The Society of Canada


mercredi 28 janvier 2015

Welfare State
Religion and family
Gun culture

Canadians have always been preoccupied with emphasizing the specificity of the Canadian society compared to that of the US. Historically, in the 19th century, a crucial anchor was the connection with Britain and the pride of being part of the British Empire. As a country born from the choice of remaining loyal to Britain, of refusing the path of revolution, the Canadian society was felt to be organized around the principles of “peace, order and good government” (as stated in the BNA Act) while the American society seemed dedicated to a more unbridled pursuit of liberty. For example, the wild American west was opposed to the orderly development of the Canadian west under the influence of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. As a result, Canadian society was often felt to be more cautious, polite and orderly than the US. It was duller but safer, not as powerful but less imperialistic, not as energetic but more considerate.


In more recent year, the connection to Britain and the heritage of loyalty can no longer serve a key marker of the differences between the two countries. The economic integration of the two countries is so thorough and American culture and media are so omnipresent in Canada that many commentators have argued that the two countries are becoming more and more similar – meaning that Canada is becoming more and more like the US. This point of view has been contradicted, however, by a number of critics. For example, in his best-selling book Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values (Toronto: Penguin Press, 2003), Michael Adams argued that Canada and the US were bocoming more different rather than less different in terms of social values. He emphasized “the contrasting attitudes Americans and Canadians have towards the roles of government, and the quite different beliefs they have about the role of religion in their daily lives.”

For more information on Fire and Ice, read the book review by W.S. Neidhardt, Canadian Social Studies, volume 39, number 2, winter 2005.


However, one should be careful, when comparing Canada and the US, to remember that the US is a very diverse country. In fact some regions of the US would be more similar in terms of social values and behaviour to Canada than to other American regions. On the other hand, some regions of Canada may be closer to American values than to the values of the rest of Canada. At the time of the reelection of George W. Bush in 2004, this was illustrated by a famous map that circulated on the web and which showed the United States of Canada as opposed to Jesusland. The map shows that New England and the Pacific coast, as liberal democratic regions, are art of the US of CD. Many would argue that maybe the Canadian province of Alberta should, on the other hand, had been placed in Jesusland, as illustrated on the map of the Christian Republic of Jesusland.


Among the characteristics that distinguish the Canadian society from its southern neighbour, three are central and now will be examined:


1) the attitude to welfare and health care;


2) the relationship to guns and gun control;


3) and the place of religion and family values.