Fighter pilot, Royal Navy 1945, Hydrographer Iraq 1947-52 India 1952-53, Canadian Hydrographic Arctic explorer 1953-1960, Writer-producer Canadian National Film Board 1961-72, Freelance journalist, audio-visual producer 1972-2009, National Press Club of Canada 1961 - 2006

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Canada and the USA

Raising the Drawbridge and flooding the Moat

Stridently obvious events indicate that the age-old political, cultural and religious global upheavals that have unceasingly and violently transformed world civilizations, ever since the beginning of human time, are still as volcanically active as ever they were in ancient or modern human history.
So the prospect of a mutual agreement with the USA regarding the establishment of a common security zone around our joint geographical perimeter is a clear and timely requirement.  It is a practical and sober precaution for ensuring the safety of our almost exclusively shared continent — North America. 

For Americans are more than just our cousins.  Overall, compared within the larger sphere of modern civilizations, they are us and we are them.

 Canadians are to Americans as firemen are to policemen.  As pork chops are to spare ribs.  As ale is to beer.
 So low key murmurings about the close links we have with our American cousins, while at the same time emphasizing—in a much louder voice—how we must safeguard our precious Canadian sovereignty and our so much superior culture considering the exigencies of today, is pointless academic bilge.  Why?  Because Canadians are Americans already—geographically, historically and most especially culturally.  And we have been for some time.  We just couldn’t help becoming so.  Period.
We’ve been close neighbours for too long to be otherwise.

In fact because of our shared geography, imposed by globally-shifting tectonic plates and planetary evolution, we have often shared political responsibilities for many scores of decades past.  For example, long before the Global Positioning System appeared, our two countries, along with Mexico, relied on mutual agreements for measuring and positioning the size, extremities, and salient features of our continent by referring all map making endeavours to the same point of reference: the North American 1927 datum point in a farmers field in Kansas, know as the NA Datum 1927, and marked by a bronze marker plug set in a bed of concrete.  Thus the entire myriad Canadian bronze plugs set across the length and breadth of Canada and its Arctic territories, were calculated in reference to that central plug in Kansas.
The St. Lawrence Seaway is another example of shared responsibility and mutual benefit in managing the vital commercial and international responsibilities of our two countries.
As is of course, NORAD, with its desolate Arctic network of warning radar stations providing a continental stretching defence and deterrence against the extremely real nuclear devastation of all North America, was the most critically required, decades-long, partnership for our shared very existence.

Once, in a convivial social gathering, I asked the dozen or so people within earshot to raise their hands if they had family members or very close friends who were permanent residents of the United States.  Every hand was raised. 
 Such a showing affirms the plain fact that with most Canadians living very close to our normally peaceful border, which for the better part of two centuries past has been wide open for the convenience of honest citizens from both our countries, an inevitable intermingling has taken place. 
 For a hundred years or more we have fought together against common foes, experienced the same economic downturns and upturns, eaten the same food, mostly delighted in the same laughter, suffered the same setbacks, shared the same lifestyles, treasured the same art forms, enjoyed the same recreations, weathered the same snowstorms, sweltered in the same heat waves, and talked the same talk.

 I imagine my own Ottawa family is typical.  We have welcomed many visitors from the USA.  My wife has relations in Arizona and California.  Our son has close friends in San Francisco and New York City and we have fond memories of trips and peewee hockey tournaments south of the border.
 Also, I personally can boast of having an American twin first cousin—born in the US mid-west on the same day as I myself was born in England.  His father, my uncle, emigrated to America from England a hundred years ago.  Notwithstanding that we only keep in touch by e-mail these days, there was one time when we actually met for a few days.  It was in 1945 in London, England.  He was on leave from his US Army regiment and I was on leave from my squadron.  Though he was the visitor and I was the native Londoner it was he who showed me the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and other notable sights I had never bothered with before.  Afterwards I took him to a couple of nice pubs where we discussed the sharing of our mutual cultural values.   
Today, as for most other Canadians, they are still just about identical.
Apart from many being somewhat dauntingly Biblically over religious.

Yes, ok!  I admit it.  I’ve been a Yankeephile since 1941 in wartime Britain when Pilot Officer Weir, an American RAF Eagle Squadron pilot, took me up for my first flight ever at North Weald fighter station.  Pilot Officer Weir was killed just one week later.

I have also spent six-month-long periods during each of the years 1954-59, sailing along, exploring, charting and defining the coastline and geography of the Arctic perimeter now under discussion.

So what I say is this:
What this three-country-continent needs is a self-sufficient, safe, firmly unified, North America which is intelligently alert to rigidly protecting itself from the hideous ambitions of obviously insane aliens. 
With tomatoes and sunshine in good supply from Mexico; with oranges, grapes, and with shared continental-wide defences against ballistic nukes by the USA; and with maple syrup, poutine, wheat, real beer and ale and, most importantly, vast oil and natural gas production from Canada, North America will be a haven of democracy and freedom. 
Richly developed and civilized, with a trilingual — Spanish-French-English population — a united North America would be the mainstay in preserving global civilization.  

As a more unified, confident, and powerful continent we will have a distinct advantage in conducting our political and commercial dealings with the rest of the world.