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‘God bless America’


 

Kady has news of the latest outrage: Michael Ignatieff likes America.

Anyway. There once was a time when Stephen Harper was deeply concerned that his political opponents didn’t like America. So deeply concerned that his entry in the Hansard index for the second session of the 37th Parliament has its own subsection for “Anti-Americanism.” So deeply concerned that he stood in the House of Commons on April 3, 2003 and moved that “the House of Commons express its regret and apologize for offensive and inappropriate statements made against the United States of America by certain Members of this House; that it reaffirm the United States to be Canada’s closest friend and ally and hope that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein’s regime from power; and that the House urge the Government of Canada to assist the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq.”

Speaking on behalf of that motion he enthused about the United States, cited Sylvester Stallone and deemed our proximity to that great nation to be “our biggest asset in this very dangerous world.”

Full text after the jump.

Mr. Speaker, I will advise you that I will be splitting my time.

This is an important motion as our allies and our friends head to victory in the war against Saddam, a war that we believe will change the world and its alliances and relationships fundamentally. The motion will assist Canada in preserving its place in the world, its relationships and its values. I believe there is no reason why any hon. member of the House should find objection to the motion.

The motion is divided into two parts. The second part calls upon the House to support a successful military conclusion of the allied effort. It says that we “hope that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is successful in removing Saddam Hussein’s regime from power”, and it urges “the Government of Canada to assist the coalition in the reconstruction of Iraq”.

I would like to give a little bit of a personal backdrop to this. Last night at Stornoway I hosted a reception for ambassadors and representatives of nearly 50 countries that have now joined the coalition. I did that on behalf of our caucus and, I believe, on behalf of the silent majority of Canadians, to tell them, to tell these countries and to tell their people that in this fight we Canadians are not and cannot be neutral any more than we can be for Saddam; that we are with our friends, our allies and our own troops; and that we support them for freedom, for democracy, for the reconstruction of Iraq, and for the liberation of its people.

This is not a question on how this war happened or whether it should have occurred in the first place. It is something very different. It is now how this will play out and how we will stand in it.

We are always surprised by the wisdom of children. I was surprised a few days ago when my six year old son Benjamin asked me in the car, as we were listening to a radio broadcast on the war, “What happens, Dad, if Saddam wins?” He said that very fearfully, because to a six year old the outcome of a war is not obvious as it may be to some of us here.

We do have to cast our thoughts on what would be the consequences if Saddam were to be victorious, and all that he is and all that he aspires to be if that were to be fulfilled. We think we have the luxury of guessing and second-guessing our friends and allies, but if we have guessed wrong it could, as a conclusion of this war, devastate every aspect of our economy, our country and our future. That is why unconditionally supporting an allied victory is unequivocally in the national interest of this country.

The first part of the motion is perhaps the one that will give some people more difficulty. It reads:

That the House of Commons express its regret and apologize for offensive and inappropriate statements made against the United States of America by certain Members of the House; that it reaffirm the United States to be Canada’s closest friend and ally….

When we cut beneath the surface, in all but a few cases, anti-Americanism probably has clouded this debate and become, at this point, the only real motive that some have for hesitating to support our allies.

Anti-Americanism has a couple of roots in this country. One of those is history. The revolutionary war with the United States laid the groundwork for this country and the war of 1812 preserved the separation between the British Crown and the American republic.

However that division ended 100 years ago. In the last century, when the great nations of the world fought these tremendous battles, the Americans and the British were united against the evils that threatened our civilization. On this continent, Canada led those fights. We were there first.

I remember even Hollywood, which is sometimes awfully parochial, recognized this a few years ago. I think it was back in the 1980s when I saw a Sylvester Stallone movie where he played an American POW who was involved in liberating various allied POWs in France. This was in the early part of the war, so how was an American POW there? He was there because he had enlisted in the Canadian army when the Americans were still involved in a debate about whether they should or should not participate.

The Americans learned, I think partly from us as well as from other events, the error of isolationism. They learned that they could not sit smugly on the sidelines avoiding difficult moral choices that their friends had to make in a troubled world.

Let us pledge today that when America and Britain in the future make these choices we will never again allow ourselves to be isolated from them.

The other source of anti-Americanism, I believe, is more psychological. The fact is that we are different and our differences sometimes have irritated and, yes, sometimes even frightened others. When we go to the United States, even as English speaking Canadians, as much as many of us love the United States, have friends, acquaintances and even close relations there, we know Americans are different. We know Americans can sometimes be, if I can be honest, loud, boastful, aggressive, maybe overbearing and certainly overwhelming, but we also know they have hearts as big as this planet.

