Justin Bieber, arguably the most famous Canadian currently surviving on the planet, crashed a wedding in Malibu last week—spontaneously and completely by accident, I have no doubt, no doubt at all—after ostensibly hearing one of his songs being played at the reception. The ersatz baby-dyke, accompanied by his simulated lesbian lover, Selena Gomez, was wearing a t-shirt that appeared to have a large golden dollar sign on it, actually formed from the intertwining of the letters J and S, arguably signifying Justin and Selena joined together in a quasi-Escherian symbol of infinite capitalist regeneration. Had it been a gay wedding, the story would have been perfect, but nonetheless the video of the incident went viral, and lo and behold many more units of product were sold. In other news, Canada announced this week that it was pledging 50 million dollars to famine relief in the Horn of Africa. How are these two stories related? Please bear with me.
Bieber is a word suspiciously adjacent to “beaver,” Canada’s official animal, and one of our overriding emblems—it’s on our nickels and stamps, you know—that, according to nationalist propaganda, epitomize our hardworking, noble, and honest spirit. (The concept of honesty amongst beavers eludes me, but never mind.) The mop-headed Bieber has become our new official animal—seemingly benign, unisex, unthreatening, and having a net worth of over 100 million dollars (he’s too big to fail!), about twice the amount that Canada very publicly and with much fanfare doled out the other day to Somalia. I don’t mean to be a killjoy, but 50 million dollars is roughly the budget of a medium-sized Hollywood movie—The Social Network, for example. If you think about it, donating The Social Network to a famine-plagued continent is pretty insulting, especially when you consider the donor is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and one with mining and oil interests that exploit natural resources and indigenous peoples all over that continent. But hey, it’s the thought that counts!
Canada is the new evil empire nonpareil, hiding behind a cunning façade of Bieber. Riding on its own coattails—a long-standing reputation as a neutral, peace-loving and conciliatory nation—it’s a neo-colonialist nightmare in beaver’s clothing.
A short list of Canada’s sinister new character might include the following: an enthusiastic participation in the ill-advised American war on Afghanistan; a consolidation and shared infrastructure with the US military, including what has been recently described as a “militarization of the Great Lakes”; one of the worst environmental records in the industrialized world, ranking 24th out of 25 developed countries (just beating out the US); a new paranoia about illegal immigrants, which includes denying them health care (the government also announced several weeks ago that it would be stripping 1800 new Canadians of their citizenship, having previously only stripped 63 people thusly since 1977); and a newly elected majority conservative government with a leader who is starting to make George Bush look like FDR. Even though Yoko Ono had the “official” video removed, you can still see our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, on YouTube singing and playing “Imagine” on the piano with a skeptical-looking Asian child during the recent Canadian national elections. Imagine there’s no countries, indeed. Especially Canada.
Incidentally, I forgot to mention that Canada is now the single largest exporter of oil to the US, supplying about a quarter of its crude oil and 80 percent of its natural gas. The extraction of oil from the tar sands is causing widespread environmental damage, including severe deforestation, huge carbon emissions, and a negative impact on the health and livelihood of the indigenous population, including First Nations tribes like the Beaver Lake Cree, who are fighting against this rank exploitation.
Although I despise any stripe of nationalism, I used to almost enjoy being a benign, non-threatening Canadian beaver. In his recent Rolling Stone article, Bieber, referring to the USA, opined, “You guys are evil. Canada’s the best country in the world.” Beware the Bieber.