Are Canadian Political Values Becoming Americanized?

Canada and the United States may be the most extreme case of the small nation, big neighbor syndrome but when asked to point the main differences between the two countries, more than 70 people from both the sides said that Canada is just like a shadow of America. But what makes them make this confound argument? On what basis have they decided that they are the same? And on the other hand why does the rest of the 30% think that they are different? Going against all the odds, I would like to oppose the fact that Canadian Values are becoming Americanized by evaluating healthcare, the global culture and the free trade agreement between the two countries.

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Since the early 90’s, the US has been successful in making a security system for the elder people, a medical help for the welfare recipients which can be called disorganized as there was no public funding in the health care center for the rest of the population. Canada on the other hand relied on a constitutionally entrenched system of equalization transfers from “have” to “have-not” provinces to balance roughly welfare state provisions, while the US adopted no such approach. . When needed, it is easy for Citizens of Canada to get healthcare or needs some assistance from welfare then it is easily available. The United States have said that they desire to have the same. Along with universal health care, Canada’s welfare system is distinct from the United States. As Bashevkin pointed out, Canada’s remain even while the United States’ remain uneven.

Canada is portrayed as an executive political system with different languages and various significant regional bonds, where legislative, executive and judicial power and control lies largely in the hands of the prime minister.” This horizontally centralized control system allows Canadian political elites in a majority government to impose their preferences more readily than executives in a horizontally decentralized case like the US, where a constitutional separation of powers creates multiple veto points across the three branches of government. In a more racially divided society with a diffuse congressional regime, American presidents are generally unable to command the concentrated institutional levers available to their Canadian counterparts.

My next argument will state about the free trade argument between the two countries and its evaluation.

Since before Confederation, Canada’s national identity has been defined in part by its relation- ship to the United States. In Canada, this relationship has been characterized by divisive tensions between believers in the economic benefits of closer commercial relations with the US and those who have feared that free trade would “Americanize” Canada, either literally in the form of joining the union or figuratively in terms of values and culture. These conflicts have been particularly evident over the past 15 years, as Canada entered into the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement in 1988, which was expanded six years later to include Mexico in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Opponents of these agreements argued that they would cause jobs to be lost, wages to decline, inequality to increase, Canada’s national identity to be undermined, and the capacity to forge distinctive policies to be vitiated. Proponents of free trade claimed that it would foster tremendous economic benefits and vehemently denied that it would lead to the Americanization of Canada.

For Canada, globalization is effectively 80 percent Americanization. That figure represents the percentage of Canadian exports that go to the United States. Clearly, it is too simplistic to reduce the complex nature of US influence to trade relations. Nonetheless, that percentage is an effective representation of the importance of the United States in Canada’s external relations with the world. Indeed, when one considers the cultural content of the media to which Canadians are exposed, the 80 percent figure is probably conservative. The main theme of the North American integration research for the Project on Trends is that the consequences of continental integration have not been as formidable as widely believed. Despite a sharp rise in trade dependence as a result of the Free Trade Agreement and growing American dominance of global media, the border between the two countries still matters. Admittedly, some policy instruments have been surrendered in exchange for access to larger markets. In addition, pressures for harmonization do exist, and have probably in- creased. But Canada still retains significant room to manoeuvre even in the areas of policy most affected by growing economic integration. (Hoberg, G. 350)

The next argument is related to Globalization and Culture.

With its awe-inspiring characteristics like limited government, an open society and Internationalism, Canada holds a position somewhere between France and United States when it comes to Cultural Politics. Just like India and Nepal, Canada and United States practice International Culture co-operation by engaging themselves in bipartite and multipartite activities.

Like Kevin V. MULCAHY said that it represents an interesting case when countries like Canada-United States define statements like “where you sit determines where you stand.” For the United States, culture is judged generally to be a sidebar in the spectrum of politics among nations, as cultural expression is more often considered to be a commodity than a value of identity. For Canada, culture is a much more central concern in its bilateral relations with the United States given this asymmetrical relationship.

The International trade agreement has really affected the cultural, political and economic relations between the two countries, to a limit that is very unusual but the artistic provisions of such a commitment, the work process of the cultural sector can clearly raise a debate on this political subject of Canadian Values becoming Americanized. Even though Canada is sensitive about its identification and coherence, there is awareness and the cultural practices ARE given a lot of importance.

