Canada And Australia

Canada and Australia #

Canada and Australia share significant similarities in history and governance. Both are stridently egalitarian treasuring their freedoms and human rights. Both were colonial outposts. Both have strip ribbon settlements. Both depend on extractive industries to thrive economically. Both made significant contributions to England’s wars maintaining her colonial empire. General Haig, writing to his wife about us colonials, describes the Australians as:

“brave and daring soldiers, but uncouth, dirty, undisciplined, disrespectful to the officers and unruly. * Then he adds: The Canadians are worse”.*

Both owe an eternal gratitude to original settlers whose land was stolen as shown by Buffy Sainte-Marie : My Country: ’Tis of Thy People You’re Dying lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

The first interaction between Canada and Australia followed the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837 to 1838, when 58 French Canadian rebels were deported to Australia. Imprisoned at Longbottom Stockade (which was located at what is now Concord Oval), the convicts broke stone for the construction of Parramatta Road and collected oyster shells for making lime. By 1844, all received pardons and, except for two people who died and one (Joseph Marceau) who settled in Dapto all returned to Canada. This proved the last straw for Australia as transportation to the east coast ended in 1840.

Their main legacy, part of Sydney Harbour, called Canada Bay.

During the second world war, most Commonwealth airmen were trained in Canada, assisting in cross cultural exchanges especially Australia and Canada.

Both like to focus on failure rather than success. Mordecai Richler said:

“One of our most attractive qualities, is that we are a self-deprecating people. Had Babe Ruth, for instance, been born a Canadian rather than an American, he would not be celebrated as the Sultan of Swat, the man who hit 714 home runs. Instead he would be deprecated as that notorious flunk who struck out 1330 times.”

Australians too, are renown for cutting down tall poppies, celebrating our defeats more than triumphs: The disaster of Gallipoli is commemorated, while winning against the Arabs by the Light Horse Brigade is not well recognised.

Both populations see themselves as relaxed, comfortable people living under the protection of the British Crown which promised us Justice and freedom from oppression. To see which country had a more laid back culture, it was decided to hold an official competition. The result was declared a draw, since no one turned up.

There are also stark differences in stages of development. Canada was earlier in its attempts to let go of the mother country’s apron strings with the Statute of Westminster in 1931. Australia held back until 1949 due to its reliance on Britain for defence. Canada abandoned appeals to the Privy Council in 1947, Australia in 1972. Canada made treaties with its indigenous populations, has a Charter of Rights and a Statutory Authority mandated to maintain acceptable standards in Judicial procedures, yet it does not appear any more effective than Australia in any of these areas.

Canada’s standing in the world #

Since migrating to Australia in 1972, Canada has continued to enjoy the status of a model country. It is easy to forget how backward Australia was then. When Whitlam swept to power, after 23 years of conservative government, he was credited with dragging Australia, kicking and screaming into the 20th Century. As one of my American colleagues commented at the time, “it’s like going back to the 1940’s – but it seems to work”!

Despite several reverses, progressive forces prevailed and Australia managed to reform its archaic structures. It was a source of great pride to me that Whitlam and other reformers kept looking to Canada as a model to base his reforms in Health and Multi-culturalism. Later Keating and Hawke used Canada as a good governance model to reform the banking system. One of the most damaging aspects was an endemic Australian culture of mateship that led to cronyism, nepotism and high levels of corruption. The police in the three largest states were openly corrupt and we now have evidence that the court system was intricately aligned with the conservative parties. It took several Royal Commissions to pull the police into line and only through courageous reforming lawyers, brave journalists and robust citizens to rein in judges.

When it became evident that some Australian Judges and senior barristers had been thumbing their noses at the law by not paying income tax, the rest of their conduct also came under closer scrutiny. Parliaments were suddenly forced to investigate other instances of malpractice by Judges. So far, I am aware six judges who had to account to a standing committee of parliament for their decisions, two jailed for corrupt conduct and one Judge also spent 18 months in the slammer because he tried to evade a minor traffic offence by perjury.

It was only because people were willing to stand up to vested power that reform could be possible and the entire country benefited socially, economically and ethically.

Living in Australia has the disadvantage of not being fully informed of immediate Canadian events, but the advantage of perspective in assessing the overall implications of changes. It is my impression that the Canadian Justice system began its slide down a slippery slope in the 1990’s. The rendering of the fabric of society became evident in a visits to Winnipeg from 2000 onward. From high heights of community cohesion, increased racist attitudes, break downs in social order and loss of faith, due to increased institutional abuse of power, were notable symptoms of a restive society.

