A stranger among you that says 'eh'
July 2, 2005 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Canada ambassador to the U.S. mobilizes ex-patriots in order to fight the F.U.D. coming from Fox News. But will the only thing paid attention to be the very, very large Canadian oil reserves?
posted by Kickstart70 (45 comments total)
It's a noble goal, but trying to counter Americans' traditionally hostile view of other countries is a bit like teaching French to a pig. It gets nothing done, and it annoys the pig.
posted by clevershark at 10:18 AM on July 2, 2005

"..he is emulating efforts of other countries that have called on their citizens abroad to educate local citizens and change perceptions...Canada's product has improved."

Are nations "products" and its citizens "salespeople"? Where will this lead.
posted by stbalbach at 10:24 AM on July 2, 2005

Some trade facts and figures...

Trade and economic interests span the globe, but the scope and scale of the movement of goods, services, investment, people and ideas between the United States and Canada make this a unique partnership.

Co-operation has produced tremendous benefits to both nations: in 2003, two-way trade in goods and services surpassed $441.5 billion, making the U.S.–Canada trading relationship the largest in the world. In 2003, the U.S. sold $195.8 billion worth of goods and services to Canada and received $245.8 billion worth of goods and services from Canada.

Some 37,000 trucks cross the border between the two countries each and every day. 58% of these cross at only five key border crossings—the Ambassador Bridge, Sarnia, Fort Erie, Lacolle and the Pacific Highway.

In fact, Canada has been the leading destination for U.S. exports since 1946. From cars to computers, Canada buys more goods and services from the U.S. than any other country in the world. One-fifth of all U.S. exports went to Canada in 2003.

Thirty-seven states count Canada as their number one foreign customer; Canada is the most important destination of exports for most of the states along the border, the northeast and central U.S., and as far south as Missouri and Georgia. In fact, 23 states sent more than one-quarter of their exports to Canada in 2003.

Since the implementation of the Canada–U.S. Free Trade Agreement in 1989 and the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, there has been a dramatic increase in two-way interdependence between the two economies.

U.S. exports bound for Canada more than doubled between 1989 and 2003, from $79.9 billion to $169.8 billion. Over the same period, U.S. imports from Canada increased from $89.9 billion to $226.9 billion.

Merchandise trade, for example, accounted for 86.7% of total U.S. exports to Canada and 92.3% of total imports from Canada. Nearly 60% of U.S. wood and paper imports came from Canada in 2002, despite the softwood lumber dispute between the two countries.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:25 AM on July 2, 2005

But will the only thing paid attention to be the very, very large Canadian oil reserves?

More attention will be paid to that than anything else I guess.
posted by nervousfritz at 10:29 AM on July 2, 2005


This is just weird. Americans in general have no negative views twoards Canada at all, whereas it seems like Canadians have a very negative view of the US. If there are any negative feelings twoard canada they are simply "rivalry" type feelings.

In other words Americans "hate" canadians the way Iowa State students hate University of Iowa students, we might talk shit in jest, and feel a little jelous that Iowa City is party central but certanly have no ill will twoards individual Hawkeyes.

But I do get the feeling that Some canadians really do hate America. I've never heard of a single american who actualy hates canada
posted by delmoi at 10:31 AM on July 2, 2005

I was hoping that the links to FUD and Fox were to examples of the fud that Fox is spreading. Anyone got any?
posted by Extopalopaketle at 10:40 AM on July 2, 2005

delmoi: maybe not the average citizen, although their lack of knowledge of the relationship between the two does allow those who dislike Canada to act upon their feelings.

A lot of the recent problems (softwood dispute, beef border closures) were pushed hard by lobbyists for those industries to a government that didn't much care as long as they won the next election and ignored by a populace that doesn't know any better.

Any effort to improve the education of the people is welcome, so that maybe the other two groups don't act in ways that are against the overall good for both countries.


