“ Oh Canada, our own and greatest friend”
“Oh Canada,” I hear in my thoughts and smile. I have heard and sung that Canadian Anthem on a thousand occasions at Hockey, baseball games and municipal events on the Niagara Frontier. The words are as familiar to me as our own national anthem.
In our youth we enjoyed the beaches of Southern Ontario on many a languid summer’s day. Later, as young adults, we visited the exciting city of Toronto on dozens of occasions. We always felt at home in Canada. The people there are pretty much “just like us.” And they have always been gracious and friendly hosts to all Americans.
Later in life, my wife and I were able to visit and enjoy Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax, Vancouver and dozens of other scenic and delightful venues in the grand expanse of La Belle Canada. As always, our Canadian friends were unfailingly polite and gracious hosts.
Internationally we always smile when we see the red and white Maples leaf emblazoned on a sweater of jacket while travelling. We feel then and now a kinship with these affable and treasured friends to our North. Growing up in Buffalo, on the Canadian border, we have shared our lives with these fellow descendants of British heritage. They, like we, are a nation of immigrants with a heart the size of the Yukon.
It was only a few years back, after the awful tragedy of the 9/11 attacks, that we saw our Canadian friends stand with us in mourning for our loss. They wept with us and paid homage to our fallen. They have always done so through a dozen wars, and stood steadfast and brave whenever America needed a friend. They are indeed our best friends on the planet.
There have been issues between us to be sure, including a few interludes when we stared down the barrels of rifles at each other. But that is all in the past. Northwestern logging rights, oil and gas exploration, milk production, great Lakes water treatment, maritime fishing disputes and other hiccups in our grand friendship still cause an occasional argument. But, we have always resolved these issues amicably. Our partnership is indeed an example for the modern world, with a three-thousand mile unguarded border between us.
It is in light of this wonderful relationship that I am somewhat taken aback by the recent heated controversy over the dramatic rise of import taxes on Canadian lumber. There are issues here in need of resolution to be sure. But I would ask that those involved solve the problems mentioned amicably, in the true spirit of the Canadian/American friendship that has passed every test for a few centuries.
As a veteran of the Tong wars of Buffalo Politics, I understand that these disputes happen from time to time, even between good friends. Even thoughtful men and women, with ideas of merit, can become a little exuberant in pursuit of their ideals. But, lets keep thing in perspective.
The United States of America has no greater friend or ally on the planet. Let’s treat our Canadian friends with the respect and camaraderie that they have both earned and deserve.
“Oh Canada, our own and greatest friend.”
Joseph Xavier Martin