September 17, 1999 Halifax Herald
Canada should thank, not criticize, US
Canada should thank, not criticize, US
Many Canadians take perverse pleasure in criticizing the policies and stratagem of our protector the United States of America. For example, when criticizing the American position on banning land mines, many of our leaders exude a “holier than thou art” aura that borders on being offensive.
Such behaviour is indefensible. No doubt our American cousins, as caring human beings, appreciate that land mines are hell's invention. However, in the face of the fact that some of the most war-like-Nations - North Korea, Iraq, Iran, to name but a few - refuse to ban them, is it reasonable to expect the United States to unilaterally do so? Common sense and logic dictate no.
Anyway, playing the saint and criticizing US defense policy is hypocritical because of a simple truism: If it wasn't for freely given American protection, Canadians probably wouldn't be free to criticize them in the first place.
The fact that American generosity and armed might guarantee our freedom of speech and national survival is above argument - Canada stands free from fear of foreign invasion because of it. Should the protection ever be withdrawn, our long-term independence will be imperiled. Mighty giants, such as China, which now covet Canadian natural resources, especially water, will become demanding. Only American might keeps them at bay.
The anti-American minority, because they can't bear to accept the before-mentioned, will claim that Europe is a viable alternative. Depending upon an alliance with European powers, such as France or the United Kingdom, for protection is foolhardy. They cannot, without the might and leadership of the USA, even settle disputes in their own back yard. The two World Wars they started and unloaded on the Americans and the rest of the World are stark reminders of that. And, lest we forget, the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts are reminders that Europeans are still not capable of solving their disagreements without outside assistance.
As for the dreamers who believe that Canada can defend its own territory, they must consider these facts: Our armed forces have been reduced to the status of a police force, roughly 75,000 bodies. Low morale among the troops is also high on the long list of military shortcomings. Also, much of the war equipment in use is so dated that moving it around the country is almost equivalent to having a mobile war museum. (This critique is not aimed at the men and women who serve diligently and patriotically in our armed forces, because, in spite of being saddled with dated war tools and not enough people, they do a commendable job.)
The reason for the present decrepit state of our military is that we don't have the resolve to fix it. The national priority is spending money on unneeded social programs that the Americans can't afford, because they have to use their money to defend freedom. Therefore, until Canadians are willing to spend the billions of dollars needed to modernize our country's Armed Forces and increase manpower to at least 200,000, we should quit publicly criticizing our protectors. In all fairness, as recipients of American taxpayer charity, our criticisms must be restricted to having in-camera chats with them.
In any event, anti-Americanism in Canada is not widespread; it’s more the province of the intellectual and political communities. Rarely do critical comments come from average citizens. Probably they are smart enough to appreciate the reality of the situation and value the benevolence of our friends to the south.
Another thing that bugs me is that politicians are always blathering on about protecting our culture from American incursion. They do so by blotting out this reality: English-speaking Canada and the USA share a North American culture. Continuing with the farce that there are separate American and Canadian cultures is mostly an illusion. Even our political systems, although fundamentally different, produce the same type of politicians, who mostly generate irreverence from citizens.
If needed, a clincher for arguing the existence of a North American culture is the fact that it takes only a few days for English-speaking Americans/ Canadians moving to the other's country to assimilate. Conversely, when moving to other English-speaking jurisdictions - for example, England or Australia - both undergo a cultural shock. This, combined with the fact that the English spoken in these foreign countries is quite different from that spoken in North America, makes assimilation very difficult.
It makes more sense to engage the Americans in across-the-board continental competition, rather than across-the-board snipping. To kick it off, we should update our education system to compete with theirs. Last year, 20,000 Canadian students attended American Universities while only 3,000 Americans, although it’s bargain basement for them, came here.
One more shot: Chrétien shrugs and states that the low value of the Canadian dollar is good for the country. Its not. The decreasing value of the dollar is caused by low productivity. If corrective measures are not taken soon to turn it around our standard of living is in danger of taking a nosedive.
To guarantee a prosperous future, we have to get over our tendency to rely on prayers to take care of tomorrow or, stemming from our dependence, hoping that the Americans will do it for us. Such inaction spell doom!
Daniel N. Paul