A while back, and I cannot find it now, a commenter expressed the view that Canada is less violent than the United States because we have more atheists here.
Sounded wrong to me. First, Canada is not always less violent. It depends on what you count.
If anyone thinks they can just murder a public servant in the course of his/her duties, for essentially religious reasons, and have it classed as routine “workplace violence,” Canada is definitely the wrong country to pick.
We have never seen things that way, and most of us hope we never will.
It doesn’t mean we are anti-religious: From our Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.
I (born citizen) was one of the witnesses abruptly summoned to the Constitution Committee hearings, in Ottawa in 1981. All that said and forgotten, here are some useful things to know:
1. The original Canadians were people who either refused to take part in the American Revolution or were living in the United States but fled, to avoid getting involved. Not all were white. Many were Native Americans or African Americans, worried about how the Founders would treat them.
This was not out of cowardice. Canadians have performed very well in military engagements. We simply did not believe that the proper response to George III was a revolution. We reckoned we could outlive him.
2. Canada also had the historical advantage that the American Revolution apprised the British that they could not just deal peremptorily with the “colonials” any more. So by the time Canadians became seriously unhappy (Rebellions of 1837), the British sent out toffs instead of redcoats, to find out why we were so unhappy. Then they started pressuring us to become more independent. By 1867, Queen Victoria was choosing us a national capital (Ottawa) over tea.
3. Because we don’t really have a history of violence, we usually don’t try solving problems that way (please, I am NOT talking about some guy murdering a public servant in the course of his duties. We call that: Getting to the top of our In tray, and we deal with it promptly).
I mean, in general, if there is a lot of violence somewhere in our own territory, we would historically prefer to send out a police force (the Mounties, for example) to just start enforcing the Criminal Code. Not a cavalry, you understand, but a police force.
4. We have not tended to be in wars we have lost. So that means older Canadians like me are not full of resentment and rage. We like new immigrants. But we think it will help them adjust if they know a little about the country.
At least, it helps them go to sleep at night because the most likely way they would die is boredom or exposure to cold, not violence from their neighbours.
* I did not live in Ottawa then. I never even ate a meal here at the time, so I had no “expenses” to declare, when asked by the Committee, at the time. Air travel in those days was so free and easy that I was even on the wrong flight as well, but no one cared. After all, it was just the usual run between Toronto and Ottawa. Everybody was a Canadian or else wanted to be one, or maybe wanted us to do something for them. So, the flight attendant simply said, take a seat, and marked up my papers accordingly. This was long before terrorism took hold, of course.
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