December 13, 2005

Attention Canada: We're Not Kidding

BACK IN 2000, when we were all much younger and the world was a much simpler place, I wrote in the Ottawa Citizen about my disappointment regarding the minor undercurrent of anti-Americanism then existent in Canada. It seemed to me, I wrote back then, that such sentiment was "silly" for Canadians to hold, given how much the U.S. and Canada had in common, and that our two nations should be friends.

Well, it seems America's ambassador to the True North has said something similar, except for one thing. The ambassador was really rather annoyed when he said that, and to the point where one suspects the old friendship between the two countries (as Gordon Sinclair so exemplified) might be wearing a bit thin.

The Reuters news service reports:

In a hard-hitting speech in Ottawa, U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins lamented what he called relentless and incessant criticism of his country, which he speculated might begin to sow doubt about the strength of the binational relationship.

"Canada never has to tear the United States down to build itself up," Wilkins said.

"It may be smart election politics to thump your chest and constantly criticize your friend and your No. 1 trading partner. But it's a slippery slope and all of us should hope it doesn't have a long-term impact on our relationship."

Now, Ambassador Wilkins is a diplomat. As such, he knows full well that tearing down the United States is a tradition for many Canadians. I've experienced that myself in my personal life. But there's a difference between good-natured ribbing (e.g., a Canadian complaining about American beer) and sentiment expressed with malice aforethought. More and more, though, it seems as if Canadian sentiment towards the U.S. has had elements of the latter as opposed to the former.

That can't be good for our binational relationship, and it's concerning when the U.S. ambassador makes a point of mentioning it. Ambassadors, after all, do not do things in a vacuum.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at December 13, 2005 06:50 PM | TrackBack