… because they were never in it. This fall, in a ritual that has been repeated every year since the fall of Montcalm, Canadian television viewers are opting overwhelmingly for United States television. Reader Ryan Posly sends in the thoroughly unsurprising news that American TV programs occupy all the top 10 primetime spots in the Great White North, with only one Canuck-made show cracking the top 20 (kudos, eh, to the makers of Corner Gas). This popular defiance of the awesome power of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (which is trying to regulate local product into popularity by, among other things, letting stations run more ads in exchange for carrying more homegrown content) alarms a Canadian union boss:
"From our perspective, we believe that the ad incentive program is inadequate, and the only way in which Canadian broadcasters will actually produce Canadian material to any significant extent is if they're obligated to do so through regulation," said Steve Waddell, national executive director of ACTRA, Canada's actors union.
When in doubt, always trust revealed preference. Canadians say no with their lips, but with their eyes, and their remote controls, they're always saying Yes. That's why I'll always love our neighbors to the north, even when they pound on my colleague Jacob Sullum using the lethal Canadian martial art of Lighting Toque-Kido. The anti-American tirades, the insults against the superpower's legions of mindless fatties, the imprecations against American cultural hegemony, the endless spittle-flecked tirades about God knows what—yes, I've heard them all too, and I know that these are but the trappings and the suits of patriotism. Like almost all patriotism, it goes about an inch deep, even in countries where they use the metric system. Americans (and Canadians) would do well to remember it: If the Canadians were so protective of their culture they wouldn't need goofy content regulations any more than a chaste woman needs a chastity belt. So let 'er rip, you wonderful Canucks; you're beautiful when you're angry.
Brian Doherty surveyed Canadian cultural protectionism long ago, concluding, "This feud is really about product differentiation when you don't really have that much to differentiate." Angry Canadians responded angrily (and if you want a real blast from the past consider that as recently as the second Clinton administration 43 emails was considered a shockingly large response to a web piece).
John Candy, the Swan of Toronto, died while making the Michael Moore joint Canadian Bacon—an act of Yankee cultural predation the Canadians have every right to hate us for.
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