TORONTO — Shane Smith, co-founder and CEO of Vice, said Friday he wouldn’t be as successful if he had stayed in his native Canada.
“If you’re big in Montreal, you’re big in Quebec. If you’re big in Toronto, you’re big in Canada,” Smith said during an appearance on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.
“But if you’re big in New York, you’re big in the rest of the world.”
Smith, 43, was born and raised in Ottawa and co-founded Vice magazine in Montreal with two friends in 1994.
Today, the multi-media company is based in New York and Smith is worth an estimated $400 million, according to Forbes.
“We couldn’t have done what we did down here, up there,” said Smith, who later referred to Canada’s “legislative aspect.”
Prefacing his comments with “I’m going to get in trouble from the commune,” Smith criticized his birthplace for not allowing anyone to stand out from the crowd.
“One of the shocking things when I go back to Canada is they cut off the tall trees — it’s sort of like everyone’s the same,” he told Maher. “Everyone’s going to be the same, we’re all okay.
“Just the, sort of, cultural ‘we’re all okay.’”
Smith shared a joke about an American fisherman who warns a Canadian fisherman that one of his lobsters is crawling out of his bucket. The Canadian responds: “It’s okay, they’re Canadian lobsters. His friends will pull him back in.”
Smith did manage a few kind words for Canada.
“It’s a great place to grow up. Very clean, very nice,” he offered. “You know, small population, rich country, a lot of nice things.”
Later, Smith admitted: “I like Canada.”