Democratic Underground

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 U.S. exports.

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 cities.

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 common sense."

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.

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