A Canadian here…
Several difference I have noticed between Canada and the States:
- News and Media.
Canadian television news is much less parochial than in the States. I noticed that in San Francisco the ‘regular’ news was about the USA. This was not surprising; what I did find odd was that ‘world’ news was pretty much only about things outside the USA that directly involved Americans.
In Canada, you will find a greater variety of news sources (papers, television channels) in English, French, Chinese, and other languages.
The requirement that federal services be officially bilingual was a seed of this, I suspect; another seed was the official multiculturalism policy. This made the prescence of more than one language usual in peoples’ lives, and thus it was easier to establish services in other languages.
This led to things such as: official multilingualism in various provinces (for example, the North West Territories has nine official languages; Nunavut has four, and New Brunswick is officially bilingual.
There also seems to be a greater number of newspapers and news services in general.
I read of major US cities with populations in the millions and only one daily newspaper. I don’t know how many daily newspapers Toronto has; I tried counting them and got 8 without trying:
Four in English:
The Toronto Star (largest paper in the country; popular and centrist)
The National Post (a recent right-wing arrival. May be losing sales)
The Toronto Sun (right-wing populist tabloid. Skin, sports, and stereo ads)
The Globe and Mail (conservative business-oriented paper with excellent world reporting. Think New York Times crossed with the BBC)
Three in Chinese:
One in Spanish:
I’m sure there are more dailies. There are uncounted weekly papers in dozens of languages, everything from Korean to Punjabi.
The other big cities (Montreal, Vancouver) and some of the medium-sized ones (Ottawa. Halifax?) all have more than one daily newspaper.
Canadian television tends to censor violence more than sex; I’ve heard that in the US it tends to be the reverse.
The CBC has English and French radio and television networks nationwide.
There is a national aboriginal television channel (APTN).
There is a national multi-faith religious television channel (Vision TV). Until recently, the CRTC would not allow religious channels giving the views of only one religion, so we had the interesing phenomenom of pirate Christian broadcasters… There have always been individual Christian programs on TV; it’s just the single-faith channels that were restricted. I believe the rules have been relaxed somewhat now.
This brings us to…
Then USA has a much greater acceptance of formal conventional religion in public life.
In Canada, at least in the part where I live (Toronto), religion is very much a private matter. We do not have the ostentatious public allegiance to established religion that I’ve seen with various public figures in the States.
I suspect that this is due to the fact that everyone’s a minority, culturally, so to speak–there is no mainstream to adhere to.
There is no Canadian political movement with power corresponding to the US ‘religious right’ for instance, although there a numnber of extremely fringe political parties along this line. I think the Reform Party/Canadian Alliance would have liked to be that movement, but so far it hasn’t succeeded.
I am aware that this varies regionally both in Canada and the States; I suspect that there is a much greater acceptance of public religion in Alberta, for instance, than in Ontario. And San Francisco is very different than Alabama.
I’m not sure about Quebec–the place was ruled culturally by the Roman Catholic Christian church until the Quiet Revolution in the early 1960s, after which the culture shifted. I believe that the current use of Church terms as profanity in Quebec French started around this time. But I’m sure matt_mcl and other Quebec Dopers can clarify and correct me on this.
Awareness of the surrounding world
Living among giants (the USA, Europe, China, Russia… especially the USA), Canadians are always subliminally aware of the world beyind their borders, in a way that Americans don’t seem to be. They know that they are connected to the world in many different directions. They also know that there are large, poweful entities in the world that may not be moving in the same direction as they are.
The USA, because of its power and size, is complex enough to be a world unto itself. Canada has the size, but in many ways it is a string of settlements with vast unlit territories bewteen. We are aware if the vast empty North, and it causes us to huddle in our warm houses in the winter and thank the gods that we don’t have to go outside.
Canadians take a perverse pride in our nasty weather… but only when inside, and able to look out at the storm through a window that keeps it safely outside.
I’m sure I can think of more, but I have to get some work done…