And I've met plenty of people on both sides of the border who dislike the other country, though the majority impression I've got is that Americans generally don't care to know anything about Canada and Canadians generally feel that they know too much, and most of that is negative.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:46 AM on July 2, 2005

That's easy.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:47 AM on July 2, 2005

Kickstart: we are talking about fox news lying about canada not in general.
posted by delmoi at 10:51 AM on July 2, 2005

I was unaware of any Canadian animosity outside of South Park. I was under the impression that South Park was just a cartoon, not to be taken seriously. Why does Canada suddenly need propaganda for the ex-pats? And how does the oil have anything to do with this? A huge part of the Canadian oil reserve is in oil sands which (as previously discussed on MeFi) are dirty, expensive, and slow to recover.

Framing the question "But will Americans only care about oil?" is a little silly when you're talking about our frosty neighbors to the north. While it's a nice bit of rhetoric if you don't like American attitude in general, it frames the issue pretty poorly.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 10:58 AM on July 2, 2005

ex-patriots or expatriates?
posted by kenko at 11:05 AM on July 2, 2005

For the most part, most of the anti-Canadian sentiment I've seen comes from wingnuts who are upset that Canada didn't join the war in Iraq. We've got Boycott Canada sites, hostile eBay sellers, etc. I don't think you can deny that there are Canada-haters on American soil. As for Fox, well, there's always this (warning: Ann Coulter video clip). And this, I guess.

While I like the idea of Canadians abroad talking up their country, somehow a list of talking points seems a bit Republicanish.
posted by greatgefilte at 11:09 AM on July 2, 2005

ex-patriots or expatriates?

ROFL! careful kenko, you'll damage his self of steam!
posted by quonsar at 11:13 AM on July 2, 2005

delmoi: That's a pretty big task, and although I can give you some example, I'm not sure I'm up for the creation of a whole essay to prove it.

Some examples:
1. That Canada's forestry industry is supplemented by government money (repeated, although the U.S. has lost all lawsuits on this issue).
2. That 9/11 terrorists crossed the border from Canada (next retracted, though they did stop saying it).
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:20 AM on July 2, 2005

Woo! Let's make fun of my spelling! That's better than understanding what I meant and discussing that!
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:37 AM on July 2, 2005

For those who missed it, check out NPR's bit this week about President Bush's new American ambassador to Canada. He's been there, once, he thinks. He drove up to that...um...that place that's north of Indiana, only, you know, in Canada.

It's high-larious.
posted by waldo at 11:41 AM on July 2, 2005

As an American living in Canada, I agree with delmoi. I really am not aware of any great animosity the people from the States have with the people of Canada. If anything, I think our relationship with Canada borders on the negligent as we pay very little attention to Canada. This is, of course, just a symptom of our respective population size differences and the general lack of awareness Americans have about any country that is not the USA. Sure, we may have some stereotypes about Canadians but they are not half as bad as the ones we have about our neighbor to the south. On the other hand, I don't think any other country is quite so open about their not liking the actual people from States as Canada. My downstairs neighbor's 7 year old kid once told me that he wanted to be an actor but not in the States because "Americans are bad people." This seems to be not all that rare of a sentiment.
posted by Staggering Jack at 11:43 AM on July 2, 2005

S.J. I note lots of anti-American gov't, but almost no anti-American people sentiment, with a few exceptions...

I used to work up the pacific coast at a boating retreat and the Americans who came by and said things like "Do you take real money?" were absolutely disliked. But that was really specific to them and not against all Americans.

I'm a Canadian who is married to an American, and we've lived here in Richmond (near Vancouver) for three years. There has never been a single incident of my wife being thought of badly because she's American...even with her strong southern (Alabama) accent. In fact, the opposite is true...people WANT to welcome and talk to her just because they think it's quite cool that a southern gal would make her way up into Canada.
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:58 AM on July 2, 2005

tddl wrote: I was unaware of any Canadian animosity outside of South Park.

I think it's more an issue of overcoming ignorance than of reducing animosity. The enormous importance of Canada-US trade to both nations, for example, is common knowledge in Canada but barely known in most of the US. (I bet your average Texan, for example, thinks Mexico's a larger trading partner, and I bet many other Americans might guess Britain or China or Japan before they'd think of Canada.)

