9.21.2005

the less friendly border

In comments somewhere, we were recently discussing the changes at the Canada-US border. The border is less open than it used to be. As of January 1, 2006, passports will be required, and many border guards have been putting the policy into effect early.

A million years ago (a few days before we moved), Alan With One L sent me a story from The Economist about the changing habits of both Canadians and Americans when it comes to visiting the other. Turns out it was a very good story, and I'm glad I kept it in my inbox all these weeks. (Thanks Alan! Better late than never, eh?)

Story here, but it may not be accessible, so I've copied it below.
The unfriendly border

Aug 25th 2005 | OTTAWA

A withering of people-to-people contacts augurs ill for a historic friendship

Travel across the border between Canada and the United States long followed a predictable pattern. When the Canadian dollar went up, shoppers would flood south and a few budget-conscious American tourists would forgo their vacation among the moose, mountains and Mounties. There was even a rough rule of thumb: for every 10% appreciation of the loonie (as Canadians call their currency) against the greenback, there would be a 13% increase in the number of Canadians going south and a 3% decrease in the number of Americans heading north.

Recently this pattern has broken down. In the past two years, as the loonie soared from 72 cents to its current level of 83 cents to the American dollar, the number of cross-border shoppers has barely budged (see chart). Meanwhile, the number of Americans heading north has dropped 22% since 1999 — a far bigger decrease than the rule of thumb would indicate.

Contrast this with the last big loonie appreciation, in 1991. In that year, Canadians made almost 60m day trips across the border (or two for every man, woman and child). They went for cheaper groceries and petrol, and a bigger variety of products than they had back home. Spurring them on, too, was a newly imposed value-added tax. Crossing the border was easy, with only a driver's licence, birth certificate, or even a friendly wave needed to pass through some customs posts. In 2004, by contrast, just 21.4m day trips (only two for every three Canadians) were made, according to Statistics Canada.

Behind these numbers lie several small things — and one big thing which points to a deeper change in relations between Canada and the United States. The small factors, which apply on both sides of the border, include rising petrol prices and higher houses prices, which have cut spending on leisure. Since 1991, many big American retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy, have opened stores in Canada. Others, such as J.C. Penney, target Canadian shoppers through their websites. The big factor is the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, which have had both physical and psychological effects.

Physically, the border is harder to cross. A recent report by the Coalition for Secure and Trade-Efficient Borders, a Canadian business group, identified 44 government agencies in the two countries that now have some jurisdiction over border issues. More means slower: eight of the top ten crossing-points are either bridges or tunnels (the busiest, between Windsor in Ontario, and Detroit in Michigan, features both). They have become bottlenecks, with long waits.

Tighter security parallels widening gaps in attitudes between Canadians and Americans. Despite a shared history and the world's biggest bilateral trading relationship, attention nowadays focuses on issues that divide the two countries: the war in Iraq, decriminalisation of marijuana, legalisation of gay marriages, and the recent ban on cattle exports after three cases of mad cow disease in Canada. This week, Canadians are fuming at a decision by George Bush's administration to ignore a ruling under the North American Free-Trade Agreement which found that countervailing duties imposed on Canadian softwood lumber in 2002 were unlawful. Few talk approvingly any more about the world's longest undefended border.

Canada abounds with scary tales about what the new American security regime can mean for the unwary. One such was Michel Jalbert of Pohenegamook, a village in Quebec. Mr Jalbert was on a hunting trip in October 2002 when he crossed 45 feet into Maine to visit a petrol station. Following longstanding local practice, he did not check in with the customs office further down the road. The Americans' Border Patrol arrested Mr Jalbert and charged him with being an illegal immigrant and possession of a firearm. He spent 35 days in jail before an official protest from the Canadian government caused Colin Powell, then America's secretary of state, to intervene.

What of American travellers to Canada? Two film stars, Michael Douglas and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones, made headlines recently when they bought a holiday home near Mount Tremblant, a ski resort in Quebec. But they are not following a trend. Americans are travelling abroad less, and Canada is no exception. Americans made almost 10m fewer trips to Canada in 2004 than they did in 2000. Hardest hit is Ontario; Americans made up 95% of visitors to the province. (Alberta and British Columbia rely more on Asian visitors and Quebec looks east to European tourists.) William Fatt, the boss of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, which manages a string of posh hotels in Canada as well as London's Savoy Hotel, said his group's profits would be lower this year because the strong loonie and border hassles were keeping American customers away.

The Ontario government is surveying potential American tourists to find out why they are staying away. Border issues were the main reason, but respondents also mentioned the SARS respiratory infection, which hit Canada in 2003, mad-cow disease, terrorism and the fact that Canada recognises homosexual marriages.

The latest survey contained two other findings that suggest many Canadians and Americans will not soon go back to their previous friendly habit of dropping in on each other. One is that America is phasing in a new requirement for its citizens travelling to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean to have passports. Since only 34% of Americans over the age of 18 have a passport (compared with 41% of Canadians), tourism officials north of the border fear that potential visitors will be deterred by the extra paperwork. More worryingly, respondents gave anti-Americanism among Canadians as the second most important reason they were inclined to stay at home. Greg Hermus, of the Canadian Tourism Research Institute, an industry body, says that Canadians have similar fears about American attitudes. "Both sides feel less welcome in the other country." The change in travel habits may be much more than a passing blip.
One question. American tourists are staying away from Canada because Canada recognizes same-sex marriages?? I would think that loss would be far offset by gay Americans - and liberal Americans in general - wishing to support a country with egalitarian principles. Maybe the reason Americans aren't visiting Canada as much can be summed up in two words: Fox News. After all, "Soviet Canuckistan" sounds like a pretty scary place.

77 comments:

Liam J said...

Unfortunately I don't thin that this is just a Canada US issue. I think that this is a manifestation of the US's growing isolationism. They have become more inward looking while at the same time pushing it's friends away.

Imagine a sick person who has become so focused on his illness that he pushes all offers of help away. At the same time they tend to often react in a way that exacerbates the ilness rather helps to make it better.

