The New York Times Gives Backhanded Compliment, Describes Canada as “Suddenly…Hip?”

We all know that Canada is cool. Just look out of your window at the snow and the sub-zero temperatures if you need confirmation.

But cool, cool? As in trendy, as in hip? Well apparently this is something new that Canada is trying on for size. Peter Stevenson, of the New York Times, whose recent piece was titled, “With the Rise of Justin Trudeau, Canada Is Suddenly … Hip?” certainly seems to think so.

The article, published this weekend and shared around social media, suggests that following the Prime Minister’s election, Vogue’s ‘New Young Face of Canadian Politics’ has been leading a nation-wide revolution, drawing out talented Canucks from all corners of their home and native land.

Stevenson profiles 17 Canadians – ranging from obvious choices like Drake, The Weeknd, and Justin Bieber, to less recognisable figures like fashion designer Tanya Taylor and journalist Sarah Nicole Prickett – who are all making the nation cool.

Vice co-founder Shane Smith, and Montreal-born director, Xavier Dolan also feature on the list of hip homegrown talent.

But before all the gushing begins, Stevenson notes that some of the Canadians coming through the ranks have experienced anonymity courtesy of their citizenship to a country known for hockey, Labatt beer and….um snow, blowers.

“But the notion that our neighbor to the north is a frozen cultural wasteland populated with hopelessly unstylish citizens is quickly becoming so outdated as to be almost offensive.”

Almost? We’d call that pretty damn insulting, Stevenson.

Much like you ‘might’ be offended by Canadians if they referred to their neighbours to the south as a “collection of backwards hillbillies equating rugged individualism with owning a concealed handgun who would nevertheless be capable of unforeseen world powers if only they could tear themselves away from a Budweiser fantasy.”

Are we expected then, to be be proud of this accomplishment, bestowed on us by the very same people who have also helped to cultivate an image of Canada as America’s stupid, unsophisticated “square-jawed” and “beer-swilling” cousins from the north?

Be it movies, music, or fashion that Canadian’s are succeeding at, it only seems to be observed as a triumph if America regards it as such.

Of course, the U.S has an agenda, of sorts. Things are undoubtedly looking pretty rosy up here by comparison. And if Canada is having a moment right now, then America is having an identity crisis.

The American Dream has been replaced by the American Nightmare, where billionaire business magnates are embroiled in the world of politics and democracy, and people long for freedom – but some are much freer than others. While Trump is getting his toupee in a twist about Mexicans and Muslims, Trudeau is greeting Syrian refugees at the gate, with winter coats in hand and not a hair out of place. So of course Canada is looking all shiny and new.

But should we accept this accolade, in fittingly polite Canadian fashion? Or do we reject this thinly-veiled insult that expects Canada to be grateful for these kind, yet patronizing, words that suggest that it is only now, in the shadow of America’s turbulent present and future that it is able to shine.

So much do the words stick in the throat of the journalist, that Stevenson can only call Canada “hip?” with a question mark placed directly beside it.

It also questions the land of apologies and politeness as rightful owner of the cool crown. But watching Rachel McAdams thanking all the local actors in Toronto and Boston who helped Spotlight win the Best Acting Ensemble at the Critic’s Choice Awards, it’s obvious that hip doesn’t have to mean lime-light hogging d-bag (we’re looking at you, Kanye).

He does go on to acknowledge that “Canada has not become hip all at once, with the election of the mediagenic Mr. Trudeau. It is partly a dawning of self-recognition.”

And as Stephen Harper slowly fades into distant memory I wonder, is it just a coincidence that Canada is becoming a force to be reckoned with, around the same time that it closed the door on almost ten years of Conservative government?

Drake has been repping for the city for years now, and Justin Bieber has been singing and egging homes since he was approximately four years old, so if we do the math, it can’t be true that B.T (Before Trudeau) was an age of cultural wasteland.

But it certainly does feel like a new era, and Canada has well and truly grown out of its awkward teenage phase.