In 1971 Pierre Trudeau initiated two reforms to oversee the Judiciary.

In 2019, Justin Trudeau’s government relaxed those strictures, allowing increased self regulatory powers and lack of transparency or accountability to the Judges themselves. And we call that progress.

Values: #

First, Canadian values. The truth is that if we want to continue to lead rather than follow, we need to promote Canadian values and strengthen the institutions that sustain them. Recent cases indicate a sharp decline in accepted norms and values. Institutions are there to serve the people of Canada, not their own privileges.

During good times complacency sets in and institutions begin to betray their primary purposes. The Black Lives Matter Protests are a valuable and necessary protest, but misdirected. A flawed concept of power causes many people to misdirect their attacks. The Police are merely the face of power; the real power lies higher up, invisible, invincible and inviolate – a smug court system, complacent mainstream media and anaemic political leaders. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

The heart of traditional Canada is our belief in a fair society for all; no man or woman is above any other or the law. We applaud achievement and innovation. We want people to strive, to make the most of their talent and not to be content with their lot. That is the essence of an egalitarian meritocracy.

It was Francis Adams in 1886 who said:

In England the average man feels inferior, In America they feel superior, in Australia and Canada they feel equal.”

Early migration of European settlers into Manitoba resulted in layered class distinctions and pretensions of WASP power and privilege that have lasted a long time. These paternalistic and patronising pretensions include not only the stuffy, narrow-minded elitism that still exists in the cultures of some small quarters of society, especially in bureaucratic institutions, but also an entrenched mentality of unaccountable power at the top. All politicians and Judges, like the leading animals of Animal Farm, need to challenge this mind set, instead of grovelling to its superior might.

Formerly we put a high premium on social equity and justice, which fathomed a way of us, as Canadians, to be a beacon to a weary world full of petty strife. It seems Canadian democracy is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances caused by an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power. The default response to criticism is an instinctive defensiveness to preserve and protect privileged power - not the general good.

Australia’s problems are similar, the result of general weak political leadership; careerists, who stand for nothing. Career orientated people simply lean to whichever side of the fence that they think will advance their career. We need more than the stale pieties of conventional politics and crave action that might offer some hope.

Stephen Harper dominated Canadian politics from 2006 to 2015, and the Canadian political imagination as well. He set himself against “the Laurentian elite”, the well-connected upper-middle classes from Toronto up the St Lawrence River to Montreal and Quebec, whom Harper scorned as the rulers of “a north European socialist state that doesn’t work, and they don’t care that it doesn’t”. **(Guy Rundle ) Harper ruled the country for nearly a decade like a vindictive autocrat, stonewalling the press, overhauling the elections act to his benefit, ignoring climate change and proroguing parliament at a whim. Leah McLaren

Harper kept passing laws that were rejected by an activist Supreme Court of Canada. While we may have applauded it at the time, this set a dangerous precedence since neither had a clear mandate. As Nietzsche noted, when you fight with monsters you risk becoming a monster. This practice trickled down the hierarchies and lower ranking Judges failed to adjudicate in the spirit of statutes adopted by the people’s representatives. Judges appear to thumb their noses at legislation passed by the people’s representatives. We need to reaffirm that our representatives make the law and the courts must adjudicate in the spirit and intent of those laws as long as they reflect natural justice. Yet it is the conservatives who tend to value the integrity of our institutions, the left tends to lack the will to pull them back into line.

Nine years of Conservative government diminished Canada’s reputation with regards to independent media, Judicial fairness, tolerance of bullying and human dignity. In forty years of coming home, the last few visits saw increased evidence of Public servants acting with authoritarian impunity and aggressive manners. There can be no doubt this has serious consequences shredding the confidence of citizens in their governments.

Are Canadians too passive in the face of authoritarian measures? Buying beer in Manitoba historically conjures oppressive memories, as late as 2005, of having to sign for it.

Recently, in July 2022, wishing to arrive at a relative with a six pact, I had reservations about entering a Liquor store. This was substantiated when I was accosted and instructed to go back to provide identification. I was informed it was a necessary precaution to prevent theft. Why do ordinary citizens have to suffer the imposition of unwarranted identification, when there are alternative methods of dealing with shoplifting?

In 2015, the Liberal Party was staring down the abyss of defeat. The only hope lay in a charismatic populist leader with the right name. Justin Trudeau offered us the promised land with policies of electoral and Judicial reform, more independence to the CBC. Has he delivered on any of those?

