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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Montreal: Planning and Politics, Quebec Style


The most striking realization for a person who moves from the U . S . to Canada is that, contrary to common perception, there is a whole country north of the 49th parallel. The faint image of Canada one gathers from the American media is generally that of a vast and sparsely populated expanse of frozen tundra, with settlements built around large skating rinks, where the four seasons are winter, winter, winter, and July. Sure, Americans know of Vancouver and Toronto; but aren't these really American towns that happen to lie at the other end of a bay, on the other side of a lake? Americans also know of NAFTA, the free-trade agreement with Canada arid Mexico; but wasn't Canada admitted into the partnership so that empty land would be available, further north, for the hordes of Mexicans who are invading from the south? The dim impression that there is nothing of real significance in the big pink area on the map between the U.S. and the North Pole is not really fortuitous. The rhetoric of national difference aside, many Canadians seem to do all they can to resemble their southern neighbors and blend into their mental and physical landscape. U.S. companies, of course, are only too happy to lend the strong, extremely visible hand of the market to this process of Americanization.

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