April 7, 2003
For some perverse reason I feel compelled to air my dirty laundry in public.
I shouldn't do this. I should just let it be.
After all, as I've bleated ad nauseam, the U.S. media doesn't cover much about Canada.
You (the Americans among you) might never know just how ugly a place we have been in the past and seem to be becoming again.
It's not a question of pro- or anti- war.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
It's the manner in which the opinion is expressed.
And it starts at the very top.
This particular round of U.S. bashing began, fittingly, on September 11, 2002, when Jean Chretien (our Prime Minister), in a TV interview, used the occasion to blame the U.S. for the attacks of 9/11/01.
Back then I wrote, "for the first time in my life, I'm embarrassed to be a Canadian."
Unfortunately it was far from the last time.
Next, in November 2002, one of Mr. Chretien's top aides (indeed, his communications director) referred to President Bush as a moron.
Within earshot of reporters.
Mr. Chretien felt obliged to clarify that Mr. Bush is "a friend of mine. He's not a moron at all."
The aide, arm firmly twisted behind her back, first apologized and eventually resigned her position.
Now to February 2003. An elected representative to the House of Commons was heard to mutter, again in full earshot of reporters, "damn Americans, I hate those bastards."
As of now she has apologized but not resigned.
Then in March, as the war in Iraq began, a government Cabinet Minister accused Bush of being a failed statesman.
If there was an apology I haven't heard of it.
The P.M. has been silent with regard to these last two indiscretions. And it's not because of any lack of backbone. The man has been known to throw world-class tantrums when he deemed it appropriate, so his silence here is very significant.
In view of the above, is it any wonder that many Canadian citizens think it's perfectly acceptable to misbehave in the context of their own lives?
I'm referring to the well-publicized booing of the American National Anthem at a recent hockey game in Montreal.
Mark happened to be at that game and he was astonished at the spectacle.
I'm also referring to the less well-publicized (here, anyway) experience of some visiting Americans, which I came across by accident in a Toronto paper:
A busload of peewee hockey players from Massachusetts and their accompanying adults, in town for a tournament, encountered shocking displays of anti-Americanism, including obscenities and flag-burning, as they passed by an anti-war demonstration on their way into town.
They faced similar attitudes throughout their stay and one of the parents is quoted as saying,
Montreal is a 5½-hour drive for us. It's not like we were travelling to Syria or France or Germany," he said. "As Americans, we felt in the past that Canada was our closest ally and friend. No one told us we were heading into unfriendly territory.
No one told them.
Of course no one told them, because, as I'm even boring myself by repeating, THE US MEDIA DOES NOT COVER CANADA.
I'm going to try to dance carefully around this issue because I don't want to sound anti-American. I'm NOT anti-American.
Despite miscellaneous barbs and jabs in the course of this journal, I love the United States. I see its faults and there are many but they are far outweighed by the positives.
Still, Americans need to, and deserve to know more about a country which is for many of you a half day's drive away or less.
I guess it could be argued that the media don't cover Canada because the consumers of said media aren't interested in Canada.
But I wouldn't argue that.
That attitude might have been relevant in previous eras but it's not relevant now.
How do you know whether you need to know something, unless you know it?
The media has to take some social responsibility for the content it provides and fails to provide.
It's not all bad; Canada has done some helpful things for the U.S. as well, such as accepting all the planes which were stranded in "closed" U.S. air space on 9/11. Some of those planes might well have had more terrorists on them.
We sent troops to Afghanistan and have been active in peacekeeping around the world.
Unfortunately, though, at the moment we're showing the worst side possible and people who plan to take their children here should be so informed.
I live within the same 5½ hour drive of the above-quoted parent from Massachusetts, and I know, without looking it up, who his governor is, as well as the governors of New York and Vermont.
Does he know who our Premier is?
Does he know that Quebec is in the middle of a Provincial election campaign that will decide the political course of the next few years with regard to the issue of our separation from Canada? An issue which might seem irrelevant but has enormous economic and political consequences to our neighbours as well as ourselves.
The U.S. might well have a new country right on its doorstep, one which (as far as many Americans know) might not have the democratic guarantees shared by Canada and the U.S.
After all, even now it's illegal to post English signs here. Even safety-oriented road signs.
Bet you didn't know that.
Separation is not likely to happen in the near future but I think it eventually will. Quebec is just too different a culture to be content within Canada.
So please, Americans, realize you can no longer afford to ignore us. Don't let us get away with the above kind of behaviour, and try to appreciate our strong points.
We do have lots of space and great fishing.
If you've read down this far you deserve a treat, not to mention a change of pace.
This young man from the U.K. is a hoot!
Graphics courtesy of