American Backlash, Canadian Compromise: Are Canadians and Americans converging or diverging?

Position14th Annual Canada-United States Law Institute Distinguished Lecture

Chios CARMODY: Good afternoon. For those of you I haven't met, my name is Chi Carmody and I'm an Associate Professor here at Western's Faculty of Law and also the Canadian National Director of the Canada-U.S. Law Institute. The Institute was founded in 1976 as a joint creation of Western Law and the law school at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, to examine legal issues relevant in the Canada-U.S. bilateral context. And to that end, the Institute sponsors a number of activities annually including the Canada-U.S. Law Institute Annual Conference, the forty-sixth edition of which is taking place online April 21s, 22nd on the theme of Supply Chain Challenges for North America, and I want to add that there's free admissions for student to that. Publication also of the Canada-U.S. Law Journal, a copy of which I'm holding in my hands, but it may be a little bit hard for some of you to see, not sure if it's coming through on the screen or not. And period experts' meetings and Distinguished Lectures like this one as well as our student forums. This, however, is the 14th annual Canada-U.S. Law Institute Distinguished Lecture and this year our Distinguished Lecturer is Michael Adams, Founder and President of the Environics Institute for Survey Research. Michael holds an honors BA in political science from Queen's University and an MA in Sociology from the University of Toronto. He's the author of seven books on Canada-U.S. relations including his 2003 book Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada, and the Myth of Converging Values which won the 2005 Donner Prize as best book on public policy. Michael was also the recipient of an honorary doctorate and in 2016 was awarded the Order of Canada. I was moved to invite Michael to give this year's Canada-U.S. Law Institute Distinguished Lecture while I was reading the newspaper on New Year's Day when he had a lengthy opinion piece in the Globe and Mail on differences between Canada and the United States. Just this week, the standoff with truckers' convoys in several parts of North America emphasized the vast differences in opinion that have emerged on key issues, on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. And I was interested in where these differences come from and whether they're really in fact so new or if, perhaps, they've just acquired a new prominence and salience in our thinking. Michael is someone who has been examining these issues in various ways for many years, decades even, and he seemed well placed to provide some insightful analysis of what's happening and what its implications might be for the future. Before he does that, however, I'd like to convey a few thanks. First of all, to the faculty of law, and particularly to our Dean, Professor Erika Chamberlain, for her continuing support of this lecture. To Ashley Wiseman, the faculty's communications officer, for helping to promote and publicize this event. And to Corey Meingarten, the faculty's systems administrator who is ensuring smooth broadcasting of this event. As well as my U.S. counterparts on the Ohio side, Professor Stephen Petras, for his continuing support, and the Institute's Managing Director, Ted Parran, in Cleveland. I'd also like to thank this year's students on the Canada-U.S. Law Institute Student Committee, particularly Piper McGavin, Tanya Soni, and Shurabi Srikaruna, who have been helpful in coordinating and assisting with this Distinguished Lecture. After Michael's Distinguished Lecture today, there's going to be an opportunity for questions from the audience through Zoom. So if anyone would like to send along a question or two during the lecture, or thereafter, via the Q&A function at the bottom of the Webinar screen, that would be appreciated. So without any further ado, over to Michael.

