Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 12.01.04
Quebec City


Who's your buddy, eh? Eh?

It seems to me there's an awful lot of fuss being made over our relations with our friends to the south.

Every one's in a tizzy because George Dubya wouldn't know his best trading partner from a whole in the ground.

If he thinks of Canada at all it's probably as the home of Santa Claus, cheap oil, and fresh water.

Well frankly, that's just fine.

Paul Martin doesn't have to get an invite to the ranch and Carolyn Parrish doesn't have to scrape the Bush doll off the bottom of her shoe to make things work.

As a matter of fact, we've always done better when those living under the fluttering scars and gripes have treated us with benign neglect.

It's when they paid attention to us that we've suffered.

As a matter of fact, if truth be told, very few of our leaders on either side of the world's longest undefended border have ever got along.

Our very first prime minister, Sir John eh! found this out when he went to visit Ulysses S. Grant.

They had a lot in common.

But despite the fact neither one ever met a bottle they didn't like, Grant kept the old campaigner cooling his heals in a Washington hotel for a week.

Mind you, campaigning on a platform of No truck nor trade with the Yankees probably didn't help Macdonald's cause. Things couldn`t have gone too well at that first meeting since a return visit from an Aamerican chief executive didn't happen until Warren G. Harding's regime in the early 1920s.

Of course, by then we'd forgotten the invasion of Quebec, the War of 1812, the Fenian raids, and the loss of northern British Columbia.

It wasn't until Mackenzie King - who was educated, worked, and lived in the US - that a Canadian prime minister actually got along with an occupant of the White House.

And that was probably only because 'old indecision' knew his place.

Franklin Roosevelt organized his war-time summit with Churchill in Quebec City because he knew King would be flattered and content with some great photo ops and serving tea while Winnie and Frank organized the saving of the Western World.

Historians don't know if Eisenhower got along with Louis St. Laurent since nothing at all happened during the time they were both in office.

On the other hand, John Diefenbaker despised John Kennedy. After all, he was an American and Dief was still hopping mad over the way Grant had treated Macdonald.

The man had a long memory.

Lyndon Johnson was no better.

LBJ accused Lester Pearson, metaphorically speaking, of pissing on his rug and threatened to pick him up by his substantial ears the same way he lifted his pet beagles.

Then there was Pierre Trudeau.

Unfortunately, he treated Richard Nixon as the crook he was and Ronald Reagan as befitted the star of 'Bed time for Bonzo..

So you see, apart from the Irish choristers, Mulroney and Reagan, and Jean Chretien and Bubba Clinton, the natural state of affairs has been one of mutual antipathy.

So, just because Bush thanked everyone from Andora to Zambia for their support after 9-11 before he thanked Canada, there's no need for alarm.

When push comes to shove the Yanks know who they can count on -- and someone's sure to tell George.