What a party of Canadian provinces would look like

Geographic stereotypes are intellectually lazy attempts to crystallize all the nuances of a place into one or two half-baked thoughts. With that in mind, this is what it may look like if the Canadian provinces got together for a little Friday evenin’ shindig… 

Manitoba is right in the middle of the party, but not quite sure who to hang out with. She’s shy, and doesn’t get up to dance unless the other provinces take the time to really get to know her. This can be frustrating because her self-deprecating humor and volatile temperature swings can put a damper on any potential post-party shenanigans. Also, the other provinces remember only too well how an almost unanimous decision to organize a lake party was cancelled by ‘toba at the last minute.

Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island arrive together. They’re pissed at Ontario by the first round of beers, but all is forgiven after a federal transfer or two. They spend half the evening gulping shots and doing Celtic jigs, and the other half lambasting the other provinces for stereotyping them as drunk Celts.

Ontario tells everyone he planned the party, but is secretly hoping Alberta will pick up the tab. After minor bickering that involves a failed national energy plan or two, they agree to split most of the bill. Ontario – despite having no car to drive himself home – still pays for 37% of the party. Alberta ropes in the rest of the Western provinces to cough up another 37%, and the other provinces pay for the rest. Also, Ontario is repeatedly asked to stop confusing itself with Canada.

Newfoundland arrives late (at 19:49 to be exact). He isn’t quite sure how or why he got there, but decides to stick around nonetheless. At one point he asks Quebec for a glass of water, which does not go over well. Quebec stomps out her cigarette and sells her glass to Vermont who is at the American party next door.

Saskatchewan introduces a new game called the Settlers of Universal Healthcare. Most provinces quite like it, although it gets really confusing whenever a Standardize Services card is pulled. And everybody has different understandings of what the Canada Health Act card is supposed to do. Alberta almost quits.

Quebec is one of the reasons the party exists, but isn’t quite sure if she wants to stay. Every now and then she peeks out the front door. The dark night, however, promises nothing but the dangers of not having one’s own monetary policy, rejecting the diversity of immigration despite a stagnating birth rate, and an ever worsening deficit. Maybe Vermont wants to buy another glass of water.

New Brunswick spends much of the evening deescalating old fights as she is the only one fluent in both French and English. New Brunswick reminds everyone that this also means it is the only province qualified to make a successful career in the federal bureaucracy. Everyone offers their condolences.

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Alberta is nervous that the other provinces will ask about its deficit. It’s difficult maintaing the perception of a small government while leading resource development and fusing cash into roads, community centres and schools. And doing all that without a Sales Tax to sustain expenditures. The stress becomes almost too much to bear when a Friendly Manitoba offers Alberta a drink. Alberta is grateful, but doesn’t know who this person is. A migrant worker maybe?

British Columbia has a fantastic time and even lets the territories in for a final round of ‘Who Wants to Be a Federal Responsibility?’


Johanu Botha is a student of public policy and political philosophy. His hobbies include the mandolin and intermittent bouts of existential angst. You can reach him at johanu.botha@mail.mcgill.ca