Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Canadians urge Ukrainians to seek Peace through Dullness

Dateline: OTTAWA—Backed by a majority of Canadians, the Canadian government has passed a resolution urging Ukrainians to stop fighting and to handle their internal conflict by being more boring like, Canadians.

Ukraine is split between ethnic Russians in the eastern part of the country and pro-European, ethnic Ukrainians in the west. Likewise, Canada is split between Catholic, French-speaking Quebecers, left-wingers in Ontario and British Columbia, and conservatives in the prairies. But Canadians have learned to settle their disagreements peacefully, by not caring much about them or about anything at all.

“The key to world peace is to be boring,” said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “I mean, dreadfully dull. You want to have a reputation for being so boring that you literally put people to sleep wherever you go.

“Take one of our Parliamentary debates, for example. Right in the middle of it, the ministers stopped talking and we all just fell asleep in our chairs. For the life of me I can’t remember the issues we were debating because they were so tedious and minor league. That’s a sign that Canadians are on the right track, you see. If the microtargeting of our constituents bores even the politicians to tears, if there are no big, interesting issues on our horizon, you can be sure there will be no significant conflict between Canadians.

“Or take my Lego hairstyle, for example. Have you ever seen something blander? I’m signaling to the world how dull and inoffensive I am. My hair looks like it was made in a mold for mass-produced, oversized plastic toys. I’m not going to rock the boat or say anything interesting to get people’s attention. See? Not one hair out of place, not one wayward tuft hanging over my forehead.

“My hair is symbolic of how boring Canadians are. But that’s how we get the job done, by golly! There’s hardly any violence in our country. Do you know how that happens? It’s because in the last several decades, we haven’t cared enough about anything to fight for it.

“And that’s what we’re telling the people of Ukraine: stop caring so much about Europe or Russia. Be more boring and you’ll get along just fine.” 

Asked whether they plan to take Canada’s advice, a representative sample of both pro-European and pro-Russian Ukrainians said they have no idea what that advice is, because they never pay any attention to Canada—what with Canada being so uninteresting.


  1. The Lego-section was quite witty.

    When it comes to violence in Canada, I think some European countries have less violence (Peace Index probably reflects to an extent).

    Could you write about anti-Western and anti-American attitudes in Canada? Also, is there a sort of isolationist thinking? I mean, being a little brother to the most powerful country in the world, being often confused with Americans, living almost in a geographical isolation (Europe and most of the West being far away), lacking emotional and cultural bond with the UK (once it was there), etc. Does Canada feel a bit lonely and left out? What's the perception of the West, Europe, the US; are there strong negative attitudes towards the West compared to an "average" Western country?

    1. Thanks! And thanks for the writing topic ideas. I'm not sure Canada is anti-Western and I'm not clear on your last sentence, though. Are you saying Canada is negative towards the West because it's lonely and left out? That's an interesting thesis, but communications technologies have made the modern world a global village. The isolation might have been more of a factor decades ago. Maybe then Canada's dullness was due to a combination of its isolation together with its alternating disgust with American culture and its envy of American vitality and successes.

      I'll have to think more about the current relevance of isolationist thinking in Canada. The thing is, the US would be equally isolated from the Old World, although it borders Mexico too. It might be interesting to talk about Canada's proximity to the ice wasteland as a metaphor for the negative destiny of modernism. I talk a bit about this in my article on Canada as the world's most boring country:

    2. I posed a punch of questions,but made no claims.

      We can mellow the 'isolationist thinking' to 'isolationist feeling', something that's not being articulated but is still there.

      The US is a superpower, so they inevitably partake in world events. I realize Canada is considered a middle power (and a member of G8 as well), but Canada usually takes a more neutral stance on things.

      I could pose another question, maybe this opens things up more: does Canada have any friends? Allies, yes, but friends? Do good relationships with many European countries mean they're friends? Friendship in this context probably means there has to be a good amount of constant cultural connection without envy and disgust. Having a good relationship doesn't constitute a friendship (for instance, a relationship between employer and employee).

      It's not easy to describe what kinda country can be considered a "friend", but you'll probably understand what I'm trying to say.

    3. It's hard to say whether Canada has friends. This question anthropomorphizes the country, though, so the question should be whether there's cultural affinity so that Canadians in general are friends with the people of some other country. Unless we're talking about Canadians' relationship with Americans, that sort of friendship would have to be a long-distance one because of Canada's geographical isolation (even given the point about the global village). By contrast, most of the other continents are divided up into numerous smaller countries, so there's more of an opportunity there for stronger relationships. Of course, those relationships can be positive or negative. Take Ukraine, for example, which is split between deeply hostile factions.

      I think Canadians and Americans are pretty close. We understand each other well and we have lots of personal ties, since we go back and forth across the border. Other than that, I'd say Canada's international relationships are pretty frosty without being hostile. There's an old respect for Canada in other continents, based on our traditional status as the neutral peacemaker, but that's quite outdated and people don't really believe in that myth anymore.

      Meanwhile, Canada hasn't come up with a new myth, although we started to do so when our banks withstood the Great Recession. Canada might have campaigned in the US on that, lecturing Americans on the deficiencies of their financial system, but that would have opened Canada up to criticism on all other friends, such as the fact that Canada depends on the US.