It’s Canada Day, America
<originally published to Forbes>
At what point did you think the mouse might have to stand up to the omnipresent elephant?
Being a Canadian and living my entire life in the country, I—like so many of my Canuck comrades—love having you as our neighbor. You are like a big brother that has always looked out for us. You are the caring sister also blessed with gumption and bravado. Indeed we are fortunate.
We even put up with your craziness. Canadians are polite, overly nice, and we say “sorry” way too often. The Economist refers to us as “Irredeemably dull by reputation, less brash and bellicose than America.” In our view, however, America is the party that never sleeps. The hustle, the bustle, the endless chants of “U.S.A.” Your country is just so fantastic. Comedian Robin Williams perhaps puts it best, “Canada, you are the kindest country in the world. You are like a really nice apartment over a meth lab.”
Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau once commented to the Press Club in Washington D.C, “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”
It was a tongue-in-cheek remark, but an effective one nonetheless. We are always mindful of your sheer size.
That observation by our prime minister, however, was delivered in 1969. Fun fact: it was Pierre Elliott Trudeau who said it. Fast forward almost fifty years later to 2018 and his son, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—and all of Canada for that matter—are now feeling the sobering effects of the most recent twitches and grunts of the elephant.
Those sounds and movements have us all a wee bit, how shall we say, perturbed.
Canada recently held the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, a chance to gather leaders from Japan, France, Italy, UK, Germany, U.S. and of course the host country to discuss files related to trade, the environment, women’s rights, world safety, and so on. It did not end well.
In the most brazen public attack on a Canadian leader—perhaps ever—President Donald Trump not only withdrew support for the previously agreed upon communiqué after departing the Summit early but he also launched Twitter grenades on Trudeau’s character.
For decades upon decades, Canada has been a phone call away for support. 9/11? You bet, just ask the thousands of families put up in Canadian cities when flights were grounded, including perhaps the most touching stories emanating out of Gander, Newfoundland. I know of over 6,500 people who are thankful for Canadian hospitality in Gander.
Trump labeled Trudeau “indignant,” “meek and mild,” and accused him of making false statements. Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow suggested Trudeau “stabbed us in the back” while trade adviser Peter Navarro said that there’s “a special place in hell for Trudeau.”
Those are not the words any leader ought to be used in a public forum to describe another person. For the comments to come from—and be approved—by Trump, the leader of a country that enjoys a relationship like no other country in the world is unfathomable.
The issue that has Trump’s knickers in a twist is of course trade or his perceived imbalance between the two countries. Statistics, perhaps ironically, outlined by Trump’s own Office of the United States Trade Representative indicated in 2017 the U.S. had an $8.4 billion trade surplus with Canada for goods and services, exporting $341.2 billion and importing $332.8 billion. These are facts, not opinions or hearsay.
Trump’s most significant trade issues seem to be the dairy industry and the 270% tariff the Canadian government places on any incoming dairy product. Dairy was roughly 0.2% of the total value of goods exported by the U.S. to Canada in 2017. Why a 270% tariff? The Canadian dairy trade balance deficit has been—and always will be—massive. In 2016 alone it was a $733 million imbalance.
Name calling and exhibiting bullying behaviors toward what was your best friend is moronic. So too is the action if facts are ignored altogether. For example, the U.S. exports more in agricultural products to Canada than it receives. As reported in the Washington Post, the U.S. exports more than five times as much dairy as it imports. It also exports twice as much in services as it imports.
Put differently, if one does not possess (or understand) the facts and analyze the situation with a panoptic lens, name-calling and bullying become the only tactic to apply. This is where Trump has landed.
Between the Twitter tirade, the name-calling, the bullying, the lack of facts, and the incredulous issuance of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum—which may cost 400,000 American jobs—it has ignited the donut eating and beer swigging underbelly of all Canadians.
Some people in Canada are calling for a Boycott Trump movement.
Others, like former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has become more helpful. He lost the last general election in Canada to Trudeau but put down his differences and appeared on Fox News to help calm the choppy waters. He said, “It seems to me that this [steel and aluminum tariffs] is the wrong target and, from what I understand of American public opinion, I don’t think even Trump supporters think the Canadian trade relationship is the problem.”
This is the Canadian way. We stick up for our own, regardless of religion, race or political stripes. There is no left, center or right in Canada when we are backed into a corner. There is no me in Canada. We all bleed red as a nation, coast to coast to coast.
Petulance, bullying, and deceit are unserious and unworthy behaviors for our people. We do not stoop to levels of such disgrace.
We are Canada. We might be the nice apartment over a meth lab, but we will not tolerate insolent, noisy, injurious neighbors. We stand on guard for thee.