And the (false) information that some of the 9/11 perpetrators entered from Canada got far more attention in the US media than the fact that thousands of Americans were billeted in family homes in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia when American airspace was closed that day. (After all, the President himself managed to thank or express solidarity with more than a dozen nations in his first speech to Congress - including such close American friends as France, Egypt and Iran - but didn't see fit to thank Canada for its role.)

Thus, presumably, McKenna's sense that a big part of his job is simply making Americans aware of the importance of Canada to American social and economic affairs. I think it's probably a fool's errand - McKenna's a very astute politician, but he's no Bill O'Reilly when it comes to spreading the good word - but more power to him.

delmoi wrote: But I do get the feeling that Some canadians really do hate America.

Your feeling notwithstanding, delmoi, the number of Canadians who genuinely, categorically "hate America" is probably about equal to the number who think the moon is made of Swiss cheese. The overwhelming majority of Canadians have travelled in the US, have American friends or extended family, and in general think of the US as Canada's big, boisterous, fascinating, exciting, occasionally obnoxious, sometimes-a-little-bit-scary big stepbrother. What's more, there are virtually no Canadians who don't consume American products and absorb American culture daily.

This is why "anti-American" is such a nonsensical epithet. I'm a Canadian born and raised. I lived in the US (Denver and St. Louis) for three years as a child - even pledged allegiance every day for those three years, not knowing what it meant. I have extended family all over metro Boston and southern New Hampshire, my grandmother lived half her golden years just outside Ft. Lauderdale, and I've never been anywhere in the world as viscerally exciting, seductive and welcoming as New York City.

That said, I studied American history extensively in university (much of it under a professor who was born and raised in Southern California and active in the Berkeley free-speech movement), and I am absolutely appalled by almost every aspect of the Bush Administration's foreign policy - so much so that I've started to doubt the essential decency of America's national character for the first time in my life. Previous US govts have sometimes been just as reckless and brutal in foreign affairs; none has been this brazenly unapologetic about it. And that change in tone is where many sympathetic outside observers find their deepest doubts about the direction America is headed. And as these doubts find more and more justification in the latest news out of Washington, I find myself mourning the loss like that of a close friend addicted to a terrible drug or seduced by a destructive cult.

On preview: Bit of a long rant here. Sorry. But while I'm venting: notwithstanding the testimony of Staggering Jack's seven-year-old acquaintance, I stand by my assertion that genuine America-hate's pretty rare in Canada, and that isolated incidents of it are indeed equivalent to an agitated kid telling his domineering older sibling he "hates" him. No matter how viciously it's said, the younger brother knows he's stuck in the car with his big brother for the whole ride to grandma's.
posted by gompa at 12:22 PM on July 2, 2005

My downstairs neighbor's 7 year old kid once told me that he wanted to be an actor but not in the States because "Americans are bad people." This seems to be not all that rare of a sentiment.

Staggering Jack, that's been my experience too... as Canadian who spent seven incredible years in California, I'm saddened by the ignorance, arrogance and hostility in my homeland. It was hard to return "home." I know that's not a popular sentiment on MeFi anymore than it is in my physical neighborhood, but I find it frustrating that these people who complain so loudly about Americans generally have no experience with them apart from Paramount's latest offering. Anecdotally, my personal experience in Canada, as a youth and now as an adult, has been peppered with incidents of thievery and thuggery. Why is the culture so angry here?
posted by blockhead at 12:30 PM on July 2, 2005

I think perhaps my statement came across too strongly, the result of raising one too many English Bay Pale Ales in a cheer to my host country on it’s 137th birthday followed, of course, by draining the pint of foamy goodness repeatedly.

I, personally, also have had nothing but wonderful experiences living in Canada, the warmth and good nature of its people being the polar opposite of the harsh climes of the northern most point of its northern most territories. That said, I do find a certain air of annoyance directed at the American people - and while I would normally just assume that this feeling is aimed at me personally as I am at times ugly, loud, and American to boot, the effortless charm and kindness of my neighbors and friends here have led me to reject this thesis.

