During the past year or so, we have witnessed more coverage of Canada and homegrown Canadian issues in the American media than at any other time in recent memory. As the Quebec referendum debate unfolded in 1995, Americans could follow in their daily papers and on national network news the emotional buildup to the October 30 vote that kept viewers spellbound as the dramatic results were tabulated live on television: 50.5 percent “non,” 49.5 percent “oui.” In general, American coverage was fair, and although the majority of American media had a clear pro-federalist bent, they aired most of the arguments and issues put forward by both sides.
But how embarrassingly un-Canadian! Whatever happened to that civilized Canada, the “true north, strong and boring”? What about the long-held stereotype that depicts Canadians as bland and unexciting people incapable of any deed more dramatic than organizing their next constitutional conference? And is there not a real danger in realizing that age-old dream of awakening within the United States an interest in Canada? If Americans begin to follow Canadian politics more closely, it may become difficult to entice American journalists to Canadian conferences in order to share all the rapturous pleasures that Canadians derive from their periodic transfusion of constitutional matters. How could “the Quebec question” possibly ,replace the inherent excitement generated by a thorough discussion of that most charismatic of Canadian documents, the Income Tax Act, especially when the meetings are chaired by a bona fide expert on the appropriate government forms to be included with next year’s income tax returns?