President George W. Bush is on a State Visit to Canada tomorrow. But he’s not addressing Parliament. Why?
Tomorrow, President Bush will be coming to visit us in the Great White North. As is true Canadian style, he will be welcomed with open arms but with a measure of waryness, from both sides, that is perhaps unique in recent history.
President Bushs’ visit is of course very important to Canada and the Canadian government. When the leader of the free world, and more importantly, the leader of your most lucrative trading partner and lifeblood of the Canadian economy comes knocking, you tend to roll out the red carpet.
So why is President Bush not taking the invitation to speak in front of a joint session of Parliament? Is he afraid of what some of our democratically elected representatives might do or say during his speech? It didn’t stop Ronald Reagan.
When Vincente Fox visited a few weeks ago he addressed the House and was greeted by polite clapping and cheers. Why would the Presidents’ reception be any different?
No, instead of addressing Parliament and talking to every Canadian… President Bush seems to have picked Halifax as his public venue, and in the process picked the place where, perhaps, he is the most likely to get a favorable environment. He’s going to thank all those thousands of Maritimers who opened their hearts and homes to the many thousands of Americans stranded in Canada on Sept 11, 2001 and the thousands of Canadian soldiers who have said farewell from Halifax harbour as they left to fight in the Global war on Terrorism.
That’s very nice of him isn’t it? To thank us 3 years on? Indeed, I have heard that some of the friendships that started on that terrible day 3 years ago are still going strong today. But, it makes me wonder just how genuine Mr. Bushs’ thanks is compared to those new friends who spent days in the homes of Canadians in Whitehorse, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Gander and many other cities and towns across this great land.
I have a feeling some of those families might say that a Thank You 3 years on is not really a thank you at all, but rather a distraction from what Canadians might be thinking now about this newly elected President. Canadians have long memories… We know that the gratitude of our American friends was true and real on Sept 11 when we welcomed them into our homes… yet their President somehow forgot to mention us in his speech to Congress after the 9/11 attacks. We also remember that, for the first time in recent history, an American President did not visit Canada in his first term as President.
So wait, hold on. Maybe I’m being hasty. Indeed President Bush is here, on a State Visit, only a few weeks after being elected. So perhaps this is an attempt to get things back to normal. To mend the fences as it were. I’m willing to accept that… and to welcome him.
But I say, Mr. President, if you are so confident in your new term please, address us as a nation. Stand up to those, like Carolyn Parrish, who may heckle you in the House of Commons. Be willing to hear their criticism because they are the manifestation of what you maintain to hold so dear. Freedom and Democracy.
I fear that the President is a little insecure and is looking for a “friendly crowd” in Halifax. I would have thought that the leader of the Free World would have shown a few more “Cojones” than that and addressed us directly, as did his counterpart from Mexico.
But, if you feel, Mr. President that you sincerely want to thank Canadians on the wharves in Halifax then you do that. And we as Canadians will gladly accept that thanks knowing in our hearts that if September 11 ever happened again we’d step up and welcome strangers into our homes in the name of humanity and making new friends. Our soldiers will continue to fight alonside Americans in the name of those same Canadian values of humanity and compassion.
That is after all, what friends do for each other.
Welcome to Canada.
For those who say Canada did not support the US in Iraq. You’re right.
Militarily… but post-war, Canada has commited more money for reconstruction than any other non-Arab, or non-Coalition country. $US187 million.
To see, hear, and read the Parliamentary addresses of all US Presidents since Roosevelt in 1943 check out this awesome CBC Archives website.
I invite you to listen to Eisenhowers’ speech in 58, which is particularly focused on the cooperation and friendship during a time when Canada and America where at odds in some issues.
Frankness, in good spirit, is a measure of friendship
JFK in 1961.
Geography has made us neighbours; history has made us friends.
Reagan in 1981, quoting a Calgary writer 60 years before.
The difference between a friend and an aquaintance is that a friend helps where an aquaintance merely advises. We come here not to advise not to lecture we’re here to listen and to work with you. We’re here as friends, not as aquaintances.