Perhaps I should have made clear that I’ve found these sentiments on the intellectual and discussion-based levels and not, at any way, on the personal level. It does seem to me that the sentiment is fairly common and not much challenged but perhaps this not unnatural in countries that are close physically but even more so culturally. It seeps up from fissures in the ground created partly from politics like the hardwood ban, partly from the population differences that allow me to see the Daily Show up here but not know the name Rick Mercer down there, and partly from the earthquake like thunder cause by a cruise ship full of U.S. tourists stepping off the gangway not even knowing the difference between a loonie and a toonie or a premier and a prime minister. Much of this can be easily rectified through education and travel and I welcome Frank McKenna’s efforts and hope that David Wilkins (the new US Ambassador to Canada) works on our outreach as well. Cheers!
posted by Staggering Jack at 12:44 PM on July 2, 2005

greatgefilte, that video clip made me want to slap Ann Coulter. But, I suppose that's rather common.

While I don't think that we hate the United States, there is a level of discomfort and frustration, for sure. We constantly see that our musicians, writers, actors, etc., cannot (usually) succeed unless they move to the States and essentially abandon their Canadian roots. We grow up hearing about how Canada is multicultural and the United States is a melting pot, and we generally feel that our way of doing things is better. We have to deal with scores of American tourists who don't know a damn thing about our country -- tourists who will come to Nova Scotia in August with skis, inquiring about the missing snow. Dubya makes us nervous. The ban on Canadian beef is devastating.

I think the older/younger sibling analogy works -- the US is older and bigger than us, but we have a lot to contribute and are not acknowledged. It's frustrating to watch American news every day and have almost all of your movies/music/TV come from there, and then face questions like "what state are we in?" from Americans who come to visit. Also, the "how dare you NOT support the war on Iraq" reaction wasn't received well. It did strike me as a sort of "but, younger sibling, how dare you not do what I say? I'm BIGGER!"

My father recently became a long-haul trucker and he crosses the border every week, often going to the southern States, and he has been appalled and frightened by the anti-Canadian sentiment over the CB radios. On the other hand, he's seen a lot of beautiful scenery and met some interesting people.
posted by heatherann at 1:13 PM on July 2, 2005

I'm an American who likes going to Canada. It's like going to England or France, but not as expensive, which is great since i am broke.

Canada is fun!
posted by bugmuncher at 1:15 PM on July 2, 2005

My father recently became a long-haul trucker and he crosses the border every week, often going to the southern States, and he has been appalled and frightened by the anti-Canadian sentiment over the CB radios.

I don't think truker's CB radios are a very good mesure of the national mood.
posted by delmoi at 1:31 PM on July 2, 2005

I was one of the people who received this email from Frank McKenna...What struck me was that it seemed strange: How would I casually work these facts into conversation?
posted by duck at 1:43 PM on July 2, 2005

At base Canadians are a whole lot happier that America has turned out to be the most powerful country in the world over the last few decades than any other you might care to mention. And it's not all about money, there is much cultural, ethical, etc congruity as well.

However this is indeed the point of the moment:

I am absolutely appalled by almost every aspect of the Bush Administration's foreign policy - so much so that I've started to doubt the essential decency of America's national character for the first time in my life.

Consider the international perspective on recent American behavior: pre-emptive unilateral war, lousy childish insulting treatment of peoples who should be natural allies when they almost universally opted not to fall mindlessly into line, re-election of the admin that's leading it all.

America is forgotting where it came from, what's it's original ideals were, losing the egalitarianism it was once so admired for. The Republican party fatefully decided to nominate the son of a former president to run in 2000. Here's the problem: putting this man in power looks, feels, and operates like the old aristrocracy and monarchy that America fought to gain independence from in the first place. This, presumably otherwise fine fellow, is bound to have a rather narrow world view, a sense of entitlement, a belief in essential rightness just because of who he is, a disinclination to listen to anyone who isn't 'one of us', and a belief in his god-given right to unilaterally wage war. Just like the old aristocrats.

