By W. H. New
This article lines a number of the ways that border metaphors pervade Canadian realization. It addresses a number of social concerns corresponding to separatism, marginalization, multiculturalism, colonial attitudes, nationwide guidelines, language and the impression of the us.
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Extra info for Borderlands: How We Talk About Canada
Numbered parallels of latitude (and meridians of longitude) - however placidly we might accept them - do count their way politically around the globe, not neutrally; they position a European place as the norm - Greenwich, not the Pacific - and mark from the equator, not the poles. The numbers, in consequence, help demarcate political categories: ultima Thule for one; they're part of the cartographic process that has long constructed Canada as an arpents de neige barrenland of wilderness extremes: the one Cartier imagined, Voltaire named, and Hollywood film producers still believe to be true.
If an individual with a gun shows up, he had better be an American or else' (59). There is a rhetorical wit in the use of the first binary here ('McLeans and Lawmen') to critique the second ('cowboys and Indians'), and the third binary ('or else') tempers the historical critique with reflexive irony: the narrator's 'neutrality' is a mask, a Canadian fiction, just like the history it undertakes to revivify and record. The mode of narration says that habits of speech, like the habits of political choice, will sustain active analysis as well as passively reflect the influence of history; the challenge is not necessarily to avoid the stereotype but to recognize it for what it is, and for how it works, and why.
Culture Yet to make this statement opens up some surprising ambivalences. Take two examples of social policy to begin The Edge of Everything 37 with. By far the majority of Canadians are puzzled by (i) American gun laws (which in the 19905 still permit essentially unrestricted private access to weapons as a 'constitutional right') and by (2) American public health laws (which in the 19905 still handicap individuals who cannot afford the insecure guarantees of private medical insurance). Canadians, by and large, are more willing than Americans to use their tax money to secure public health and public safety, and they direct their governments (not always to their complete satisfaction) to spend wisely in these sectors.