Wednesday, August 29, 2012

7 Things You Can't Say in Canada

A 2005 Reader's Digest article from acclaimed columnist Margaret Wente has for some reason been buzzing on the internet lately. Possibly inspired then by Larry Elder's popular book The Ten Things You Can't Say in America, the slightly smaller but far more acerbic list is perfectly Canadian. Though seven years old, the list has remained quite relevant:

1. Margaret Atwood writes some really awful books.

She does write some awful books, which is why they're seldom read. Aside from The Handmaid's Tale, a mandatory reading for Canadian high school English cirriculums, few people can name anything else she's written. Wente is correct that Atwood's stature has more to do with politics and power than popular writings.

2. Recycling is a Waste of Time and Money.

This one should have been titled "Plastic and Glass Recycling is a Waste of Time and Money." Metal, and in some cases paper, is certainly worth recycling. It is cheaper (i.e. uses less energy) to recycle these materials than to mine and manufacture new ones. When people start picking plastic and glass from other people's trash, the same will then be said for those materials.

3. Only Private Enterprise Can Save Health Care.

When you have Canadians turning to the U.S. for complicated procedures, or tests requiring the most advanced technology, and Americans sneaking into Canada for cheaper meds and care for less severe ailments, it's hard to argue who has the better health care. What changes in the system would we have to make to provide what we lack while maintaining what we already have? For higher end medical care, the solution probably isn't found through more government.

4. David Suzuki is Bad for the Environment

Wente writes "He is our homegrown prophet of doom who preaches the essential wickedness of the human race. Like a modern Savonarola, he warns that unless we cast our material possessions into the bonfire, we’re all going to hell." Ouch. A fire and brimstone preacher or a petulant and annoying environmentalist? Good question.

5. A National Daycare Program Won't Do a Thing To Help Poor Kids.

Similar to the health care debate, I know very little except the general principal that the less the government is tasked with doing, the better. In a more traditional vein, I'm worried about the ease with which we see the raising of our children by non-family members as a normal, or healthy, phenomenon.

6. Group of Seven are Overexposed Genre Painters.

There are seven of them, yet nobody knows any of their names, or any of the names of their pieces. Maybe nature painting isn't as exciting and subversive as it used to be.

7. The United States is the World's Greatest Force for Good.

Most Americans sympathize. Whether college campuses or Hollywood cocktail parties, there are many places in the U.S. you can't say this either. Similarly though, even most of those who scoff at the statement are grudgingly grateful as they know it is true.


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