I AM CANADIAN — And my people drive me nuts
For a group of people bellicose enough to accept and encourage bare-knuckled fighting on skates as a normal part of the sporting experience, Canadians are amazingly crystal-chinned when it comes to American criticism of the Great White North.
Excuse me, perceived American criticism of the land of socialized health care.
American readers, understand this about Canadians:
As relentlessly as Canucks trumpet this country’s clear advantages over the U.S. (see: Health Care, Socialized), and as loudly as Canadians protest about having a culture and identity distinct from their neighbour to the south, part of every Canadian understands that this country is a suburb of the U.S., separate from yet dependent on the better-known settlement next door.
Or if you’re Canada you’re that kid who can never quite measure up to his big brother’s accomplishments in areas that matter to high school students. You’re not as popular, you don’t pull as many girls or score as many touchdowns. And even if you grow up to surpass you brother in ways that truly are important — better grades, a better job, a better life — part of you will always yearn for acceptance and validation from your big brother.
Because it’s you big brother, and even if he has to put his high school football trophies on a rickety shelf in the trailer where he lives common law with the mother of some of his children, unable to view facebook photos of your medical school graduation because the neighbour from whom he was stealing internet was just evicted from his double-wide, you’ll always crave his approval.
Because he’s your big brother, and birth order’s a bitch.
So when he disapproves of something you’re doing it stings, even though it shouldn’t.
Eventually you become so sensitive to his slights that you see them where they don’t exist. He says “I like that new sandwich at KFC” and you hear fighting words.
This week Canadians are ready to square off with Buffalo Bills safety George Wilson, who was speaking about this weekend’s Bills in Toronto Series matchup against the Washington Redskins, and uttered some mundane words Canadians consider inflammatory.
Among Wilson’s more vicious verbal shots:
“For the most part, it’s a show. You see just as many jerseys for the opposing team as you do for the Bills. They cheer for any big play, regardless of which team makes it.”
“It’s not a home game,” said Wilson. “We’re playing an international game that counts as home game because it’s relatively close to Buffalo. We’re ambassadors of the game trying to globalize the sport, we understand that, but at the same time, it’s not the same environment that we have here in Ralph Wilson Stadium.”
Innocuous thoughts, for sure, but enough to shatter the fragile ego of the little brother north of the border and prompt a predictable backlash against a guy who happens to be one of the brightest players in the NFL.
Which I could understand if Wilson had primed Torontonians for the Bills’ visit by expressing the contempt for local fans Ravishing Rick Rude made famous.
Instead he pointed out the painfully obvious — that Bills games in Toronto may as well take place in Paris because fans here have very little rooting interest.
And that’s a great thing because it affirms the game’s inherent appeal and the dedication of local fans. The folks filling the Rogers Centre are showing up out of interest in the event and not routine loyalty.
Wilson also helps kill the ridiculous notion that Toronto is trying to steal the Bills from Buffalo, and the logical conclusion of his comments is that Toronto probably deserves a team of its own.
In other words, he told both the NFL and local fans just want they (should have) wanted to hear without coming across as a shill.
Yet Canadians feel insulted.
I’d say it’s strange but I’ve lived enough of my life in Canada to know it isn’t.
And it’s as alarming as it is sad, because if Canadians are seeking a sinister American plot to undermine this country in fundamental, irrevocable ways they need only listen to energy tycoons manipulate the language around “energy security.”
Notice that as the debate over U.S. dependence on foreign oil has evolved, Canadian oil stopped being considered “foreign”?
Or that when he says 92% of liquid fuel will come from “the U.S. and Canada” he doesn’t mention which proportion will come from which country?
Or that if this man is right safeguarding the economic stability and national security of the U.S. will soon become Canada’s responsibility?
No, Canadians, you didn’t notice because you were too concerned about George Wilson’s callous, insulting and treasonous assertion that Torontonians aren’t Bills fans.
Your big brother tells you he plans to sleep with your wife and live rent-free in your basement, and you’re upset because you think he doesn’t like your new shoes.
Which is your prerogative as Canadians, of course.
But this dual citizen thinks you need a backbone and a new set of priorities.
Follow Morgan Campbell on Twitter.