Musings —07.24.2017 08:16 AM—
Dear Famous Canadians:
Canadians behaving badly in the United States: you could practically write a book about the subject, couldn’t you?
On the Right side of the spectrum, there was the time that former Toronto mayor Rob Ford was arrested in Miami, mugshot and all. Ford told a Miami police officer to “go ahead take me to jail,” and the officer happily did so. Ford had been arrested for drunk driving and marijuana possession.
He became mayor of Canada’s largest city anyway.
On the Centre-Left (but not entirely-Left) side of the spectrum, there were those many times Michael Ignateff offered commentaries that would follow him around, like a persistent bad smell. So, Ignatieff told an American magazine that we would all “pay a price” if we banned torture. Or, that time he was again at home in Boston, and he wrote an essay about the Bush Administration’s war in Iraq, and allowed that “I think they are right on the issue.” Or, that famously unhelpful CSPAN interview, where he said America was “your country, just as much as it is mine.”
Ignatieff still went on to become leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
So, we’re rather forgiving of Canadians who behave badly when south of the 49th parallel, aren’t we? We are. You can still behave badly and go on to be a big success when back home. A psychologist could have a field day with what this says about us, but we digress.
Just this past week, we were provided with yet more alleged-and-otherwise examples of Canadians doing bad things while in America.
There was our Liberal government’s Governor-General-to-be, Julie Payette, found to have been charged with assault when she lived in the US in 2012. The court files documenting the case, the Liberal-friendly Toronto Star reported, were gone. “The entire case record has been ‘expunged’,” the Star reported. Odd, that.
It also reported that Payette, while behind the wheel of a car, hit a pedestrian in Maryland in 2011, where she then lived. The woman, Theresa Potts, was killed. An eight-month-long investigation by Maryland police eventually found that Payette was not at fault.
The Trudeau government, who can fairly be presumed to have known about Payette’s assault charge and the fatal collision, appointed Payette to the vice-regal post anyway. “She is perfectly aligned with the image that we want to project,” a senior Liberal official said to the Globe and Mail. “It’s such a nice nomination.”
Theresa Potts might disagree, but she’s not around to ask anymore, is she? No, she’s not.
Just this past week, too, there was Conservative MP Peter Kent, writing in the august pages of the Wall Street Journal, calling the settlement with Omar Khadr a “cynical subversion of Canadian principles.” It wasn’t even the first time a Tory MP had written an op-ed in the Journal, condemning on his own country: back around the time of the aforementioned Iraq War, Stephen Harper excoriated my former boss, Jean Chretien, for declining to join George W. Bush’s insane misadventure. He even called Canadians who opposed the Iraq war “cowards.” That’s a quote.
Oh, and he went on to become Prime Minister for nearly a decade. It was in all the papers.
The Conservatives’ Khadr-related fundraising initiative also saw Conservative MP Michelle Rempel on Fox News, no less, declaring that “Canadians are absolutely outraged about [the $10.5 million settlement and apology Khadr received].” That may be true. But when Tucker Carlson, her crypto-racist Fox News host, asked Rempel if the settlement was “a way of giving the finger to the United States,” Rempel apparently didn’t say it wasn’t.
Of this Conservative strategy, Ipsos Reid tells us, more than 70 per cent of Canadians are onside. They’re mad, too, and presumably okay with the likes of Kent and Rempel – and before that, Harper – crapping on their own country when in the United States.
They shouldn’t be.
It’s regrettable that it needs to be said, but we’ll say it nonetheless: Canadians who behave badly when abroad – driving drunk, or advocating for torture, or allegedly getting in altercations, or simply going on American TV to malign one’s own country – just, you know, shouldn’t.
It’s unfortunate, too, that this also merits saying, but we’ll do so anyhow: prominent Canadians who act like jackasses – or who allegedly commit crimes, or who do unhelpful things whilst in other countries – shouldn’t be rewarded when they come home. They shouldn’t get a collective shrug.
You represent Canada when you aren’t in Canada, famous folks. Stop acting like jerks.