L-girl said...

Liam J, excellent observation.

The "you're either with us or against us" mentality infects everything, as being "with us" becomes more and more narrowly defined.

RobfromAlberta said...

We are reaping what we have sown. Anti-Americanism is alive and well in Canada and in the age of the internet and 24-hour news, more Americans are learning about it. I find it interesting that Ontario is paying the highest price in terms of fewer American tourists. There is some poetic justice in that.

L-girl said...

It's the US that reaps what it sows. Anti-Americanism is the US's fault.

You have to do some pretty clever mental acrobatics to make the US into a victim! Unless you mean a victim of its own arrogance and stupidity.

RobfromAlberta said...

Actually, the only victims I see are the businesses that depend on American tourism. Other than that, I'm just stating facts.

L-girl said...

Other than that, I'm just stating facts.

You're stating your interpretation of facts. As am I.

Anonymous said...

Rob,

I don't see this "Anti-Americanism" where I live. Sure a lot of people don't like what the US Gov't is doing but that doesn't mean we hate the people. Far from it.

Heck there are people driving around with the US Support the troops ribbons on their cars down here, and these cars are registered in Alberta! I think the biggest problem is that the US has gone crazy with their border regulations and Canada (rightfully) has decided to mirror them. If Canadian's require a passport to go to the US then by God American's should require one to come to Canada. It is only fair.

Down in southern Alberta we still get a lot of American tourists, we don't see Japanese or other asian's as much (they stay in Banff and Calgary for the most part) Wheather or not we have experienced an appreciable decline I don't know. But I am happy about the decline of Canadian shopping trips to the US.

Either way I don't think we should sacrifice our morals or our identity just so that we can have more tourism trade. I don't know about you but I can't be bought... unless it involves copious qty's of icecream.

Peter

RobfromAlberta said...

Peter, you know when I talk about anti-Americanism in Canada, I'm not talking about Alberta. Albertans have a much more positive opinion of Americans than other parts of the country.

You're stating your interpretation of facts. As am I.

Ok, does that mean you don't believe there is a significant amount of anti-Americanism in Canada?

Liam J said...

Speaking as someone who grew up in Ontario I resent your inference Rob. The fact is that disagreement with US foreign policy, and anger of unfair trade practices does not mean people are anti-American. It means that people think for themselves.

How could I be anti-American, when I have friends and family there. How can I be anti-American when I oppose the invasion of Iraq, yet feel brought to tears over news stories showing families of soldiers who died over there.

I am anti Bush, anti-Republican for sure. But I am far from anti-American. I would say that is where the majority of Canadians stand.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Rob, if you noticed these days, the definition of anti-American has changed.

Merely disagreeing with American policy is "anti-American". Actually, even Americans who disagree with Emperor Bush are "anti-American".

So, what do you define anti-American as? Carolyn Parishes antics aren't supported by the majority of people, even here in pinko Ontario, so please enlighten me.

RobfromAlberta said...

liam j, I have no doubt that you are right. Most Canadians are not truly anti-American, but in the interconnected world we live in, a small minority is all it takes. Also, even if we are not actually anti-American, we are often careless in how we express our opposition to the US government. Remember, Carolyn Parrish famously said "Damned Americans, I hate the bastards!" She didn't say "I hate the US government", although that's probably what she meant.

RobfromAlberta said...

Carolyn Parishes antics aren't supported by the majority of people, even here in pinko Ontario, so please enlighten me.

We'll revisit that statement after the next election. If she gets re-elected, you owe me a beer.

RobfromAlberta said...

So, what do you define anti-American as?

Opposition to an American policy is not anti-American. Opposition to every American policy is.

United We Lay said...

Are you trying to get your Canadian Citizenship? My husband and I are looking into starting the application process and we have a million quesions.

Liam J said...

It should be noted that Americans perception of Canadian Anti-Americanism is shaped by the hate filled propaganda of people like Sean Hannity, and Bill O'reilly. These people just love to stir up the fires of hate by playing people like Carolyn Parish over and over again.

You have to ask yourself though, why not use a broader cross section to stir the pot? Because the overwhelming majority have not said or done anything that would rate as "anti_American". These nasty little men are trying to drive a wedge between neighbours because it is in their best interest. If they didn't spread the hate, they would have no following, no money, no mansions, etc.

deang said...

Rob, regardless of how anyone defines "anti-American", there are very few people who would oppose every US policy without examination. However, if anyone were to examine a range of US policies and conclude that they were harmful, they would be justified in opposing every US policy they were familiar with. Calling people "anti-American" doesn't clarify anything and has the effect of blurring causality.

RobfromAlberta said...

I think you may be overestimating the influence of FOX News. Yes, they are a bunch of hateful little trolls, but the audience for FOX News is quite small compared to that of the Big Three networks.

Also, remember, most American visitors to Canada come from border states. They are more informed about us. Many have probably been here before. If they are deciding to stay away, it's not because of FOX News, it's because they perceive some hostility. Maybe, they followed their hockey team to TO when the American anthem was booed. Maybe they heard about cars with US license plates being vandalized in Halifax or the American tourist in BC who got attacked by some teenagers at a campground. It doesn't take much and every incident, no matter how isolated, costs us a few more future visitors, especially if they return home and tell their friends.

RobfromAlberta said...

Deang, I agree with you somewhat, but we can go to the other extreme and define anti-Americanism so narrowly that it's meaningless. It's like if someone said "I'm not a racist, because I don't hate all black people".

RobfromAlberta said...

there are very few people who would oppose every US policy without examination

I've met many. There is an immediate perception that all things American are, in some way flawed, in this country. That's why our government just has to accuse the opposition of favouring "American-style" anything and get traction.

G said...

To suggest the word "anti" is to suggest that one would be against everything because of one overarching reason ... ie "anti-American" meaning one is against every US policy NOT because they feel it is or is not sensible; but because it is American.

That line of thinking is far more narrow than the many I've been fortunate to encounter and have this discussion with. Who knows? Maybe everyone I've met and talked to is part of the minority, Rob. Could be I'm lucky that way. Or perhaps they represent the majority after all.

