3.17.2005

birds. priorities.

Birds again. Canada says, be gentle. US farmers say shoot the bastards. Somehow this seems very fitting.
Many Americans already think Canadians are too permissive with drug users, too lax toward terrorists, too lenient with criminals in general. Some are convinced we blithely let mad cows stumble into the United States.

Now U.S. agriculture officials have another bone to pick with Canada, which they have accused of being soft on starlings.

Fruit farmers in Washington state want British Columbia authorities to join them in a trapping and poisoning program to help rid the border region of the speckled pests instead of merely frightening them away with noisemakers. ... Killing birds -- "population control" in official parlance -- is not provincial policy.
Why doesn't surprise me? If you care, read more here. If you don't care, blame ALPF.

But seriously folks. This is yet another, albeit small, illustration of a difference of priorities and approach. In comments to this post, RobfromAlberta sent a link to a Weekly Standard story (I won't link to them - if you want to read it, do the work), deriding what they call "Bush refugees" - Americans living in Canada. I'm not sure how the people quoted qualify for that label, since they couldn't have left post-election. But hey, the WS can't be bothered with accurate details.

The story is ridiculous, based on gross distortion and exaggeration. Another big surprise. It says: "The headline in Ontario's Windsor Star tells you all you need to know about Canadian triumphalism: "Cheers to us, we're No. 4.""

Crabletta notes:
As for the "We're number four" quote, what a great illustration of how differently neocons and progressives view the world. Labash apparently sees this as a sign of weakness and inferiority. I read a quote like that and I think Canada sounds like an incredibly sane place to live. Plus, it's just a funny thing to say. Maybe the neocon missed the irony? They've been known to do that.
Yes indeed. And this reminded me of a conversation I had not long ago with an old friend.

In explaining my choice of Canada over the US, I used my standard line, "When was the last time Canada invaded another country?" He said, snidely, "Well, they probably can't. They barely have a military."

He sounded like having a military was an act of god or nature, and the US happens to be endowed with more of this god-given specialness than its northern neighbor. I replied that, yes, Canada probably doesn't have the resources to launch an invasion, and that's a function of purposeful choices - and isn't that wonderful.

The US chooses to spend on its military. (Though not, it must be noted, on the needs of the rank-and-file - only on the high-tech weaponry that benefits corporate America.) Canada makes other choices: health care, for example. Personally, I'd rather be number three in the world's top places to live than number one in exporting death and destruction.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kind of an environmental shame...
Why don't they just demand that the automakers make cars less reliant on... Oh what am I thinking? corporate greed, right!

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2005/2005-03-17-10.asp

ALPF

L-girl said...

It's horrible. You've got the right answer.

I've been trying to decide how and what to post about it...

RobfromAlberta said...

I don't think Canada has ever invaded any country of its own volition, but as part of a multinational coalition, we've invaded many. Just in the last decade, we helped to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan and we participated in the UN missions in Bosnia and Somalia. If Bush had gotten UN support for the Iraq invasion, chances are we would have contributed to that invasion as well.

Canada is not a nation of pacifists, we just prefer to act multilaterally.

L-girl said...

Re Iraq, that's a mighty big IF. I know Canada sent troops to Afghanistan, but I would hardly call the Somalia and Bosnia missions "invasions".

I'm not implying that Canadians are pacifists. There is really no such thing in the real world. But the difference in use of military force around the world is pretty clear. It's hard to slice that any other way.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

On a slightly different topic, have you heard about the Air India trial? Its big news here, and in the U.K. and India.

In someways, it was a lot like the mismanagement that lead up to 9/11. The RCMP and CSIS got involved in a turf war, evidence went lost or was actually destroyed, and now the judge has ruled them innocent.

To be honest, the judge had no choice but to rule innocent. The judge made the right choice, as terrible as it seems. The authorities bungled things so badly that there was no way that prosecuters could meet the "beyond a reasonable doubt" requirement. Of course, in Bush's America you'd skip the trial and send them straight to Gitmo.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4356981.stm

L-girl said...

I've been reading about it in the Toronto papers and saw something on CBC about reaction to the verdict.

It's not in the US news at all...

RobfromAlberta said...

It's probably just as well. No doubt, FOX News would spin it so as to suggest Canada is soft on terror. Of course, the US hasn't had much success prosecuting terrorists either, but no matter.

The Air India attack was the world's worst act of terrorism prior to 9/11 and if you compare the number of casualties as a function of the relative population of the two countries, the Air India attack is comparable to 9/11. That doesn't stop some in the US from suggesting that Canada is soft on terrorism because they've never faced it.

L-girl said...

Everywhere I've read about the Air India attack and trial, I've seen that about it being comparable to 9/11, relative to population. That helped me comprehend the enormity of it. Though of course to anyone who has lost someone to terrorism, it's all enormous.

Though I'm generally so disdainful of the mainstream American media, I do need to note that not all US media is Fox. And as nation-centric as Americans are, they are also extremely sympathetic and generous. If this was publicized in the US, I think most people would be very kind about it.

RobfromAlberta said...

Oh, I know FOX News is, by far, the worst of the lot (although CNN seems to be moving that way). The print media in the US is a lot more reasonable, like the NY Times.

Despite the enormity of the tragedy, the Air India attack never generated anywhere near the same resonance in Canada that 9/11 did in the US. I hate to admit it, but I think the reason is that the victims were almost entirely Indian-Canadians. The impact on the Canadian psyche would have been far greater had it been an Air Canada flight from Toronto to Vancouver.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

I'm counting down the minutes to the weekend, so excuse my incoherence.

On my visit to Boston I noticed that life isn't really all that different south of the border, if you ignore news & politics.

I mean, Canada and the U.S. look very similar on the surface. It actually seemed a bit surreal, like being in a mirror universe.

I noticed a lot of American flags, but when I got home I wondered if it was just because I notice the American flag more. The Canadian flag is almost as prevalent here, and in Ottawa the buses are painted red & white with a big maple leaf. Yet its somehow not the same. I can't quite frame the feeling in words, but it seems that to Americans, the flag in and of itself is a symbol, whereas in Canada the flag merely symbolizes the land and people. That's not exactly what I'm trying to say, but I just can't figure out how to say it.

What I did find odd is that for a country that makes so much of their symbols that its okay to use dead presidents to sell cars. Everything was on sale "'cause its Washington'
s birthday!".

On a really bizarre note, I saw one of those little "support our troops" things on a car driving around here. When I went into a Wal-Mart in Burlington and saw them on sale, I wondered if any of the money made on those things actually went to support the troops (or veterans).

L-girl said...

Rob: I'm sure you're right, re who was on the plane.

9/11 also had that deeper effect because it was actually an attack on an American city (cities). As horrible as airplanes being blown out of the sky is, somehow we have seen that before (and I don't mean to trivialize it when I say that). Most Americans had never contemplated an attack on the country itself.

Kyle: Yes, daily life really is very similar. The differences between Toronto and New York, for example, may be no greater than the differences between New York and Boston or New York and San Francisco.

Flags - you're right. It is different. I'm going to think about why that is. War and neo-imperialism must figure in...

Presidents Day - there is nothing so sacred in the US that it can't be used in the interests of capitalism. Nothing.

Ribbon stickers - as far as I know, the sale of "support the troops" merchandise goes into private pockets. I've never seen anything that says buying them actually does support veteran orgs. I'm not 100% certain, but I'm pretty sure.

Have great weekends, you guys!