The Great Canadian Fallacy

There are certain things most Canadians can agree on, such as our love of Timbits, hockey, and maple syrup, and, of course, our collective feeling of moral superiority over Americans.

Come on, you know it’s true. How often have you heard the phrase “Well, at least we aren’t as bad as America” ?

We’re so proud of our free healthcare (mostly free), better gun laws (sort of) and being way less racist than Americans (lol just no) — right?

Look, we love Canada — truly. As a project that is heavily fueled by immigrants/children of immigrants, we’re grateful to this nation. But we also know we’ve got a long way to go before our country can earn that feeling of moral superiority.

The reality is that Canada is a work in progress, an ongoing group project, if you will, and every generation of people who live within its (colonizer-made) borders have to do their share of work.

And in case you missed the overall thesis of @OnCanadaProject— we need to get to work friends.

Instead of comforting ourselves with this idea that we’re better than America, we should look at it as a cautionary tale; a Canadian spoiler alert, because if it can happen in America, it can, and likely has, happened here.

Donald Trump was elected president, and in Canada, Jason Kenney and Doug Ford were shortly after. The PPC (a far-right political party that leverages populism in Canada) gained traction.

We can agree that it was fucking gross that America put asylum seekers and their children in cages on their southern border, right? Google Human Rights Watch Canada Immigrant Detention Centers.

Florida passed a Don’t Say Gay law for their schools. When he was elected, Doug Ford stripped our updated, evidence-informed sex-ed curriculum because he felt it was too early for kids to learn that love is love, families come in all shapes and sizes, and gender is beautifully fluid.

On Jan 6, 2021, we watched as white supremacist extremists rioted in Capitol Hill and then about a year later, we had a ‘freedom’ convoy occupy Ottawa.

This week when the Roe v. Wade draft opinion was leaked, we all felt understandably devastated for our Southern neighbours.

In our devastation, we noticed a resurgence of the sentiment: ‘Thank god we have it so much better in Canada.’

But the thing is, we can’t succumb to the great Canadian urge to feel like things are better up here because the truth is — it isn’t. Instead of watching in horror as America fails a part of their project, we should be working on our own.

There are loads of policymakers and leaders — many that are running for re-election in provinces like Ontario — that are anti-abortion here in Canada.

Make no mistake, if they could make it difficult to access abortions, they would — and to be frank, they have.

Because while abortion is decriminalized in Canada, there are no federal laws governing it. Just because something is decriminalized doesn’t mean it’s accessible, equitable, supported and protected — and we should be fucking infuriated about that.

Yeah, it’s wild right? We always thought it was codified in law as well. While abortion was decriminalized in 1988, every subsequent government has failed to create federal laws around it (though it was on the 2021 Liberal platform).

Even more frustrating is that access to safe abortion remains extremely difficult for many, with the ability to access one being closely tied to where a person lives, their finances, and their ability to navigate a complex health care system.

Wtf is that about? If abortions are not illegal in Canada, and we’re a country that is so into our “free and accessible” healthcare, then why the fresh fuck isn’t it easy to access an abortion regardless of where you live?

So as we support our American neighbours during this time and share their outrage, we must pair that with asking ourselves how to ensure that we don’t end up like them.

We have an opportunity right now to use the attention to demand better reproductive rights in this country.

Anything less than mobilizing to protect our rights in Canada is us, once again, subscribing to this great Canadian fallacy, and honestly, we need to be better than that.

And make no mistake — it’s not an accident that you see a lot of the language from abortion rights movements used in anti-vaccine mandate movements.

This is an intentional, coordinated co-opting of the language of the pro-choice movement by the alt-right.

And before the fragility flares up, no, that doesn’t mean that every person you know who said “my body, my choice” when referring to the vaccine mandates is a white supremacist or is knowingly part of the alt-right movement.

One of the powers of the alt-right is that they often mobilize good people into unknowingly participating in their movement. We have to start having critical conversations about how we’re combating the alt-right’s division, hate, populism, and violence because we promise you that the organizers of this movement are well funded, well connected, and mobilized in a way that the rest of us simply are not.

This is why we need to reject the great Canadian fallacy and demand better for our nation. Because the truth is a passive left-leaning demographic is an alt-right breeding ground, and we cannot have that.

That left-leaning passiveness is the great Canadian fallacy in action. It is believing that being “better” than America is enough; believing that because things could be worse, we should be grateful and accept the current state of our nation.

We could — if we dreamed it, if we demanded it, and if we collectively mobilized around it — bring about a nation where everyone can thrive and have their basic needs met instead of a country with so much systemic inequity leaving many of us struggling just to survive.

Look, we’ll tell you what our immigrant parents always say — it’s not good enough to just get a passing grade, be average at something, or better than a couple of kids in class — we have to strive for excellence, we have to strive to be the best.

And why shouldn’t we? This country has a stupid amount of wealth, resources and power that we could harness to create transformational change rooted in justice and equity.

We could have a nation where everyone’s basic needs are met, including access to healthcare (which includes abortions).

We don’t know about you, but we want a perfect grade on this project, and quite frankly, we think this country and the people in it deserve it — don’t you?

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Founder, Executive Director and Editor in Chief at On Canada Project | @samkrish_ | she/her

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Samanta Krishnapillai

Founder, Executive Director and Editor in Chief at On Canada Project | @samkrish_ | she/her