Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Oh, America, strong and free?

I couldn't care less about the whole discussion around changing the Alberta license plate slogan to 'strong and free'. I mean, I don't even own a car. Still, this quote struck me:

"It wouldn't be so much a change in licence plate so much as a change in nationality," observed David Taras, a political scientist at the University of Calgary. "Because those are words that ring in the American national anthem, on American licence plates, in the American Declaration of Independence."
Well, this new Canadian has a reality check for Dr. Taras. These are the lyrics to the U.S. national anthem. Try searching for 'strong and free' on the page. Then try just plain old 'strong'. Now have a look at the lyrics to the Canadian one. Repeat the experiment.

Now repeat it again on the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

Now try a google search on "strong and free". Note just how many of those hits are Canadian. Note again how few of them are American. (Here's a hint: I couldn't find a one, and eventually got bored.)

It seems it's David Taras who needs to get his nationalities straight.


laura k said...

Silly I/P, letting the facts get in the way of a good argument!

The first thing I thought of was the ACLU's campaign, Safe and Free. But I don't think that's what Mr. Taras had in mind.

Anonymous said...

It's more likely that Taras just wanted a sexy quote to ensure his name in the paper again. Do a search of any Canadian news archive for "David Taras". You'll get, like, every CanWest story ever written about anything.

Anonymous said...

I can't even read "strong and free" without it sounding like "O Canada" in my head.

Anonymous said...

Mind-boggling. And I wonder whether the CBC failed to notice how spectacularly wrong Taras was, or whether they used that as a pull-quote to show off his error.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Yeah, me neither!


You'd think they'd have mentioned the error, or at least put in a 'sic', if they'd noticed it.

Greg said...

It is a wish fulfillment fantasy of a certain class of Albertan. What struck me in the piece last night on the National was the chippy tone some of the chattering class were taking to the whole project. It was "What can we choose to piss off the Eastern Bastards"? Do Albertans really think we matter that much?

Anonymous said...

I've read that O Canada is the actual source for Alberta's motto; same with Manitoba, that uses "Gloriosus et Liber" - Glorious and Free - as their provincial motto.

As for changing the plate... well, if there's no additional cost in doing so, I mean... why not? If they offer a choice of plates, then all the better. After all, the province used to change the plate every year, once upon a time in the 50s and 60s.

Otherwise.... well, why bother? I'm rather indifferent towards changing the plate to "Strong and Free;" but I'm sure others will get a charge out of it. They can go nuts.