The Daily Courier

We are fortunate to live in Canada

- TIM SCHROEDER

After watching events south of the border for the past few weeks I have come to appreciate more and more how fortunate we are to live in Canada.

Even though the resident of 1600 Pennsylvan­ia Avenue can and has threatened u.s. with tariffs that would “ruin” the country — and there is no doubt he would do so without any regret — I prefer to cast my lot with this country. There are a number of reasons. First, our political system, at least at the federal level, still functions and adapts to changing circumstan­ces. The U.S. two-party system is now set in a ridged and inflexible framework where little if anything can be accomplish­ed (except, of course, tax cuts and deregulati­on).

Animosity seems to dominate any interchang­e between the parties, making compromise politicall­y impossible.

Second, in Canada the potentiall­y inflammato­ry social questions of abortion and same-sex marriage are settled law and no national party seems anxious to discuss these issues with the aim of changing the law. In the United States these are divisive hot-button issues as shown in the recent hearings regarding the appointmen­t of new member of the Supreme Court.

The concern about same-sex marriage is, for me, the most difficult to understand. If two people love each other and believe their life together would be more fulfilling if joined in matrimony, what harm is inflicted on anyone or everyone else? Marriage permits the partners to enjoy legal benefits such as joint pensions or the ability, in times of medical emergency, to authorize procedures that may be life-saving.

Does society gain anything by denying these rights to those who, of their own free will, voluntaril­y enter into a marriage? I suspect American fundamenta­lists’ stance against same sex-marriage is an attempt to gain political sanction for a religious belief

The matter of abortion is also bewilderin­g. Americans opposed to this medical procedure are, in effect, telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies. While abortion in the U.S. is still constituti­onally permitted, some 36 states — all with legislatur­es dominated by males — have taken steps to limit if not outright forbid access to this medical procedure.

Meanwhile, there is no body of law that dictates how males mu.s.t or may not care for their bodies. Why the sexism?

It looks like religiou.s. groups are trying to obtain legal justificat­ion for opposition to abortion. Perhaps the next step would be a compulsory state religion, despite the Republic’s founding principle of separation of church and state. Inquisitio­ns, anyone?

My third reason is the widespread opposition to even modest control of gun ownership in the U.S.. Why does any civilian need an automatic assault rifle? The U.S. experience­s a higher level of gun violence than any other country; not even schools are safe. Is all the world out of step with the U.S. or is the U.S. stark raving mad?

Fourth is the provision of publically-funded healthcare to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents. More than 25 million Americans have no access to health care becau.s.e they lack sufficient income. How does that benefit anyone? Becau.s.e of the close link between health statu.s. and productivi­ty, it results in a dead weight on the economy that is dooming many children to a lifetime of poor health and marginal participat­ion in the economy and in civic life. Perhaps it’s a conscious strategy of creating a class of American workers who will take the least attractive and menial jobs, thereby reducing the need for immigrants.

I take both comfort and pride in my Canadian citizenshi­p. It probably means I will always pay more taxes than my counterpar­ts in the U.S.. Right now, it means being on the receiving end of aggressive bullying by a president who does not comprehend even basic economics and lacks any manners whatsoever. No matter. I am still happy to be north of the 49th parallel.

Tim Schroeder is a pastor at Trinity Baptist Church.

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