The American ambassador to Canada is mistaken

Posted 04.02.03

Recently, the ambassador of the United States in Canada expressed his disappointment over our country's refusal to back the Americans in their attack on Iraq. His well-crafted speech to a luncheon of businesspeople was designed to make us feel bad, very bad.

He assured us that if Canada was ever threatened, the USA would come to our aid without hesitation or debate "because we're family." He wasn't upset, he made it clear, but "many Americans" are unhappy, and relations between our two countries have been damaged.

The Canadian Alliance politicians were unable to match the ambassador's eloquence, solemnity, and sadness. They were on their hind feet bellowing in the House of Commons that Canada had done the worst thing imaginable, failed to support the USA. The ambassador was not so coarse.

But he was mistaken.

The United States would not come to our support, aid, and defense for one simple reason: virtually our only threats have been from the United States itself. And they haven't backed off, which would have been a form of coming to our aid.

Recall when the American's steamed through Canadian territorial waters in the Arctic, without asking permission and despite our objections. That was an open challenge to our sovereignty, which is what we call a national threat.

And, of course, the only time Canada has ever been attacked by a military force was when it was attacked by the Americans long, long ago. Fortunately we beat them off since they were definitely not coming to our aid. Unless they felt, as they feel today toward Iraq, they were liberating us by invading.

This is not all ancient history. Canada is not merely geography, our nation is also culture and economy, and both of these are under assault by our neighbours.

The economy is the clearest. Softwood lumber: one of the major pillars of our economy is under attack right now. Are the Americans coming to our aid "without hesitation or debate?"

In the last month they have begun a similar assault on our grain industry, probably our second-strongest economic pillar. They are determined to force us to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board or they'll dismantle it themselves by economic measures. Is this aid and support, Mr Ambassador?

Not long ago we were involved in a "salmon war" with the Americans. Free Trade has not-so-graciously dismantled the Auto Pact, which we had negotiated with the Americans, but which they later found to be disadvantageous to themselves. Quebec has lost several auto plants since then, hardly the aid and support we expect from with Free Trade with our best friends.

The Americans have their eyes fastened on our natural gas which they've taken by purchase and on our water. Our dairy, beef, and pork industries have also suffered.

These are not the actions within "family."

These are actions done in the spirit of that great American diplomat and architect of the Cold War, John Foster Dulles, who famously told the world that America does not have friends, it has interests.

Mr. Dulles could have added that America does not have family, either.

Except when family's a handy tool with which to shake us down.

And this works for the ambassador only because it is we Canadians who consider the Americans as family, and not visa versa. Most of the time they don't even know we exist.

Which may not be a bad thing.

Fred Ryan is publisher of Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin, West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal. He is also a director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

Copyright © 2003 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/04.03