Many of the issues causing friction between Canadians and Americans are just the iatest in our long history of cross-border squabbling. Remember these chestnuts?
HAVEN FOR DISENCHANTED YANKS
In the 1800s, the Underground Railroad delivered escaped slaves to freedom in Canada. From 1876 to 1881, chief Sitting Bull and
5,000 American Sioux eluded the U.S. army by crossing into what is now Saskatchewan. And during the Vietnam War, 80,000 draft dodgers and deserters took refuge here.
In 1911, PM Wilfrid Laurier lost his bid for a fifth term because of his support for free trade with the U.S. Opponents’ winning slogan: “No truck or trade with the Yankees.”
In 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt promised to help protect Canada if it were attacked.
The two countries have since signed more than 2,500 joint defence agreements.
“Living next to you is in some ways like
living with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast... one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”Pierre Trudeau, describing our neighbourly relations in a 1969 speech in Washington.
During the War of 1812, the people of Calais, Maine, and St. Stephen, N.B., on opposing
banks of the St. Croix River, tried to ignore the hostilities: when Calais residents needed gunpowder for July 4 fireworks, they got it from their “foes” across the river.
DATE: May 1961
OCCASION: John F. Kennedy’s first state visit as president.
FOR THE RECORD:
“Geography has made us neighbours, history has made us friends,” Kennedy told Parliament. BEHIND THE SCENES: John Diefenbaker claimed that some papers Kennedy had left behind referred to him
as an SOB. Kennedy denied the charge: “I couldn’t have called him an SOB. I didn’t know he was one-at that time.”
For his part, Diefenbaker dismissed Kennedy as “a fool-too young, too brash, too inexperienced.”
DATE: January 1965 OCCASION: Lyndon B. Johnson hosts Lester Pearson at his Texas ranch for the signing of the Auto Pact.
FOR THE RECORD: According to Pearson, Johnson inadvertently greeted him as “Mr. Wilson,” confusing him with
British PM Harold Wilson. When LBJ apologized for his error, Pearson good-naturedly quipped, “Think nothing of it, Senator Goldwater.”
BEHIND THE SCENES: Others say Johnson actually confused the visiting PM with Drew Pearson, a Washington
journalist. Paul Martin Sr., there as external affairs minister, says Pearson adopted the Wilson version because it was “less embarrassing... to be confused with the British prime minister.” Soon after, Pearson criticized U.S. actions in Vietnam. During a subsequent meeting, LBJ allegedly shouted at Pearson, “You pissed on my rug.” JAMES DEACON
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