But at the end of the day, the values that define Canada depend on more than just good government and strong values. They also depend on sound, vigorous, responsible and accountable institutions committed primarily to serving the best public interests.

We, the citizens, have a moral duty to draw:

wrongdoers to “a serious, lucid responsiveness to the moral significance” * of inaction and negligence. (Raimond Gaita)

You can’t have the rule of law if the courts aren’t accountable - or if you have lawyers and judges running amok as they do in the American system. We cannot allow the rule of law to become the rule of lawyers or capricious Judges! The movie Vice, reinforces this issue with subliminal messages lingering on the ironic logo of the Supreme Court: “where the law ends; tyranny begins” just long enough to mock it. The Canadian Supreme Court appears openly defiant of Parliament. Who guards the guardians?

Yes, we must fight institutions that betray our values, diminish our freedoms, trash our dignity. It is the Canadian people who must, collectively, define this nation’s destiny. We must band together to defend the laws, the institutions, and the ideals on which our country is based.

David Graeber maintains institutions derive their power from the veiled threat of state sanctioned violence against non-compliance or even criticism. Taking on a juggernaut institution can leave you crushed and ruined. Basically it undermines the credibility of all government institutions and violates the little trust we have in how we are governed. As Orwellpointed out:

“it is generally the left leaning politicians who lack the will or spine to hold the bureaucrats to their oath of office”.

And they wonder why people turn to demagogues like Trump.

Christie Blatchford, in Life Sentence, demonstrates this insidious evil in the Bernardo – Homolka trial where Stephen Williams, author of two books on the case (Invisible Darkness and Karla) was purposely and relentlessly pursued by the state in an act of “administrative vengeance” for openly exposing the flaws in the legal system. In the end, Stephen said, “It’s very possible the government didn’t care if they won or lost, because they knew that the process alone was going to ruin us financially and psychologically.

In 2019, Canadian Journalist and champion of free speech Ezra Levanfrom Rebel news was dragged into the police station and interrogated for hours, which he secretly recorded and is available to view, by 30 year veteran detectives who specialise in terrorism. His “Crime”? was to launch a book, during the Canadian elections, one of 29 others launched during the election by separate writers, the difference being, his was critical of the government and Justin Trudeau.

While plenty of factors are at play in our disillusionment, the major one is that most politicians, judges, staffers and bureaucrats are part of an increasingly, insular elite. The apathy of institutions and how they dehumanize and anonymize their members can only be achieved by a detachment from our basic humanity. Blatchford decries the gobsmaking condescension of the courts solipsistic vanity; having a monopoly on “finding” the facts of a case.

Canadians and Australia are similar in many ways, but differ in that Canadians like to be “nice to each other”; not complain because it’s not polite, and say sorry a lot.

One comedian claimed the strongest protest he heard a Canadian make is:

“Be careful, you are starting to make me a little bit upset”.

Non responsive politicians take advantage of this by practicing a policy of glorious inaction.

I guess I have become an Australian, because I seem to have lost all those attributes, adopting Australia’s healthy disrespect for vaunted authority.

Canadian deference to authority and excessive respect of judicial mystique must be overcome.

According to a federal prosecutor, “The justice system is the means by which the upper class pays the middle class (the Police) a good living wage to keep the lower classes in check”. Police abuse of power would not be possible if our court system held true.

Judicial reform will only occur with a concerted effort from many quarters and it is essential that those in the know with the ability to articulate the key issues expose the hidden facts

And we thought it was only Putin, Trump, Li Ping and other tyrants disappeared their critics.

I think all Canadians agree that this is intolerable. Jim Carr writes:

“One of those characteristics of Canada that makes us such a special country is that we have not only tolerance for dissent, but we embrace dissent because it is an essential characteristic of who we are to be Canadian. Civil disobedience and peaceful protest is very much a part of our history”.

Canadians and Aussies have stellar reputations as friendly down-to-earth, fair and free people. Both pride ourselves on egalitarianism. We are the envy of much of the world. Yet we cannot be smug and complacent. The thin veneer of effete democracy veils the tyranny lying just beneath the surface.

The latest international showdown demonstrates some peculiar posturing.

The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, said he was pleased to offer Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun asylum because “Canada is a country that understands how important it is to stand up for human rights”.

The clear implication is that other countries do not stack up. This is certainly true in this case. Rahaf’s preferred destination was Australia where she had a ticket, a visa and friends, but Australia’s asylum seeker policies have been poisoned by issues of “border security”, so Trudeau swooped in, pre-empting Australia’s slow footed procedures.