Point is, few Canadians have anything against the American people themselves. Many do, however, disagree with parts of US policy, and I must ask ... what is wrong with that???

Two different cultures, with different views on how to approach certain issues and the actions to be taken ... does that make them anti-the-other? Because the policies the people would prefer differ in each country? I don't think this is exactly what you're getting at ... too narrow ... but it's an argument I have heard before.

One can disagree and not be anti-anything. It's those who are reactionary, who hate because their bigotous minds hear "American" and instantly jump on the let's-protest-to-be-cool bandwagon of fucknuts that are the problem. And I assume they are the ones you are thinking of, Rob. I have met a few of them, sure, but believe it or not, even in Ontario, they are the vast minority. Those of us who take the time to read, to listen, and most importantly to think, are able to see the difference between disagreement based on principle and discrimination based on culture.

And I think, Rob, you've underestimated how many of the former exist as opposed to the latter.

RobfromAlberta said...

It's those who are reactionary, who hate because their bigotous minds hear "American" and instantly jump on the let's-protest-to-be-cool bandwagon of fucknuts that are the problem. And I assume they are the ones you are thinking of, Rob.

Yes, they are. I have spent my entire adult life in the Canadian university system, as both a student and an employee and I am certain that the relative percentage of these people is higher in the academic world than in the general populace. But remember, these are the people with the voice. The "silent majority" means nothing to the perceptions of Americans as long as they remain silent.

L-girl said...

Ok, does that mean you don't believe there is a significant amount of anti-Americanism in Canada?

It means I have seen absolutely none of this supposed anti-Americanism. I have heard from lots of people who hate what the US govt is doing, but not a one who hates the American people.

And I'm pointing out that what you're saying is not a fact. It may be a perception, and that perception may or may not be justified.

L-girl said...

but in the interconnected world we live in, a small minority is all it takes.

If that's a definition, you can use it to support anything, since you'll always find a small minority who believes in something! There is a small minority of conservative Christians in Canada. Therefore, conservative Christianity is "alive and well" in Canada?

L-girl said...

Are you trying to get your Canadian Citizenship? My husband and I are looking into starting the application process and we have a million quesions.

Hi Polanco! Welcome to wmtc.

We are eligible to apply for Candian citizenship after having permanent residence for at least three years. We've only lived here three weeks! So we're not looking into it yet.

L-girl said...

One can disagree and not be anti-anything.

That's it exactly. Thanks G.

But remember, these are the people with the voice.

Where? Where is their voice heard so loudly? I don't hear it at all.

RobfromAlberta said...

Therefore, conservative Christianity is "alive and well" in Canada?

Yes, it is. By my estimate, something like 10 to 15% of Canadians could be considered conservative Christians. Now, I couldn't venture a guess as to what percentage of Canadians are truly anti-American, but even if it's only 1% (which I'm sure is too low an estimate), we're talking about 300,000 people. That's a lot of bigots. If they were racists or anti-Semites, we'd be pretty concerned.

L-girl said...

we're talking about 300,000 people. That's a lot of bigots. If they were racists or anti-Semites, we'd be pretty concerned.

I disagree. I wouldn't be concerned at all. I expect a percentage of any population to be bigoted in some way. 1% is miniscule. I wouldn't consider 10% worth sounding an alarm.

So there's a difference in the definition of anti-Americanism, and a difference in what constitutes a level of opinion worth worrying about.

G said...

No, Rob, it's not really a lot at all. That's a tiny minority, voice or none, when you consider how spread out across the country they are.

Bigotism, anti-semitism, racism, and all other -isms will exist in any country, to a certain degree. Going with your estimate (though sadly it is probably a greater number than that), 300,000 is a very small group of people, considering they are not holed up in one small city, but rather spread out over one of the larger countries, in terms of land mass (this includes habitable land mass) in the world.

Even if it is closer to 3 or 4% (1 million or so?), that isn't much comparitively to other places. In the US, for instance, 1% (again, likely greater) would be some 2.5 to 3 million people ... a huge difference, considering how the population is spread out (denser groupings in cities not as far from others as in Canada).

The voice of bigotry becomes louder with the higher numbers and higher density ... and ends up resonating through certain news channels, allowing it to propogate. Thankfully we are not at that stage here yet (though CTV sometimes makes me wonder with some of its programming ... W5 especially has taken a nosedive in standards of late).

What I'm saying is, yeah, I agree, it does exist in Canada, but not to the point where it drowns out the majority voice. The University environment is its own bubble, with a lot of kids who are wannabes who, while loud, are not listened to by anyone outside that environment. I remember when the guys came in protesting Coke and its treatment of Colombian workers ... good base argument, sure, but they couldn't answer any questions about how much control Coke actually had given the socioeconomic and political conditions of Colombia, never mind who was actually running the plants (it wasn't Coke). It was just a bunch of kids making a good cause into an excuse to yell about something and feel Important. Everyone saw through it, laughed at them, and said "come back later when you can address the reality, and answer factual questions, and we'll listen to you."

Same thing applies to the bigots in this country. Some of what they say can be based in a valid POV (ie Bush has made some questionable decisions) but then they go off on a tangent and start yelling and burning flags - and cannot answer any hard questions. There are dissenters, though, who can address such questions thoughtfully, who are not bigots - their dissent is not based in bandwagon fucknuttery (you know, Leafs fans), but rather in attention to history and an understanding of how a few things actually work (you know, Habs fans).

L-girl said...

their dissent is not based in bandwagon fucknuttery (you know, Leafs fans), but rather in attention to history and an understanding of how a few things actually work (you know, Habs fans).

LOL

Fucknuttery - great word!

RobfromAlberta said...

What I'm saying is, yeah, I agree, it does exist in Canada, but not to the point where it drowns out the majority voice.

One Carolyn Parrish or Sunera Thobani is worth a thousand average people any day in terms of impact on American public opinion.

their dissent is not based in bandwagon fucknuttery (you know, Leafs fans), but rather in attention to history and an understanding of how a few things actually work (you know, Habs fans).

