Wow. I have never heard of such a thing. How present is this phenomenon in the Canadian public consciousness?
This is a very complex question. To answer it fully, I would probably have to move my answer to "Politics". However, it is safe to say in answer, "somewhat present, but not in the extreme way presented here", though it is true that Canada was founded upon the principles of "peace, order, and good government" rather than "justice and liberty for all." Personally, as a Canadian, I am very jealous of and thankful for the personal freedoms that I have been granted in this society, and in no way wish to see them eroded, and I have made my feelings known to politicians concerning this on more than one occasion. (BTW, The official who refers to freedom of speech as being an "American concept" is full of malarkey. The British have a long tradition of upholding the principle of freedom of speech, and the Canadian parliamentary system is based on that of the British, so....well,there you are.)
I do think that Canadians tend to take their freedoms too much for granted, and are too passive in this regard. (This is part of the whole "peace, order and good government" legacy that is imprinted in the Canadian consciousness, particularly the central Canadian consciousness, the most populous part of Canada.) I also think that the Canadian parliamentary system is urgently in need of reform, but this is a subject for "Politics".
How apparent are "Canadian differences" to the sensitive American observer who chooses to visit our fair land? I suppose it would depend on the situation and place. Sometimes, not much at all. (I have heard Toronto referred to as a "manageable Manhattan" or a "poor Manhattan".
) At other times, one would probably notice that while Canada is decidedly "North American", it is most certainly not "American."