However, comparing Australian and Canadian human rights for its citizens, makes Trudeau’s strutting questionable. Canada’s superior human rights may have been true fifty years ago, but today Australia’s actual human rights for its own citizens is held in higher regard than Canada’s.

Craig Foster, an Australian soccer commentator, took on FIFA, perhaps one of the most corrupt organisations in the world, when a young Australian player, Hakeem-al Arabi, was detained in Thailand for extradition by the Bahraini Government. Though Foster had never met Hakeem, he travelled to meet him in prison in Bangkok. It was an emotional experience which compelled Foster to help a vulnerable young man.

Up against overwhelming forces of absolute monarchs, government and sporting politics but citing Australian values of standing up for the little guy with direct, fair, respectful, unyielding principles, Foster used his skills, clout and position to cut through the politics. He is now considered a national hero for shaming Bahrain into dropping extradition proceedings.

Australia’s Justice Peter McClellan deserves credit for his relentless pursuit of prestigious leaders under scrutiny by the Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. He tread where angels fear to tread. McClellan proved to be a chair intolerant of disingenuity, and made it clear that status could not buy immunity. He challenged pillars of the community and senior church figures, including Arch-bishop George Pell, third highest Catholic Official in the world.

Today Australians enjoy one of the most trusted Judicial systems in the world. The recent trial and conviction of the 3rd highest Catholic Arch bishop attests to that. It was Peter McClellan’s determination to strip bare the unctuous cant of the churches and their enablers” (Richard Ackland) forced a tectonic shift in the Australian legal world’s psyche and allowed victims and survivors to be heard and believed.

According to Anne Manne, “Justice Peter Kidd’s sentencing address was quite a performance. Wearing his starched white collar and purple robe, the chief judge of the Victorian County Court wasn’t just sentencing George Pell. He was enacting the dignity and power of the rule of law. With sober gravity and measured arguments, he outlined in forensic detail the crimes for which Pell was convicted.” Justice Peter Kidd, in sentencing Pell proclaiming:

By any view, your crime was due to breathtaking arrogance; an indication of your flawed sense of authority and power…”.

This respect has all been undone by what I consider an outrageous reversal by Australia’s High Court, leaving many Australians absolutely gobsmacked. Perhaps the most understated but most effective comment came from our State Premier, Daniel Andrews who said: “I make no comment about today’s High Court decision”. “But I have a message for every single victim and survivor of child sex abuse: I see you. I hear you. I believe you”.

The simple way out of the Trudeau Raybould debacle is for the Canadian Parliament to audit the performance of all bodies set up to maintain Judicial standards. That could rebuild confidence in the office of Prime Minister, restore our faith in Parliament and trust in the integrity of Canadian Justice. Trudeau had sound motives, but used questionable means - Machiavellian logic - the end justifies the means. But it strongly suggests the courts are susceptible to persuasion. The scandal indicates little understanding of the guiding principles of Checks and Balances by both Raybould or Trudeau. Raybould’s instinctive reflexive reaction has been to support the Judicial, at the expense of the community, even when it is shown their actions appear clearly against the law.

This case illustrates how far the Canadian Justice system has fallen since the 1990’s. All leaders have been less than inspiring in maintaining rigorous judicial standards, eroding our confidence and faith in the Canadian Judicial Council. All fail to grasp the concepts of checks and balances in keeping each other honest. All have been ineffective in curbing the increasing intoxicating, arbitrary and immune power of Judges. The only way of restoring confidence in Canada’s liberal democracy is a full inquiry into the integrity of the administration of Justice in Canada.

In 1971, Pierre Trudeau commissioned two institutions to bring Canada’s Judicial system into the 20th century, a Law Reform Commission and the Canadian Judicial Council. Did both turn out to become white elephants? How many Canadian Judges have been held to account for arbitrary or capricious decision making since then? Judges are commissioned by the people to simply rule on “facts”. Misperceptions occur when Judges are not attentive to facts. Their sole obligation is to openly discover, determine and establish the facts. Any Judge deliberately failing to do that should be considered professionally negligent and be held to account for indictable malfeasance even investigated for impeachment.

The CJC is responsible for maintaining reputable standards in our courts’ decision making. Is it fulfilling its purpose?

Article 12.1 of the CJC’s Procedures is clear, explicit and unequivocal:

“The Executive Director must inform the complainant by letter when a matter is dismissed or concluded by the Chairperson, and indicate the basis on which it was dismissed or concluded”.

