Sunday, November 20, 2005

The US should look to Canada to find out how to balance both its budget and its life

This article showed up in the Observer this morning. It's a perceptive look at the difference between Canada and the United States. It also makes a point in showing that Canada is what the US used to be and perhaps, still wants to be.

So much of its decency, cordiality, wit and thoughtfulness is drowned out
by strident chaps wearing flags in their lapels and the babbling hatred that
pours from the Fox Network. When you get to Canada, the clamour stops.
Suddenly, you find yourself in the place that America should be and once
was, though it would offend every American to think that Canada has anything
the US should want.

But, if the article bears any truth, why wouldn't they?

If only on the grounds of Canada's economic success, Americans should take
more notice. Last week, the Liberal government announced that it would cut C$30
billion out of the budget because of the enormous fiscal surplus, currently
running at about C$13.4bn a year. Just over C$5bn is to be given back to
Canadians on taxes collected this year. And in the future, some of the the
surplus will be spent on training, the settling of new immigrants and student

Something seldom acknowledged by the average American and, indeed, the CIA Factbook:

Canada is democratic to its marrow, relatively enlightened on environment,
health and welfare issues and its political discourse, unlike America's, is
recognisably connected to the rest of the free world. That is almost certainly
because the centre ground of politics, the place where you find a nation's core
values and you can most easily read its character, is some distance to the left
of the centre ground in the US.

While truth about Canadian politics is somewhat more complex, the discovery that it is a near bloodsport is refreshing. Yes, we thank Chretien for doing what the majority of us wanted. Why is that such a big deal? By the way, if that's his legacy, I suppose it means the things he didn't do right just didn't make the news outside Canada:

To the outsider, Canadian politics is often mystifying and the conduct of
the debate between Conservatives and Liberals seems slightly less genteel than a
couple of ferrets in a sack. But on the big issues, the political class makes
some good decisions. For example, Jean Chretien, the Prime Minister for 10 years
who left office in 2003, refused to go to war with Iraq unless there was a
second UN resolution, which is exactly the course Tony Blair could and should
have taken.

Maybe this is why Canadians clung to a Canadian beer ad which contained the rant, I AM CANADIAN:

Someone once said Canadians were so busy explaining to the Americans that
they weren't British and to the British that they weren't American that they
hadn't found the time to be Canadian.

Read the whole thing here.


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