I take great exception to Andrew Alexander’s claims about “Who needs Canada? It’s all right here!” in his May 5 column, “The Maple Spirit.” There are many things that make Canada great, and many areas where Canada bests the U.S.
Let’s first take a look at quality of life. Canada is ranked third on the Human Development Index. Where’s the U.S.? Fifteenth. Indeed, Canadian life expectancy is 81.23 compared to an American life expectancy of 78.11.
This should be no surprise considering Canada’s public healthcare system keeps its citizens healthier than that of the U.S. Though Canadians spend half as much of their per capita GDP on healthcare as Americans do, the last World Health Organization rankings placed Canada seven places ahead of the United States in overall healthcare performance. How “aboot” that?
Canada is strong economically, especially in its financial sector. Canada did not have to bail out any of its banks and, according to a recent survey by the World Economic Forum, Canada has the world’s soundest banking system. The U.S. ranks 40th.
Mr. Alexander also pokes fun at Canada’s independence, stating that the Canadian “Revolutionary War consisted of politely asking your British masters for independence… for 125 years.” I have no idea where the 125 years figure came from. Canada declared its independence in 1867. In any case, while Canada did not fight a Revolutionary War, earlier rebellions did lead to British acquiescence to Canadian independence.
Indeed, militarily Canada has a lot to be proud of, past and present. Canada has the the fifth largest force in Afghanistan today, fighting the Taliban in Kandahar, Afghanistan’s toughest province. In World War I, Canada distinguished itself at Vimy Ridge, where Canadian troops beat the Germans where the French and British had each tried and failed before. Canada contributed more than a million men and women in her armed forces to win World War II, out of a total population of 11 million, and had its own beach at Normandy (Juno), reflecting Canada’s prominent role in the Allied war effort. By the end of the war, Canada had the fourth largest navy in the world. And of course, Canada repelled the American assault in the War of 1812, without much aid from the British until Napoleon’s defeat in 1814. Neat, eh?
I am not saying one country is better than the other. Canada is no superpower; the United States clearly is. However, in areas where comparison is possible, such as healthcare, living standards, banking, and having a more civilized drinking age, Canada not only competes with, but often leaves the U.S. in its dust.
Class of 2012