What other great power has ever rebuilt the enemies it has defeated? Even with the trade difficulties we have, what other great and huge country throws open its market in a way similar to what the United States does? What other dominant force has ever so clearly stood for the hopes, the dreams and the common good of ordinary people everywhere?

However if the Americans can occasionally be overbearing and overwhelming, we in this country, if we want to be frank, can sometimes be a little underwhelming.

Let me frank about this, in reference to something my office has prepared. This multiple page document is a litany of anti-American comments emanating from government benches in only the past few weeks and only over this particular conflict. I could add much more outside of that context. This litany of insults and outrageous abuse of our American friends contains quotes that range from the incredibly stupid to the truly vile. That is the only way I can put it. This is not a testament to our independence. It is a testament to a streak of immaturity and irresponsibility that this party does not share and will never embrace.

Let me be clear and let us all be clear on all sides of the House, because I know there are Liberals of goodwill in this, these kinds of quotes do not in any way diminish the United States of America. They diminish only us.

We are lucky to have the Americans as our neighbour, our ally and friend. To have had this relationship for so long makes us greater in the world, not weaker and lesser in the world. I suspect that there was not one nation represented at Stornoway last night, and, frankly, very few nations in the world, that do not envy our proximity to the United States in so many ways. It is not something fundamental for us to guard against. It is our biggest asset in this very dangerous world.

I urge the House to get behind this motion, to get behind our relationships, to get behind our friends, to get behind our allies and, needless to say, to get behind our own troops in this conflict and in the rebuilding that will occur.

God bless America. God save the Queen. The maple leaf forever.


 

‘God bless America’

  1. So, Ignatieff likes America and Harper likes America.

    It's all good!

    • It is. I'm content to leave the spittle-flecked-anti-American vote up for grabs between the NDP and Greens. I wonder how other Liberals feel about that, though?

    • It is. I'm content to leave the spittle-flecked-anti-American vote up for grabs between the NDP, Greens, and the even fringier. I wonder how other Liberals feel about that, though? Where are David Orchard's cultists parked at the moment?

      • At the moment, they're all parked at a Tim Horton's in Saskatoon.

        • Turnip trucks are often spotted there, empty.

  2. Harper was right at the time. Regardless of how I felt about the Bush administration, the fact we had people, including the Prime Minister equating the US with some great evil was pretty disheartening. I will be interested too see, as I noted in Kady's post, about whether the Conservatives do react to this,

    EDIT: I had to log out and log back in again. Apparently something had expired (log-in time or some thing or another)

  3. Thanks for reminding us of the Prime Minister's friendliness towards our neighbour and our largest trading partner. He was never quite as love-struck and effusive as Michael Ignatieff, but it's nice to see this sort of goodwill expressed.

    • Really? You're usually so much better than this.

      • Thanks, but I don't think I'm going overboard here. I'm just indulging in a little light-hearted repartee.

        • Indulge away. You usually make a good point, it's just jilting to see you go for low-hanging fruit.

          It's much easier to be a jackass most of the time, with the odd moment of clarity than the other way around.

  4. Iraq has never had it so good.

    • And nor Afghanistan.

      • "We think we have the luxury of guessing and second-guessing our friends and allies, but if we have guessed wrong it could, as a conclusion of this war, devastate every aspect of our economy, our country and our future. That is why unconditionally supporting an allied victory is unequivocally in the national interest of this country."

        Now that was a real whopper. Also, the reference to the silent majority was an impressive flourish… always the chessplayer.

  5. He's a "fan" is he?

    That's like a Sask. Roughrider saying he's a "fan" of the team. Sounds awkward, a little distant. A phrase that belies or at least belittles his real involvement.

    That was Iggy's chosen home for him and his family. It was his place of employment, his community involvement, the situs of his existence. It's where he shopped, ate, played, worked. Where he went to bed, and awoke again, night after night, year after year.

    That he's a "fan" of the place?

    Go Riders.

    • "That was Iggy's chosen home for him and his family. It was his place of employment, his community involvement, the situs of his existence. It's where he shopped, ate, played, worked. Where he went to bed, and awoke again, night after night, year after year"

      Actually Biff that would be the UK. Iggy only went to live and work full-time in the Staes a few years ago when he was selected to head the Carr Center at Harvard.