The counter arguments:

Virtually, the cultural relations of these 2 peas in a pod may have their own identity in their own divergent and heterogeneous ways between power and smaller neighbor commonality, their adjoining population and keeping in mind the geographical condition of Canada. This may conclude for many others that Cultural, Rational and Political mix of Canadian Values and Culture stand more on the side of dependency of the United States.

As is often the case, where a small nation has a big neighbor, geographic propinquity can create awkward, even difficult, cultural relations. (De la Garde, Gilsdorf, and Wechselmann, 1993) None of this is to suggest a loss of Canadian political sovereignty. Yet, Canada has had to grapple with a persistent stereotype of being the “fifty-first American state.” As such, colonialism (the cultural dominance of a stronger power over another) persists in its post-colonial era: moreover, there is a significant question about whether political sovereignty can be sustained without cultural independence and the concomitant value of individual identity. In sum, how can a distinct Canadian identity thrive in the face of a hegemonic American culture?

Evidence- Canada does not have that unique point which acts as an advantage of differentiating them and giving them an edge over the other countries like the United States does. For example barely one percent of the movies that Americans watch are foreign (Mulcahy,2003).

The attitude and their vast cultural diversities that American Industry has, galvanizes the fact about the Americanization of Canada.

The US has clearly been dominating the Canada Free Trade agreement since the beginning of this new decade. The rivalry with the UK and US were preety much the same since the early 19th Century but after the Second World War there was a clear increase in trade with the US. The imports were measurable but the imports were much more from the US then it was from the UK. The world war had clearly left a major impact on the trade and the economic policies. The markets were devastated as 70% of the imports for Canada came from the US.

In the wake of the Free Trade Agreement, there was a sharp (15 percentage point) increase in Canada’s dependence on trade with the US. In 1998, total exports constituted a staggering 40 percent of GDP, with the US accounting for 84 percent of that total,

Or 33 percent of GDP. Thus, while trade dependence was quite high previously, the current levels of trade dependence, globally and on the US in particular, are record setting.

The Rebuttal

Although small in population, Canada is home to two major linguistic societies and may be ideally positioned to mediate a global cultural perspective that is an alternative to the hegemony of American entertainment. A hybrid Canadian culture, which is post-colonial, bi-lingual and multi-cultural, could serve as a model for other nations that seek to retain their heritage and identity without retreating into autarchy or dependency.

Like Kevin said Unlike Canada, the United States does not have such a distinct society, which

Accounts for about 22% of its population. Accordingly, Canadian commitment to

Multiculturalism has had to accommodate both individual rights and collective rights. In the U.S., everyone is legally equal to be American. In Canada, one is guaranteed the right to be Canadian, as well as the right to retain one’s ascriptive identity. In this sense, Canada has had significant experience with policies that protect cultural diversity. Canadian culture does not rest as heavily on American principles of assimilation and homogenization; rather, there is accommodation and heterogeneity. As a broad generalization, Canada is a cultural mosaic in contrast to the American melting pot.

Talking about the Free Trade Agreement, I agreed Canada has a few tough choices to make and the road ahead is not smooth but it is attainable. The Free Trade Area of the Americas is under negotiation, but the US Congress denied President Clinton the “fast-track authority” necessary to get Americans properly engaged. Nonetheless, the momentum still appears to be in the direction of increasing rather than decreasing international economic integration. Given the geography of trade, it seems unlikely that even if these agreements fail to go forward, the close integration of the Canadian and US economies is likely to change in any fundamental way.

Conclusion: Being a part of North America and sitting right on the North of North America, it is not surprising that many might believe that Canada is slowly turning to be a sub-nation or is becoming Americanized but considering the facts like healthcare, welfare, the free trade agreement and other policies and various other elements of the political culture of this country would clearly define them to be different then the United States of America.

Even the free trade agreement gives Canada quite an edge over the US. The imports might have been higher as compared to the exports in the early 2000 but ever since after that the imports have been similar to the exports i.e. 70%..

The culture of Canada is totally different as compared to the United States even though they celebrate the same festivals the way they celebrate is different and differences like these affect a lot and leave a major impact when differentiating the two countries.

The culture has always been kind of similar but that does not mean that Canada is becoming Americanized. The government is totally different and the only part which I think is becoming Americanized is that Canada has more Starbucks now than it used to.