Canadian mind-set

Par Arnold Beichman

11 septembre 2001

The Washington Times - Our friendly neighbor to the north has some weird ideas about the events of September 11, 2001, in which nearly 3,000 innocent people were killed. To be specific, A Canadian polling company, Ipsos-Reid, put this question to 887 respondents:
"Some think that '9-11' was a terrorist attack that signaled the beginning of a powerful global movement led by fanatics who want to destroy all Western-style, affluent democracies because they hate their ideals and values, symbolized by most of the United States.
"Others believe that 9/11 was a terrorist attack that was, and continues to be, a very specific reaction by certain groups of people to foreign policies of the United States government in certain parts of the word, and have now been extended to its allies such as Britain because it supports the United States.
"Which of these options comes closer to your point of view?"
The answers were astounding:
* "53 per cent of Canadians thought that 9/11 was a specific reaction to United States foreign policies.
"36 percent of Canadians said 9/11 signaled an attack on all Western-style democracies."
In other words, more than half of Canada blames the United States for September 11. And blame comes close to justification of a monstrous deed, a terrorist act against innocent people, putting the blame not on the criminals but on the victims. A writer in the Toronto National Post said:
"It leads me to think of ancient Carthage, when people practiced human sacrifice to appease their gods and to vent off their frustration when their harvests were decimated by droughts, pests etc. But over time, people learned that human sacrifices were simply not an option.
"Yet now in the 2lst century, 53 percent of us [Canadians] accept that suffering or frustration due to some country's policies could justify killing scores of innocent civilians. What happened to our moral compass, fellow Canadians, if half of us appear ready to justify the murderers by putting blame on someone else?"
The fact that both our countries engage in a billion-plus dollar a day cross-border trade, which favors Canada far more than the United States, was irrelevant to the previous Canadian government.
Even worse, the Ipsos poll shows more than one-fifth, 22 percent, of those Canadians polled believe September 11 was "actually orchestrated by a group of highly influential Americans who intended to profit, gain power and protect Osama bin Laden."
Among Canadian elites, especially the federal bureaucracy that runs Canada, the United States is regarded as an enemy, untrustworthy and a challenge to Canadian national security. One of its leaders, the late Pierre Trudeau, a Canadian prime minister in the 1970s, looked upon the U.S. as a far greater menace to his country than the Soviet Union. Trudeau, who presumably worried about human rights, had an open admiration for Fidel Castro whom he visited and called "Comandante." The fact Fidel had executed and jailed Cubans who opposed his totalitarian regime didn't bother Trudeau; not in the slightest. America was the enemy.
A later prime minister, Paul Martin, had an open visceral dislike of the United States. The husband of the Canadian governor-general has written a documentary that claims the 1980 U.S. presidential election was a fraud.
The new Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, is a conservative. He is seeking to repair the damaged relationship between our two countries. But his is a minority government, defined as one that emerges from an election with fewer seats in the House of Commons than the combined total of all other parties. As such, the Harper government could fall at anytime as have eight Canadian minority governments since the Great War.
Let us hope for our sake Mr. Harper defies Canadian history.
Arnold Beichman, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, is a columnist for The Washington Times columnist.

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