  6. It would greatly benefit the value of such discussions if a solid distinction was made between the policies of governments and the relationship between countries (or provinces etc). The fact that the people of Canada and the US share many values, a long history and an admirable (if not completely noncontroversial) economic relationship should not be left unstated. This is particularly true since most of the governmental interactions are about disagreements, some technical but some quite passionate. It is an unfortunate truth in modern political discourse that if you are critical of the actions of Hamas or Israel you are an easy target for being a bigot. Even in Canada, if Williams or Duceppe go on a rant then the blogsphere fills up with nasty statements about Islanders and Quebecers. Of course, it is unfortunate that all of the premiers get away with treating every disagreement they have with the federal level of government as an "attack on the people of our great province".

    Attacking the policies of a US President is a particularly thorny issue, given the near god-like attributes Americans ascribe to that position (if not its holder). Regular praise from our leaders for the people to the south makes sense, since it doesn't hurt and might help on the occasion we go in a different political direction.

  7. Brilliant post . The speech by PM Harper shows the respect he has for our neighbor and is a good contrast to the animosity sometimes shown by the Chretien and Martin gov`ts. The mutual respect and friendliness which is obvious between Harper and Obama is also a good contrast to the sometimes forced coziness that Mulroney showed and the " head over heels– I Love you Man that Iggy seemed to be saying.

  8. MIchael Ignatieff has no business saying that he's America's biggest fan. He should have stayed there if he liked it so much. His handler's need to take him aside. He's outdoing even the Conservatives on the love America front.

    The man is trying my patience, big time.

    • I'll only vote for him if he promises to puke every time he sees Obama.

    • Finally, a real anti-American Liberal! Good to see you're still out there.

  9. The plain fact is that a lot of Liberals are reflexively and deeply anti-American

    Question: Does repeating this calumny send a thrill up certain people's legs?

    • Paul Martin's anti-American rants to score cheap political points were a disgrace.

      Paul Martin was a fraud of a politician, with his big business background, Canada Steamship Lines etc. and he played to the anti-American gallery of the Liberal party left/lib crowd. The guy was such a fraud and a hypocrite and people saw right through him.

      Why do the Liberals keep pick losers as politicians, someone who both stands for something and who is also a competent politican? The Libs have lost their mojo.

  10. A lot of Conservatives are reflexively and deeply racist.

    • Liberals are power-hungry hypocrites and you Ti-G*y, are the biggest one of the bunch. No principles, just power.

  11. Did any of you actually read the text from Hansard? Harper comes off once again as me-too syncophant. He was totally bummed that Canada had made the right decision not to go to war in Iraq that he needed to be "perfectly clear."

    And finishing his speech with, "God bless America. God save the Queen. The maple leaf forever." It's so pre-1967 it makes me want to puke.

  12. Supporting that war finished off the leadership of the so-called Anglosphere. Harper should thank his lucky stars Canadians hadn't put him in charge, or he'd be sitting in Crawford, Texas now participating in a drunken crying jag with Bush, Blair and Howard.

    And that's what it was about. It had nothing to do with anti-Americanism, but the Iraq invasion. It's an insult to the intelligence of Canadians to suggest that opposing that war (which was opposed by the majority of Britons and Australians as well) was a just a matter of petty hatred and parochial nationalism.

    I don't recall Ignatieff participating in the Canada-bashing that occurred among the American right and their fifth column in Canada (Mark Steyn, anyone?) when he articulated (and since recanted) his reasons for supporting the invasion.

    • "I don't recall Ignatieff participating in the Canada-bashing that occurred among the American right and their fifth column in Canada (Mark Steyn, anyone?) when he articulated (and since recanted) his reasons for supporting the invasion."

      I guess it depends how you read the following Ignatieff quotes:

      "“If you are a human rights defender and you want something done to stop [a] massacre, you have to go to the Pentagon, because no one else is serious.”

      “It's disgusting in my own country, and I love my country, Canada, but they would rather bitch about their rich neighbour to the south than actually pay the note.”

      “To pay the bill to be an international citizen is not something that they want to do.”

      Personally, I kind of like it that he had the courage to raise those issues (and I equally admire Harper for the same reason). Not many Canadians have. But I don't think it's "calumny" to suggest that there is a substantial subset of Liberal party members would not stomach that in their leader.

      • I don't think you'll get response from Liberals on this.

        I think they secretly still hate America.

