Every culture has its unspoken taboos—things you are not allowed to say or do in polite company, accepted truths you are not allowed to question. You might think that a liberal, open-minded country like Canada is free of such taboos, but you’d be mistaken. Regardless of our belief in our enlightened tolerance, some things are unarguable. You’re bound to startle your neighbors if you try.
So here’s a challenge to some of our country’s most deeply held beliefs. You say things like this in public at your own risk. I will elaborate on these points in the coming months. Please stone me or secretly agree—or, even better, add to the list. At the very least, they’ll start an excellent dinner-party brawl.
Margaret Atwood Writes Horrible Books
CanLit’s queen rules the literary world like a colossus. Nobody has won more awards or is more feared than she is. In Canada, there is no such thing as a negative review of a Margaret Atwood book. Unfortunately, her books are tedious and unreadable, with tortuous plots and unpleasant characters. Why isn’t anyone saying anything? Because we are grateful that she has put us on the map. And because they will never work in this country again if they do.
The United States is the world’s most powerful force for good.
This is the most shocking thing you can say around the dinner table. After all, slamming America is part of our national identity.
At best, we see our neighbor as a well-meaning but arrogant and blundering bully who wields too much power. At worst, we regard our neighbor as one of the world’s most evil nations. Nonetheless, hundreds of millions of people in India, China, and other desperately poor parts of the world are now liberated from millennia of suffering and serfdom. Why? The United States, which has spread its concept of economic liberty—along with its purchasing power—all over the world.
Recycling is a complete waste of time and money.
It was once simple to dispose of garbage. The Garbage Gestapo now rules our lives. Every home has turned into a mini-village dump, and each of us has become a garbage picker, carefully separating our organics from our bottles and papers and worrying about where our dryer lint is supposed to go.
Try not to put a wine bottle in the wrong bag! The trash cops will punish you. The truth about recycling is that it is a huge waste of money and does nothing to help the environment. But don’t tell your children. They’re not going to believe you. They were brainwashed.
David Suzuki is harmful to the environment.
From global warming to farmed salmon and genetically modified crops, David Suzuki has one message: The End is Nigh.
He is our prophet of doom, preaching the essential wickedness of humanity. Like a modern-day Savonarola, he warns that we will all go to hell unless we burn our material possessions.
The problem with this bleak vision is that people are beginning to tune it out. And our massive investment in the unworkable Kyoto treaty, which Mr. Suzuki claims do not go far enough, will crowd out more practical measures to reduce smog and clean up our waste sites.
A National Daycare Program Will Not Help Poor Children
National daycare is inexpensive! Who could be against it? Nobody can argue that it is intended to give children a better start in life. However, in Quebec, where the program began, universal daycare has proven to be nothing more than a massive (and costly) subsidy for relatively well-off middle-class parents. Few low-income parents use the system.
Without a doubt, convenient daycare is a blessing for many. However, there is no conclusive evidence that daycare children perform better in school or life. So, if we want to invest billions in helping children, why are we focusing on the children who require the least assistance?
Only private enterprise has the potential to save health care.
Tommy Douglas, voted the CBC’s Greatest Canadian, established universal health care. But even his plan didn’t cover everyone’s ingrown toenails at first. His primary goal was to ensure that no one faced financial ruin if they became ill.
Today, we have a system in which cost control is more important than patient care, and ideology is crippling us. People go blind in some places, including Toronto, while waiting for cataract surgery. The government could restore their sight tomorrow by sending them to a private clinic rather than a hospital. The government would incur the same expense. However, the word “private” is frowned upon in Canada, and the government would rather you go blind. Tommy would be turning in his grave.
Group of Seven are Overexposed Genre Painters
A.Y. is appealing to me. Jackson loves him just as much as you do. His paintings bring back memories of summer camp. My family had a reproduction of The West Wind hanging in our living room when I was growing up. (That was by Tom Thomson, who wasn’t a member of the Group of Seven, but whatever.) The Group of Seven were the first artists to depict the wild Canadian landscape, and they were daring young rebels in their day.
But that was over 80 years ago. Today, their work epitomizes bourgeois picture-postcard art—the kind of art you can take your mother to see. Enough is enough. Perhaps it’s time to move on.