My six year old complaint regarding my perception of low standards of due process is still awaiting a reply. Email will do. Is the CJC in contempt of Parliament? Is it flouting the laws of the Canadian people? I do feel aggrieved. I feel as if my inherent birthright as a Canadian citizen and tax payer is being deliberately dismissed, treated with callous indifference and violated.

According to Richard Ackland, Australia’s the nation’s first law officers have normalised perverting the rule of law.

Take the latest case of judicial abuse by minister Alan Tudge, who continued to detain an Afghan asylum seeker after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ordered his release.

A Federal Court judge described Tudge’s behaviour as “criminal”: “The minister cannot place himself above the law. [He] has acted unlawfully. His actions have unlawfully deprived a person of his liberty.”

Christian Porter, as Attorney General, rushed to Tudge’s defence, saying the minister was simply undertaking government duties “as a matter of policy” and anyway Tudge “rejects [the court’s] conclusions”. This is not the first time Tudge has courted contempt of court.

Australia does not have a Bill of Rights or an official watchdog on Judges, neither does it have a national Supreme Court, yet its officials appear to be held to a greater standard of accountability, by its people, than Canadian Judges. I know of at least six Judges who have had to face legislative bodies to explain dubious decisions, at least three Judges have gone to Jail. I am unaware of any Canadian Judges held to that degree of account.

Sometimes I prefer Australia’s system of Judicial oversight to Canada’s.

Australian Judges, on the whole, have a greater respect for community values and expectations. There are exceptions, but recent Royal Commissions have demonstrated a seismic shift in Judges who do not defer to powerful officials of the Church, Banks, or Politics, regardless of how high they are. They respect the black letter of legislative law. The recent jailing of George Pell rocked the nation to its core. No one is above THE LAW!

As a dual citizen, I now feel more confident of having my human rights protected by a robust Australian political and judicial system than the posturing Canadian system. A long standing breach of trust by the CJC and our politicians leaves me disillusioned about Canada paying mere lip service regarding a denial of my civil rights.

Justin Trudeau came to power with promises of electoral reform. Perhaps he is held hostage by Liberal party hack who see that as that as a threat.

While Australian politicians belie it, its electoral system surpasses Canada’s. Judith Brett records “Australia’s first robust election was held in 1843; openly, many near pubs. It was marked by violent brawls and riots. Police and soldiers struggled to control drunken mobs armed with staves and pickets tearing down banners, demolishing campaign booths and smashing nearby shops. Two men were killed in Sydney and one in the country. Most of the injured were rebellious Irishmen”.

According to Governor Gipps’ report “this was not unusual and in general the election went off well”.

Despite this Brett contends that Australia soon evolved into one of the world’s pre-eminent democracies first to introduce new ideas of the secret ballot, votes for women, compulsory voting and eventually preferential voting. Australia is the only English speaking country to have compulsory voting.

While I strongly support preferential voting and wonder why Canada has not already adopted this enlightened feature, I am just as strongly against compulsory voting because it forces many uninformed and especially ill-informed voters, many easy prey for manipulation, to vote. Lynton Crosby, renowned in Australia, America and Britain as the “Goebbels” of modern democracies, and also Rupert Murdoch, who owns 70% of the media, often use questionable tactics in determining who wins elections, were thoroughly ridiculed by the Canadian media and rejected by the Canadian people in the 2015 election. They laughed at them all the way to the polls.

Language differences #

British, American, Canadian and Australian quirks of language. While most of the western world communicates with a common dialogue of modified English, idiosyncrasies abound. Variations occur due to a number of factors such as historical origins, the input of local factors and indigenous influences. Some of these variations come from

My introduction to Australian diction was an Uncle I had just met, telling me with a smile, “*I had a prang on the way to the airport”.

  • First chance I had, I asked my Aussie wife to translate. Canadians would have said a slight accident or dent.

In multi-national couples, a waking up Australian partner says “Goodday”! the Canadian counterpart responds: * “Eh?”*

A Canadian exchange teacher informed me that Australians put the emphásis on the wrong sylla’bles.

Talking about Icarus with the emphasis on the first syllable, my Australian students had no idea who he was until someone twigged that I meant Icarus with an emphasis on the middle syllable. Renaissance with the emphasis on the first syllable is used in Australia. It is likely the French influence has a lot to do with these variations.

About, Aboot, or Aboat?

Americans pronounce this word uh-bout. There’s been a popular misconception for years that our friends to the north say uh-boot. But, the BBC notes that the emphatic emphasis is merely an American stereotype. The proper Canadian pronunciation is, in fact, uh-boat.