        • You're buying into the fallacy that the United States is embodied exclusively by the politics of the commentators on the right. I will own up to disliking very strongly–hate may be too strong a word for this–the antics of the likes of Bill O'Reilly or Ann Coulter. The fact that Sarah Palin had the nerve to write-off entire areas of the country as "anti-America" was outrageous. However, the way that I view these people does not colour my feelings about the U.S. If it did, I wouldn't have been able to socialise at post-sec, and I'd have to cut off ties with a number of friends. Moreover, I would have to disown a chunk of my extend family, a number of whom have been living in the U.S. since before I was born. In fact, one of the places I regularly visit on holiday is Texas, and I was recently in D.C. on a pleasure trip. It's cold inside this America-loathing closet.

      • "But I don't think it's "calumny" to suggest that there is a substantial subset of Liberal party members would not stomach that in their leader."

        That's not the calumny I'm referring to.

        • You used to diss Iggy, Ti-G*y, at the last Liberal convention, the last democratic one anyways, in Montreal in 2006. You were scathing about him. Now you're an Iggy apologist, you're just a partisan hack.

  13. So, now the Liberals like Americans? Is that the new policy? I wonder how many Liberals are biting their pillows over this.

    Funny, it wasn't that long ago that most Liberals would have screamed bloody murder if the leader of the Conservatives had said “Nobody is a bigger fan of the United States than I am.".

    What a pile of hypocrites.

    • "I wonder how many Liberals are biting their pillows over this."

      Probably not too many. Canadians who do have a rigid anti-american streak probably support more 'fringier' political movements. And with a leftist and very popular president (among Canadians), there is not going to be the same anti-americanism than when the Conservatives' soulmates (George Bush and Co.) are in power.

      • You do realize that Iggy was a supporter of the Bush administration don't you?

        Or have Liberals forgotten that part of history?

        • A supporter of the Bush adminsitration, eh? Ingatieff supported the Iraq invasion fiasco/crime, and probably another Bush policy or two along the way (cant name any others, but what do I know) . But the replican movement is much more ideaologically aligned with the Conservative movement than with Iggy or the Liberals. You can try to spread some of the George Bush taint from Harper onto the Liberals, but it ain't gonna stick.

          • Well, looking at the polls, there must be something dragging Ignatieff down. It couldn't be the lib-left crowd having second thoughts about a man that loves America more then his own country could it?

            “I loved my own country, but I believed in America in a way that Canada never allowed”

            Michael Ignatieff

            (“What we think of America.” Granta. March 28, 2002)

            Not that he uses the word "loved" as in past tense.

          • I love when the cons roll out the quotes but leave out teh context. I bet you got a whole library of those, hey?
            I know, I know, cheap politics works. Whatever.

    • Hey, what can you say, we Liberals are optimistic about the Obama adminstration. Canadians' as well..

      "One political leader, however, soars above all the rest in the opinion of Canadian poll respondents: U.S. President Barack Obama.The poll found that the president got a 73 per cent job approval rating from Canadians, with only 11 per cent disapproving of his performance."

      • However, your leader, Ignatieff also supported the Bush administration. I would say that makes you a hypocritical bunch.

        But I don't want to ruin your new found love of America; it's just strange that you can forget the long history of Liberal anti-Americanism.

        Will you still love them when Bob Rae becomes the Liberal leader?

        • Ignatieff didn't support the Bush Adminstration, he supported the Iraq war. I live in America (great place… frightning, yet entertaining politics)… and I'm one of the few people to read Bob Rae's book… from Protest to Power (to the horror of my spouse).

          Didn't that recent Ekos poll show that only 59% of liberals approved of Ignatieff's leadership of the party?

          • Sorry, I sound like Blammo's echo… posting at the same time.

            anyways,

            have a nice summer day Dakota, cutie pie.

  14. Cons are giddy about the fact that Iggy supported the invasion of Iraq, a shame that only Harper among Canadian political leaders has had to wear until the current Liberal took the helm.
    Beyond the fact Iggy retracted (does Harper regret his support? Anyone?) let's parse that initial support a bit.
    Iggy supported the removal of a despot. Harper supported it as "we should do whatever the Americans want us to do." (using the arguments of the day : such as all of that WMD claptrap invented by Bush and Co hook, line and sinker).
    What kind of leader thinks that his country should engage in an act of international aggression simply because a foreign country wants us to? When the chips are down, who calls the shots?

    • In hindsight, anyone can see that the Iraq invasion was a bad idea. However, typically, a country supports its closest ally in times of war.

      I know it's hard for Liberals to admit that America is our best friend, but your leader seems to have quite a fondness for them.

      It's so funny to watch Liberals squirm under their new found love of America.

