On Canada Day, it is time to think of our national character.  So here is a sideways look.

I have often wondered why there are so many Canadian comedians, singers, actors and television commentators that are successful in the United States.  Because we are a small country, the level of local success one can have is limited, so media folks head south for fame and money.

One reason for their success is because Canadians are the consummate inside outsiders with respect to the United States.

Canadians look and act like Americans.  We pass.  Particularly to Americans.  That makes us insiders, indistinguishable from the rest of the US population.

Because we are outsiders next to a hugely larger society, everything about our burly neighbour is important to us.  They twitch, we tremble.  In many ways, we are more sensitive to what happens in the US than Americans are.

All of this gives Canadians a unique view, the ability to be inside the larger society while still being outside with a somewhat dispassionate, but still interested view.

That’s what allows us observe the peculiarities and inconsistencies.  You have to be outside the box to read the label.

And that gives our actors, comedians, musicians and newscasters a leg up.  The list of successful Canadians in the United States is very long and disproportionate to our population.  The vast majority of them are assumed by Americans to be Americans.  But of course they are not.  I have always seen disbelief in American faces when I pointed out that a particular celebrity was Canadian.

This ability to provide insight to a larger population can be said about other communities that are outside, yet inside.  Gays, religious minorities, ethnic minorities.

Immigrants who see themselves as outsiders work harder and see opportunities that the mass population can’t see or won’t work hard enough for.  That may be why some minorities seem to do better.

Being an outsider seems to be a gift bundled in a curse.   So be thankful and look for the gift you have.  Take comfort that we all have one curse or another, and stay friends with the big guy next door.

And today we have a national day to celebrate and royalty is invited.  (That might be you).

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