Indulge me for a moment
while I get super duper serious
My fellow human,
In spite of it being the home of my father and his mother, and the first touch point on this continent for almost all of my family, I am not an American. But America is a part of my life. Whereas half of my family is American and has only ever called the U S of A home, I forfeited any claim I had to US citizenship on May 18th 2008. And in doing so, I forfeited my right to ‘have a say’ down there. And yet, like most Canadians, I watched the inauguration yesterday with an optimistic and somewhat trepidatious heart (forgive me - America doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to not assassinating politicians. It’s partly why I didn’t send this diatribe yesterday.)
I will always support the freedoms and rights of my loved ones in the US (and more generally I will always support the protection of human rights anywhere for anyone) but I try my very best not to overindulge in the wild and wacky world that is American politics. I wish them all the best, but I recognize that any focus I have on policy or organizing should be in the country and community that I currently reside in.
I was surprised by how emotional I got watching Madam Vice President Kamala Harris being sworn into office - I actually choked on my penne - but I wonder how much of that was the moment as opposed to knowing that Canada has not had that moment. We have never elected a woman to be Prime Minister. And while I think there’s a lot to commend about our Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland, the fact is that I don’t think most Canadians could identify her from a lineup, and she wasn’t the face of an election (though I think she should be, in her own right, as a candidate for the top job). Our only female PM held office for less than a year and only because Mulroney retired in the run-up to an election. We have not elected a woman directly to a position of power in the same way Americans elected Kamala Harris.
It’s no secret that a large part of our cultural national identity derives from distinguishing ourselves as being not-American. For better or (sometimes) worse, we use America as a benchmark. ‘We’ve handled COVID better than them, so we’re doing fine.’ ‘We have public healthcare for most things, so we’re doing fine.’ We look at the outrageous water situation in Flint, Michigan, but do nothing about our own clean water crisis. We should hold ourselves to a different standard. When it comes to COVID, we should compare our efforts to countries who have handled it better, and hold ourselves to their standards, not the country who has struggled. With healthcare and education, we should look to the leading countries and try to raise ourselves to that standard (excuse me, why is dental care not public here?), not limit ourselves in comparisons to education debt in the US.
But in this case of electing women - and women of colour - directly to positions of power, I think we should consider the mark we’ve missed and how we can raise ourselves to this level.
The best thing I saw this week
In Canada, teachers are on the front lines with students in the coronavirus pandemic, but they aren’t anywhere near the first in line to be vaccinated (but TOCs are still expected to go from school to school like nothing’s changed). I just feel like anyone who calls themselves ‘The Wolf of Burrard Street’ probably should be under investigation. Dr. Rachel Levine will be the first trans woman to national office in the US. Meet twelve impressive Canadian millennial women who are actually involved in politics, and maybe get involved yourself? (If you are involved, let me know how I can support you and your work!)
Just in case you want to feel a little less jaded and maybe even motivated when it comes to the state of the world
the Abortion is Our Right episode of CYG (if you’re reading this like, but we have abortion in Canada, maybe have a look at how inaccessible it actually is).
The (incidentally Canadian) good stuff
Ok, this is already a very long email, so instead of the usual, I just wanted to share a Vancouver standup set by the cautious and kind, Colin Sharp, in which he covers 90% of the reasons I hate the gd Gastown ‘steam’ clock (3:50). Enjoy!
While the goal of this newsletter was half to make CANCON sexy again, I think the same applies to Canadian politics, so I hope you will indulge me this foray into semi-political commentary. Many would argue that politics shouldn’t be sexy (that it might be what makes American political institutions so dysfunctional) but we would benefit if anyone around here paid attention from time to time, and if we looked outside of our bubbles to see that not everyone in this country has the same access to basic healthcare, education, and human rights.
If there’s a cause that’s close to your heart, I want to hear about it.
If you think someone else might enjoy this nonsense, why not share it around?
I hope the rest of your week is a gentle downhill slope, and that as of yesterday, we are in a gentler, less horrible world.