Monday, November 03, 2008

The Infamous Canadian Ceiling

One of the ironic tragedies of being Canadian is the constantly propagated myth that you have to go to the United States to make it in this world.

This has long been the way it is thought to be in everything from big business, to the arts and everything in between. From the Alanis Morrisett and the Bare Naked Ladies, to Jim Carey, there are still even disputes about which side of the border Alexander Graham Bell originated from – Canadians aren’t recognized for their abilities until they make it in the States.

That’s probably why the American election is generating way more buzz up here, than our very own Canadian election did. Not that there are any Canadians running for the oval office, but if there were, they’d probably still not be supported by us – we tend to like to stick it to ourselves.

When the Canadian election was in full swing, and you’d ask someone about “the election” automatically they thought you were talking about the one going on in the States. Even after saying you were talking about our election, many were still stumped: “we have an election going on here?”

Sure, American politics has gone more Hollywood with every election. I remember when U.S. President Bill Clinton wore dark sun glasses, and played the theme from The Pink Panther on David Letterman. And everyone is still talking about Sara Pallin’s appearance on Saturday Night Live – which is really sad, because the woman isn’t attractive, intelligent or entertaining.

Canadian politicians do the late night Canadian comedy shows too – Prime Minister Jean Chretien has appeared on This Hour Has 22 Minutes and the Royal Canadian Air Farce. Prime Minister Paul Martin appeared on The Mercer Report with Rick Mercer, and former leader of the Reform Party, Preston Manning appeared on The Royal Canadian Air Farce.

Still, these events don’t generate nearly as much interest as when Barak Obauma appeared on David Letterman, why?

I blame our Canadian ceiling myth. It’s a myth which only carries weight, so long as we Canadians continue to allow it to function. If we stopped believing that the only way to make it anywhere, is to go to the States, then, and only then, we’d have terminated this horrible myth.

Going to the States opens up another economic market to peddle merchandize too, but it doesn’t change a person’s ability to do their job. If I went to the States for a job, I’d still be going with the exact same skills and abilities as I had when I was doing the job on this side of the 49th parallel.

That’s why it is a myth – it is all in our heads. Talent is talent, no matter where it is, or goes.

But changing attitudes, that’s the hard part. We have to stop believing in the myth, and start believing in ourselves, and then, one day, American’s will be watching Canadian elections just as intently as we watch theirs.

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