I am Canadian

I Am Canadian (a hopeless foray into politics)

Being separated from Canadian news sources, my only exposure to developments on the home front has been the odd blip that Canada has managed in international news.

Well, it has been one blip so far. And what a shocker it was.

I’m sure Obama’s visit to Canada made a bit of a splash at home. Were editorial sections and blogs across the country bubbling over with analysis and wonderment? Were letters to the president piling up on the desks of the disgruntled citizenry?

I had the privilege of catching the report of his visit on CNN World News.  The title ran OBAMA VISITS CANADA. The report started with an uncharacteristic moment of verbal trebuchet from Obama:

“I am so happy to be here in Iow – (Iowa…) – Ottawa.” The golden boy president, flanked by the vacant smile and flabby cheeks of Stephen Harper, was still stuck in campaign mode.

But that was just the beginning of the embarrassment. Not only was the trip covered with humiliating superficiality on CNN but for three full minutes these words blazed from the bottom of the news report:

OTTOWA, CANADA

Spell check anyone?

Next we shamelessly forced the President to sample a flimsy, ovaloid pastry, crowned with a symbolic ‘O’ of whipped cream: the ‘Obamatail’. Aficionados of the Canadian capital will know that a simpler version of this pastry, called the Beavertail, is the city’s common street snack.

Why do we perpetually choose the most pathetic symbols to represent our nation? Look! Barack! We love you so much we dedicated our favorite pastry to you! Its tasteless, in more ways than one.

This whole circus act reminds me of a classmate I had in boarding school, an endearing Antiguan student who couldn’t shake his Caribbean sleeping habits. He was late with such regularity and such extremity to our French class that when he showed up 5 minutes late, the teacher would actually congratulate him. We suffered so much disappointment in America through two terms with Bush that whatever Obama does for Canada, he will be held up as a Messiah.

We need to have standards. We need to demand respect from a man expected to settle the conflicting demands piping up from all over the globe. We should be worried. Obama gave signs that his visit was an obligation. He only stayed for half a day and our star struck politicians didn’t seem to demand much discussion out of him. He neglected to comment on Canadian or American strategy in Afghanistan. We didn’t bother him to clarify his explicit lack of support for NAFTA. And when it came to American protectionism, he donned his disarming smile and told us not to worry.

If the tides are changing, if the world order is being turned on its head, we need to make sure we have an intelligent say in how it happens. Or at least let the world know we are good for more than sycophants and donuts.

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