Blog

Hockey, weed and taxes? 11 Canadian stereotypes debunked

Category: Beer Humor
0 0

Canada is often pictured as a uniformly cold, multicultural, socialist paradise full of beer-swilling ice hockey fans. But a close look at the evidence reveals some very different truths good and bad about the Great White North

Its pretty easy to conjure an idea of a Canadian. As one young paramour looking to marry an American told a dating website: She must be willing to become a hockey fan and eat maple syrup and Beaver Tails in my igloo.

Theres more to the stereotype, of course. Canadas universal health care and gun-control legislation are frequently namechecked by American politicians (often disapprovingly), while the countrys adventurers have a long-standing tradition of stitching tiny Canadian flags into their backpacks.

But while some of these cliches are true Tim Hortons really does sell more of its hot brown drink (they call it coffee) than any other restaurant chain a deep dive into the actual statistics suggest that much of the countrys image is just that.

Some of the most common misconceptions about Canada include:

Illustration

Canadas most popular sport by far is ice hockey

What football is to Brazil, hockey is Canada, right? Between them, the mens and womens national Canadian ice hockey teams won seven of a possible eight gold medals at the last four Winter Olympics.

But while Canadas superiority on the ice remains unchecked, the sport itself is becoming a little more niche at home. A 2014 study pegged ice hockey fourth among 3-to-17-year-old Canadians in participation numbers, behind swimming, soccer and dance. Its probably no coincidence that hockey was also ranked the second most expensive sport to play, and that multiculturalism means a generation of kids less uniformly passionate about pucks.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is catching up to Canada when it comes to playing the sport professionally: 2015 marked the first time in 98 years when Canadians did not make up the majority of National Hockey League players.

Illustration

Canadians live in the wilderness

Pierre Berton once declared: A Canadian is somebody who knows how to make love in a canoe.

But there are a few problems with this all-Canadian adage, beyond the obvious issue of tipping. For one, Berton never actually said it. For another, the image of Canadians as a wilderness-dwelling people is not borne out by research: as of 2011, a full 81% of Canadians resided in a population centre, census speak for urban area.

In fact, about 35.2%, or one in three Canadians, lives in either Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver alone.

And if you think the vast majority Canadas city-dwellers love nothing more than to race to the countryside, youd also be wrong: a 2010 poll found that only 23% of Canadians see their ideal vacation as a visit to a cottage or a lake.

Tax

Canadians are taxed to death

The status of Canada as something of a socialist darling leads many to assume that Canadians pay income tax rates at similar levels to those in, for example, France or Germany.

Not so, according to the OECDs annual Taxing Wages report. The report ranks Canada 25th out of 34 countries in terms of its tax wedge for single-income earners (a measure of the difference between labour costs to the employer and the corresponding net take-home pay of the employee). By this metric,, Canada is actually slightly below the US.

In the same report, Canada ranked 14th out of 34 in terms of income tax, based on the average national wage. When it comes to corporate taxes, too, Canada is relatively generous the headline corporate tax rate has dropped from 34% in 2007 to 26.5% in 2015, ranking Canada 61st in the world. By comparison, the US ranks fourth.

Illustration

Canadians are obsessed with beer

There are few images more Canadian than beloved SCTV hosers Bob and Doug McKenzie sitting on a couch and cracking open a few bottles of Molson Canadian while complaining about US-style twist-off caps. The Beer Hunter, an all-Canadian take on Russian Roulette, has long been the nations greatest drinking game.

But while it is true that Canadians love beer they spent C$15.7bn on the stuff in 2011 an increasing number are embracing wine as their drink of choice. As a 2015 report notes, Beer sales as a share of the total sale of alcoholic beverages have been declining for several years.

In 2004/2005, the report continued, beer had a market share of 49% in terms of dollar value, while wine had a market share of 25%. By 2013/2014, the market share for beer had declined to 42%, while wine was up to 31%.

Illustration

Canada is a haven for pot smokers

Since snowboarder Ross Rebagliati went on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 1998 to celebrate the return of his Olympic gold medal after it had been stripped from him because of THC in his blood, Canada has garnered a reputation as weed-smoking haven. The 2001 ruling of an Ontario court that prohibiting the medical use of marijuana was unconstitutional did little to shake that impression.

But although Justin Trudeaus Liberal government promised to table legislation to legalise marijuana in 2017, Canadas medical community and popular opinion are divided on the question, and there are diplomatic hurdles still to clear. Even if weed is eventually made legal, it will likely be sold in set quantities, possibly from government stores, and subject to significant taxes. In fact, the North American nation that has made the biggest strides in legalising pot has been the supposedly drug-averse US.

