Saturday, December 6, 2008

Oh, Canada

To my neighbors to the north,

My sympathies. Truly. Your country, for many of us in the lower 48, has always been a symbol of a simpler, more functional place. You have socialized medicine and you're where our young men fled for shelter when Washington looked for human fodder for the Vietnam war. We have a sentimental and totally uninformed belief that it's somehow better in Canada. I know people now who have been frantically planning their repatriation in an effort to leave a country that elected George W. Bush for two terms. And now the news from your part of the continent sounds a lot like what we've been through for the past eight years.

Your government is resisting acknowledging that Canada is in a recession. Like us, your problems have been building for some time and are now are crashing in on you. And sadly, like us, you have a leader who is said to be highly partisan, secretive and clueless. According to what I read, your Prime Minister faced a vote of no confidence next week because his Conservative party has failed to offer an economic stimulus package. And instead of facing the problems, his solution was to shut down Parliament.

You must be reeling. We know the feeling down here, Canada. For eight years, we've watched civil rights erode in the name of national security. We've watched the opposition party frantically try to object, try to create a coalition, and fail. We've acknowledged that our government has been run by a pack of strategists whose goal was personal gain. We went to war to line their pockets with money. They lied to us to make sure we didn't look too closely. Thousands have died. We have watched our standing in the world community crumble, watched our government slap away offers of friendship after we were attacked by terrorist thugs. We watched thousands of our own neighbors wait in horrific conditions for help that was withheld after Hurricane Katrina. We have been ashamed. And we have nursed a long simmering anger.

Finally, finally we have had enough. It took a combination of anger, fear, a war and an economic crisis to finally get this country to pull in a different direction, and that was aided by an opposition candidate who was finally savvy enough to understand how the party in power plays, and be ready for whatever they tried. It worked. And I cannot explain to you the dimensions of the exhalation that swept across this country after election day. Perhaps you felt it where you are.

We are afraid, Canada. Our economy is as bad as it's ever been. The parallels between today and 1929 are inescapable. But for the first time in a very, very long time, we have hope. We believe that our government is headed by people who will be trying their best to turn this sinking ship around as we all start bailing water.

You are where we have been for the past decade, Canada. Don't wait as long as we did to make sure your government is working for you. We wouldn't wish this on our worst enemies, much less our favorite neighbors.

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