When Jim Bouchard asked me to be a guest on his Think Like A Black Belt Show to provide the Canadian perspective on last year’s U.S. elections, little did I know that this would become the launching pad for what has become the 49th Parallel Forum.
Without a doubt, our neighbor to the south has always had a great deal of influence in terms of simultaneously crystallizing as well as obfuscating the lens through which Canadians view the world as well as ourselves . . . I can still remember the political cartoon shortly after 9/11 which depicted a diminutive beaver in a propeller beanie cap saying to himself “any minute now” in anticipation of then President George W. Bush’s expression of thanks to the countries that assisted the US during and after the terrorist attacks. The joke of course was that after thanking what was seemingly every country in the world, he never actually got around to mentioning Canada, let alone thanking us. Talk about about a bruised psyche.
Of course the help to which I am referring relates to How Canada and Canadians opened our airspace, landing fields and homes to those who had to be diverted across the border.
However, given the circumstances surrounding the 9/11 attacks and all that the US was dealing with at that time, I am of the mind to readily overlook the snub especially in light of the fact that there are so many other more positive things upon which we as Canadians can focus.
For example, our continuing domination over the US in our number one pastime . . . hockey. Be it supremacy at the Junior, Olympic or professional levels – and yes its true that even when a US-based team wins the Stanley Cup it is with a roster made up mostly of kids from the north, the Red and White Maple Leaf flies a little higher and a little more robustly on those days.
Other reasons for button-busting pride can be traced as far back as the war of 1812 when we (okay the British, but we are kind of the same thing) defeated the Americans pushing the invaders so far south that we actually occupied the territory that is now New York City. Now that was territory we should have hung on to. Think about it for a moment, Donald Trump could have been a Canadian!
An even more exciting contemplation is that the New York Yankees should have been called the Canucks! Of course there would have been no problem with Vancouver’s NHL team having the same moniker as we above the 49th are used to this kind of sharing. After all, in the one time 9 team Canadian Football League we had both the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Ottawa Rough Riders franchises. Now some have poked fun at us for this apparent lack of creativity citing the fact that the CFL was the only sports league in the world in which two teams had the same name. I however like to think that is symbolizes a high degree of cooperation, collaboration and solidarity.
Besides hockey and the emergence of the New York Canucks MLB team, Canadians have also made an indelible impression in other key areas of the North American landscape such as in the world of comic books. Take Superman for example, who has for the most part been viewed as an American icon. Truth be known, it was Canadian-born artist Joe Shuster who put the finishing brush strokes on the Man of Steel.
And let’s not get started on our beer which is a real alcoholic beverage versus the watered-down swill that passes for brew in the US. Come on people, cold filtered from the Rockies which comes in a can that has to change color to tell you when it is cold enough to drink is another name for water to us of the hardier stock north of the border.
All in all, this means that deep down in the heart of every American there is a little bit of Canadian envy for everything from our Tim Horton’s Coffee to our socialized medicine and yes in the end, even our national animal the beaver.
Think about it for a moment, the Americans can have their eagle and the UK their lion but we, we Canadians as June Callwood so eloquently put it have “a flat-tailed, slow-witted, toothy rodent known to bite off its own testicles or to stand under its own falling trees.”
With the industrious beaver as our symbol one can only imagine what a Canadian’s take will be on the important domestic (North American) and global issues of the day. You will of course have to tune in to the show to find out!