Sunday, December 04, 2005

Be Careful What You Wish For

For years, one of my favourite rants has been how the US (citizens and media) ignores Canada.

Actually Americans seem to ignore most places outside their borders but it particularly irked me that they would know so little about a country that shares thousands of miles of undefended border with them, and that the ignorance is exceptionally one-sided. Canadians can hardly ignore the US even if we want to, given the media bombardment. We know all about Canadian stuff in whatever field interests us, and the US counterpart as well. This is not bad – what is bad (or so I thought) was their indifference towards things Canadian.

On an internet discussion board some years ago (before 9-11) I asked an American why the lack of interest. The response took me aback: “You are not a threat, therefore we don’t have to concern ourselves” or words to that effect.

But how do you know whether or not we are a threat if you aren’t paying attention?

Well, now they are starting to pay attention.

There was some indication of this last year, when it was reported that the religious right was sending “money and services” to groups opposing the same-sex marriage legislation. (Sorry, I can’t find any active link to the article.)

And of course, months earlier, Michael Moore expressed his opinion about how we should (actually, should not) vote in the last election. But Michael is practically an honourary Canadian so that hardly counts.

However, in the few days since the writ was dropped, without even trying I have collected three different reports of, shall we say, US interest in our activities.

The first was merely an opinion piece in a Washington newspaper. It wasn’t so much the opinion, but the spin, that I found intriguing:

If Martin's Liberal Party is re-elected for the fourth consecutive time, Canadian taxpayers will continue footing the bill for an expensive welfare state epitomized by its archaic government-run health-care system. Social policy experimentation on issues such as drugs and homosexual rights will continue in an incremental but decidedly progressive direction.

Yikes.

“Progressive” is a bad word now, just like “liberal”. I can hardly keep up.

More worrysome, according to the other two articles: both Ralph Reed, former director of the Christian Coalition, who was instrumental in getting out the religious-conservative vote in the US, and Glen Caroline, director of the NRA’s “Grassroots Division”, visited Toronto this week, counselling their respective constituencies on how to exert their influence in Canadian politics.

According to the article, this is far from a new thing for the NRA, who have dabbled in affairs of other countries for some time now.

NRA public affairs director Andrew Arulanandam said yesterday that the organization is only too happy to provide "counsel" to organizations in other countries to help ensure that "gun rights" prevail around the world...

This NRA philosophy is also borne out by a section of their website regarding “International/UN Issues”.

So, what makes some Americans think they can go into another country and tell people how to run it?

Oh.

Speaking of which, we really ought to do something about the Canadian Armed Forces.
It’s all well and good to be independent, but what happens if, one day, they figure that between the pesky softwood lumber thing, all the oil and resources we have, and our wacky social “experiments”, not to mention our lack of cooperation in such areas as the missile defense system, that we aren’t worth the trouble of negotiating with?

Just march a few tanks in, boom, it’s all theirs.

We may speak softly but our stick isn’t nearly big enough.