Recently, I innocently mentioned that Canada was a completely different country than the United States "more or less." That prompted a lot of Canadians to write to me. I found out that A) they are sick and tired of being treated like the 51st state and B) apparently a lot of Canadians think "Hey, Monkey-Brain!" is a perfectly acceptable way to start a letter. Canadians are fiercely proud of their country and all its noble traditions such as having once had the guy that draws "Doonesbury" as their Prime Minister or the fact that they are the dominant player in the worldwide maple syrup cartel. (So much so that that they boldly advertise the fact on their flag.) So in an attempt to apologize, I'll devote the rest of this column praising all things Canadian, eh?
I think it's pretty clear that as a neighbor you couldn't ask for a better country than Canada. For example, I think it's just great the way that both of our countries are so friendly these days considering the fact that back when we were enemies, the United States frankly kicked butt and took names at one of the most decisive battles during the War of 1812. Their performance at the Battle of New Orleans has to be a bit embarrassing for Canadians. Of course, it's also embarrassing for us, since that particular battle happened approximately one month after the war had officially ended. Neither side mentions it any more, which is probably for the best. Today Canada and the United States share the longest unguarded land border in the world. Now that's trust for you.
Another great thing about Canada is that it's a very dignified country. Canada keeps its yard picked up, goes to bed at reasonable hours, and doesn't throw wild parties that spill over across the border like some other countries I could name. You never hear of young Canadian men running away to the U.S. to dodge their national duty (compulsory French lessons). And whole Canadian families aren't trying to smuggle themselves into the United States in 55 gallon drums or refrigerator boxes.
At least as far as we know.
It's possible, of course, that Canadians are extremely crafty and just haven't been caught yet. For all we know they've dug a tunnel under North Dakota and are simply strolling into Bismarck where they quietly set up residence and establish a U.S. identity. I know it sounds far fetched, but it would explain why anybody lives in Bismarck at all. After all, why would a real U.S. citizen live there when they are free to move to Tampa, San Diego, or even Fergus Falls, Minnesota? But I digress...
Having Canada to our north is convenient in other ways, too. First, it keeps Alaska a safe distance away from the rest of us in the Lower 48 (and vice versa, I'm sure). Second, Canada acts as a buffer protecting us from the desperate, crazed animals that wander the frozen northern wastes.
Although to be honest, it hasn't been working all that well lately. Our Department of Natural Resources claims that recently a number of cougars have been slipping into New England from Quebec. (I'm not exactly sure how DNR scientists figured out these were Canadian cougars. I presume it was from the accent...) And moose herd populations in the United States have recently been on the increase, too, which is troubling.
It's an established fact that sometimes mooses will try to engage in illicit moose-cow love such as the infamous incident that occurred in Shrewsbury, Vermont. I'm not saying that that particular moose was definitely Canadian, but there have been confirmed sightings of Canadian mooses swimming in the Great Lakes several miles from Canada and heading south. It stands to reason that those mooses are risking hoof and antler to swim to the United States for something. To your average Canuck moose our whole country probably looks like a debauched Vegas-style moose party complete with exotic cow dancers, if you see what I'm saying.
A final source of Canadian pride is that recently, for a brief shining moment, the Canadian dollar was actually worth more than the U.S. dollar. This did two things. First, it stopped all those embarrassing visits of U.S. Senators with bus-fulls of retirees from showing up and cleaning out the local Walgreens of "illegal" Canadian-strength aspirin, Metamucil, and Depends. And second, it finally allowed Canadians to have cheap access to those American technologies for which we are world famous, such as flavored beef jerky and take-out pizza.
All things considered, Canada is a fine country and neighbor and we Americans shouldn't take you for granted. And, by the way, thanks for letting us run our pipeline through your country. (Now about those so called "transit losses"...)
Originally appeared 2009-03-23
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