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Dear America

Dear America


As a Canadian, I want to apologize. For many years, I looked down on you. I sniffed at your capital punishment, right-leaning government, and massive military. I would comfort myself with the sense that I was better than you. After all, I'm a Canadian.

But all that changed on January 23 when Canada elected a conservative government with ties to far-right organizations. Boy, was I wrong!

I was always puzzled about what seemed like vast differences between our countries. Was it the cooler weather up here? Was it the lack of an organized religious right? It just seemed we thought more clearly than you southern hicks and yahoos. When Americans used to ask me what the main difference was between our countries, I would respond simply: In Canada, we have bitter cold weather most of the year. In the United States, you have Republicans.

Of course, we Canadians have long held that we're different from you Yanks. We got rid of the death penalty decades ago. We have no abortion law. We have a fair and open-minded supreme court, with more women judges serving on it than any other supreme court in the world. And we have a national marriage law that affords full equality to gay and lesbian couples. Who knew the reasons for Canada's reasonable stance on so many issues? Perhaps it was something in the water, or maybe it was that we don't get Fox News up here.

Our sense of superiority grew in 2000 when you elected George W. Bush. With that came talk of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, the refusal to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol, and last, but certainly not least, the invasion of Iraq. In those six years, I have never felt happier or more proud to be Canadian. And I rubbed it in every chance I got: Whenever I would bump into one of you Americans at a cocktail party, it was attitude, attitude, attitude.

I'm sorry for that--I really am. There can be no more smug attitudes. No more sneering self-righteousness. No jokes about your fascist state. Welcome to the new Canada: Our prime minister, Stephen Harper, says he is opposed to same-sex marriage and is willing to appease his base by reopening the issue--meaning a potential rolling back of gay rights in our country. And he has promised to withdraw Canada's support for the Kyoto Protocol. Worst of all, when Bush set out to invade Iraq, Harper was the only party leader in parliament to rise and say we should be alongside the United States in that unjust and immoral war.

So the next time some Canadian gets snotty about horrible U.S. policies, you can remind them about their leader and his policies. Again, I am so sorry for my past attitude. Congratulations, Americans: You're not alone in the world. That chump you've got in the White House? We've got one of our own. And now we're every bit as bad as you are.

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Matthew Hays