Carlson, Coulter, and Canada
December 10, 2004
By Bennet G. Kelley
The fact that some Canadians had the audacity to protest during
President Bush's visit to their country last week made it open season
for right-wing pundits to bash the other French-speaking country
they love to hate, with Tucker Carlson deriding the "limpid, flaccid
nature of Canadian society," and Ann Coulter saying that Canada
is "lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent."
Being married to a Canadian and having represented Canadian companies,
I find these jingoistic attacks to be a perfect illustration of
President Kennedy's lament that "too often we enjoy the comfort
of opinion without the discomfort of thought."
"Without the U.S., Canada is essentially Honduras, but
colder and much less interesting" - Tucker Carlson
The bow-tied wonder also added that "Canada needs the United States.
The United States does not need Canada." In reality, Canada has
the world's eighth-largest economy and eighth-largest trade surplus.
Canadian consumers are vital to the U.S. economy because Canada
is its top export market and accounts for nearly 30 percent of all
Carlson may have it backwards as to which country needs the other
more, since Canada provides one-fifth of U.S. imports that are either
used in the production process or directly consumed and is the single
largest supplier of energy to the U.S, supplying 88% of its natural
gas imports, 17% of its oil (more than any other country) and almost
100% of its electricity imports.
Carlson must have forgotten that it was Canadian power that saved
Silicon Valley and his hometown of San Francisco from blackouts
during the peak of the California electricity crisis.
Far from being Honduras, Canada outperformed the U.S. in job growth
between 2000-2003, growing by 5.6% compared to negative 1.4%. While
confronted with the same recession, Canada used tax cuts targeted
towards the middle class to create a stimulus while still maintaining
their budget surplus.
In contrast, the Bush administration's tax cuts had minimal stimulus
effect and replaced a record surplus with a record deficit. As a
result, today "loonie" is not only the nickname for the Canadian
dollar, but aptly describes U.S. economic policy.
"I think if Canada were responsible for its own security
[it] would be invaded by Norway" - Tucker Carlson
Canada is 15th worldwide in defense spending and eighth among the
26 NATO nations (outspending Norway more than 2-to-1); and exceeds
the U.S. in foreign aid as a percentage of GDP. Canada also is one
of the top contributors to the United Nations and has provided over
100,000 soldiers to peacekeeping operations.
Noting that the U.S. graciously allows Canada "to exist on the
same continent," Ms. Coulter was appalled that it would be so disloyal
as to fail to support the preemptive invasion of Iraq and warned
that we can take "them over so easily."
In doing so, Coulter conveniently ignored the fact that it was
Canada's large troop presence in Afghanistan that permitted the
U.S. to divert forces to Iraq, and that Canada fought alongside
the U.S. in WWI, WWII, Korea, Desert Storm and Kosovo. Coulter also
should remember that the last time the U.S. tried to take over Canada
they ended up burning down the White House in retaliation.
"Canada's essentially ... a made-in-Taiwan version of
the United States" - Tucker Carlson
Give the Taiwanese their due, since according to leading indices
Canada beats the U.S. in life expectancy, quality of life, environmental
sustainability, press freedom, opportunity for women, education
spending, business innovation and beer; while having a lower crime,
divorce and infant mortality rate. Canada also provides universal
health coverage; while the United States spends a higher percentage
of GDP on health care but still leaves over 43 million uninsured.
In addition, Vancouver was ranked second among world cities in
Mercer Consulting's latest quality of life survey and in which the
top thirty cities included five Canadian cities but only two American
The State Department describes the American-Canadian relationship
as the closest and most extensive in the world. As Harry Truman
explained, this strong bond between our two great countries is not
just "through the happy circumstance of geography [but instead]
is compounded of one part proximity and nine parts good will and
Unfortunately, good will and common sense seem to be in short supply
among today's right-wing pundits.
Bennet Kelley was the Co-Founder and former National Co-Chair
of the Democratic National Committee's Saxophone Club.