Fellow Canadians: Be Nice Abroad

My fellow countrymen, and women.  When you travel the world, you need to be nice to everyone you meet.  We need to keep that stereotype of the “Nice Canadian” alive.  It makes other people feel happy to have us in our country when we are polite to them.  Lately people are taking notice that we are not as nice as we used to be.  We need to change that.  You don’t believe me, check out this article.  My comments will be in bold throughout.


Source: National Post.  Go to this site if you want to see the obnoxious pictures.  http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/03/07/im-canadian-f-you-how-boorish-utterly-wasted-tourists-are-rewriting-the-treasured-myth-of-the-nice-canuck/

It was while on a recent stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, that John Thompson, former director of Canadian Studies at North Carolina’s Duke University, experienced a close encounter with the global phenomenon of the drunken Canadian tourist.

He was on a bus that had just picked up a sextet of Canadians outside a hotel, and although it was the middle of the afternoon, the group was “as drunk as lords and ladies,” he said.

They had scarcely taken their seats before the “spokesperson” of the group started singing Cielito Lindo (popularly known as the “Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay,” song) and “making up faux Spanish words on this bus filled with Mexicans.”

That’s not classy, don’t do that.

Quipped Mr. Thompson, “I wanted to apologize for gringos everywhere.”

But how did the professor know these boors were Canadian? “The reason you know they’re Canadians is because Canadians mark themselves; they constantly wear items of clothing that identify them as Canadian,” he said.

Just in case the locals mistook them for Americans, Brits or Australians, the small group was “covered in maple leafs.”

Mr. Thompson was born in Winnipeg, taught at McGill University in the 1980s, spent 30 years in North Carolina and now lives in New Westminster, B.C.

He has spent much of his professional career steeped in Canadian studies, and after four decades “I see no sign that Canadians are thought of as quiet or nice.”

Among Canada’s most treasured national myths is the belief that it is a “polite” nation. Canadians are a quiet, humble and “nice” people. And for this, it is said, they are revered abroad — particularly when compared with the arrogant, “do you speak English?!” reputation of their “Ugly American” neighbours.

But Canada is also a nation of rowdy hockey fans, obnoxious backpackers, arrogant snowbirds and tightfisted tourists, all mixed in with a few doses of hefty jingoism and heavy drinking. Roll it all together, and it is easy to see why large corners of the globe have yet to be sold on the myth of the Nice Canuck.

In the distant reaches of central Europe, there are apparently enough fond feelings for Canada that the region can support a periodical on the topic: The Central European Journal of Canadian Studies.

In an email to the National Post, Canadian-born journal contributor Michael Devine wrote that among his circle of European theatre artists and “educated elites,” Canadians are seen as “slightly rustic,” “not very knowledgeable about world affairs” and even “unsophisticated.”

“We’re rubes,” he said, “but the Americans are both crude AND rude.”

And yet, it is in the border areas of the United States where some of the world’s most fervent anti-Canadianism is nurtured.

Bellingham, Wash., a border town of 82,000, is regularly invaded by Metro Vancouverites sporting “Best Place on Earth” licence plates, buying up industrial quantities of cheese and filling jerry cans, garbage cans and even plastic bags with cheap American gasoline.

This last paragraph is ridiculous.  I’m ashamed of my fellow countrymen who live in these border towns.  You’re already getting a deal as it is.  Fill your tank, pay what it costs and go on your way.  Gasoline in garbage bags can’t be safe either.

Phil Handrick, former director of the Center for Canadian Studies at Michigan State University, generally does not accept the notion that Canadians are uncharacteristically obnoxious, but he makes an exception for hockey.

“If there’s a negative trait, it’s one my students who grew up playing hockey teams in Ontario admire; they don’t back down to anyone on a level sheet of ice,” he said.

In 2011, when swarms of Canadians went to Buffalo, N.Y., for the World Junior Hockey Championships, in the aftermath Buffalo News columnist Donn Esmonde saw fit to denounce the “loud, drunk, obnoxious” — and tip-stingy — spectacle they had presented. “Another week, and we might have had a border war,” he said.

In the rare instances where a European country has found itself hosting great mobs of expatriate Canadians, reports have been remarkably similar.

During World War Two, the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Britain swelled to more than 500,000 men, many of whom were soon swarming quaint English pubs with uniquely Canadian concepts of how to drink alcohol.

“The damned 3rd division has now been inflicted on us,” reads a 1941 letter from a woman in Surrey, describing the arrival of the Canadian infantry division that would eventually go on to capture Juno Beach.

On Christmas Eve, 1941, the Canadians, she reported, “were rolling along in the middle of the road till all hours yelling at the top of their voices, the dead drunk being dragged along by the not so drunk.”

