Yankee doodle dandy

I’ve got to get something off my chest. I realize in advance I will get hammered for it but I will say it anyway.

I don’t know why Paul Martin has to hammer the United States. I mean, I realize politically it is a great strategy – it helped him pick up a few hundred thousand NDPers in the last election but everything can’t be just about politics.

Maybe I am biased because I lived in the USA for six years and have a lot of good friends there but I find the vast majority of Americans are very similar to Canadians. Sure we don’t agree with everything they do and they don’t agree with everything we do. Sure they screwed us over on the softwood lumber thing and the BSE thing but if you know anything about US politics – it is dominated by interest groups. The lumber retail lobby spent millions in favour of cheap wood from Canada while the lumber producers spent tens of millions to tack on tarrifs. The same thing goes for those mad cows. The western cattle producers saw an opportunity to strike and strike they did.

Side Bar: In many ways this is preferrable to the concentration of power in Canadian politics where Jean Cretien had absolute power over the budget, new legislation and some 3,000 political appointments. South of the border the budget is about give and take, legislation is about horse trading and virtually all political appointments are subject to Senate approval. It just shows you that there is no perfect system. What is better? The big lobby machine in the US or the dictatorship of the PMO in Canada? We could argue this ad infinitum.

But I digress.

We do more trade with the United States than California. More native Canadians are living in the US than just about every other immigrant community.

597,729 of Acadian descent
370,000 of ‘Canadian’ descent
and the mother load: 1,698,394 of French Canadian descent

So that makes over 2.6 million Americans that came from Canada. Source: 2000 Census.

And, of course, that doesn’t include all the Canadians living in the US on green cards or other temporary work permits.

Bottom line. We can disagree with specific Presidents or policies but I think Martin has more than crossed that line. And for political gain, no less. And after he said he would ‘mend’ the relationship with the US that had faltered under Cretien, no less.

Where is the Paul Martin that gave that speech when he was crown Liberal leader? Where Bono sung his praises? Where French and English alternated Paul Martin, Paul Martin. Where he said he would fix just about every problem facing Canada. Specifically, Prime Minister Martin was going to:
-Fix the ‘democratic’ deficit and reduce the power of the PMO
-Root out and eliminate corruption in the Liberal party
-Fix healthcare ‘for a generation’
-Reform the Senate
-Eliminate western Alienation
-Bring Quebec back into the fold
-Fix our foreign policy
-Fix the military
-Restore a good relationship with the USA
-Solve regional economic development
-Fix chronic native Canadian problems
-Distribute more of the Federal civil service throughout Canada

And, although I realized that this was impossible, I applauded his vision.

Then something changed. It was in the middle of the last election when he thought he might lose it. Might not be able to lead Canada in its ‘finest hour’ as he said. His eyes got this wild look about them. He started looking haggard but determined.

In my opinion it all went down hill from there.

Admittedly, Canadian politicians are used to working in a minority government but I don’t see that Paul Martin has moved forward on any of those grand objectives. The relationship with the Americans has not been this tense since Trudeau. The ‘side deals’ he struck led to resentment and more alienation. He is at record lows in Quebec public opinion. Bono called him a liar. There was no health care fix ‘for a generation’. We are still mired in the same old problems of wait times, shortages and private health care. He appointed a pile of folks to the Senate – no reform in sight.

And foreign policy? Well, a quick story on that. Washington-based Foreign Affairs magazine compiled the wish list of each of the G8 leaders before the summit last year. They went through the list. Bush, Blair, Schroeder. Then they got to Paul Martin and they wrote, and this is a quote ‘who cares?’. Couple that with the recent Economist magazine article.

Now we are back at the polls and I see that wild look in his eyes again. Say anything. Do anything. Promise anything. Just get me back to 24 Sussex Drive.

Watching his body language and reading about him in the press, you almost get the feeling he would be relieved to lose the election but his ambition is monumentally larger than his gut.

I got way off topic, again. So the point I was trying to make is that I see no point in slagging the Yanks for political gain. Like it or not our economy is largely tied into theirs and we need to play nice.

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0 Responses to Yankee doodle dandy

  1. The Virginian says:

    Major departure from the economic development BLOG. But I like politics as much as the next guy, since it has so much influence on economic development.
    You know the Canadian $$$ has been going up. What is the market telling us???? Does not matter who is in power January 24th, life goes on. Now that I have been in the USA working for a while, I have a different take on our relationship with the US. And I think it is a major error to continue to bash the
    Americans. Canadians and Canada got a lot of sympathy on the softwood lumber issue in the past month, heck I’ve had people talked to me about it and supporting the Canadian position.
    Now wtih all the additional crap the PM is dishing out it will hurt us. Remember no matter how unpopular G.W. is, Americans will rally around the Presidency (not necessarely the President). They have a great respect for the institution, despiite its own problems.
    Paul is done like dinner. Too bad, he was a good Lieutenant, but not all Lieutenant make good Generals.

  2. Anonymous says:

    As far as the states goes, it’s quite true ‘who cares?’ Few of them know anything about Canada, their media still thinks we live under Trudeau and are some kind of socialist haven. Heck, you’ll get better socialized medicine in New York state than you’ll get in Ontario.

    It IS an election, and blaming a politician for bringing up areas that the US ‘screws us over’ like softwood and mad cow is certainly missing the giant pink elephant in the room who is hitting you with a hammer. Canadian ‘politeness’ be damned, there’s a lot of people and animals HURT here because of them, so we have every right to at least SAY some bad things. It’s not like we’ve reciprocated in a trade war or anything, they STILL get to screw us over, the least we can do is yelp from the pain.

    As for the ‘worst since Trudeau’, thats just plain wrong. When we didn’t join them in Iraq and we had liberal ministers publicly calling George Bush retarded it was FAR worse. Paul’s comments were pretty softball.

    And from our point of view, come on, Canada is virtually ALWAYS getting slighted by the US. Whether they’re hanging our flag upside down at the world series or not even thanking us for showing up to help them out after 9/11 or housing their citizens after that plane crash.

    Even to a foreign policy magazine, which I assume is actually supposed to be academically inclined making such derogatory comments-although in my book that discounts it as a serious publication.

    That it serves an electoral use is just par for the course, because there are MANY canadians that don’t want to mend fences. There are many who think we should cut off the oil pipelines until they pay back our canadian money. Of course nobody expects that of Paul Martin, and really, did you REALLY think Paul Martin was going to do all those things? This IS the liberal party we’re talking about-remember getting rid of the GST and National Day Care-in 1992! Hell, Chretien was saying he was going to bring in Proportional Representation in 1984!!

    There’s a reason that politicians are rated the least trustworthy of all professions, I know of virtually nobody who associates themselves with their federal government, heck, most people dont even know what the federal government DOES. We all know americans, and don’t associate them with their president, I’m sure they do the same-and if they don’t-who cares?