Suggestion for the Democratic party: drop your more liberal domestic social policies so you can get elected next time. The rest of the world can't afford 'em.
posted by scheptech at 1:44 PM on July 2, 2005

I cannot watch Fox News since it makes me vomit, but I do remember a lot of Canada bashing back around the invasion of Iraq [along with the French hating]. I was in Vancouver during the global peace march prior to the invasion. The signs were all about Bush and Blaire's policies and not of the English or American people.

But from a Fox-conservative viewpoint Canada is something to bomb out of existence: They allow queer marriage. They allow medical dope smoking. The practically don't bust people for drugs at all. Hell, you don't even have to be 21 to drink a beer. A Canadian beer with more alcohol than patriotic American beer. And they use the metric system! They have ducks and hockey players on their money! And when GWB said people are with "us or against us", Canada said no to getting into Operation Iraqi Clusterfuck.

I've been to Canada a ton of times and love it and its people. I keep thinking if things get bad enough down here, I can claim asylum in Vancouver. I find my tempermant more aligned with the Canadian worldview than that of GWB's America.

My only worry for Canada will be its sovereignty when the US takes over its oil fields.
posted by birdherder at 1:52 PM on July 2, 2005

In Kansas, the Canada-hate isn't nearly as prevalent as the French-bashing, but it's still rather blatant...it's not that it's a manifestation of personal grudges against specific Canadians--it's just more that someone won't miss an opportunity to make a "dumb Canadians" joke after Canada is mentioned. It's not that harmful, but it is pretty shabby.
posted by hototogisu at 2:17 PM on July 2, 2005

I like the idea of ex-patriots: people who used to wave the flag but who have now tucked it away in the basement in shame.
posted by goatdog at 2:30 PM on July 2, 2005

It's a noble goal, but trying to counter Americans' traditionally hostile view of other countries is a bit like teaching French to a pig. It gets nothing done, and it annoys the pig.

Nah, it's just a prejudice toward a geographic denomination..but there's a truth in the fact that you can't teach to the ones (regardless of the place they live in) that don't want to listen ..including nationalists..you know that kind of people that wraps in the flags, buys tags, screams I support the troops yak yak yak and all that bullshit..that kind of people is likely to watch Fox News...it's hard to give them the delusion Fox news distorts or lies or uses double standard more often then not...they just won't listen.

So find some way around.
posted by elpapacito at 2:39 PM on July 2, 2005

elpapacito writes "but there's a truth in the fact that you can't teach to the ones (regardless of the place they live in) that don't want to listen ..including nationalists."

You're discounting how much nationalism and particularly the flag plays a part in Americans' sense of identity.
posted by clevershark at 2:54 PM on July 2, 2005

The Foxies and their friends were busy trying to foment trouble for Canada a while back. Remember the cracks about Jennings--he's a liberal, and WHISPER, WHISPER, a CANADIAN, not really to be trusted. Then we were alltreated to lots and lots of bile about how the USofA protects Canada (From what I'm not sure) and much criticism for Canada allegedly letting in the terrorists (I'm not really sure how this got started but it was total BS). Some of it, I believe, had more to do with denigrating the Canadian health system, especially because of drug prices, than anything else. So, no, I don't believe there's widespread sentiment against Canadians but there was certainly a rightwing attempt to create some.
posted by etaoin at 2:55 PM on July 2, 2005

There's flag wavers and there are the flag waving fox watchers. I've known many patriots that wouldn't go anywhere near fox. I would agree that anyone that has gone over to the foxside is unreachable. they're gone. sayonara. Anecdotally, and this thread is full of em, I'm going to agree with the notion that this raging Canada hating mob is no more than a few FOX/GOP idiots. Here, I'll add mine:

American. check.
Married to a Canadian. check.
Been to Canada. check.
Personally know members of the demographic most likely to hate Canadians. check.
Encountered anything more than 'Canadians are sissies' here or 'americans sure are obnoxious, what? you're american? sorry'. still checking.
posted by lazymonster at 3:21 PM on July 2, 2005

I don't think truker's CB radios are a very good mesure of the national mood.

