Tag Archives: United States

The Most Commonly Spoken Languages in Canada, Besides English and French

A couple of years ago, I came across an map that I found fascinating. It showed the most commonly spoken languages in the US (after English and Spanish). Some were fairly intuitive (French in Louisiana, Arabic in Michigan, etc.), but some forced me to think about the history (recent and past!) of a given state. For instance, I wouldn’t have guessed Chinese as the most commonly spoken language after English and Spanish in New York! I probably would have guessed Italian or Polish in thinking about the early immigrants to Ellis Island.

After seeing that post, it made me wonder what the most commonly spoken languages in Canada were (after English and French, of course). Sadly, my Google Fu kept turning up ‘snake eyes.’ It wasn’t until early last year that I saw tweet from Conrad Hackett, a demographer with the Pew Research Center, that linked to the very map I was looking for the year before. However, this map is even better, because it’s interactive!

The US map I linked to above shows the most commonly spoken language (after English/Spanish) by state. The map for Canada allows you to zoom in and look at specific areas within Canada. For instance, instead of grouping all of Ontario into one bucket, you can see some differences, depending upon which part of Ontario you’re viewing. For instance, in the Census Division (er, Census Division in Canada is kind of like “County” in the US) or York and Toronto, the most commonly spoken language after English/French is Chinese. However, in Peel, it’s Punjabi. Having lived in all three of those areas, those would have been my guesses.

However, I’ve also lived in Victoria and I’m not sure what I would have guessed. The answer is Chinese and I suppose that’s somewhat intuitive given that many immigrants from China choose BC (Vancouver or Victoria) as their place to call home). Similarly, right now, I live in Ottawa and I wouldn’t have guessed Chinese, nor would I have guessed Arabic for Gatineau (which is part of the National Capital Region).

One thing that should be immediately striking about the map is how much “Aboriginal” there is. It appears to be the account for the most land size. It’s probably not fair to group all the Aboriginal languages into one, so here’s a note on the methodology from the creators of the map:

We thought about this a lot when creating the map, and the primary reason is that there are simply not enough colours in the visual spectrum to use a distinct colour (and texture) for each language so that the map is actually visually pleasing and comprehensible. The editorial decision was made to combine the Aboriginal languages into a single colour (while retaining the distinctions and language-specific details when hovering). Why do we think this was a good decision? Almost all of the feedback we’ve received has been “Wow, I’m so happy there’s so much purple, it’s so great how much of Canada is dominated by indigenous languages!”. The purple wave is so striking, so visually stunning, and it clearly communicates the strength of the Aboriginal population across much of Canada — this effect would have been lost if we had selected different colours, and it would look just like everyone else. So we believe we struck a good balance.

One other part of the country that stands out is the Northwest Territories (near the top of the map). You probably could have given me a dozen guesses and I wouldn’t have said “Arabic” as the most commonly spoken language after English/French.


Canada Needs to Diversify its Export Strategy

During my last semester as an MBA student, I decided to take a class in International Relations theory. It was certainly a challenging class, especially considering I’d never had a course in political science. There was a steep learning curve in the beginning, but I learn very quickly, so I was able to stay right on track with the material. The last paper I wrote for that course had to do with Canada and NAFTA. I don’t think it’s a good idea to share the whole paper (22+ pages), but I thought I’d include pieces of the conclusion. Any hyperlinks below were added via WordPress’s “recommended links” and weren’t part of the original conclusion. Enjoy!


At the outset, this paper attempted to shed some light on Canada’s relationship to NAFTA. After the literature review and subsequent analysis, there certainly seems to evidence that Canada made the choice that benefitted the country the most [economically] when it signed onto NAFTA. As the [academic] literature has shown, there will continue to be calls for the three North American countries to further integrate. This certainly may help all of the countries of NAFTA, but it is hard to say that with Mexico still far behind the US and Canada, economically. In time, one would expect that Mexico could become a global economic force, but for now, there is still much work to be done. As it stands now, Canada’s main purpose for being part of NAFTA seems to be because the US is involved. As a result, one would expect that Canada would continue to be part of NAFTA and continue to strengthen its relationship with the US. If NAFTA were just an agreement between Mexico and Canada, there probably would not be a NAFTA.

