The Land of Apology and a Return to Montreal: The Canada Letter

The Land of Apology and a Return to Montreal: The Canada Letter


So I sought out Michael Ross, a retired professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo who has researched the effects of government apologies for historical injustices, including ones made by Canada.

“If Canada apologies more than most nations, it would suggest perhaps that we have more to apologize for, that we have a lower threshold for offering apologies, or that we value apologies more,” he said, quickly adding that there was no good evidence to support any of those theories and no reliable apology ranking of governments.

But he did raise another point. Professor Ross worked on a study comparing how Canadians and Americans reacted after being pulled over by the police for speeding. The finding? Well I’m sorry to say that maybe Canadians don’t apologize as much as we think we do.

Based on a sample of 500 motorists from each country, the researchers found that 29.7 percent of the Canadians said they were sorry, compared with 26.6 percent of Americans. Canadians apologized more — but not that much more.

“The results do not evince the striking difference one might expect if the apologetic Canadian stereotype was strongly true,” Martin Day, an assistant professor of psychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s and a collaborator on the research.

“As a Canadian living in the U.S. for six years now, I also haven’t noticed that Americans apologize less than Canadians,” Karina Schumann, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh who also worked on the speeding research, said in an email. “My sense is that if there is a difference, it’s much smaller than the stereotype suggests.”

Read: Victims of Canada’s ‘Gay Purge’ to Get Apology from Trudeau

Homebound

Photo

Dan Bilefsky will be moving from Britain to Montreal to report on Canada for The Times.

Credit
Oscar Ortega

The Times’s version of Team Canada is getting a new reporter: Dan Bilefsky.

Dan was born and grew up in Montreal, but he has gotten around, most recently reporting from Paris and London in addition to Prague, Brussels, New York and Turkey. He has covered multiple elections, the rise of Europe’s right and terrorist attacks. But he’s also written stories like one about a gang of aging jewel thieves known as the “Bad Grandpas” or the “Diamond Geezers.” He’s turned those stories into a book, which is coming out next year.

Now he is moving back to Montreal to write for us. And here are some of his thoughts about returning home:

More than a century after my great-grandfather arrived in Montreal as a fruit peddler — and more than 25 years after I left my parents’ house — I am excited to be returning home.

Getting to cover my own country as a foreign correspondent at a time when The Times is ramping up its Canada coverage is a cosmic opportunity. So is reconnecting with my family, who never left. My dad is a Montreal-based nephrologist and, at 81, still sees dozens of patients a day!

I feel very fortunate to be coming home when Canada, ever the bashful self-deprecating starlet, is finally having its global close-up. When I was growing up in Montreal in the 1970s and 1980s, it was a restive time. Culture wars over language dominated the headlines, and businesses were fleeing to Toronto.

Nearly three decades later, a panda-hugging son of Montreal is prime minister and an international darling. Canada’s progressive liberalism in everything from health care to immigration is being closely watched the world over as a counterpoint to Trump’s America. And Montreal, always a user-cool city, is experiencing a boom and being trumpeted across the Atlantic as “the perfect city,” or Paris meets Brooklyn.

I can’t wait to discover the swaggering, multicultural city that was the backdrop of my childhood and nerdy teenage years, when I was sometimes too focused on studying, and escaping, to properly appreciate it. I am particularly eager to explore and write about Montreal’s mind-blowing food scene — and no longer having to explain why Montreal bagels are so much better than New York’s.

Another son of Montreal, Leonard Cohen, whose poetry I tried to emulate when I was growing up, wrote when he was twentysomething, “I have to keep coming back to Montreal to renew my neurotic affiliations.” I think I know what he meant.

But decades later he also came to embrace the city he had left, telling an interviewer in 2006, “I feel at home when I’m in Montreal — in a way that I don’t feel anywhere else.”

I, too, feel the pull toward home, and am looking forward to my great Canadian adventure.

Stayed Home

As Canadians know too well, the turmoil in Syria has led to an exodus involving perhaps a quarter of its population. That’s created a profound void for those left behind. After a visit to Damascus, Somini Sengupta has produced a moving story about their current lives.

Read: They Stayed Put, but Their City Disappeared

Centre Ice

More than a year ago, John Branch told the harrowing story of Stephen Peat, a former N.H.L. enforcer whose professional life taking and giving punches has led to a retirement marked by memory loss, addictions, depression and headaches. His life has not improved as a series of recent emails from Mr. Peat’s father, Walter, to Mr. Branch make terribly clear.

Trans Canada

—Canada and Mexico continue to push back against Washington’s demands at the North American Free Trade Agreement talks.

—As chief executive of the Toronto Transit Commission, Andrew Byford had to deal with Toronto’s former mayor, Rob Ford. Now he’s tackling an ever bigger challenge: the New York subway system.

—Nebraska approved the on-again, off-again, on-again Keystone XL pipeline that will link Alberta’s oil sands to the Gulf Coast of the United States. But the decision came with a twist.

—Struggling sports teams often talk about changing their game. But the Toronto Raptors have successfully done it.

—As the Canadian Football League prepares to wrap up its season in Ottawa on Sunday with the Grey Cup game in Ottawa, Ken Belson examines how it’s now ahead of the National Football League in efforts to limit concussions.



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