways, including ever popular strip bacon and peameal bacon, often referred to as "Canadian bacon" abroad. In fact, Canadians are so passionate about their favourite food that <a href="http://bacontoday.com/the-people-of-canada-choose-bacon-over-sex/" target="_blank">many would probably choose it over sex.</a>
A butter tart is a classic Canadian dessert made with butter, sugar, syrup and eggs — filled in a buttery (yes, more grease) pastry shell, and often includes either raisins or nuts. They can be runny or firm — so it's hard to mess them up when you're baking. <a href="http://www.canadianliving.com/food/baking_and_desserts/best_butter_tarts.php" target="_blank">Also, they never seem to go out of style.</a>
BeaverTails, or <em>Queues de Castor</em> in French, is a famous trademarked treat made by a <a href="http://www.beavertailsinc.com/" target="_blank">Canadian-based chain of pastry stands</a>. The fried-dough treats are shaped to resemble real beaver tails and are often topped with chocolate, candy, and fruit. These Canadian delicacies go hand in hand with skiing, and even <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/01/17/beavertail-at-inauguration_n_2495957.html" target="_blank">gained White House recognition during U.S. President Barack Obama's 2009 trip to Ottawa.</a>
These legendary Canadian no-bake treats originated in (surprise!) <a href="http://www.nanaimo.ca/EN/main/visitors/NanaimoBars.html" target="_blank">Nanaimo, B.C.,</a> and are typically made with graham-cracker crumbs, coconut, walnuts, vanilla custard and chocolate. Need we say more? Common variations include peanut butter and mint chocolate.
No one likes to think of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as dinner, but game meat is abundant in Canada and can be found in butchers, restaurants and homes across the country. Among other popular Canadian game is boar, bison, venison, caribou and rabbit.
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