Ever since President Bush snubbed
Canada in favor of Mexico for his first State visits (breaking a long standing tradition) our neighbors to the north have been less than pleased. The President's recent visit was protested
, of course. Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom
said that President Bush, "was a perfect candidate for prosecution under Canada's Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act." Elizabeth May, the Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada, sent out an e-mail reading in part: "Bush represents Death. We call on Canadians to greet him by tying black crepe or cloth ribbon to everything in sight...park benches, our trees, our lampposts, car antennas, Xmas decorations, wear black arm bands...hold vigils, Pray."
Sure they love it when our bleeding-heart liberals "threaten" to move to Canada, if only so the Canadians can say things like "Of course the Americans will have to stand in line like everyone else". To be sure they are also getting a chuckle over the "Go Canadian" package offered by a New Mexico firm to allow American travelers to visit Europe in peace. About the package:
It includes a Canadian flag T-shirt, a Canadian flag lapel pin and a Canadian patch for luggage or a backpack.
There's also a quick reference guide on answering questions about Canada called "How to Speak Canadian, Eh?"
When it comes to sports, the guide suggests: "There is only one real sport in Canada and it is called hockey. Regardless of any trivia question, the answer is Wayne Gretzky.
The Canadian Post loves this idea. The best parts of the story are the reader comments at the end of the article, though. One states, "It makes me cringe to think that these same people are telling everyone else that they're Canadian." Seriously Canada, get over it. The package is a "novelty item"; it is making fun of you, eh? See the language and sport reference.
Canada does want to be taken seriously on the world stage, however. Recent events at the U.N. have given Canada some hope of gaining a bit more international exposure. Embattled Secretary General Kofi Annan accepted a report calling "for countries to intervene sooner in humanitarian catastrophes like the Sudan crisis” and "the creation of a Group of 20 countries, whose leaders would meet regularly to discuss international economic and political issues" according to the Toronto Star. "I think that that's a very important step forward for the United Nations, and I've got to say, I think a very important step forward for Canada in terms of the kind of activist foreign policy that we want to bring forth," the Prime Minister said.
In order to be taken seriously, though, Canada will need to find an identity other than "we're not America lite". Luckily at least one voice of reason rings out in the frosty north. James Bissett, a former Canadian ambassador and former head of the Canadian Immigration Service, recently wrote a piece entitled "Hating Bush is Unhealthy" (source of the Sierra Club quote above). He refers to "a growing anti-American psychosis spreading across the country" and wonders why there was no similar reaction against Bill Clinton, providing a laundry list of events from the two Clinton administrations that should have sparked the same reactions in Canada, such as:
It was president Clinton who in 1998 bombed Iraq for violations of the no-fly zone and did so without United Nations authorization. His secretary of state, Madeline Albright, urged that economic sanctions against Iraq not be lifted until Saddam Hussein was removed. This was the woman who answered, "Yes" when asked if the bombing justified the killing of Iraqi babies.
He concludes with:
This is not a healthy situation and it bodes ill for the future of our country. It is time for these critics to grow up, to get real and to forget the United States. It can look after itself. Canada has a few of its own problems. Let's attend to them for a change.
Canada is a beautiful country, blessed with natural resources and some truly spectacular hockey players. Provided they have a few more minds like Mr. Bisset's willing to look inward and find a way for Canada to make it's own way in the world by defining what Canada is, as opposed to what it is not, they have a chance to be the world power they so desperately want to be.