Mexico is currently enduring its own Canadian invasion. Every year, the country logs an incredible 1.8 million visits by Canadian citizens, the equivalent of an annual Mexican vacation for every 20th Canadian. At the height of winter, popular hotspots like Puerto Vallarta, “might as well just be a Canadian town,” said Mr. Thompson.

Inevitably, online reviews of Mexican and Caribbean resorts have begun complaining of the rash of “drunken Canadians,” “disrespectful Canadians” and “utterly wasted Canadians.”

As one otherwise positive review for a Puerto Vallarta resort put it, “the ‘adult relaxation’ pool did not allow children but it allows loud and obnoxious drunken Canadians.”

If you’re so wasted you can’t stand up or talk to people in a civil way…you don’t deserve to go outside.

At a Dominican Republic resort, a similar anti-Canadian review prompted one self-described drunken Canadian to defend himself, claiming in an online post that resort staff had “loved” their alcohol-fuelled antics, particularly their penchant for hitching joyrides aboard baggage carts.

“To everyone we may have pissed off you need to lighten up, we all work hard so we can let loose on vacation,” he wrote.

On the eve of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Prime Minister Stephen Harper felt it necessary to tell his 34 million constituents that they should not feel “shy or embarrassed” to wave the maple leaf, even if they had a natural distaste for the boisterous nationalism displayed by “others.”

“We should never cast aside our pride in a country so wonderful in a land we are so fortunate to call home, merely because the notion has sometimes been abused,” he told the B.C. legislature.

The Prime Minister needn’t have worried. As per a 2003 survey by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center, more Canadians were convinced of the superiority of their nation than almost any other citizenry on earth.

Every nation has its strengths and weaknesses.  On the whole, we’re no better or worse than any other nation.  We need to get that back in our heads.

Americans always comment on how polite and nice we are

Canada took sixth place on a list of major countries ranked by patriotic sentiment, losing only to South Africa, Austria, Australia and the first-place contenders, Venezuela and the United States.

Indeed, unlike many others on the list, Canadians are among the only nation on earth to regularly adorn their backpacks and luggage with the national flag—a practice that has not gone unridiculed among traveller’s circles.

“Do you really need to wear that little flag around, all the time, for everyone to see?”wrote travel blogger Paul Duan in 2010, saying the practice “annoys the hell out of me.”

“You don’t see Americans, Brits, Aussies or Europeans waving their country flags and I’m certainly not going around telling strangers that I’m from California.”

David Ivkovic is co-president of the Los Angeles-based expat group Canadians Abroad, serving as the ambassador for what he calls the Canadian “sensibility difference.”

“Americans always comment on how polite and nice we are,” he said.

But it does not mean he can resist a maple leaf bumper sticker. “’I’m Canadian, f— you,’ that’s my mentality, and I’m not afraid to say it,” he said.

These particular bumper stickers are not very nice…nor are they very intelligent.  Don’t buy one, it’s a waste of money.

There is truth to the politeness myth, of course. For this story, the National Post contacted a sample of more than 50 youth hostels in the backpacking hotspots of Western Europe and Oceania.

Of those who replied, from Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and New Zealand, Canadians were unanimously given rave reviews: “Polite and amicable,” “mostly well-behaved and good company,” and “lots of manners and respectful.”

As one youth hostel on the outskirts of Oslo, Norway, reported, “Canadians are polite, gentle and the [total] opposite to Americans.”

When international students come to Canada, they are told to brace themselves for life among a hyper-deferent citizenry.

“Generally speaking, Canadians tend to feel uncomfortable in situations where another person is acting aggressive or rude,” declares the “Understanding Canadians” section of Simon Fraser University’s International Student Guide.

The guide adds, “they are often apologetic.”

Canadians apologize so routinely, in fact, that legislators have felt the need to regulate the very act of saying sorry. The Apology Act, passed by the Ontario legislature in 2009, clarifies that when residents of the Heartland Province say “sorry,” it is merely a nicety that does not “constitute an express or implied admission of fault or liability.”

Despite these stereotypes, Canada finds itself in the unique position of seeing itself repeatedly thrust into the spotlight by two nationals who are anything but quiet and polite: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and pop star Justin Bieber.

But ask any Mexican resort worker, Vermont waitress or Slovenian theatre director, they may well tell you that an overweight binge drinker and a rich ne’er-do-well young man are just about the perfect candidates to hoist the maple leaf abroad.

Be nice to those who serve you abroad.  They don’t have to.


We need to get that nice, kind Canadian thing back.  National pride is all well and good, but we don’t need to be jerks about it in other countries…even in our own…in the end it’s just a hockey game, no need to burn things down.

If we are rude to our international neighbours, they may not let any of us back in…and they have all the warm weather.

Not all Canadians are like the monsters described in this article.  These people are ruining traveling for the rest of us.  Smarten up! don’t be a jerk, try making someone’s day instead.

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