  15. The thing that makes this interesting is that there is not a word in Harper's speech that Ignatieff doesn't agree with. Pretty much his entire public record before he became a Liberal testifies to this. During the leadership race Ignatieff was "embarrassed" a number of times when fellow Liberals fed some of his stronger comments to the press. His handlers told him to recant and he did in one of the most painfully humiliating gestures Canadians have ever seen from a politician.

    The plain fact is that a lot of Liberals are reflexively and deeply anti-American and that creates trouble for any Liberal leader. (Which is why TTPB are making something of it; sewing dissent in your opponent's ranks isn't high minded but it works.) Even Chretien had this difficulty. One of the funniest moments in Canadian politics was when Bill Clinton started talking about how often he and Chretien had played golf and how well they got along and the cameras caught a very uncomfortable Chretien using all the body language he could muster to tell Bill to ixnay on the olfgay.

    • While I think it is true that there may be an element of anti-Americanism amongst Liberals (although let's not overstate this – the more rabid ones probably gravitate to the Dippers or even further left), the timing is good to present the common values between Canadian values and the current and Obama administration, who is very popualr among Canadians. If played right (a big IF, given the Libs inability to capitalize on such opportunities lately), the Libs may even be able to present themselves as ideaologically aligned with Obama and Co, while the Cons are more aligned with the current right wing nut jobs who oppose the health care reform.
      And it's not a long bow to draw: I think Canadians could be made to appreciate the underhandedness of the anti-health care reform lobby ('Death Panels? Nazional Socialism? Come on.) With Harper's low ball political style. And Harper himself even headed the National Citizens Coalition, which was created with the express purpose of opposing medicare in Canada.
      A skillful set of politicos could exploit this…………

      • I mostly agree. It's funny that we all seem to end up using words such as "exploit' though. I do it too. But every once in a while I catch myself and think, maybe instead of exploiting the situation politicians might want to make persuasive arguments for what is good and true in general and best for Canada in specific.

        I also would say that while I disagree with anti-Americanism myself, I think there are morally and intellectually respectable arguments for keeping some distance between Canada and the USA. As I say, I disagree, but many of the people who make these arguments are doing so in perfectly good faith and a lot of them are Liberals. I'd be willing to guess that most of them are older Liberals of the generation that that came of age in the Trudeau years. One of the big challenges facing the Liberals right now is not only that it's pretty obvious that Ignatieff isn't one of them but that there views are in decline generally.

        Re. "Canadian values and the current Obama administration". Students of history will remember that the last time there was a line up like this was in the late 1970s. It didn't work out well then, although things might be different this time around.

      • I mostly agree. It's funny that we all seem to end up using words such as "exploit' though. I do it too. But every once in a while I catch myself and think, maybe instead of exploiting the situation politicians might want to make persuasive arguments for what is good and true in general and best for Canada in specific.

        I also would say that while I disagree with anti-Americanism myself, I think there are morally and intellectually respectable arguments for keeping some distance between Canada and the USA. As I say, I disagree, but many of the people who make these arguments are doing so in perfectly good faith and a lot of them are Liberals. I'd be willing to guess that most of them are older Liberals of the generation that that came of age in the Trudeau years. One of the big challenges facing those Liberals right now is not only that it's pretty obvious that Ignatieff isn't one of them but that there views are in decline generally.

        Re. "Canadian values and the current Obama administration". Students of history will remember that the last time there was a line up like this was in the late 1970s. It didn't work out well then, although things might be different this time around.

  16. I'll agree whole heartedly to the importance of the Canada-US relationship, but I don't think ANY country should give a blank cheque on military engagements and foreign adventures. No government should ever do that, and any leader that does not deserve to be at the helm.
    The Iraq engagement was judged on its merits by a competent (and sovereign) government and found to be a crock.

  17. I notice how the right wingers argue this issue by dismissing what Harper and all the Conservatives have expressed throughout the years to focus on what one person, Ignatieff, said at particular times for very specific issues, all of it predating his career as a Canadian politician

    The imbalance is not going unnoticed, although they're good at ignoring that, as well.

    • Ti-G*y, being the consummate Liberal, is prepared to swallow has anit-US bias in the hope that Iggy can deliver the goods, power. If Iggy doesn't deliver the Ti-G*y's of the Liberal party will turn on him like the snakes they are. They'll take their leaders warts and all, but only if they deliver the 5 letter word that Liberals understand – power.

  18. add the words "they need to pick" before the word "someone".

    • Who cares? No one reads your comments.

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