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Why focus on Canada?
B Y L A U R E L W I L L O U G H B Y , A S S I S T A N T E D I T O R
Our cover story for this issue of Scene is
actually a triumvirate of tales, all about Canada: Quebec secession,
Canadian media and the B.C. salmon wars with the United States.
But why focus on Canada? Simply, we don't know nearly as much about them
as they know about us. And what we do think we know about Canada is
fraught with misconception.
If the U.S.-Canadian border were marked by a gigantic, glass wall -- a la
Christo's "Running Fence" -- it's likely that U.S. residents would report a
radically different view than their neighbors to the north.
In the United States, we tend to think that because the two countries
speak mostly English and occupy the same continent, we should be very
similar. In other words, to look from the south is to look into a
But Canadians might tell a different -- and much more accurate -- story. To
them, the glass wall is more like the two-way mirrors used in police
interrogations: they can see out, but we don't see in.
||"As close as we are to Canada, we seem to know so little about them," said Peter Grosvenor, a political science professor at PLU who teaches a class on Canadian
A 1991 poll by the Brookings Institution illustrates this American
myopia. In that study, just 13 percent of American adults surveyed knew
the Canadian prime minister at the time was Brian Mulroney. In contrast,
more than twice as many second-graders in Canada named George Bush as the
U.S. head of state.
And in a Canadian-government quiz Grosvenor gives at the beginning of
each semester, PLU students show similar results. "Most students score
low," he reports.
So how much do you know of basic Canadian politics? Following is a sample
of questions from Grosvenor's quiz (answers appear below):
Don't feel bad if you did poorly; most U.S. residents would. Grosvenor's
students needn't fret, either, if they bomb this first test.
- Who is the head of state in Canada?
- Who is the Canadian prime minister?
- To the nearest million, what is the population of Canada?
- How many provinces are there in Canada?
- What year was the Canadian federation established?
"I don't expect them to know much about Canada at the beginning of
class," he says, "but I definitely do at the end."
After reading this issue of Scene, we hope your C.I.Q. (Canadian
intelligence quotient) shows similar growth.
Canadian Quiz Answers:
- Queen Elizabeth II
- Jean Chretien (P.S., Americans--this is a man.)
- 30.1 million
- 10 (A bit of a trick question; Canada also includes two
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