Good analogy. I've always thought the same thing about the relative intellectual capacities of Habs fans vs. Leafs fans.

L-girl said...

One Carolyn Parrish or Sunera Thobani is worth a thousand average people any day in terms of impact on American public opinion.

And just how is American public opinion influenced by these people? And what happened to the people in academia who were such a loud voice?

I don't mean to play the Lone Primate role here, but I think the "anti-Americanism is alive and well in Canada" argument is not standing up to scrutiny.

You could easily read that Economist article and come away with the impression that anti-Canadianism is alive and well in the US. At least I've seen some evidence of that with my own eyes.

RobfromAlberta said...

Even if it is closer to 3 or 4% (1 million or so?), that isn't much comparitively to other places.

By the way, I believe, though certainly can't prove, that it is much higher than that. I would say, first of all, in the 18 to 25 year-old bracket, we are talking about the majority view. I would also estimate that it is a close to majority view in Quebec. Those two groups alone would suggest we're talking about greater than 10%.

G said...

One Carolyn Parrish or Sunera Thobani is worth a thousand average people any day in terms of impact on American public opinion.

You mean like how Anne Coulter impacts the average Canadian on a day-to-day basis?

Seriously, dude, you could get Rick Mercer to do his Talking To Americans bit with an emphasis on Canadian politics, and no one in the US would have a clue who Carolyn Parrish or Sunera Thobani even are. Americans who recognize Canadian politicians are like Expos fans, man. We hear that they exist, yet one cannot even fill a stadium with them.

Glad you liked the analogy, though. I use it often. Habs-Flames for the cup this year, dude - rematch of a rematch - though the Oilers could make a push if the goaltending holds up.

RobfromAlberta said...

no one in the US would have a clue who Carolyn Parrish or Sunera Thobani even are.

Not the names, sure, but if you ask them if they've heard of some Canadian politician calling them a bunch of bastards, you'd get more recognition. Look, I may be full of s**t, but the results are there. Americans are staying away. They see us as less friendly. Even if they don't like Bush, they don't like being criticized. Who does? Hell, it gets my hackles up sometimes when guys on rightwing American blogs criticize Canada even when I agree with them in principle. We are far too careless in our use of language. We'll say "I don't like American-style health care" when we mean we don't like private health care. How would we like it if every debate in the US mentioned Canada as the negative alternative. "We don't want a Canadian-style military" or "We oppose the Democrat's plan in Canadianize our foreign policy". It would start to piss us off after awhile.

L-girl said...

Americans are staying away. They see us as less friendly.

I don't believe Americans see Canadians as less friendly, except those influenced heavily by the Sean Hannity/Bill O'Reilly crew, and they are angry at the whole world.

They are ready to boycott french toast because someone told them France is bad. They couldn't decide whether to love the UK (Blair!) or hate the UK (mass protests!). You can't worry about those morons - they weren't coming to Canada in the first place.

If Americans are staying away, you'd have to look at travel patterns overall, and travel patterns requiring passports. They may be staying away from everywhere outside their home base.

The main point of that story was that Canadians are staying away from the US!

G said...

Yeah, I would like to see a comparitive study of travel rates to and from the US in regard to other countries held over the same time period, to see how it compares to this one on Canada-US travel. I'd be willing to bet the drop is similar for US-Europe also.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Yes Rob, we've fallen out of favour with the Americans, but so has everyone else. This is reaches far beyond Washington-Ottawa relations.

Americans aren't travelling anywhere anymore. We could have gone to Iraq, and been delirously happy about it, but the new passport rules would still have happened, and cross border traffic would still be way down.

There's nothing we can do to improve relations with them right now. We can make it worse, for sure, but we can't make it better. After all, what did Australia get in return for all its loyal support. Notta, zilch, nothing.

Slim Bacon said...

Living in a suburb of Windsor i can tell you that the border issue is something that is constantly on the mind of the people here. The local truck traffic is horrible and has been since 9/11.

The federal and provinical governments havn't been much help either.


I don't agree with the majority of American policies that have been put into place in the last five years. Does that make me Anti-American? I hope not.


Also, with the current Republican administration in power its not like they're making it hard for these sentiments to grow among Canadains.

A man told his grandson: "A terrible fight is going on inside me -- a fight between two wolves. One is evil, and represents hate, anger, arrogance, intolerance, and superiority . The other is good, and represents joy, peace, love, tolerance, understanding, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, and compassion. This same fight is going on inside you, inside every other person too."

The grandson then asked: "Which wolf will win?" The old man replied simply: "The one you feed." - Anon.


There will always be those who hate, sadly the visible line between dissent and hate is thin.

RobfromAlberta said...

You can't worry about those morons - they weren't coming to Canada in the first place.

Exactly, which is why I think the whole FOX News angle is irrelevent.

If Americans are staying away, you'd have to look at travel patterns overall, and travel patterns requiring passports. They may be staying away from everywhere outside their home base..

Oh, I'm sure that's true. There are other issues such as fear of terrorism and the growing inconvenience of flying that play a role in this whole issue. But travel to Canada is still, at the moment, much easier than travel overseas. We haven't seen the worst of it yet. The fact that there has been a big drop in tourism even before the new passport regulations come into effect suggests to me a growing hostility towards Canada.

The main point of that story was that Canadians are staying away from the US!

Except for a few border towns, I doubt anyone down there will notice.

L-girl said...

You can't worry about those morons - they weren't coming to Canada in the first place.

Exactly, which is why I think the whole FOX News angle is irrelevent.


Exactly! And that's why the Carolyn Parrish and Sunera Thobani angle is irrelevant too!

I've been reading Canadian news every day for two years and I don't know who Thobani is. I only know Carolyn Parrish because you always bring her up, so I looked up her name.

Maybe their anti-American statements loom large to you because they irk you. But if it's true that there is so much anti-Americanism in Canada, 99% of Americans are totally unaware of it. If Americans are not traveling to Canada, this is not the reason.

L-girl said...

Very nice, Slim Bacon. I feel that fight inside me so frequently, and have to take a deep breath and remember who to feed.

