Appeared in the North Shore News – August 27, 2013
I can’t stand a certain breed of Canadians. They are the super-patriot types.
They wrap themselves in the Maple Leaf flag (a sensitive matter in itself). They bellow their Canadianism at international athletic competitions. They crow that they live in the best country on earth. They boast about their humility (“we’re the most modest people in the world, and I’ll punch out anyone who claims to be humbler”). They can sing all the verses of “O Canada,” except of course the French. Their faces they turn scarlet, their wattles they shake.
Some were charter members of the socialist Waffle group (remember, future premier Dave Barrett was one). Some were Toronto Star Liberals inspired by Finance Minister Walter Gordon and journalist Peter C. Newman. Above all, what bound them together was the common thread of anti-Americanism.
The other day I glanced in the mirror. Hold on. Was that a slight scarlet cast to my complexion? Just a hint of wattle? Had I unconsciously been whistling “O Canada”? Then I recalled recent muttering about the damned Americans – while buying War of 1812 commemorative stamps honouring Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh.
I have close kin living in the U.S. I enjoyed youthful drinking in Jack’s Bar in Niagara Falls, New York. What had happened? Had something like Invasion of the Body Snatchers occurred?
No, partly it was the Powerex cave-in to the claim that the BC Hydro subsidiary had diddled poor little California when its lights and air conditioners went out in 2000-01 and it had begged for our electricity.
Powerex made a mint, no doubt. But, lights back and burning, what followed was right out of the shiftiest (sorry, did I put an “f” in there?) ploy in the American playbook: A deal is a deal, as long as it benefits America. If not, we’ll see you in our courts. Canada’s forestry industry could write the book. A recent New York Review of Books article by a U.S. lawyer ripped apart the system’s claim to fairness, especially in criminal justice. If accurate, American jurisprudence could teach Communist China or wherever a thing or two about kangaroo courts.
Powerex paid out $750 million rather than fight the Americans’ $3.2 billion claim. Energy Minister Bill Bennett probably made the right call in settling out of court.
Next up, BlackBerry. Once an innovative smartphone leader and still with a reported 72 million customers, many overseas, the Waterloo, Ontario, company now looks like prospective carrion for gigantic vultures – and somehow our business pages mostly don’t give a Canadian damn. I’m just Canadianly sorry, that’s all.
And the big one, Verizon on the horizon.
Again, Canadian consumers evidently care only about their pocketbooks. The U.S. giant reportedly has 100 million customers, three times Canada’s population. And I have it on excellent authority that Verizon even tries to bully huge Google.
Andrew Coyne, who like all (of us) financial conservatives backs the free market to the proverbial hilt except when it’s awkwardly inconvenient, scoffs at Telus, Rogers and Bell (BCE) opposing Ottawa’s permission for Verizon to buy small Canadian companies that the big three, under our byzantine regulations, can’t.
Two-thirds disclosure: I hold Telus (bought $15.95, recent price $31.21) and BCE (bought $36.05, recent price $42.55). Wait for the third disclosure.
OK, don’t wait. I also hold Verizon (bought $28.96, recent price $49.48). A Verizon invasion therefore will likely enrich me. But I’m agin it. Must be that I’m a stupid Canadian who puts country above cash – in this instance anyway, eh?
© Trevor Lautens, 2013