After analyzing the data, one of the most important takeaways is that Canada needs to continue to diversify its exports strategy. The vast majority of Canadian exports are to the US. In the beginning, this was probably out of convenience. The US market is much larger than Canada’s and it is right there. However, as events like the global financial crisis foreshadow the possibility of similar and bigger events, it is important for countries like Canada to ensure that they are not too invested in the success of one nation. If for instance something were to happen to the US such that it pulls them [the US] down into a recession like Japan saw in the 1990s, Canada would undoubtedly be affected. Although, some may argue that if this were to happen, the whole world would probably be pulled into a recession. However, as Canada demonstrated by its resilience during the financial crisis, it is possible to mitigate the effects of a catastrophic event. This is exactly why Canada needs to continue to seek out free trade agreements with other countries. The more free trade agreements that Canada can enter into, the more insulated it will be against a possible economic collapse in the US.

An Evening of Historic Proportions

Last night was a historic night. It was the first time in the history of social media that I was “locked out” of Twitter. Okay, probably not the historic event you thought I was going to cite, but it did happen.

While I was busy tweeting and retweeting last night, I didn’t even consider that I would hit the “daily update limit” — but I did. The irony is that just before I sat down at my computer to begin watching the coverage (on TV and online), I saw a tweet from someone who was speaking for @TheStalwart — who had just hit the daily limit and thusly wouldn’t be participating in the “Election Party” on Twitter last night. It was a bit strange last night — to — in a way — be excluded from the excitement on Twitter, especially just after the networks were calling the election.


All kidding aside, last night was a historic evening. Since the United States is such a major player on the world’s stage, there is certainly interest around the world in the person who holds the office of the President of the United States. As you can see from the graphic on the right, some may say that the rest of the world was happy with the result of last night’s election.


There’s just one more thing I want to share in this post and it does have to do with history. After Pres. Obama was declared the winner by most of the networks, his Twitter account tweeted a photo that has been retweeted more than any other tweet in the history of twitter — and it’s still going! It surpassed the record (somewhere in the 200,000’s or the 300,000’s last night), but in looking at the tweet a few minutes ago, it’s almost up to 750,000 retweets. That’s a lot of retweets! In case you haven’t seen it yet, I’ve included it below:



The Pitfalls of a Political Duopoly

I follow almost 400 feeds on Twitter. While I usually don’t see every tweet from every feed, there are some that I am sure to look out for. One of those is Big Think, which often tweets links to articles on their site. These articles aren’t usually very long, so you can quickly digest the gist of it. I like it because it’s a great way of keeping abreast of different information and if you find that information intriguing, you can dive further into it.

This afternoon, I saw a this tweet:

I’ve heard Larry Lessig speak — he makes quite a compelling argument. The content of this post wasn’t anything I hadn’t already heard from him, but I scrolled down to the comments to see what people had to say. (That’s another benefit to Big Think: the commenters usually contribute something useful to the discussion.) There was one comment that I thought was particularly interesting. I’m not quite sure of my opinion, but I think it’s worth sharing with all of you. I invite you to leave your thoughts on the comment with a comment of your own below:

Well no wonder we keep failing to attain real change.  Lets ignore statistically verified and observable reality and hope and love our way to a solution?  Contrary to what telenovellas like to tell us, when doctors say there is nothing that can be done for a patient, they are usually right, not always I admit but almost always.

So what equivalent of spontaneous recovery are we going to hope for with our crooked political and economic system?  Are captains of industry going to suddenly develop social consciousness?  Perhaps the rich and powerful will all suddenly get plagues and die?  Mr. Lessig isn’t really offering us a realistic solution, in fact he is only offering us yet another of the many accurate analyses of what is wrong with our system in the hope that we hope our way to a better one.