RobfromAlberta said...

An account in the Washington Post from a professed American liberal living in Toronto:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A15638-2004Nov26.html

RobfromAlberta said...

The speech by UBC professor Sunera Thobani (note the date, less than a month after Sept.11, 2001)

http://www.casac.ca/conference01/conf01_thobani.htm

This gem is especially worth noting:

"But the people, the American nation that Bush is invoking, is a people which is bloodthirsty, vengeful, and calling for blood. They don't care whose blood it is, they want blood."

orc said...

Is that anti-americanism, or just a brutal truth? As far as I remember, and I live there, polls showed that a majority of Americans were in favor of invading Iraq, which had absolutely nothing to do with the destruction of the World Trade Center.

"They don't care whose blood it is, they want blood." may not be very polite, but it's not anti-americanism if it's true.

L-girl said...

polls showed that a majority of Americans were in favor of invading Iraq, which had absolutely nothing to do with the destruction of the World Trade Center.

I don't believe that the majority of Americans were ever in favor of invading Iraq. Everyone here should know better than to trust MSM polls. And of course, those Americans that were in favor of the invasion were mislead and misinformed. That's not entirely their fault.

The US is certainly a culture that values military power for its own sake, but to call it blood-thirsty... that's a lot of heat and little light.

But Rob, how many Americans living in the US do you think are aware of that speech? 50? 200? I doubt the number is even in triple digits.

The expression does seem anti-American to me. But the idea that that speech is influencing Americans' travel decisions... ? Isn't that just a tad ridiculous?

I will check out the WaPo link. Since I am also an American "liberal" (gag) living in the Toronto area, I'll see how our experiences compare.

L-girl said...

The speech by UBC professor Sunera Thobani (note the date, less than a month after Sept.11, 2001)

I just thought of something else. This would be like my quoting a professor at Columbia University who supports the Palestinian cause, who makes anti-Israel and anti-Zionist comments, and pronouncing anti-Zionism alive and well in New York City.

So a professor made a comment. What does this say about Canada, much less the little bit of Canada most US residents see?

Nothing.

L-girl said...

it's not anti-americanism if it's true.

By the way, that's not so. Bigotry is bigotry, and is often excused with "but it's true". The bigot always believes his statements are true. Fags are promiscuous, spics are lazy, darkies are stupid... but it's true!

Tens of millions of Americans protested the war. Many Americans supported it with grave reservations. Of course there are bloodthirsty Americans, but the overall characterization doesn't stand up under scrutiny.

I'm not that much of a freak.

Wrye said...

Canada isn't significantly Anti-American. Now Cuba--There's some Anti-Americanism going on.

What Canada is, however, and indeed always has been, stridently or silently, subtly or visibly, is Un-American. We are always going to differ from the US because that is inextricably bound up in who we are. Your parents and grandparents came here instead of there, and they did so for real reasons, not some pique over the proper name of fried potatoes.

We can easily flip this around, you know: if you were to poll US adults, how many of them would favour an arrangement where the US absorbed Canada, peacably or otherwise? I'll wager more than 3%.

But so what? Does that make them Anti-Canadian, or just intellectually lazy?

L-girl said...

I just looked at the WaPo essay - turns out I read it when it first ran. About 30 wingnuts sent it to me.

There's no denying someone's personal experience. All I can say is that I don't feel the way she does. If I do a year from now, I'll let you know.

I'll post the essay shortly.

Lone Primate said...

It's like if someone said "I'm not a racist, because I don't hate all black people".

We're talking about people opposing the policies of the government and the country in general, not the people themselves. The outward, "official" manifestation of the nationality as it currently stands. Put another way: is it possible for you to oppose the policies of Robert Mugabe and the ruling cliche in Zimbabwe, and still claim not to be "anti-black", or "anti-African", or "anti-Zimbabwean"? Doesn't bringing up the issue (as you did on Random Thoughts) of forced abortions in China make you anti-Chinese? If not, what's your defense?

Lone Primate said...

That's a lot of bigots. If they were racists or anti-Semites, we'd be pretty concerned.

Rob, it's a bit much, even for you as devil's advocate, to equate opposition to the invasion of Iraq, the bullying of Iran, the continued second-class citizenship of homosexuals, the erosion of civil rights at home and abroad, the abandonment of the lowest socio-economic segments of society, etc., etc., etc., with "racism" and "anti-Semitism". Frankly, if opposition to these things in Canada only amounts to 300,000 people, that ought to be cause for concern!

Lone Primate said...

Americans are staying away. They see us as less friendly.

Did you just read half the article? Apparently, it seems, we're staying away too. So what's the corollary? No, wait, let me guess what the line from Cowtown would be on this:

A) Americans are staying away from Canada because Canadians are unfriendly and hate Americans, and:

B) Canadians are staying away from the United States because... Canadians are unfriendly and hate Americans.

You can put my gold star right at the top of the page. :)

L-girl said...

At last, The Return of Lone Primate.

Now I can go take care of other things. :)

Lone Primate said...

Except for a few border towns, I doubt anyone down there will notice.

You're talking out of both sides of your mouth here. On the one hand, you want us to believe they're intensely aware and interested in every nuance of our feelings for and opinions of them, taking offense and staying home. On the other hand, you're telling us they couldn't possibly care less what wee, insignificant little Canada thinks of them, ho hum, stay home with your monopoly money, see if we care. So which is it? It can't be both.

Lone Primate said...

At last, The Return of Lone Primate.

Now I can go take care of other things. :)


Heh. :) Damn, I go away for a few days and all these random thoughts from Cowtown are all over the place! Must help tidy up. :D

Howdy, Rob. Missed yah. ;)

Lone Primate said...

I read over Nora Jacobson's article and, well, what can I say? There's a lot to it. It admits a lot of things we already perceive to be true. We do tend to be smug about what we consider we have "right", particularly vis-a-vis the US.

And?

