Alan Zendell, April 23, 2017
Don’t get excited, it’s not that kind of war. Our missile silos in North Dakota have not been redirected northward.
Our news media didn’t think this was important enough to cover, since Canada hasn’t made any threats of nuclear war that I’m aware of. But a writer friend of mine who lives in Ontario and has been following this blog brought it to my attention. I’m always glad to hear what he has to say, because he’s very pro-American but his perspective is purely Canadian, and it’s healthy to see things through someone else’s eyes.
This is personal to me. I’ve always had a soft spot for Canada. Every time I’ve been there, every Canadian I met has treated me wonderfully. It’s a cliche that Canadians are the politest people in the world, but it’s more than that. They’re just nice. Even the RCMP motorcycle cop who gave me a ticket for speeding in British Columbia was like that. He almost apologized for stopping me, lamenting that at the speed I was driving he feared for our safety. Then he spent fifteen minutes mapping a route through the mountains to Banff that greatly enhanced our trip.
I never understood the disdain our government often shows toward Canada. I can’t document it, but it’s an impression I’ve had for decades.
When I lived in the Seattle suburbs in the seventies and eighties, I loved Washington State’s concern for the environment which featured a reliance on hydroelectric power. One of the most productive dams in Washington, in terms of electricity production, is Ross Dam. As Seattle’s need for power grows there’s always pressure to raise the dam so it can hold more water to run through the turbines. In 1942, the dam was raised 120 feet, a great thing for Seattle’s power needs, but raising the dam extended Ross Lake northward into B. C., where it flooded 5,000 acres of prime Canadian land.
In the seventies, the explosive growth of the Seattle area spawned a movement to raise the dam even further. The effect on B. C. would have been catastrophic, and I was shocked at the attitudes of many Americans who simply didn’t care. Cooler heads prevailed, however, and the 1984 High Ross Treaty with Canada (http://skagiteec.org/about/high-ross-treaty) resolved the issue, but this sort of thing goes on all the time.
The latest kerfuffle involves the dairy industry. Apparently, despite the fact that millions of people die of malnutrition each year in third world countries, there is a global glut of milk production. Thus, dairy farmers who depend on exporting their products face financial disaster when their markets dry up. That’s happening to dairy farmers in Wisconsin, which happens to be House Speaker Paul Ryan’s home state. So last week, President Trump traveled to Wisconsin to address their economic woes, and in classic Trump fashion he blamed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Canada, in particular, for closing its borders to U. S. dairy exports, calling Canada’s policies a disgrace to American workers (http://business.financialpost.com/news/economy/strident-donald-trump-singles-out-canada-again-on-trade-target-in-energy-lumber-dairy). While he was at it, he also attacked Canada’s trade practices concerning timber and energy. Now that he’s made friends with China’s President Xi, he must need a new villain.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (ttp://www.jsonline.com/story/money/2017/04/11/canada-says-dont-blame-wisconsin-dairy-woes/100346214/), Trump was reacting to former U. S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s claim that recent changes in Canadian policy were choking off sales of American ultra-filtered milk which is used in cheese production. Canadians say it’s unfair to blame them, because Canada regulates its milk production by adjusting supply to meet demand, while other countries, including the United States, actually subsidize farmers to overproduce. There’s simply too much milk produced world-wide.
I’m not an economist, and clearly, the issue is far more complicated than my simple description. But I don’t have to be an expert in dairy economics to be unhappy when my president’s tendency to offend foreign leaders includes my favorite other country. If we can’t get along with Canada, things must be really bad.