Michael ADAMS: Well thank you for those kind words, Chi, and great to be with you and your colleagues at Western and elsewhere this afternoon. I'm going to, for about half an hour thirty-five minutes, walk you through a PowerPoint, I hope it's an interesting PowerPoint not a boring one, not filled with words but more pictures and concepts, and then I'll look forward to the Q&A afterwards. Well, the U.S. and Canada have always been distinct cultures since their colonial days, their founding by the Europeans several centuries ago, and they have been on unique sociocultural trajectories. As we look at the broad picture over history, we see Americans as being a more risk-taking people and Canadians a more riskaverse. America is a culture of aspiration, and Canada a culture of accommodations. Interestingly, we started out more religious than the Americans, certainly the French-Canadians in Quebec, but these days it's the Americans who are more religious and Canadians more secular. For America, money is everything --it's a bit of a stereotype--for us, money is suspect--did you inherit it or get a government grant? How else could you get money in this country? Americans brag the highest standard of living in the world, we think we have the best quality of life. There, the winner takes all. Here, we distribute the winnings and income redistribution. Americans think they will win the lottery. We think we have won the lottery, we're Canadians, we're in Canada. In America philanthropy--again this is kind of tongue in cheek--is more capricious in the sense that huge bodies of wealth are eventually established foundations and then distributed to do good things, get noticed by Bill and Melinda Gates and you've made it. Our philanthropy is not capricious it's compulsory philanthropy is not capricious it is compulsory philanthropy and it's known as higher levels of taxation which goes to the government and then gets distributed around the country and to various groups in the country. Interestingly American humor tends to be more "put down" humor, more slapstick, more Three Stooges kind of thing where the bad guy gets his comeuppance in the end. We've inherited from the Brits, I think, a self-effacing irony. We tend to say the opposite of what we believe almost as a test to see if the other person is smart to get our drift. In America, the word "liberal" has become an epithet. It's a put-down of someone. In Canada, being a liberal person is actually a compliment and there's even a political party that calls itself the Liberal Party that seems to do pretty well in elections. So here the word "liberal" is normative. And you all will have your own kind of binaries of U.S., Canada, some stereotypes, some historical, some lessons from history, but these are the ones I've pulled together to kind of spark us at the beginning of my lecture.

So, I like arguing from data and I start with data that is derived from surveys, from survey research, and in particular when it comes to comparing cultures I use our social values research. And values are, you know they sometimes say that a bad person has no values, actually a bad person--somebody you think is bad does have values, you just don't like their values. So, we try to look at the broad range of values, motivations, and mindsets, in other words the things in our heads that inspire us as parents and guide us as consumers, as workers, as investors, as spiritual beings, as voters, and so on. We do this by creating a number of statements that are put together in a questionnaire, anywhere from one to three or four or even five statements, are put together and become a single social value that we track over time. Now we've done this work in Canada and the United States at the same time since 1992, although we began the program in 1983 in Canada, but in the two countries it's been since 1992, and then 96-2000 so it's every four year and of course those of you who pay attention to politics know it's presidential election years so we often then can correlate the values with people's political preferences. In 2020 and 2021, the last couple of years, we've used more than 150 items to track sixty social values in the two countries and we have very large samples, five thousand or more in each country, which allows us to break down by demographic, by age, gender, income, education, region of the country, and so on. So the examples of values that we are tracking, starting with A: acceptance of violence as normal in life; adapting to complexity; the American dream, everyone knows what that is; anomie and aimlessness, two very good sociological concepts; attraction for crowds; authoritarian impulse, one we've added over the last ten years' conspiracism--the belief in conspiracies, they're true or a lot of them are true; doing your duty; ecological concern; flexible families--blended families, same-sex, same-gender families (Adam and Steve as well as Adam and Eve); ethical consumption; global consciousness; modern racism--the belief that there is no more racism, we've solved racist problems and everybody starts from the same starting points; ostentatious consumption, also termed conspicuous consumption; patriarchy--which we'll be talking about a little bit more; penchant for risk, a love of taking risk; rejection, or questioning, of authority; religiosity; sexism; sexual permissiveness; technological anxiety; and, xenophobia, the fear or even hate towards the Other.

So when we, over a number of years putting these studies together and looking at the values and the direction in which they are going, we create a chart like this with two axes, an x and a y axis, with at the top of this sociocultural map are people oriented to traditional authority, people at the bottom of the map are people questioning traditional authority and often questioning it. At the left of the map we have a more Darwinistic place, survival of the fittest, Hobbes' state of nature, nasty, broodish, and short. And on the right side of the map, we have people who are really post-materialists and on the Maslovian hierarchy they're questing spiritual meaning in their lives, they feel fulfilled and now...

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