Is this in some way unique or unnatural? Nations living in close quarters and perceived or real competition have been doing the same thing for millenia. Americans do it relative to Canada -- Canada is often portrayed as weak, socialistic, less free, too lovey-dovey... and I mean by folks in the States, not just Rob. :)

Take it from the other side, though. In the article, we're being sized up by someone who came to Canada -- she stresses -- for economic reasons... immediately putting on a shield lest she be accused of disloyalty. Following the buck isn't un-American, after all. She comes from a culture used to, immersed in, its primacy. It considers itself the global yardstick and template -- and not even consciously. It's simply the assumption. Differences, especially ones openly and proudly displayed, are going to be perceived by such a mindset as threats, or at least pointed unfriendliness. And they may well be; but it's fair to suggest it's six of one, a half dozen of the other.

I take issue, here and always, with the idea that Canada is doomed by its tradition of self-definition relative to the United States. Understand, once and for all, that Canada was founded in opposition to the United States. From day one, that's been our charter. It's not meant to be bellicose, but it's no use ignoring the fact that we didn't join the Revolution. We rejected it. We found our own way. And for well over 200 years, we've been treading water in a the overflow across the border. If we had had a culture that did not, at least in part, definite itself in opposition to that, we would long ago have ceased to exist. Canada will always, to some extent, define itself in terms of its relative differences from the United States. Get used to it. The day that ceases to be true is the day Canada ceases to be a separate place from the United States. We're not to be pitied for it anymore than we are to be pitied for the snow, or the falling leaves in November, the lashing Atlantic storms or the west coast fogs. Living next to the United States is a matter of geography: where we find ourselves in the world and how it shapes us as a people. It's something we have to deal with.

RobfromAlberta said...

On the one hand, you want us to believe they're intensely aware and interested in every nuance of our feelings for and opinions of them

That is the exact opposite of what I said or have ever said. In fact, if it were true, we wouldn't have a thing to worry about because then Americans would know that they do have friends up here. The problem, however, is that they rarely hear much about Canada except when it is someone like Carolyn Parrish spouting off. Like I've said, a small but vocal minority of anti-Americans combined with a largely silent majority of people who are merely anti-Bush (a distinction, I might add, which is lost on a significant percentage of Americans) is a recipe for disaster.

Look folks, you can put as fine a point on it as you like and split hairs as much as you want, but when a sold-out crowd at a Montreal hockey game loudly boos the American national anthem on national television, it doesn't register with most people that it is just a protest of US foreign policy.

RobfromAlberta said...

Rob, it's a bit much, even for you as devil's advocate, to equate opposition to the invasion of Iraq, the bullying of Iran, the continued second-class citizenship of homosexuals, the erosion of civil rights at home and abroad, the abandonment of the lowest socio-economic segments of society, etc., etc., etc., with "racism" and "anti-Semitism"

That's two things you claim I said which I didn't. You're slipping, lp.

Lone Primate said...

The problem, however, is that they rarely hear much about Canada except when it is someone like Carolyn Parrish spouting off. Like I've said, a small but vocal minority of anti-Americans...

Rob, you're still saying they care what we think, regardless of whether they get that news passively or actively (a point you raise here which is utterly ungermane). If they didn't, their feelings couldn't possibly be hurt, and our reputed anti-Americanism would no more matter in the scheme of things with regard to our relationship with them than our feelings on dolphin-free tuna. You can't have it both ways no matter how hard you try. You're criticizing your countrymen for anti-Americanism... but what does it matter, if Americans don't care what we think (and, conversely, if they do, then they'll be noticing the change further than just the border towns, won't they)? How, then, would we be "reap[ing] what we have sown"? Explain the mechanism, if we don't matter and they don't care.

Look folks, you can put as fine a point on it as you like and split hairs as much as you want, but when a sold-out crowd at a Montreal hockey game loudly boos the American national anthem on national television, it doesn't register with most people that it is just a protest of US foreign policy.

So what is your point, finally? The entire country should get lobotomies and stop caring about, reacting to, or expressing disapproval to things we find morally offensive, in the vain hopes of keeping the border with an increasingly paranoid nation more porous? Is this the kind of gutless, soulless, morally compassless country you consider worthy of your big plans for rearming?

Lone Primate said...

That's two things you claim I said which I didn't.

You did, in fact. Here:

...we're talking about 300,000 people. That's a lot of bigots. If they were racists or anti-Semites, we'd be pretty concerned.

Now please don't suggest we're stupid, Rob. Your clear intention here is to plant the implication that Canadian expressions of disapproval with American policies is, or in your opinion ought to be, a matter for concern with the same gravity as racism and anti-Semitism; moreover, you directly refer to them as "bigots". It's a little more subtle than actually evoking Hitler, but not much. Now these were your words. You chose the allusions yourself. You didn't say "dislike for the colour mauve" or "a disinclination towards Yukon Gold potatoes", you went straight for the emotional hot-buttons. I don't doubt you have sincere concerns, but it's rhetorically cheap to try to stifle someone else's opinions by equating them with racists and anti-Semities, no matter how coy you want to be about it afterwards.

L-girl said...

when a sold-out crowd at a Montreal hockey game loudly boos the American national anthem on national television, it doesn't register with most people that it is just a protest of US foreign policy.

Not so. Everyone in the US understood those boos to be disapproval for the war in Iraq. It was widely reported as "Bush's policies, especially the war in Iraq, remain unpopular with our neighbors to the north, and they made their opinion known at a hockey game..." I'm paraphrasing, of course, but that was the gist.

No one likened it to racism or some other expression of hate. It was likened to the protests that follow W wherever he goes.

When Carlos Delgado didn't stand for God Bless America, he was sometimes boo'd in the US - and cheered in NYC, btw - but it was understood as representing a protest against the war and other US foreign policy, like the naval bombing at Vieques in Puerto Rico, where Delgado is from.

Now, dissent - or even difference of opinion - may be construed as anti-American by the love-it-or-leave-it, with-us-or-against-us crowd, but the only thing you can do to please them is goose-step along with whatever W says - and that would be a helluva price to pay for a minor bit of public opinion.

Anonymous said...

