In the rather unremarkable wake of what had been made out to be a rather remarkable crisis, many Canadians are feeling awfully smug about how good we look compared to things across the border. Our dollar is strong, our government is solvent and our politics, for the moment, don’t seem as divisive or imprudent. But we’re fooling ourselves if we waste this time boasting. After all, we know firsthand what it’s like to suffer the same indignities currently facing the U.S.
Which is why now is the time to stop grinning and start acting like better neighbours.
Like most cities in this country, Greater Victoria has deep connections to the U.S.
From early immigration to the border politics that define our geography to our reliance on American tourists, we have always had a close relationship with the people of the U.S. as well as their government.
Four decades ago, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau uttered his famous line comparing Canada-U.S. relations to a mouse sleeping next to an elephant. Since then, we’ve been jostled by many little twitches and grunts, while constantly reminded how dependent we are on the superpower next door.
That might explain why a dislike of America has become so palpable among our population.
Yet Canadians have also experienced tremendous growth in our self-confidence as a nation. We’re no longer worried about looking small or incompetent in the eyes of our massive neighbour. In fact, we’re empowered by our success at overcoming significant obstacles.
For example, history will be good to Paul Martin, a forgettable prime minister who deserves much more recognition for his work as finance minister. Martin helped tame Canada’s growing debt and made our current economic strength possible. That strength helped heal cultural divisions, at least for the time being, that once dominated federal politics.
Americans might not bother to learn the lessons from Canada’s recent history, but they will no doubt recover from their self-made crisis.
We have little to gain from being smug now and much to win from reminding our neighbours they have an old friend in their corner.