America, but Better: What Canada can teach the American electorate

First aired on The Current (09/18/12)

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The Canada Party is the creation of Brian Calvert, a Canadian writer and filmmaker, and American Chris Cannon, a former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant who worked in the fields of intelligence and counter-terrorism before giving it all up for the glamorous world of comedy. They are the authors of America, But Better: The Canada Party Manifesto and they spoke with Anna Maria Tremonti on The Current earlier this week about what the U.S. can learn from Canada, and about writing comedy through tears.

What is the Canada Party, exactly? "It's another option," said Calvert. "Finally, Americans have someone that has consistently expressed a level of humility greater than their nation's." Humility is the key thing that the United States needs to learn from Canada, according to Cannon. "America needs other countries just the way other countries need each other and if there's one genetic variant Canadians can bring to America, that would be the notion of humility. So we're running for president to bring a notion of humility to get the U.S. back on track."

The manifesto declares that we are living in a "post-ironic age." What do Cannon and Calvert mean by that? "We've gotten to a point in this age of 24-hour entertainment and news cycles where we've fired all our journalists and just hired pundits," explained Cannon. "We can't tell the difference between irony and something that's actually happened." He cites an example from earlier this year when an American congressman became outraged at what turned out to be a satirical news article in The Onion. "We don't recognize irony any more," he said. "We don't operate within a common frame of irony, and that's why satire shows have taken over as a primary news source: you need satire as a rhetorical strategy because rational argumentation doesn't work any more."

What are some of the key points of the Canada Party's platform? In terms of foreign policy, wars will be settled with hockey games. (A solution that serves double duty this year, what with the NHL lockout.) English will be declared the official language of the U.S. "It's so poorly used, and maybe if you brought it some sort of official significance in America...there'd be some level of expectation with which they could discuss their literacy," says Calvert.

Calvert and Cannon want to rescue America from themselves with the Canada Party. "We feel a real affinity and kinship to [Americans]," Cannon said. "We've been watching them abused and taken advantage of by their media and government and corporations for years, and it's like watching a busload of kittens being torn away by a tornado and we think, 'oh my god, isn't someone going to help those poor people?'...we want to help bring them back to a place of pride in their country."

The Canada Party Manifesto came out of Cannon's frustration with the culture of his own country, particularly the way that news is covered by Fox News and other media. "A lot of this book was written through tears," he said. "It's a very tough road when you really believe in the issues but you need to make them funny so that people will grasp them."

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