The problem I have with all of this is that the premise of the Conservative Party (until recently) has been to appease, we should go along with "dubya" at whatever cost in order to keep trade going and the border open.

I think this is total bullshit! Trade is a two way street, we both need to work together to come to an agreement and to follow the agreements that have been signed. If the US is uni-laterally deciding not to follow treaties they have agreed to then why shouldn't we be protesting and letting them know we are pissed off. If they wanted to change the border to require passports then that is fine, they gave us enough notice, I don't have a problem with it. But when you decided I am not going to follow this rule without getting out of NAFTA (Which there is a clear and easy way to leave btw) then you should expect reprecustions (sp?)

I guess what I am trying to say is that no American should be surprised that we are not totally happy with the US gov't right now and that they shouldn't take it personally. disagreeing with a gov't does not mean disagreeing with people. I am not the canadian gov't any more then Rob is... and we both are certainly not Carolyn Parrish :)

In any event this is just my ramblings and I honestly think that it really doesn't matter. I am all for less reliance on the US for trade (especially if they attempt to dictate terms) To borrow a phrase I never though I would say (as an Alberta Liberal, leaning NDPer) "Let them freeze in the dark!"

Trade most be fair, otherwise what is the point?

RobfromAlberta said...

You did, in fact.

Again, no I didn't. I equated anti-Americanism with anti-Semitism. It was you who defined anti-Americanism as equivalent to legitimate dissent, not me.

RobfromAlberta said...

You're criticizing your countrymen for anti-Americanism... but what does it matter, if Americans don't care what we think (and, conversely, if they do, then they'll be noticing the change further than just the border towns, won't they)?

I wouldn't say they don't care at all, but they certainly care less about what we think about them than the inverse situation.

Lone Primate said...

I equated anti-Americanism with anti-Semitism. It was you who defined anti-Americanism as equivalent to legitimate dissent, not me.

So define your terms, Rob. You're getting away with murder here. The closest I've seen you come to describing it at all might be characterized as "the way any Canadian outside Alberta feels about Americans"; to wit:

you know when I talk about anti-Americanism in Canada, I'm not talking about Alberta. Albertans have a much more positive opinion of Americans than other parts of the country.

So in light of this, what, then, constitutes anti-Americanism -- that stuff "we" are sowing and reaping -- for the purposes of your arguments? What exactly are these 300,000 you're lowballing your figures to actually charged with?

Lone Primate said...

I wouldn't say they don't care at all, but they certainly care less about what we think about them than the inverse situation.

Wow, given that you attributed all our problems to it ("We are reaping what we have sown. Anti-Americanism is alive and well in Canada...."), I guess we should be happy they actually don't care that much, according to you now.

Sorry, man. Dance around it; you're sucking and blowing as it suits you. Either our attitudes do matter, or they don't. Pick one.

RobfromAlberta said...

You're inventing inconsistency where none exists. Americans are not monolithic. Some know nothing about Canada and couldn't care less. These people are completely irrelevent to the discussion because they are oblivious to Canadian opinion and probably never planned on visiting Canada in the first place (which was the initial point of the discussion). Some Americans, especially, but not exclusively, residents of border states, have some knowledge of Canadian attitudes, but probably don't get much day-to-day exposure to Canadians. They will hear about things like booing of the national anthem or statements from Carolyn Parrish and conclude that anti-Americanism is growing in Canada. They don't get the whole story, but they get some notion that Canada is less friendly to Americans.

As for my definition of anti-Americanism, I'll say it again. It is not anti-American to oppose some policies of the government, but it is anti-American to oppose everything America does. It is also anti-American to use "American" as a negative pronoun, like when our government uses "American-style" to describe some policy of the opposition in a negative way.

RobfromAlberta said...

I guess we should be happy they actually don't care that much, according to you now.

Yes, we should be. Because if the majority of Americans knew what Canadians say about their country on a daily basis, we wouldn't be talking about a loss of tourism, we'd have real problems on our hands.

Lone Primate said...

You're inventing inconsistency where none exists.

Not at all; I'm pointing out diametrically opposed stances you effect to suit whatever particular point you're making at the moment: if Americans don't come to Canada, it's because they're aware of our reputed anti-Americanism and are offended by it; if Canadians don't go to the US, it will hardly be noticed because we are utterly inconsequential to them and they couldn't care less about us or what we think of them.

The plain fact is you have an understated, but clear, predisposition towards favouring American attitudes, particularly where they differ from Canadian ones on matters of force and a number of other issues. As a result, you're eager to portray Canada as insignificant and a benchwarmer in the great scheme of things, ineffective and impotent -- until the issue becomes Canada's own woes. Then Canada is entirely to blame: the omnipotent, but stupid, master of its own fate; Superman with a kryptonite addiction. As long as you can keep Canada's head underwater, you're happy. It's not the first time you've countered your own point in the course of a page of comments and I doubt it'll be the last. It's not driven by a logical position so much as an emotional attitude of national inferiority and defeatism. It's sad, but there it is.

if the majority of Americans knew what Canadians say about their country on a daily basis, we wouldn't be talking about a loss of tourism, we'd have real problems on our hands.

Yeah, God knows; they might actually look up from their Hollywood-studded navels and realize that the other 95% of humanity has some pretty embarrassing views of them these days... like the guy who finds a bottle of Scope in his mailbox, they might just take the hint. Imagine the "problems" we'd have if they didn't invade other countries, formulate nuclear first-strike policies, or publically advocate assassinations like human rights didn't matter.

RobfromAlberta said...

if Americans don't come to Canada, it's because they're aware of our reputed anti-Americanism and are offended by it; if Canadians don't go to the US, it will hardly be noticed because we are utterly inconsequential to them and they couldn't care less about us or what we think of them.

Ah, there it is. I had a sense there was something in my argument you were misunderstanding, but I didn't see it until now. The reason why a reduction in Canadian tourism will not be noticed in the US is not because they don't care about our opinions, it is because we are not sufficiently numerous to have an effect by our absence. I simply can't imagine anyone in the US saying, "Hey, there seems to be fewer Canadians around lately."

