Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

John Doyle: Canada’s insufferable smugness isn’t funny

Some people are sick and tired of Canada. Can't blame them, really. We're a smug bunch these days.

A lot of the world's major media has a crush on Canada, adding to the usual smugness that's in the air up here. The New York Times, the Guardian and the BBC have increased their Canadian coverage. Three outlets that are, by no coincidence, on President Donald Trump's hit list. And they take a dim view of him, while crushing on our Prime Minister, Justin the Good.

In this climate, heaven help anyone who disses Canada. Which isn't healthy. It's insufferable. Take, for instance, Jason Jones, the Canadian-born former correspondent on The Daily Show. One recent night, Jones appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. After his brief appearance, more than a few Canadians were all, "Yeah, take him please! He disavowed Canada, the ungrateful wretch."

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: Thirteen Canadians we want back from Donald Trump's America

Related: Full Frontal's Samantha Bee may be America's best weapon against Trump

Jones and Colbert worked together on The Daily Show for years. Jones was on Colbert's program to promote his series The Detour, which airs in Canada on the Comedy Network. Colbert started by acknowledging with Jones that it was Presidents' Day, but Colbert joked that Jones, being Canadian, might be more interested in a Prime Minister's Day.

A firm "No!" was the reply from Jones as he declared he's a U.S. citizen now. In fact he sneered, "eff-you, Canada!" and raised the middle fingers of both hands to emphasize his distaste. Colbert feigned surprise and said, "But he's so cute," referring to Justin Trudeau. Jones was having none of it. "Oh, he's adorable," Jones mocked. "He's not what his dad was!"

There followed a bit in which Jones talked about the glory of becoming a U.S. citizen. It's just so great, was the gist. He's so done with Canada was the loud and clear message.

A small outrage ensued. Me, I knew about the Jones appearance on Colbert because I was tagged on social media. I looked at what people, many in the Canadian media and entertainment rackets, were saying. Jones was called "douche" and much worse. It was a pile-on of outraged abuse. His professionalism was questioned. It was all both entertaining in its livid umbrage and rather sad, really.

Some of us can't take a joke. The in-your-face mocking that Jones used wasn't especially funny but it was, obviously, some rude joshing by somebody a bit fatigued by complacency about Canada. It was, in fact, refreshing.

Story continues below advertisement

The context with Jason Jones is interesting. Born Jason Pierre Jones in Hamilton – his full name might explain his joke about Justin the Good not being the man his father was – he had a minor career in Canada before establishing himself on The Daily Show. He even appeared in commercials for Molson beer. Also, he's married to Samantha Bee. Like Jones, Bee has been a U.S. citizen for years now. You'd never know she was Canadian from her material on Full Frontal.

Me, I think Bee takes herself a bit too seriously. Her striving to become an iconic U.S. comedian, a major anti-Trump voice, is obvious. She wants the kind of status that Jon Stewart had. As a result, often her material isn't all that funny. It's just highly articulate ranting. It is, mind you, cathartic for the audience.

But I wouldn't hold any of that against her. Nor would I condemn her husband for swearing at Canada and dissing Justin. Both of them owe their careers to the U.S. TV industry. Both are comedians and the Trump era offers them enormous opportunity. It is perfectly understandable that, in this era, they want to underline that they are Americans and they stand with those Americans who are outraged by Trump and his policies. It makes business sense and it makes sense as a principle.

Here in Canada, we're not used to their kind of Canada-be-damned attitude. We still expect successful Canadians to ostentatiously acknowledge their roots and, if at all possible, praise Canada. If they mention hockey, all the better.

But, perhaps, gone are the days when such figures as the late Alan Thicke played up their Canadian background from the vantage point of Los Angeles. We have long been suckers for that sort of validation and recognition of Canada. While many of those who've done well in the United States have been sincere in their celebration of Canadian roots, it was also a tactical manoeuvre to please a Canadian audience and to benefit from a Canadian TV and film industry that, embarrassingly, prizes Hollywood success over local talent and excellence.

Get over it Canada. The conceitedness is unbearable. If the cockiness and disdain of such people as Jason Jones is vexatious, then there's still plenty of praise and gushing in The New York Times, the Guardian and the BBC.

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to