I wasn't going to dismantle Ambassador Wilkins' speech yesterday - until I heard the man whining on CBC radio tonight. Then I suddenly got furious.
First, Wilkins was busy whining about how Canada isn't treating the United States with "respect". Newsflash: Mr. Wilkins - Respect is earned, not assumed. Ever since your political master came to power, he has treated Canada with something between blinding ignorance and disdain. Do you really think that Canadians owe you a debt of some kind?
Let's see - Canada was among the first, and most generous responders in the hours and days following 9/11; we stood at your side in Afghanistan; we have helped your country rebuild in the wake of some of the worst hurricane disasters you've experienced - and lord knows how much else we've done alongside Americans - and that's just in the last few years. The response? A President who blatantly ignored Canada's Prime Minister Chretien on the grounds of political philosophy; constant demands for Canada to involve itself in some of the daftest military ventures I have ever had the misfortune to hear about; complaints that we don't do things 'your way'.
On issues of trade and relations - when the United States starts taking NAFTA and International Trade law seriously, Canada might consider a modicum of "respect". How hard has President Bush lobbied in the Republican-controlled legislative houses to get the Softwood Lumber dispute resolved? As near as any of us can tell, here in the Great White North, not very. Let's talk about somewhere between 3-5 Billion Dollars in illegally gathered duties that have not been repaid. How about paying some heed to trade rulings? Hmmm?
As far as topics like Iraq, Missile Defense and god knows what else are concerned - when there is something that resembles truth and honesty, perhaps Canada will consider paying attention to what you say. In the meantime, Mr. Wilkins, don't think for one minute that Canada and Canadians owe you one shred of anything. Canada is not the United States' doormat, nor will Canadians appreciate being treated as such.
With American lobby groups trying to inject themselves into Canada's political dialogue, I suggest that perhaps it is time for the American government to reign in these factions. Canada is not an American State or Protectorate, and a little respect for Canada's political dialogue is called for.
Mr. Wilkins, you are the United States' Ambassador to Canada, not Canada's Governor. I suggest that it is time for you to get your head around Canadian politics (which you admit that you do not understand), and start communicating back to your political bosses in Washington the reality of Canada. Don't waste your breath trying to dictate to Canadians what we can or cannot engage in our political dialogue, or how we should run our country. Your political masters have demonstrated repeatedly a distinct lack of awareness of anything outside of Texas, perhaps it is time that they had their eyes opened to the reality that the rest of the world sees things through very different eyes.