Michael Moore heaped praise on Canada over the weekend, but it turns out we didn’t want it. So instead, he attacked Prime Minister Stephen Harper. To that, we were a bit more accepting.
The American documentary filmmaker has long held a utopian view of Canada, not necessarily based on any connection to reality but because it helps him cast his own country in a negative light.
We know this thanks to his previous work, specifically the film Sicko, in which he criticizes the U.S. health care situation while lavishing praise on Canada’s government-funded system. We were grateful for the attention, but, yeah. As the Toronto Star reported at the time, Sicko was panned for painting Canada’s system in a much better light than it deserved at the time.
Our relationship with Moore goes back as far as his 2002 film “Bowling for Columbine,” in which he claims Canada is so safe that nobody bothers to lock their doors. This came as a bit of a surprise to many of us, who wouldn’t dream of intentionally leaving our home unlocked.
More than a decade later, Moore was back trumpeting that old chestnut, telling his 1.4 million Twitter followers that even people in large cities do away with the locks and bolts.
Follow all of that? U.S. citizens lock their door because they live in a culture of fear and are overwhelmed by a homeless population. Canadians don't lock their doors because our social safety nets are so strong that we have virtually no homelessness. Therefore, no reason to fear home invasions.
Moore is wrong about the 1 per cent homelessness rate, and he later clarified he meant to type 11 per cent. However, considering Statistics Canada finds it difficult to compile their own stats on homelessness, one wonders how Moore came to such a number. Either of them.
Still, Canadians, even fans, took umbrage with his claim that we feel safe enough to leave doors unlocked.
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Here are a few examples from the mass of responses:
Perhaps realizing his numbers were a little off, Moore turned his attention to Harper, who he claimed had eroded our sense of security by failing the country on poverty and crime.
It is tough to say how many Canadians actually leave their doors unlocked, but it is certainly more common in rural areas than in large cities.
A 2008 survey found that fewer than half of all Americans always lock their front door. It could be hard to argue that Canadians are more likely to lock up than our southern neighbours.
Moore does appear to have checked his numbers when it comes to poverty, however. It is on the incline in Canada, but still lower than the U.S.
Canada's child poverty rate is 15.1 per cent, up from 12.8 per cent in the 1990s. And working-age poverty numbers are only slightly better, sitting at 11.1 per cent earlier this year, up from 9.4 per cent in the 1990s.
All that is fine, but it is tough to be bothered with Moore's various claims. When he asserts Canadians don't lock their doors, our eyes tend glaze over. It was a strange thing to declare in 2002, and an even stranger claim in 2013.