Friday, March 2, 2012

American-Canadian Relations

I am Canadian and I'm a big fan of the United States. I've known and admired many Americans as friends, lovers and colleagues.  I know individual Americans as I know individual Canadians.  We are a great people.
I appreciate that both Canada and the United States are wrought with partisan politics and special interest groups.  Regardless of the internal divisions in my country I believe fully that it is in the best interest of Canada to work together with America.  I know we are their Allies today but to be an ally is like being being anything from a fellow journeyman on a glorious quest to being a pouting adolescent being dragged along by an obvious parent.  Even Troudeau knew America as an Elephant to us as a mouse.  While we know that Quebec has held Canada hostage for many years internally this is not a strategy that works well internationally. Canada can not ignore Quebec but much to the chagrin of boastful Mackenzie King, the world could ignore Canada.
So our strength is in cooperation.
Next the question is with which 'party' in the US do we cooperate best..  We do not want to as a country support their "opposition'.  With cooperation we would do best to cooperate with stength not weakness.
To this end we really need to review the last 20 years of US/Canadian politics and ask simply under which American government, Republican or Democrat, did we as Canadians most prosper.  If Canada made more money and had greater concessions under the Republicans then we can only hope for a Republican America. If on the other hand we did best under the American Democratic position then that's who we should favour.
As a liberal I might well support liberalism in my country but liberalism may serve caring first for my own people whereas supporting liberalism in a trading partner would be harmful for my own cause. If I support conservatism in my own country this may not make Republican in the US better unless the US under republicans have increased the well being of Canada as a whole.  In Canada the NDP and Liberals are one in the same, akin to Democrats in the US whereas the Conservative Party is like the right slice of the Democrats and the left slice of the Republicans.  We have no real Right Wing Republicans in Canada to speak of. Canada on the world stage has always been centrist or left of centre.  You really need a monarchy or an empire to make for true Right wing representation. Despite the Quebec Separatist movement now relatively defunk Canadians have lacked that tendency to saber rattling and strutting that characterized Europe before WWI.
It's real politic also to realize that America is our principal trade partner. It's fine to look for alternative sources of income and expand our resources but not by biting the hand that feeds.  It's a dream to have Chinese and European wealth flowing into Canada in competition with American but the fact is that's only a possible and imagined future.  Today America remains our best bet.
How can we get Obama to improve trade with Canada?  That's the only real 'use' we can have for Obama?  Self interest is the cornerstone of internationalism.  Idealism must first be proven on the home front before it's a very profitable export.  Canadian's haven't done well on idealism in the last couple of decades.  Where once we were the country providing the booze to the US, we're now a principal source of illicit drugs.  At home we can be 'morally superior' but to the average American we offer little more morally than any of the European or Caribean countries.  Americans have their Bob Dylans and James Taylors, peace marches, art and idealism.  Canada to the average American unfortunately is not Joni Mitchell or William Shatner but raw resources. And as to that they might simply prefer our clean water to our dirty oil but they don't particularly respect our politics or even our health care.  If anything Americans are more likely to look at Canada to see what not to do rather than look at Canada to see what to do.
Canadians need to be realistic in regards to dealing with Americans. The diversity and choices available to Americans are far ranging given the independence of the States as opposed to their federation. Canadians are fairly homogenous provincially and federally. We compare to an American less as country than as another state.  An American might well consider, do you think we should do this the Canadian way or the Wyoming way.  We are 25 million to their 100's of millions.
It's something the CBC forgets in it's propaganda to the Canadian people.  Yes I am proud to be a Canadian and small is beautiful and I am superior as a highland Canadian to a lowland American.  That doesn't change that to the American elephant I'm still just a cute mouse, albeit with incredible sharp teeth and the capacity to scurry up an elephants legs and bite his balls hard.  I might even induce gangrene and destroy the elephants capacity for future generation but realistically I'd be crushed in the end and likely well before the elephant died of my no doubt glorious and deviously inflicted wounds.
Admiring the Americans as much as I do I'd like Canadians to maximize the relationship and to this end our think tanks seriously have to ask with which party has Canada gained most. The next question then is with which candidate for a political party will Canada benefit. I hear the republican leadership hopefuls every day talking or being talked about on CBC but frankly I've not heard one of them say anything about Canada.  It's why I find the CBC news at times farsical. I know that CBC is the news agency of Toronto and Montreal but laugh when it purports to represent the country.  To the best of my knowledge CBC has not reported what Romney for instance will do for Canada.  It's the only question I want to know about that leadership race.  What is Gingrich going to do for Canada?
Now that Obama is in power if I had the time I'd like to look back and see what Obama said would benefit Canada.  Surely there's the 'trickle down' effect that Americans both Democrat and Republican like towards the rest of the world as compared to their Mount Olympus.  That said what more can we expect?  And I don't want Platitudes either. There are very specific treaties regarding trade and the NATO and various things of this nature that would make the Republican leadership race very interesting for me.
When Obama interfered with Canada's pipe line I wasn't interested in the spotted owls I was however interested in how much the Democratic decision would lose Canada economically and in terms of jobs.  I appreciate the concerns of a northern BC pipeline as to our land but frankly I was not as understanding of Obama putting some state's concern for it's greenery over the billions to be made by Albertans if a pipeline went through to America. It's that way of looking at things rather than the vague and touchy feeling kind of politically correct thinking that somehow, for me, misses the point.
First and foremost I'm a Canadian.  Next I'm a global citizen.  As such I'm most appreciative of the American's overall management of a whole lot of things that Canadians don't generally like to have to deal with.  Just to note a couple of these, I'd say the Chinese Military and radical muslim suicide bombers.  I strongly believe that without the US Canada would be the slave state of another power. I certainly prefer Obama more than any of the North Korean family leadership.  To date America has been the best ally Canada has had and is today our very best ally and neighbour.  So how can we make the most of this relationship?

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