TheStar.com - Opinion -
The truth is, Canada, America isn't into you
THEO MOUDAKIS/TORONTO STAR FILE
It's not personal but niceness doesn't cut it in the land of the free and home of the brave
February 16, 2009
A big ol' howdy and bonjour Canada! How are you?
We know, we know, it's been a while. Sorry about that.
We have been, per usual, rather self-absorbed lately, what with our historic elections and our economy in freefall. But, hey, good news. Did you hear? We're coming to visit.
We'll be in Ottawa on the 19th. Hope you can make it. We hear mid-February is a lovely time of year there.
Look, Canada, before you get your hopes up about this trip, there's something we need to tell you. We're not sure how to put this so we will be brutally direct, as is our way. We're just not that into you.
There, we said it. We feel better already.
You've always been there for us, Canada: after the Sept. 11 attacks and now in Afghanistan. We appreciate that, really we do. But still, we're just not that into you.
It's not personal, really. It's geopolitical. You're just too ... nice. Nice doesn't get our attention. Threatening gets our attention, and you, Canada, are anything but threatening, except on the hockey rink, of course, but we don't take hockey all that seriously.
If you really wanted us to notice, you should have gotten all gussied up in that Taepodong outfit (it worked for North Korea) or maybe flashed some weapons of mass destruction – real or imagined, it's all the same to us.
Let's face it. We've been bickering a lot lately – over Afghanistan and NAFTA and that silly softwood dispute. Plus you think we hog all the water, which we probably do.
We admit we've been avoiding you lately. But can you blame us? Your loonie is loony. Up one day, down the next, then up again. We've got plenty of that yo-yo action right here on Wall Street. We don't need to go north for it.
Also, many of us Americans – especially those in their 20s and 30s – tell surveyors they find Canada a "boring" place to visit.
I know, I know, how can a country with both Cirque du Soleil and Don Cherry possibly be described as boring? What can I say, Canada? Our amusement threshold is very high.
So is our capacity for selfishness. Our pending "Buy American" campaign hurts you. We feel your pain, Canada, really we do, but we've got to look out for Number 1. And we all know who Number 1 is.
Perhaps what we have here is a classic failure to communicate. The fact is, we don't know you Canada. And no wonder: American newspapers no longer maintain bureaus in Canada.
Not that we paid much attention when they did. Most of us couldn't name your prime minister or, for that matter, your capital city. Is this kind of ignorance any basis for a relationship?
If we know you Canada (and we've already determined we don't) you're probably blaming yourself. You always do. Unlike us, you're so modest and self-effacing. It's endearing.
Remember that joke you like to tell us? How do you get 50 Canadians to leave a swimming pool? By making an announcement: Will all the Canadians please leave the pool. See, you find that funny. We don't get it. That's why, Canada, it's best we go our separate ways.
I know what you're thinking: You can change, America. You've elected a new president, one who is all about change and re-engagement with the world.
Don't believe it, Canada. Nations, like people, don't change easily. We're been around for more than 200 years. We're a bit stuck in our ways.
No, Canada, we're just not that into you and probably never will be. Don't fret, though. You're better off without us. We were very much into Iraq (still are) and look how that turned out.
Besides, Canada, you're too good for us anyway.
The truth is we envy you, though of course we never admit that to anyone, not even ourselves. We envy your health-care system. We envy your prudent, sober banks. We envy your restraint on the international stage. We envy your very happiness. We envy everything about you. Except your weather, of course. Nobody envies that.
So, chin up. We can still be friends. After all, you are so close; we're practically neighbours.
Yes, we're still friends – and best trading partners for life too! And you will continue to send us your best comedians, won't you?
Hey, let's do coffee sometime. We'll call you.
Eric Weiner is the Washington-based author of The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, now out in paperback.