Canada is what we were: a nation of
prosperous, free and cheerful individuals, ever-willing to criticize
their government through a free and diverse media, but all the while
confident that it is their government, which they can vote out of office
if a sufficient number of citizen-voters so desire.
I was reminded of all this as my wife and I recently spent half of a
three week vacation in this fortunate country, sea kayaking off northern
Vancouver Island, canoeing on an interior British Columbia River, and
tent camping every night but one in the spectacular Canadian outdoors.
I’ve had an ongoing love-affair with our northern neighbor for more than
a decade. Like many Americans, I am acquainted with numerous Canadians,
many of them friends and all of them, without exception, individuals
that I would be pleased to have as neighbors. For seven years during the
nineties, I was professionally associated with members of a Toronto
consulting firm, all of them intelligent, personable, and unfailingly
honorable. Scholarly conferences have brought me to Vancouver, Toronto
and Montreal. In the summer of 2000, and again in 2004,
my wife and I
drove to Alaska, which means, of course, through British Columbia
and Yukon Territory, on both occasions taking plenty of time to explore
the Canadian rivers and mountains.
Superficially, western Anglo-Canadians appear to be indistinguishable
from visiting Americans. Among the young, “the Canadian diphthong” (“aboot”
instead of “about”) has vanished. Listen to our talk radio, and you will
not be able to identify the Canadians unless they identify themselves.
In British Columbia I doubt if many noticed, or cared, if I were
American or Canadian.
While my political biases may color my impressions, and while it is
folly to generalize about 32 million Canadians from an encounter with a
few dozen, I did seem to notice, beneath the surface, some subtle
differences of temperament.
I was struck by the cheerfulness of the Canadians that I routinely
encountered as a tourist: the sales clerks, waitresses, managers, etc.
The same sunny disposition is evident among the Canadian scholars and
consultants of my professional acquaintance. I find among the Canadians,
perceptively less anxiety and more self-assurance – more “comfort in
their own skins” -- than I find among my compatriots.
Could this be because Canadians, unlike citizens of Bush’s America, are
not “YoYos” – are not told, “you’re on your own”? Because of their
excellent health care system, Canadians have no fear that they are one
serious illness away from bankruptcy. Similarly, their other
governmental social services are well-managed and secure. As we
discovered, provincial parks and camping facilities are abundant and
scrupulously maintained, while in Alaska we encountered many campsites
closed “due to State budget cutbacks.”
In sum, what Canadians take for granted from their government, Bush and
the GOP Congress have been taking from us: a just allotment of the tax
burden, competent management of public and personal emergencies,
environmental protection, generous support for public education and for
scientific research and development, even-handed rule of law, and most
of all, honest, demonstrably accurate and verifiable elections. In
Canada, the ballots are all hand-counted, in the presence of three
Small wonder that the Canadians appear less anxious and more secure than
their neighbors below the 49th parallel.
I can hear it now: “So, if you are so fond of Canada, why don’t you move
there and take your ‘hate-America liberalism’ with you?”
I choose to remain here precisely because I am loyal to and love my
native country, the United States, just as I despise those who have
defiled its good name through their imperial aggressions abroad, who
have plundered its wealth, who have despoiled its natural environment,
and who have, in violation of their oaths of office, subverted its
Constitution and the rule of law.
The history, traditions and ideals of the United States of America
should weigh far more than the misfortune that has befallen it these
past six years. And if we the American people so determine, these
traditional moral and political assets which, by example, we have
offered to the entire world, may soon be restored. However, that
restoration is by no means assured, and if we fail to resist the
Bushevik assault upon our Constitution and demand that restoration of
the rule of law, a long night of despotism may soon be upon us.
Because I love my country, I refuse to abandon it at this moment of its
gravest peril. There is a struggle ahead, and I choose to be part of it.
If and when the time comes that my dissent puts my life and liberty in
immediate danger, and if and when there is no further possibility of
reform from within, then I may flee this country and continue the
struggle for its liberation from without. Until then, I would no sooner
abandon my troubled country than I would abandon my enfeebled parents or
my wayward and bewildered children.
In the meantime, Canada, as well the other free nations of the British
Commonwealth and of Western Europe, is an exemplar of the kind of free,
just and prosperous country that the United States once was and which,
through the determined and courageous resistance of its people, the
United States can become once again. Canada, just by minding its own
business, stands as an embarrassment to George Bush and his neo-con
collaborators, and as an example and beacon of hope to the embattled
Americans who are struggling to reclaim the liberty and justice once
guaranteed by our Constitution, and the reputation that we once enjoyed
throughout the world.
O Canada! ... With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North
strong and free!
Copyright 2006 by Ernest Partridge