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Canadian Politics make it to the Daily Show: Are we in that much trouble?

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Apparently not, since the jokes seemed to centre mostly on the fact that our politics (language and streets) are so much cleaner than those in the States, and the fact that the Queen of England still plays a (more or less) active role in our politics.

December 8th’s edition of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart started with a segment titled “Provinces in Peril: Indecision Oh-Eh” that he kicked off with a warning to his viewers: “Don’t look up!”. He went on to explain that Canadians are “facing [our] greatest challenge since [our] controversial decision to re-shape bacon”.

He went on to explain how Stephen Harper, rather than face a vote of non-confidence in Parliament, chose to dissolve it rather than having his government toppled, something that shocked Jon Stewart.

“Force him from office? You can do that?” he asked the camera, looking absolutely stunned (in a typical, comical Stewart kind of way). His voice then drops: “Because we’ve had no confidence in our guy for quite some time now. And he’s taking forever to leave!”

Referring to Bush’s incredibly low approval ratings in the last couple of years (according to CNN, it currently stands at 28%, which isn’t a record, while his disapproval rating, at 71%, is a sad record), Jon Stewart wonders about how our Prime Minister is facing such a turmoil when his rating is in the high forties. “I mean, this guy [Harper]? His approval rating is 46 per cent and they’re trying to kick him out? You know what we call a 46 per cent approval rating down here? President Clinton!”

Exhibiting a more thorough understanding of the situation than many Canadians around me have, Stewart explained how Harper dodged the vote by suspending Parliament. This wasn’t without consequence, since Harper had to endure the wrath of an ‘outraged [Canadian] citizenry who took to [our] incredibly tidy streets.’

Apparently, it wasn’t only the tidiness of our streets and the relative calm of protesters that surprised Stewart; it’s also the relative politeness of our protesters, one of whom called out: “What are you afraid of, Sir?” to which Jon Stewart, incredulous, wondered: “Sir? You’re heckling him! It’s not a job interview! […] Do you Canadians save all your obnoxious-ness for hockey games?”

To which I’d like to say in Montreal, no, we save some of it for driving, some of it to deal with our neighbor down south and the rest of it for hockey games.

Not knowing much about opposition leader Stéphane Dion’s politics, Stewart preferred joking about not knowing Céline Dion having a ‘sister’. A little lame, I know, but Stewart admits not knowing anything about his policies so he can’t tackle them. At least he’s being honest.

Stewart then went on to explain how, in response to the pact signed by the opposition leaders to hold a non-confidence vote, Harper held a press conference “in what appeared to be either a hailstorm or some type of snow globe” to announce that Parliament has been dissolved. And Stewart dared ask a question that has probably floated through Canadians’ heads since first meeting Harper: “What kind of magical creature’s hair doesn’t get messed up in a hailstorm?”

The segment was already pretty funny up to this point, but it got downright hilarious with the introduction of three special correspondents to discuss the role of the Queen, who has ‘actual power in Canada’.

First, Samantha Bee from Ottawa tells Jon Stewart that the last thing Americans would want is Canada as a ‘failed state’, which would make it a breeding ground for ‘really pissed-off ice road truckers’ (I was expecting another hockey joke, or a reference to maple syrup or Blackberries… a little disappointing comeback, I must admit). She goes on to say that Canadians, “in the pit of our despair, we reach out to our rock, which is none other than the Queen” (really? I tend to reach for the phone and call up a close friend, but that just might only be me).

To which Stewart admits that he has a hard time seeing Canadians as British – and that’s when John Oliver, straight from London, interrupts (and that’s London UK, for you Canadian-centric readers) defending England’s prestige of the days of yore and the role of the Queen. John Oliver has quite a scare when Jon Stewart let’s out that Americans aren’t paying the Queen for the use of the English language like Canadians are, but thankfully, Samantha Bee doesn’t catch on, and the revenues of England are protected.

But Aasif Mandvi from India couldn’t stand by without saying something, trying desperately to break England’s clutch on Canada. Mandvi tells Samantha to cut the cord and stop running to Mommy (i.e. the Queen) every time things get tough. To drive his point home, Mandvi puts things in perspective: even if India had traffics lights, which wouldn’t work because the streets are filled with cows, they feel sorry for us!

Not to be outdone, John Oliver retorts by telling Samantha that were Canadians to drop the Queen, that would make them American.

Mandvi retorts with “India’s independence gave us pride, and this is from a country that ships its water from Mexico. Don’t you want your country to be taken seriously?” (to which Samantha agrees it would be a nice change).

But John Oliver refuses to give up, taunting: “Taken seriously? Who are you going to put on your money? Brian Adams?”

Being promised with a visit from the Queen, Samantha chooses the ‘white guy’, thus ending the confrontation.

I know, I know, I try to stay away from line-by-line reviews, but this one was just too funny to not report most of it. Plus, it doesn’t take anything from watching it, which you should really do here. And while it is amusing and kind of comforting to know that we are still seen as ‘nice’ Canadians, we have to face the fact that, on many levels, things are not going that well in our country, and that we have been slowly heading south (pun intended). If we don’t act, we are going to be left with nothing else than jokes about the way we used to be.

So let’s make sure we have supply Americans with many more years of material for the Daily Show. It’s the ‘nice’ thing any good neighbour would do.

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