RobfromAlberta said...

As a result, you're eager to portray Canada as insignificant and a benchwarmer in the great scheme of things, ineffective and impotent

Ineffective and impotent is definitely a good description of Canada today. It wasn't always that way, but since we have pissed away every bit of influence we've had with our allies, we have to accept that we are a virtual nobody on the international stage.

until the issue becomes Canada's own woes. Then Canada is entirely to blame: the omnipotent, but stupid, master of its own fate

I wouldn't go so far as to say "master of its own fate", but even a basketcase like Zimbabwe has the power to f**k itself.

Lone Primate said...

Ineffective and impotent is definitely a good description of Canada today. It wasn't always that way, but since we have pissed away every bit of influence we've had with our allies, we have to accept that we are a virtual nobody on the international stage.

I've heard this one coming from conservative quarters in the past ten years or so. I've never heard it substantiated, though. That's typical. So I'd like you to give us some examples. What have we done since wading ashore on Juno Beach that we've ceased doing? What examples can you provide of allies refusing to answer our calls, enter into treaties, negotiate trade, etc. etc.? I'm curious. What troubling events have led you to this conclusion that seem to have eluded the rest of us?

RobfromAlberta said...

What have we done since wading ashore on Juno Beach that we've ceased doing?

Well, for one thing, we've stopped carrying our load in NATO. Here is a comparison of military expenditures as a percentage of GNP for major NATO countries in 2004:

USA - 3.3%
UK - 2.4%
France - 2.6%
Italy - 1.8%
Germany - 1.5%
Netherlands - 1.6%
Canada - 1.1%

Also, with our refusal to participate in the missile defense program, we have effectively walked out of NORAD as well.

What examples can you provide of allies refusing to answer our calls, enter into treaties, negotiate trade, etc. etc.?

America ignores NAFTA rulings, Denmark flaunts our claims of sovereignty in the North, Spanish trawlers routinely enter waters we claim sovereignty over to fish, Middle Eastern countries torture and murder our citizens....ah, the wages of "soft power".

Lone Primate said...

we've stopped carrying our load in NATO

You know, I actually wrote military expenditures into my question and then took it out because I wanted to see if that was that only thing you could up with... and bang, right to it. The same old conservative saw: we're spending too much on domestic children and not enough on things to kill foreign ones. How many nukes do the US, UK, and France have? Who's going to touch anyone on NATO? And yet, we have to kneecap programs here to buy things that go boom... offer us no return on the investment, get old, and have to be replaced. Under the circumstances, has it ever once occurred to you that maybe we've stuck the right balance, and other countries -- with major armaments industries -- are merely cycling (too much) of their money into too few already well-greased pockets? I wonder how much Lockheed-Martin has invested in the Republican Party... don't you?

America ignores NAFTA rulings

And this would change if we, what, eliminated Medicare and blew three times as much money on weapons? How?

Denmark flaunts our claims of sovereignty in the North

Of course, that could never happen to the US, with all its military power. Except for the fact that actually, yes, it could. Apparently all that force is neither a shield from such issues, nor their cure.

Spanish trawlers routinely enter waters we claim sovereignty over to fish

No, they don't. Leave it to you to take one of the most aggressive international actions Canada has taken in years, one with a conclusion in our favour where we showed the world we'd stand up for ourselves, and turn it into some sort of revisionistic defeat. It's exactly the sort of matter someone like you ought to be trumpeting but that would require giving credit where it's due -- to a Liberal government who pulled out all the stops, sent in the Royal Canadian Navy, arrested people, charged and tried them, and took the matter to before the world. Is there nothing you won't claim and try to sneak past these folks in an effort to immasculate Canadian nationalism? Is nothing beneath you?

Middle Eastern countries torture and murder our citizens

Iran tortured and murdered an Iranian who was also a Canadian. What would be your remedy to this? Invade? Attack? Yes, certainly this sort of thing could never happen to American citizens or British citizens, or the Irish, or Italians, or Japanese, or Australians... except, of course, it does. It would seem that it isn't only Canada that is so pathetic and impotent as to see its citizens so treated.

RobfromAlberta said...

No, they don't. Leave it to you to take one of the most aggressive international actions Canada has taken in years, one with a conclusion in our favour where we showed the world we'd stand up for ourselves, and turn it into some sort of revisionistic defeat. It's exactly the sort of matter someone like you ought to be trumpeting but that would require giving credit where it's due -- to a Liberal government who pulled out all the stops, sent in the Royal Canadian Navy, arrested people, charged and tried them, and took the matter to before the world. Is there nothing you won't claim and try to sneak past these folks in an effort to immasculate Canadian nationalism? Is nothing beneath you?

Yes they do. Sure we put up a fight and I'm glad we did. It sent a message, the sort of message we should send more often. But in the grand sheme of things, it was a small gesture. The Spaniards (along with several other European countries) still fish our waters. We chase them off when we catch them, but we don't catch them often enough to protect the fisheries.

RobfromAlberta said...

More on the "Turbot War":

http://www.docuweb.ca/~pardos/globe.html

But for all the talk about confrontations on the high seas, only one Spanish trawler, the Estai, was arrested and charged with illegal fishing. The charges were subsequently dropped, the cargo of fish was returned and the federal government paid $41.000 to return the fish to its owners.

Lone Primate said...

A nine-year-old article? That's it? What's that got to do with what's going on now, or how the federal fisheries ministry's been dealing with the issue since?

Well, here's something a little more contemporary that ought to please you... though why, I can't imagine; you utterly disdain of Canada.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this cuts to the heart of the matter:

"Mr. Regan said in an interview that the Canadian enforcement effort has been effective because the threat of boardings and inspections forced the foreign fleet to move away from shallow waters where they were catching endangered cod and flatfish."

...While the following explains the other side of the issue, and why the government is being vigilant:

"Mr. Regan said the federal government would consider extending its jurisdiction if diplomatic attempts to get stiffer penalties for offending boats fail. He knows that countries such as Portugal and Spain, which have fished in the area for more than four centuries, would hotly oppose a unilateral move."