From Canada, with Love, and a Reminder

Ah America.

You are the rowdy, popular next door neighbour. You have the coolest toys, movies, music, people, and a bunch of other stuff. Many of the people down there are genuine salt-of-the-earth types. Hard workers. Visionaries. Fighters. Intellectuals. You are the beacon to others who yearn for a life of freedom, hope, opportunity, and prosperity. At your best, you are the example other countries want to emulate.

But your kinda self-centered.

And when I say “kinda”, I mean “really”.

As a citizen of  your friendly neighbourhood country, Canada, I think we have a front seat to how you deal with the world, which isn’t always good. It’s why, when Canucks go traveling, we are told to display our red Maple Leaf so we aren’t mistaken for Americans. That’s not to say we are perfect, that we haven’t made diplomatic missteps and mistakes, but I’m sure we feel worse about them than you do. After all, we are a part of the world, not, as your African famine-relief song said “… ARE the world.”

The most recent example your blind-eye to the world, and more specifically us, is the new movie “Argo”. Directed by Ben Affleck, who is showing some real talent behind the camera, “Argo” is based on a true story of how the C.I.A. created an idea of a fake movie to rescue six Americans hiding during the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The trailer shows how the C.I.A. did everything to help save their countrymen through guile, and a clever idea. Oh, and some Canadians helped.

Things is, this story has been well-known in Canada, and seen from a very different perspective. Up here, some refer to it as the “Canada Caper”. History tells how the group of six Americans hid in the homes of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor and Canadian Immigration officer John Sheardown for 79 days. Taylor and Sheardown risked everything to protect these people. They contacted the C.I.A. though the Canadian government. It was then that Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck’s character in the movie), got involved. He worked closely with the government staff in Ottawa before heading to Tehran with the paperwork and cover-story required to get the Americans out. Towards the end, tension began to rise as fears that the refugee Americans were known. But Ken Taylor, while working to get non-essential people home also sent people out on errands to confuse anyone watching, while casing the airport. By early 1980, the six Americans, traveling with Canadian passports, arrived in a friendly country, while Ken Taylor and his Embassy staff returned home.

Taylor, Sheardown, their wives and fellow embassy workers were awarded the Order of Canada, and Taylor received a Congressional Gold Medal from the United States Congress. Since the U.S. Government continued with negotiations during all this, when the six Americans returned home, it was a shock. The country’s gratitude towards Canada was displayed across the country, with everyone from television personalities to ordinary people thanking Canada, particularly Ken Taylor. Canadian flags were flown along side billboard that said simply “Thank You”

Somehow, I doubt that will be seen in Affleck’s “Argo” movie.

The C.I.A. played an integral part in this event, but from what I’ve read, and what history shows, Ken Taylor, John Sheardown, their families and the staff played just as important role, and should be acknowledged. Instead, the original postscript text at the end of the movie seems to indicate that the CIA let Taylor take the credit for political purposes, implying that he did not deserve the accolades he received. This was later changed due to criticism to something a little more diplomatic, but still minimizing Canada’s role.  

But, like I said, this is just the most recent example.

I think I’ve mentioned a Canadian comedian Rick Mercer before. He used to do a feature on his show called “Talking to Americans”. In it, he’d talk to all kinds of Americans, rich, poor, educated, young, old, basically, anyone. He’d tell them about fake news from Canada and ask them to comment on it. The stories would range from Canada changing its policy on sending seniors out on ice floes when they are near death, to Alberta finally getting electricity, to the government finally moving out of an igloo into a proper building. In short, things that are too ridiculous to be true. Yet, from the shows I’ve seen, only one girl questioned him. Everyone else, knowing absolutely nothing about any country, not even their own, went right along with whatever he said.

Sadly, I couldn’t see him doing this in any other equivalent country, like Britain, or Australia, because most American are utterly oblivious to anything that isn’t on TV, or in the movies. That includes their own country too!

My favourite example is when my brother was working as a furniture mover’s helper. He had some people convinced that Ottawa, Canada’s capital, had to shut down during the winter because of the Polar Bear migration.

I’m sure Canadians know more about America than the average American does.

But I’m not expecting te average American to know everything. I’d just like them to know something! I’d like them to realize the land mass beyond their northern border doesn’t drop 30 degrees, isn’t covered in ice, or impenetrable forests and mountains. We don’t all play hockey. We don’t all wear lumber jackets. But most importantly, Canada ISN’T, and NEVER WILL BE, the 51st state! We are similar, but we definitely aren’t the same! We have Health Care and gay marriage. Even our Conservatives aren’t “Big C” Conservatives. If they were, we’d vote them out for something, anything, better.

So, please don’t shoot us, or invade us for all our fresh water, comedians, oil sands, hot women, and other abundant natural resources. If you treat us nice, then you’ll get nice. Cause we are nice, and polite! We do say “Eh.”, worship Hockey, and drink too much Tim Hortons.

But, you’ve also seen us fight in hockey. Our army may not be bigger, or have the best toys, but never, EVER question our badassery. We are just as hard-core as your troops, that’s why we work so well together.

It’s so much easier to get along and be friends. 

It isn’t to shed bad habits like being self-centered and self-absorbed. But America, you kick ass! If anyone can shed its bad habits, it’s you.


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