Oh, CNN. How you flatter us. You've taken notice of Canada's polite behaviour, clean air and highway-adjacent restaurants (really?), compiled them in a Top 10 list and showered us with praise. And we offer you a perplexed but genuine thank you. Because that’s the polite thing to do.
The American news network included Canada in a series called "Things countries do best," which has previously identified South Korea as being the best at "business boozing" and female golfing, and America as having the best beer.
This is clearly not a scientific examination of the world we're dealing with here. In actuality, it is an examination of how Americans perceive the world. Or at least one American who works at CNN. So while it is humbling to be included, finally being recognized for such successes as using "adorable phrases" and apologizing, we should take this all with a grain of salt.
If the list appears underwhelming, please forgive our southern neighbour. They have done the best they can with their limited time and interest. At least they didn't mention Justin Bieber.
So let's take a quick peek at CNN’s list of “Things Canada Does Best,” translate it from "American" into English, and see how Canada is really perceived in the States, according to CNN.
What they said: "In Canada, apologies happen constantly -- "sorries" flying in from all sides like swarms of affable killer bees. Apologies are issued not just for some negligible mishap, but for actually having the gall to be on the receiving end of one."
What they meant: Alright, we are both guilty of and notorious for this. But what they are really saying is, "Canadians are polite, eh?" That's an antiquated and outdated trope that has mined itself into the depths of America's subconscious. Canadians will always be perceived by Americans as polite. In two hundred years, when the former United States is recovering from the War of 2212, the remaining American loyalists will still be muttering of their overlords, "Those damn polite Canadians, we never saw them coming."
2. Lakes and "Cottage Country"
What they said: "Recently, Ontario's prime lake district, Muskoka, got the nod from National Geographic Traveler as the top summer destination – in the world. Well, yeah, eh? It's beauty up there."
What they meant: The author of this list once vacationed in the Muskokas, and had a nice time. That, or Canada's abundance of lakes is top of mind, with the U.S. facing an impending fresh water crisis and wondering where they will get H2O post-2040.
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3. Stand-in movie locations
What they said: "Hollywood loves making movies in Canada – big movies – while passing the settings off as New York City, Wyoming, ancient Persia, the bow of history's most ill-fated oceanliner ... Basically anywhere else but Canada."
What they meant: "Canada is stealing our movie industry." Well, sorry about that America. But if you are going to take Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole, then we're keeping your film industry.
What they said: "In a recent national air quality study by the World Health Organization, Canada placed third for the cleanest air on the planet."
What they meant: Third is the best!?
5. Humor (Humour)
What they said: "Canadians are hilarious – sometimes even intentionally – as a disproportionate number of comic heavyweights like Jim Carrey, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Dan Aykroyd, Seth Rogen, Mike Myers, Phil Hartman, Andrea Martin, Michael Cera, Leslie Nielsen and so many others have repeatedly confirmed over the years."
What they meant: Another classic trope, which we won’t argue against too vehemently. It seems, however, that CNN missed out on this Canadian humour debate from earlier this year. Apparently just because there are funny Canadians, it doesn’t mean that Canadians are funny.
6. Chocolate bars
What they said: "'Canadian chocolate is higher in fat and it is a higher particle size,' a Hershey's senior chocolate expert recently noted in the National Post."
What they meant: "Is this list finished yet? How many more do we need?"
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7. Ski country
What they said: Nice things about Lake Louise, Whistler and Quebec's Laurentians.
What they meant: This may be the only piece of the list that is absent of smarm, so we're thinking they are actually fans of our ski country. And how could they not be?
8. Nation branding
What they said: "No national symbol is as ubiquitous as Canada's maple leaf. From Newfoundland to Victoria, it's everywhere you look – a proud, unrelenting reminder of where you are. Not the United States. Not Australia. Not Nigeria. Canada."
What they meant: This is high praise from the land of Stars and Stripes – where eagle tattoos soar proudly from shoulders and lower backs across the nation. There was a time when the maple leaf was so respected that American travellers would sew them on their backpacks. That time appears to be remembered fondly.
9. Highway grub
What they said: "Nothing says gustatory bliss on the Trans-Canada Highway like a peameal & natural smoked Bacon Bacon burger, or half-chicken plate with Chalet sauce, or a box of Timbits with a double-double coffee."
What they meant: "The only place we bothered to stop on our way back from Whistler was a highway rest stop. And all we got was Tim Hortons coffee and a Swiss Chalet platter."
10 Adorable terms and phrases
What they said: "While you'll be hard-pressed to find a real-life, toque-wearin' local who's ever called someone a ‘hoser’ or told them to ‘take off,’ Canadians do call their two-dollar coins ‘Toonies,’ cases of beer ‘two-fours’ and napkins ‘serviettes’ in polite company."
What they meant: In case you missed the intended patronizing tone of the list, we've included this segment on your cutesy way of speaking.
This “things Canada does best” list would look a lot different if it had been compiled by Canadians. One suspects hockey would have made the list, although humour and the country’s natural beauty surely would have remained. On the other hand, a Canadian may not have felt the need make such a list. I’m sorry, but we’re far too modest and polite to embark on such an endeavor.
Unless you have any ideas of what Canada is the best at, which you can share with us in the comments.
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