House and Hoose is another example.

Aluminium and aluminum are even spelled differently. Other variations include British/Australians preferring the “s” instead of “z” in “emphasise” rather than “emphasize”.

I Say Tom-AY-toe, You Say Tom-AH-toe

Raising And Shift

Finally, let’s take a look at a Canadian linguistic phenomenon called Canadian Raising and Canadian Shift. Canada’s York University says raising is “a phonological process characteristic of one variety of Canadian English”, where the beginning of the diphthongs /ay/ and /aw/ raise to mid vowels when they come before the sounds /p/, /t/, /k/, /s/, and /f/.

And a shift, meanwhile, is “a change or system of parallel changes that affects the sound structure of a language, as the series of related changes in the English vowel system from Middle English to Modern English.” Or of course, the vowel shifts that bring us the glory of Canadian (and American) accented English. Got that, eh?

Rocket is the word the British use for what Americans call arugula—it has origins in the French roquette, while arugula stems from a variant of the Italian ruchetta.

Solicit has innocent connotations in Canada, but in Australia is associated with attempting to procure money for intimacy.

“Z” and “Zed”

Poor old Z. We pronounce it zee, of course, and it’s stuck at the end of the English alphabet (although, it wasn’t always).

In Canada, they say zed. And in fact, much of the world says zed. The word is from the 1400s, derived from several cultures including the Greek zeta. The U.S. pronunciation zee is first noted in 1677, in Thomas Lye’s A New Spelling Book.

North American spelling tends to use “z”, while the British use “s” in transforming words eg: emphasising and emphasizing

Knit Caps And Tuques

In the States, when it gets chilly, we tug on a ski cap, a beanie, or a wool hat - there’s a variety of names for them. In Canada, these warm hats are known as a tuque (pronounced tyook). This is a variant of toque, from 1870s France. Vowels often get creative while traveling around the world.

Jumper or sweater – pull-over - Bunny Hug

Hoodie is the most commonly used term for a sweatshirt with a hood attached - either a pullover or zippered front, mostly. In Saskatchewan, they curiously refer to hoodies as…bunny hugs. But wait! There’s more. There’s a totally different definition for “bunny hug”—a ballroom dance popular in the US in the early 20th century, characterized by a syncopated rhythm. So in theory, you could do a bunny hug in a bunny hug (no animals required).

Lift or elevator

English is lift; elevator – North American

Bottle shop - Australian, Liquour store - Canadaian

Couch Or A Chesterfield?

This one takes a bit of a think. In the USA, we flop down on a couch, right? In Canada, they flop on a Chesterfield. The word was first recorded around 1885-90, named after an Earl of Chesterfield in the 19th century. Evidently, the name stuck and made it’s way to Canada, but not to all parts of the USA. It’s too bad there isn’t an Earl of Sofa or Loveseat to talk about.

Roger and Larry

Roger and Larry, two fine and acceptable names for males anywhere! But in the Great White North, they stand for something else—traffic directions. Examples: at the corner, hang a Roger means, as you might guess, turn right. Same for Larry, which means turn left. If you were told to “pull a Sam,” would that mean to just go straight ahead?


In most places, the words two and four are ever important numerical values. However, in Canada they have another meaning altogether. If the Leafs are on Hockey Night In Canada and you gotta head over to the corner market for a two-four, that’s a 24-pack of beer. And make it Molson, eh? In Australia you go for a slab.

Lumber (Canadian) and Timber (Aussie) has different designations: 2 by 4 (Canadian), 4 by 2 (Australian).

stag and doe party

Once again, this has nothing to do with animals. A stag and doe/stagette party—or jack and jill party, or hen and stag party—is a celebration honoring a bride and groom, held before their wedding. The point of the party? Profit. Guests purchase tickets to attend, and the couple receives the money raised.

Beware the garburator

You might think it’s some Canadian version of an automotive carburetor, right? Well, not even close. Up north, a garburator is what’s below the sink, and it breaks down and tears up food before washing it away. We call it a garbage disposal, which is much less fun to say.


Though its origins trace back to the early 1900s in the US, the word parkade is much more frequently used in Canada today. It refers to a multistory parking garage, the kind that we call, well, a parking garage.


You may be familiar with the Tim Hortons Canadian coffee-shop chain (“serving over 5 million cups of coffee every day!”), but do you know what you’ll get if you order the very Canadian double-double? It’s a coffee with double cream and double sugar.

To get a fuller view see:

Spelling is also different in many words with “s” and “z”