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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Canada, Our Oldest Good neighbor

There is a great story in Jacques Poitras' Imaginary Line:  Life on an Unfinished Border about how folks living on the U.S. northern border feel about Canada:

"Lloyd Woods, the former head of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in nearby Madawaska, Maine, used to ask [U.S.] students in his school visits, "How many here have travelled to a foreign country in the last six months?" Two or three students would raise their hands. "How many of you have travelled to Canada in the last six months?" Every hand in the class would go up."

So it is with great astonishment that I learned that the Trump administration is provoking a  fight with the Canadians.  Given the long history of cross-border contact, swapping of populations, intermarriage, and mutual dependence, my response to this is "WTF?"  Canadians aren't just neighbors, they are family.  I am not alone in having relatives in both countries. For a closer look at the human beings involved in all this, I recommend  Migrants and Migration in Modern North America edited by Dick Hoerder and Nola Faires.  For Trump maybe it would be best to hand him this 1946 brochure which explains just how important Canada and Canadian are to the United States.

With the Trump administration I don't know whether to laugh or to cry.  What he wants to do is so nonsensical and silly that even children know better.  Stephen Colbert  treats this latest act with the ridicule and contempt that it deserves.  And once we are finished laughing, let's invite the Canadians to pick up their hockey sticks and have at the U.S. president. We need all the help we can get to knock some sense into him.


Inaka Nezumi said...

Isn't Mexico older? Or did the pamphlet writers not consider it a good neighbor?

Andrew said...

Perennial issue, just the tone and rhetoric different.

bubblebustin said...

True, Andrew. Trump's grandstanding as usual.

Ed in rural Ontario said...

Inaka: It depends a bit on your perspective. Canada was first permanently colonized in the 1530's, and French settlements (that became Canada) were side-by-side with some British settlements that became the US by 1700. Even as colonies shifted and nations emerged, the actual people who became Canadian or American were living side-by-side, intermarrying and trading, for more than 300 years. Spanish settlement in Mexico is older than either French or English settlement, but the US did not really become a neighbour of Mexico until after the Louisiana purchase in1803. Also, it is over 140 years since the US has attacked Canada militarily, but just a little over 90 since the last border skirmishes between the US and Mexico stopped.

I also have a Canadian centric view, having lived in Canada for 40+ years (more than twice as long as I lived in the US. Like most of the words and policies emanating from the White House, the tone is offensive, facts don't matter, and there are some many flip-flops that the WH has lost all credibility.

Here on the US-Canada border, the tone is having an impact. Based on anecdotes, I suspect that the annual travel figures of Canadians visiting the US will be down significantly -- and probably by an amount that dwarfs any tariffs that Trump imposes

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Thank you, Ed! Excellent synopsis. I agree wholeheartedly that Trump is being an ass.

Lots of intermarriage and border hopping by Americans and Canadians. It was pretty much taken for granted by those who live along the border. The first of my ancestors to come to North America came to New France (what later became Quebec) in 1659 from France.

Over the years some of the Canadian family headed south to the US and then west.

In more recent times my aunt headed for B.C., Canada 30 years ago and is now a Canadian citizen. This back and forth is extremely common. I recently read Poitras's book and I'm now reading about the theories of borderlands and the people who inhabit them.

Blaze said...

I want Trump to build a wall on the Canadian border. We'll pay for it.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Blaze, I understand 100% why you would feel that way. :-)

Tim said...

Obama treated Canada just as badly as Trump. It is only the media were biased towards Obama and thus refused to report on it.