Extra! Extra! America Loses Faith in Canada! Get Your Hair Shirts Here! Damn, These Things Are Itchy! (on the Edge)
Hughes, Lesley, Canadian Dimension
Hard to know whether to laugh or cry as for its failure to be the United States of Canada's media once again flog the country America. Canadian radio, television and newspaper drones practically picked up U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci and carried him on their shoulders when he balefully (and repearedly) expressed official disappointment over Canada's decision to remain in the coalition of the unwilling to invade Iraq. The message that Canadians were, by turns, disloyal, dishonourable, ungrateful and chicken-hearted was repeated so often that, by the third week of the "war" assorted polls, websites and public rallies rose up to bow down and kiss American ... flags. Canadian CEOs rushed to Washington to bandage the wounds. Two premiers, Ralph Klein and Ernie Eves, wrote letters of apology. This was topped by the good people of Alberta, who chipped in for the privilege of grovelling in a full-page we're-sorry ad in USA Today. The country's videocams and microphones frantically chased and courted the contrite, on ce again driving home the notion that Canadian American relations were in panic mode.
Why the merciless self-flagellation? Sometimes a big story is explained by a little one.
A single issue of the National Post (April 4, 2003) tells the tale. On the front page, "Liberals Pay Homage to Special Bond with U.S." and "France and Germany Lose Distaste for War." On the Editorial Page (Business Section), "Canada Can't Afford Bad U.S. Relations." And way, way back in the paper, "CanWest Global [the Post's parent company] Gets Resounding Vote of Confidence from U.S. Financial Institutions." Ninety U.S. investors have bought unsecured senior notes offered by CanWest amounting to $295 million. CanWest shares rise on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The Post, in urging Canadians to secure their future by supporting U.S. foreign and military policy, co-incidentally secures its own.
Sometimes a big story is best explained by a bigger story that's never been told. To understand the real significance of Paul Cellucci's fact-free, ill-mannered slur against Canadian autonomy, Canadians need to know what happened to John Diefenbaker when he caused too much nuisance value for John F. Kennedy. Exactly 40 years ago the White House effected what amounted to a regime change in Canada. JFK had plenty of complaints. Diefenbaker traded with Cuba and China, supported a nuclear test-ban treaty in Europe and never followed through on an alleged promise to arm anti-aircraft missiles with American nuclear warheads. Two U.S. ambassadors manoeuvred Diefenbaker out of power. …