Illustration

Canadian hospital wait times are so bad they flee to the US for care

During the 9 October presidential debate, Donald Trump raised some ire north of the border when he referred to Canadian healthcare as catastrophic. Said the now-president-elect: Youve noticed the Canadians. When they need a big operation, they come into the US in many cases, because their system is so slow.

As ever, Trump is manipulating the truth. Canadians do endure long wait times for specialised treatment, and as of 2014 Canada ranked last among 11 OECD countries in terms of how quickly patients can get an appointment with their family doctor.

However, Canadians arent flocking en masse to the US in response. A Fraser Institute report revealed that in 2015 just 1% of Canadians who needed specialised medical treatment sought that treatment in the US.

Illustration

Canada is a major exporter of comedy stars

Dan Aykroyd, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Catherine OHara, Lorne Michaels, Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Dave Foley. All are Canadians who made it big in America and all are over 50. Whereas comedians were once regularly discovered on shows such as Saturday Night Live, SCTV and Kids in the Hall, the well has been drying up: the success of Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and Ryan Reynolds is heartening, but Canada is no longer the comedy source it once was.

Though tightened screening at the US border may be partly to blame, the changing way in which we consume comedy bite-sized clips shared online, from acts such as Picnicface and Baronness Von Sketch Show also plays a role. The old model of a breakout US/Canadian TV sketch comedy may no longer exist, says Toronto Second Citys Etan Muskat: The CBC is trying to have breakout mainstream comedic success, following a model that doesnt compute.

Illustration

Canada is a frigid wasteland

Canada is cold, eh? It has an average daily temperature of -5.6C, making it one of the chilliest countries on earth. But the idea of an average Canadian daily temperature is meaningless. Not only does it combine cities like Regina and St Johns thousands of miles apart, in entirely different climates but it doesnt capture range.

Canadas summer highs are in fact often equal to, or higher than, other major cities in Europe and the US. Winnipeg, for example, which suffers average annual winter highs of -12.7, has a summer average high of 25.8, higher than Paris and Los Angeles.

Canada also has a rich summer culture of cabin or cottage-going to rival the Scandinavians and the dacha-loving Russians. If anything, the brutal winters make Canadians appreciate the summer months more.

Illustration

Canadas economy is driven by natural resources

Though Canada is the biggest exporter of crude oil to the US and the highest exporter of forestry products relative to imports, the forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas industries collectively employ only 355,000 Canadians, or 2% of the workforce.

In fact, Canadas services sector dwarfs the goods-producing sector by almost four to one. And the third-biggest service employer after retail and healthcare/social services is professional, scientific and technical services, including tech startups like Shopify, Hootsuite and Freshbooks. In 2015, Canadas tech companies produced $117bn or 7.1% of Canadas economic output, greater than that of the finance and insurance industry. As Mike McDerment, CEO of Freshbooks, notes: Its our observation that the economy is being restructured away from resource economy to services and tech.

Illustration

Canada is a Scandinavian-style social democracy

Though Canada enjoys a strong healthcare system and is consistently ranked among the most livable countries on earth, many assume it is a thriving social democracy in the style of Sweden or Denmark. Not exactly.

Canadian bachelors students pay the joint 2nd highest tuition fees of OECD countries, alongside Japanese and Korean students. Canada also has the 7th highest child poverty rate in the OECD, and, as of 2013, was last in spending on early childhood education and is among the most expensive countries on earth when it comes to childcare costs.

Meanwhile Canadas rich-poor gap is slightly bigger than the OECD average, and the World Economic Forum put Canada in 30th place globally two spots below the US in gender equality measures.

A

Canada is diverse from coast to coast

The Economist recently pointed out that Canada is a world leader in immigration, both in acceptance and integration, a result of 1971 legislation enshrining multiculturalism. However, most of the resulting diversity is limited to Canadas big cities. Of Canadas 6.8 millions immigrants in 2011, 91% lived in one of Canadas 33 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver compared with 63.3% of people who were born in Canada.

Across the country, skilled immigrants struggle with significant barriers to finding work, such as language and requirements for Canadian experience. In Vancouver and Toronto, many immigrants are increasingly living in inner suburban enclaves, with less access to public transport. At least one geographer, Zach Taylor, argues the isolation and resentment these enclaves can cause helped fuel the populist rise of Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

</me

Leave a comment