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Home » Culture

Political correctness: More American or Canadian?

Submitted by on March 19, 2010 – 7:05 amNo Comment

merryxmashanukkahkwanzaaBefore I moved to Canada, I used to think that the U.S. had the monopoly on political correctness. At least in New England where I lived, everyone wishes you “Happy Holidays,” instead of “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” or “Good Kwanzaa” or whatever.

But it turns out that even more Canadians support the concept of political correctness.

According to a recent Angus Reid Public Opinion poll, 50 percent of Canadians surveyed believe in political correctness — defined as “language and/or behavior that seeks to minimize possible offenses to racial, cultural and gender identity groups, among others.”

In contrast, 45 percent of Americans oppose political correctness, while 41 percent support it.

Is that funny?

While in both countries, a significant majority of respondents said that it’s important for teachers, politicians, and journalists to behave in a politically correct way, comedians get a lot more leeway. Only 25% of Canadians, and 31% of Americans, think that comedians must be politically correct.

However, the survey found “striking differences in the way the two countries feel about the acceptability of jokes dealing with specific topics.”

Even though more Canadians say they believe in being politically correct, Canadians are more willing than Americans to be OK with jokes about physical appearance (54% in Canada, 46% in the U.S.), race (54% in Canada, 42% in the U.S.), obesity (53% in Canada, 45% in U.S.), and ethnic origin (59% in Canada, 46% in the U.S.).

And almost two-thirds of Canadians (63%) see no problem making jokes about religion, while less than half of Americans (46%) concur.

In my experience, Canadians are also a lot more likely to wish you “Merry Christmas” than “Happy Holidays.” Is this society that highly values multiculturalism less concerned about offending various cultures? What do you think? Post a comment below.

And you can get more details about the Angus Reid survey from

Photo by NatalieMaynor (flickr)

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