The Truth, Mainly - 12/06/2004

First Iraq, then Canada?
by Leon Satterfield

My wife and I flew over a bit of Canada last week on our way home from Thanksgiving in New Hampshire. Scared hell out of me. Not Thanksgiving in New Hampshire but flying over a bit of Canada.

But as far as I could tell there was no anti-aircraft fire, no fighter planes intercepting us, and before I could warn the pilot of the danger of Americans flying through Canadian air space, we were descending for our safe landing in Minneapolis.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not normally a Canuckophobe. One of the best students I ever had was a Canadian. Back in the late sixties, early seventies, our little family used to go on cheap summer vacations to Canada where we'd hang out for a couple of weeks on a lovely three-acre island in a beautiful lake.

The island belonged to friends of ours who'd bought it from the Canadian government for $700—a steal even in the sixties.

The Canadians seemed pleased that we were there, and we were certainly pleased to be there. The closest thing to international discord came when one of our Canadian friends opined that Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was probably a better national leader than President Richard Nixon. As I remember, we agreed with our friend's judgment. Called him "mate" and gave him a rousing round of applause.

Then we popped another can of Molson and told our host how much better it tasted than Coors. That cemented our relationship.

So, you must be wondering, why am I so fearful of Canadians now?

I'll tell you. I've been reading too many newspapers again.

Especially the coverage of our president's two-day stay in Canada last week. Much of that coverage was frightening.

For example, the Nov. 27 issue of the Washington Post ran a story headlined "Forecast Frosty for U.S.-Canadian Ties."

The story quotes a Canadian pollster, Michael Adams, saying this: "In 1981 only 8 percent of Canadians had an unfavorable view of the United States. Now 45 percent have an unfavorable view. There has never been that kind of lopsided skew."

The story went on to say that "Much of the antipathy…is focused on Bush…and the White House has declined an invitation to address Parliament, when Bush might be heckled."

And then the story tells us that last year Carolyn Parrish, a Liberal Party member of Parliament, said "Damn Americans, I hate those bastards"—and thus "evoked cheers from many supporters."

That's when I got a prescient sense that Canada wasn't going to be terribly friendly to our president.

The Post story goes on to quote historian Lawrence Martin's book "The Presidents and Prime Ministers." He wrote that "this is a nadir of how the Canadian people view a president. George W. Bush probably ranks lowest on the scale in Canadian history, since the birth of Canada in 1867."

But what was most upsetting to me was a four-column wide photograph on p. 3a of the Dec. 1 Journal-Star. You must have seen it too. And as patriotic Americans you must have been as upset as I was.

You remember—it showed a crowd of "more than 500" Canadians protesting the president's two-day visit. The headline over the story beneath the picture said "Bush seeks amity with Canada."

But the photo showed no amity. It showed protesters "mimicking the pulling down of the statue of Saddam Hussein during the Iraq war" by pulling down a mock statue of President Bush.

And the pedestal on which the mock statue stood had this sign in front of it: "George Bush—Self-Appointed Emperor Of The World."

That is an insult, as Winston Churchill might have said, up with which we should not put.

We've been at peace with Canada from its beginning in 1867. We had a bit of a disagreement with the Brits in the early 19th century over where our northern border should be. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 set it on the 49th parallel.

But if there's a repeat of last week's Canadian insolence, we're going to have to take stern measures.

I say that as soon as we win the war in Iraq—say in another decade or two if we send in enough troops—we should invade Canada, claim as our own all the provinces that border on the U.S. and relocate all Canadians to whatever's north of the 60th parallel.

And of course we would also take over any other Canadian territory that may have any oil reserves waiting for us.

That would teach Canadians—and the rest of the world—to show us a little respect. You know, the same way our current war is teaching Iraqis—and the rest of the world—to show us a little respect.


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is:

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