I didn't say they were. Southern-state Americans who happen to drive transports aren't representative of every American. Actually, I'm pretty sure there isn't a demographic that is representative of that group. Maybe the people my Dad hears over the CB happen to listen to Fox, I don't know. All I know is that he was quite surprised by it.
posted by heatherann at 5:01 PM on July 2, 2005

CB radios are a very good measure of the national mood

Given the number of times I used to hear guys who'd just click the mike and wolf-whistle over and over again, I'm not sure CB chatter is a very good measure of anything.

make a "dumb Canadians" joke

As a lifelong Canadian, I would love to hear a few of these!
posted by CynicalKnight at 5:46 PM on July 2, 2005

of course canada has legalized pot to some degree, and then there's the gay marriage thing.
posted by brandz at 6:26 PM on July 2, 2005

I'd say the rancor in Canada is toward the American government and toward ignorant Americans. The former for its despicable foreign policies and its bad-faith trade negotiations (esp. the illegal tariffs that, despite having lost by the very rules it wrote, the US government refuses to turn over). The latter for being such idiots.

I don't think many Canadians have any actual dislike for individual Americans, or at least no dislike until said American opens his mouth and demonstrates that he's an ignorant boor, something I'm sure you know could only happen rarely, right?
posted by five fresh fish at 12:33 AM on July 3, 2005

...got far more attention in the US media than the fact that thousands of Americans were billeted in family homes in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia when American airspace was closed that day.

This is one thing that continues to piss me off.

Many Canadians made an astonishing effort to ensure that waylaid passengers were given superlative treatment. Many Canadians provided meals and sleeping accomodations for complete strangers. These people made the effort to get to the airports, deal with insanity that was going on in those airports, bring these shell-shocked strangers back home, feed them, comfort them, be friends to them, let them sleep over, then deliver them back to their airport.

It was perhaps the single biggest outpouring of honest, heartfelt support this world has ever seen, and the US Administration basically gave us a great big fuck-you very much.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:47 AM on July 3, 2005

fff: yep, me too. I just can't believe the outright effort that's been put into alienating Canadians over this issue by the heads of government. The decent actions of Canadians really started to make me have faith in my country again, and hope for US-Canada relations...the reaction afterward was like $10 left on the nightstand.
posted by Kickstart70 at 1:42 AM on July 3, 2005

Okay canadians, I hope this education about all things Canada could be extended to others than just the southern North Americans.
I would for example like to know how you pronounce the famous 'eh' word, since I have never heard a canadian say anything remotely like it.
posted by Catfry at 10:36 AM on July 3, 2005

Catfry: You haven't spent enough time here then. Even I say 'eh', eh?
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:25 AM on July 3, 2005

Canada is the United States' largest source of foreign oil, and in the words of the US government, "It is one of the most important sources of U.S. energy imports."

Fox News is there in the role of rabble-rouser and propagandist, in case Canada gets too uppity and decides to think for itself a little too much. Just business as usual.
posted by Rothko at 5:40 PM on July 3, 2005

Dangerous game, that.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:15 PM on July 3, 2005

Basically, I think a lot of Canadians felt that Bush getting elected to a second term meant that fear and righteousness had overcome decency and common sense, vis a vis the average American voter. It also gave a lot of Canadians carte blanche to start saying the things they may have only thought before. Annoyed became very, very disappointed became quite pissed off.

Most people I talk to in Canada feel that the States is going so far to the extreme right (as far as things like the Invasion of Iraq/jingoism/torture/the U.N.,etc.), that we ought to take up the gauntlet and go the other way, becoming an Amsterdam of North America, if you will. This has been the (only) silver lining I've seen in relations between our countries the last few years.
posted by stinkycheese at 4:15 PM on July 4, 2005

Hell, yeah! I'd rather live in Amsterdam than Cincinnati any day of the year.

surprisingly, there are no large conservative American cities. All cities over 500k pop voted Democratic*
posted by five fresh fish at 10:12 PM on July 4, 2005

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