May 10, 2002
In high school a lot of people wanted to
hang out with the cool kid. You know, the kid whose father let him
have a BB gun, got a car when he turned sixteen and was generally
the envy of every boy and the dream of every girl. You wanted to be
part of his group, have lunch at the same table, and go to the same
I suppose in the world of international
relations, the cool kid is the United States. It's the one everyone
wants to be like - big, good-looking, powerful, rich,
Of course not everyone loved the cool kid,
the same way not everyone loves the US. Some people were jealous, or
thought him arrogant; that he had too much and couldn't see beyond
the end of his own nose. Or that he was so busy being adored he
never took the time to get to know anyone else.
I think of that every time I hear how Canada
feels slighted by its "best friend" the United States.
Between the bombing and the booing, there's been a lot of talk
lately about how much we Canadians feel under-appreciated by our
American neighbours. We search every speech to see if President Bush
mentions us. If he does mention us we look to see if we got
mentioned before Argentina.
We're so insecure that we make sure the cool
kid to the South knows Mathew Perry and Shania Twain are Canadian.
When the Simpsons did five minutes of an episode in Toronto, it was
front page news. When the TV program 60 Minutes does a show about
Canadian immigration, it causes questions to be asked in Parliament.
There was a study just released that shows
once again that Americans really don't know anything much about us.
Apparently 30% of Americans think Canada is just another US state -
something like Oregon. They don't know we're its biggest trading
partner, and don't consider us their closest ally.
I suppose there will be much wringing of
Canadian hands that we are so unappreciated by the cool kid. After
all, we know so much about their history, spend our holidays there
and wish our dollar had the same sort of clout.
Some Canadians have gone so far to insist
that there really shouldn't any differences between us and the US,
and that we should be "merging" our money, laws,
immigration and pesky little things like government.
If you don't think there's any difference
between us, just ask for vinegar for your French fries the next time
you're in America. I did it once in Florida and instead of the
little shaker bottle that comes standard in every Canadian greasy
spoon, they brought me a gallon jug from the kitchen. I think the
staff kept it on hand for cleaning windows. And after giving it to
me they all stood around to see what the crazy foreigner was going
to do with it.
But we all have to grow up sometime, and
with a little maturity we realize that it isn't as important to be
liked or acknowledged by the cool kid as it is to do your own thing.
And while it's nice to have cool friends,
its more important to be yourself, especially if those cool friends
don't really pay that much attention to you. It's a lesson we teach
all our children.
It's just a part of growing up.