As the foremost civilization on Earth, the envy of the world and the crossroads between America, Europe, Russia, and China, Canada naturally bears a responsibility for all that is both good and bad under heaven.
Humanity relies on us to educate them about multiculturalism, assymetrical federalism, the importance of fact-checking in journalism, and the right tools to purchase at Canadian Tire. And thus we must take all and any pains to avoid even the slightest temptation to disunion, for as goes Canada, so goes the world. The Brexiteers, for example, were determined to succeed at succession where the Parti Quebecois failed in 1995. Trump would never have gotten to where he is today if not for the example of Rob Ford. Indeed, even populism itself was created by Preston Manning and the Reform movement in the 1990’s.
The same nation that created basketball also created Alexandre Daigle. Canada gave the world insulin and electroshock therapy. Before Tim Horton’s, nobody would have thought to market dipped donut holes separately from the donuts from whence they came, but the tar sands necessitated the birth of environmental activism. Unlike the Party in George Orwell’s 1984, Canada did not invent airplanes, but we did invent the Avro Arrow, so….close enough?
When we consider the epidemic of white supremacy sweeping the globe, we must accept that it, like all the world’s ills, originated in some part of Canadian culture that fell short in spreading the virtues of civility and tolerance. Someone, or something, responsible for the education of Canadians did not go far enough in telling Gavin McInnes, Lauren Southern, Stefan Molyneux, and the rest of the increasingly marginal Canadians involved in the alt-right to say NO to this dangerous rhetoric, the same way we would say NO to a Maxime Bernier billboard saying NO to mass immigration.
And so, I went back to the founding documents of our nation to find the source of this corruption. I watched every Econoline Crush video, read the complete works of Catherine Parr Traill and painstakingly recorded every creak of Glenn Gould’s chair on the recording of Schoenberg’s Op 19/1. It was only when I was halfway through the 1987 episodes of Mr. Dressup when I realized that at no point in the seminal and widely praised children’s TV show did Mr. Dressup ever address the growing problem of white supremacy.
As I continued to watch I realized that, through no fault of his own, Ernie Coombs set the stage in many ways for today’s poisonous discourse. Take, for example, Chester the Crow, who was constantly depicted as a scheming trickster and must have been responsible for the formation of countless racist associations. Then we had Casey, whose gender was kept a mystery for years, sending the message to young people to stay silent instead of asking for the hormone blockers they required.
But worst of all is how the titular Mr. Dressup changes clothes once an episode to spread disinformation about who he really is. Sometimes, he impersonates a member of a regulated professional group without the necessary expertise or training to do their job. Other times, he changes into the terrifying Terrible Tootle Troll, signaling that “trolling” is acceptable. More than anything he establishes a hierarchy where he, as a white male, is always at the top and the puppets are too afraid to question him.
Imagine how much better the world would be if we had had a Mr. Dressup who encouraged children to speak out about climate change, or to push for a living wage, or to reject #ScheerNonsense in October’s super important federal election by not putting money into the Conservative Cola machine down at the hockey rink like this guy did in the latest Unifor ad.
Today, we live with the results of Mr. Dressup leaving himself open to co-option by the CPC, as they disrespectfully refer to Prime Minister Trudeau as the “Mr. Dressup Prime Minister.” It shows that even a beloved children’s entertainer can fall victim to the white supremacist agenda if they fail to appropriately predict the future. This is why, as uniquely gifted Canadians, we must constantly reflect on how everything we do might be used to justify similar atrocities someday.
Photo Credit: CBC News
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