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-By Warner Todd Huston
Well, maybe not “war” to the hilt–as in a real shootin’ match–but it is at least a war of words from the country with the reputation of being the land of sugary niceness. Some Canadians, it appears, are upset that the new Canadian twenty dollar bill has, gasp, the wrong maple leaf on it!
So, here is the deal. Canada has used the 11-pointed maple leaf as one of its national symbols since 1965 (the same leaf that appears on its flag). Previous to 1965, Canada was still using the British Union Jack and all its subsequent national icons.
Anyway, on the new paper money, critics say the leaf looks more like the Norwegian maple leaf that has to it many more little points than just 11. In fact, it’s a pretty spiky thing and it’s certain stuck in the craw of some of Canada’s patriots. It’s just not “Canadian,” critics claim.
I guess national pride is national pride and who can blame them for getting mad? Would we Americans be happy with the American Bald Eagle being replaced with an African Tawny Eagle or an Australian Wedge Tailed Eagle? Me thinks folks in the U.S. would be outraged.
Amusingly, as Max Weber of the Washington Post tells us, one wag of a blogger asked Canada if they noticed that there is something else not Canadian on that bill? That Queen isn’t really a sister of the northern tundra, after all.
Of course, it isn’t surprising to see Canada struggle with a national identity. With a large native American population that in many ways stayed powerful and autonomous for far longer than those in the U.S. ever did–mostly because the Canadian government never waged war against them nearly to the extent that U.S. officials did–and with its status as but a colony of the British Empire not to mention it’s large French population in Quebec, Canada has struggled with a national identity since forever. Couple that with feeling as if it is always in the shadow if the United States adding to its inferiority complex and you have a recipe for conflict over even the smallest slights.
We may laugh, of course, but, I suggest this: Canada has done far more for conservative government, growing its economy and business sector, and lowering its taxes than the U.S. has done in the last 20 years, for sure.
If I were to look dispassionately at the U.S. and Canada with an eye toward determining which is more conservative, these days Canada wins hands down!