What Mr. Lessig isn’t acknowledging is that the Supreme Court was right, we do have the ultimate say, still, as the people, in who gets elected.  There were nineteen candidates for President on my ballot this year an admitted decrease from the twenty-seven I had in 2008, but still a lot of possibilities and I know for a fact that at least fifteen of them and as many as seventeen of those nineteen candidates weren’t in the corrupt hands of the monied interests.  Some of my other choices were more limited only three to five candidates for Congress, and the State Legislature (both houses), again with a few candidates I knew to be free of the monied corruption of the major parties.  And you know what!?  When I voted for those candidates, there were no earthquakes, or tornadoes or locusts or men in black at my house punishing me for making those choices.  Duvurgers law isn’t a natural law like gravity or evolution, we need not confine ourselves to political duopoly and coercion by monied interests through strategic voting.  We do have the ultimate say, and if you confine yourself to not voting, or to only voting strategically, than you are demonstrating that perhaps you aren’t ready for real democracy.  The “aristocracy” only has power because we collectively let them have it, if the best answer you can come up with for overthrowing that power is to hope it away…. well then I would just as soon let them continue to be in charge, because your input is certainly not going to lead to a prosperous beneficial society.

“Take Back the Country” — From Whom?

Yesterday during class, I saw a tweet from Mitt Romney:

This made me a bit upset and not in a partisan way. From what I understand, Democrats used this same ‘slogan‘ in 2004 when trying to oust President Bush and send Senator Kerry to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. [If you’ll notice, the image that I’ve embedded below appears to be a sign from Occupy Wall Street, which is much more often associated with the Democratic Party.] There’s something inherently disturbing about using a slogan like this. It creates an artificial (and unnecessary) division between the people in power and the people who want to be in power.

It’s perfectly alright to disagree with the direction that the current administration is taking the country, but to use this slogan — to me — is demeaning and somewhat immature.

Disagreements are had on a daily basis, but it’s the moments following that disagreement that a person’s character shines through. If I disagree with someone, I’m not going to start a campaign and say it’s, “us vs. them,” — no — that’s not productive. That’s not mature. Instead, it would be more appropriate for me to try to find further evidence that strengthens my argument.

This slogan that is used in political campaigns remind me of Integral Theory. If I think about spiral dynamics, this particular slogan seems like it’s targeted at the “lower” end of the spiral (beige, purple, and red). Given that there are certainly folks at this level of development in the US electorate, this could be considered a “smart” strategy of political campaigns that employ it.

That being said, I almost want to say, “you should know better,” in that using these kinds of tactics are what continues to keep a country divided and hyper-partisan!



Environmental Serendipity: A Chance to Rebuild “Green”

With all due respect and condolences, the storm that hit the East Coast of the US is a tragedy, especially for those having to go through it first hand. The things I’m about to say in this post are in no way meant to detract from what is clearly a trying time for a number of citizens.

That being said, I can’t help but think of the ‘environmental serendipity.’ Let me explain: with DEstruction comes the opportunity for CONstruction. That is, after everything is all cleaned up, there will be an opportunity for these areas to rebuild their homes and communities. Given this, there is also the opportunity to rebuild from a more environmentally friendly perspective.

What I find noteworthy here is that if a storm like this hadn’t come through, would any of these areas considered knocking down their homes and rebuilding in a much “greener” way? Probably not. That’s why I see this storm as almost an environmental serendipity in that it gives these communities a chance to be much more mindful of the environment, with respect to its build.

There’s also the perspective that has been taken by some (like Newsweek), in that it brings climate change front and center to the national (USA) discourse. Given that it wasn’t mentioned at all during any of the US presidential debates, this is another “happy” consequence. Storms like these seem to be happening with much greater frequency. As this reality sets in, it will be (hopefully!) harder and harder to deny that our climate is changing… and we should be doing something about it!