A quick guide to Canada for new u.s. am­bas­sador

North Bay Nugget - - OPINION - An­drew Co­hen An­drew Co­hen, a for­mer Ful­bright Scholar in Wash­ing­ton, is au­thor of Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours That Made His­tory.

to: Kelly Knight Craft, united states am­bas­sador to Canada. dear am­bas­sador Craft: Con­grat­u­la­tions on your con­fir­ma­tion as am­bas­sador of the united states to Canada. you are your coun­try’s 31st rep­re­sen­ta­tive in ot­tawa and the first woman, which is some­thing to cel­e­brate. Mer­ci­fully, you are not sarah Palin. the of­fice is a re­ward for par­ti­sans and donors. so, with great re­spect to your in­no­va­tive phi­lan­thropy and pub­lic ser­vice, par­tic­u­larly at the united na­tions, you’re here largely be­cause you were an early ally of don­ald trump.

It should en­hance your ac­cess to the White house. as a friend of the pres­i­dent, for ex­am­ple, you can call him when you have a prob­lem. no need to go through the state depart­ment. our am­bas­sador to the u.s., david Mcnaughton, en­joys that kind of easy re­la­tion­ship with Prime Min­is­ter Justin trudeau.

the dif­fer­ence be­tween us, though, is that Canada isn’t im­por­tant in Wash­ing­ton. ours is an asym­met­ri­cal re­la­tion­ship, which means you mat­ter more to us than we to you. as trump told the pres­i­dent of Mex­ico, “We do not even think about them (Canada).”

that’s bad for you, Madame am­bas­sador, be­cause when you call the pres­i­dent he will al­ways have more crit­i­cal mat­ters on his agenda. For us, though, be­ing ig­nored is good. the less the united states thinks about Canada — such as our trade sur­plus or our per­ceived ad­van­tages un­der naFta — the less we worry about bor­der taxes or “Buy amer­ica.”

While re­la­tions re­main good be­tween gov­ern­ments, your coun­try and your pres­i­dent are in­creas­ingly un­pop­u­lar among Cana­di­ans.

the Pew re­search Cen­ter in Wash­ing­ton found re­cently that 84 per cent of Cana­di­ans op­pose the wall with Mex­ico, 79 per cent op­pose with­draw­ing from the Paris agree­ment, 78 per cent op­pose end­ing trade agree­ments, 64 per cent dis­ap­prove of the ban on Mus­lims.

What you will find is that Canada is a mod­er­ate, pro­gres­sive so­ci­ety that strad­dles the ide­o­log­i­cal centre. guns, re­li­gion and money are not part of our pol­i­tics.

Canada sup­ports mea­sures against cli­mate change, em­braces uni­ver­sal health care, be­lieves in col­lec­tive se­cu­rity (nato) and mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism (un), and wel­comes syr­ian refugees. We long ago reached con­sen­sus on abor­tion, cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment and gay mar­riage. We’re cool to coal, which I hope you and your hus­band won’t take per­son­ally.

a decade or so ago, as amer­ica be­gan abol­ish­ing the death penalty, em­braced uni­ver­sal health care, adopted gay mar­riage and signed the Paris agree­ment, it seemed that Cana­di­ans and amer­i­cans were mov­ing closer to­gether. that’s no longer so.

his­tor­i­cally, when Cana­di­ans sour on a pres­i­dent they sour on the coun­try, touch­ing a chord of ju­ve­nile anti-amer­i­can­ism in our na­tional psy­che. this is sad. ex­pect demon­stra­tions and de­nun­ci­a­tions. But worry not. you will be treated with re­spect and po­lite­ness. ask your suc­ces­sors. they loved the job.

do try to un­der­stand our coun­try, which some am­bas­sadors never re­ally do. read our lit­er­a­ture and his­tory. Visit. don’t as­sume, as tar­get did, that Cana­di­ans and amer­i­cans are the same. re­spect our be­lief in gov­ern­ment, so­cial wel­fare and the sep­a­ra­tion of church and state. tol­er­ate our smug­ness and con­tent­ment.

Pick an is­sue — the ad­vance­ment of women, cross-bor­der ed­u­ca­tional ex­changes — where you can use your po­si­tion to make a dif­fer­ence. Buy your­self a parka and a pair of skates. open your mind — and your heart.

yours, an­drew Co­hen.

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