Kermit the Frog once famously said, “It's not easy being green.” These days it's not easy being Canadian either.
Maybe it's because we have a reputation for being nice, polite people. Perhaps it's because there's not that many of us, relatively speaking, in the world. Either way, the latest trend in politics seems to be to blame Canada when something goes wrong at home.
For example, when huge sections of the power grid went out in North America last summer, US officials almost immediately pointed north; one even claimed Canadian lightning was the culprit. (Canadian lightning can be identified by the fact it makes the sound “Zap! Eh?”) It would later turn out that an Ohio utility was the source of the failure.
The Canadian beef industry will be blamed for the latest mad cow scare, because even though the US system allowed a sick cow to be slaughtered and meat distributed as far as Guam before getting test results back, the cow may have been born in Canada. (As evidenced by it's fondness for enjoying a doughnut after a hard day at pasture). Even the Canadian border was blamed once for terrorist activity in the US, even though none of the 2001 terrorists came to the US via Canada. (This was possibly just a default reaction, the US-Mexico border being airtight and impenetrable and all).
Even Britain has gotten into the act lately, going so far as to claim that “100 percent of its phone scam problems originate in Canada.” This of course must be true, because no Brit has ever been known to attempt a scam on another Brit; also overseas phone calls are clearly a cheaper way to go than domestic scamming.
This is not to say that Canada is as pure as the driven snow that clogs up our sidewalks. We were to blame for a large 1965 power outage. We do have phone scammers. We probably even have people who write emails claiming to have inherited a multi-million dollar hockey team from their rebel NHL High Commissioner father (who was tragically killed in a violent slap shot incident), which they can only properly manage after obtaining your bank account information.
But, I say if you're going to blame Canada, at least cast aspersions on our character for things we have genuinely done. For example:
• Cold weather: Yes, that cold front probably did blow in from Canada. Indeed, nearly 85% of the world's snow is manufactured in Canada, primarily in Winnipeg. This is why locals fondly refer to their city as Winterpeg.
• Zippers: A source of embarrassment for some when left open, a source of pain for others when closed too quickly, the modern version was invented by a Canadian. Sorry about that.
• Hockey proliferation: We now have bases, er, rinks in places like Florida, Arizona and Texas. The energy required to keep ice surfaces in just one of these states probably equals or betters the energy required to power all the cappuccino machines in New York City.
• Ginger ale: This Canadian beverage is now abused world-wide by makers of bad homemade party punches.
• Hollywood infiltration: Sadly, I have to admit that Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, and yes, even Celine Dion, among others, come from Canada. To everyone who's ever been forced to attend a party featuring Austin Powers impersonators, or worse, karaoke based on the theme music from the movie Titanic, we're sorry. Really sorry.
• Strong beer: To anyone who's ended up face down in the chip dip having had just a few Canadian brews, we apologize. Especially if you got the stuff made in Quebec which can clock in at up to 11 percent.
• Paint rollers: This little device has made it all but impossible for husbands to claim they don't have the time to repaint the living room.
• Plexiglas/Perspex: Many a fledgling burglar has chucked a cinder block at a Plexiglas window, only to howl in pain when it bounces off and lands on his/her feet. Apologies.
• Maple Syrup: It has been clinically proven that maple syrup makes it easier to eat multiple stacks of pancakes at one sitting. To calorie counters everywhere: we send our regrets.
• Columns that start off making a political point but degenerate into hockey jokes: Sorry about that too.
To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.