Sunday, December 24, 2006

Canada-U.S. relations likely to improve

I just finished reading an interesting Toronto Star article on Patrick Leahy (U.S. Democratic senator from Vermont) becoming head of the Judiciary Committee. Apparently his appointment is seen as a positive step in Canada-U.S. relations, which have suffered considerably during the Bush administration.

As the article mentions, there are still those who believe at least some of the 9/11 terrorists entered the U.S. through Canada. There are many who believe it is too easy for terrorists to enter the U.S. through Canada.

(Here's an anecdote that flies in the face of that. One of our programmers is from India. Last year he had to leave the U.S. to renew his visa. He would have to leave in February. He could go back to India, but it was easier to just leave over the north or south border, hit a U.S. consulate, get his visa renewed, and come back into the country. He planned to go to Canada. The timing would have him at the U.S. consulate in Quebec City at the height of Winterlude, the big winter carnival. He, instead, went to Mexico. The reason? He needed a visa to enter Canada. He did not need a visa to enter Mexico. In fact, he and several others slipped across to Mexico for the exact same reason.)

One of the odd things I've noticed living down here is that you do not hear about Canada unless it's a) someone complaining about something Canada did, or b) there's some sort of weird news out of Canada, or c) some sort of disaster happened in Canada. Americans, civilians and politicians, just don't know much about their northern neighbour other than the fact it's cold up there. (It shocks folks that Toronto in the summer is much more humid than northern Louisiana. I constantly mention leaving Monroe after a summer visit when it was 98°F, only to have the temperature hit 104°F in Toronto the next day.)

For instance, I didn't know that on the anniversary of 9/11 Canada had lowered the Canadian flag to half staff at the Canadian embassy out of respect. It is mentioned in the article. I didn't know there was a Hurricane Katrina benefit at the Canadian embassy, either, or that the embassy donated supplies to help Katrina victims (though this didn't surprise me; I did remember hearing that some of the first search and rescue teams arrived in New Orleans from as far away as Vancouver).

Anyway, it's an interesting article:

Oh, and here are pictures from the Katrina benefit, and the banner that was raised at the embassy. I had to choke back tears seeing it:

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