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Home News Letter to the Editor

Canadian-American Relations Since 1812

Matthew Frank Kot for local2 sault ste. marie
June 1st, 2012 at 9:07am | Last Updated at 10:40am

This article is a column or editorial.
The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of LOCAL2.

Canada/America Relations
On December 24th, 1814, the Treaty of Ghent ended with most famous conflict Canada and the United States ever went through- the War of 1812. 200 years ago today, the American President James Madison requested his Congress to take over British North America, which at that time was huge. American expansion would boost President Madison's poll numbers and the Americans, like the Germans in the 1930's, wanted more "living space". After the burning of Washington, by far the most devestating attack on America until 9/11, the American conquest went downhill. Armies of General Brock and others suffered many setbacks, and the Treaty was signed. Since then, the US-Canadian relationship has been much more positive... for the most part.

In the 1860's, just as the Union was clobbering the Confederates in the American Civil War, the Fenian group of Irish-Americans wanted to take over Canada before Canada became it's own nation. Fenian raids ensued and the American government did nothing at all to even attempt to stop the Fenian tryants from attacking the British North American territory to their north. When the Fenians assasinated one of my political heroes, Thomas D'Arcy McGee in 1868, Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald was said to have been "furious at how the Americans let this travesty happen." The man who shot the statesman, Patrick Whelan, was publicly hung in front of thousands of people. The State funeral for McGee was one of Canada's biggest.

As the Fenian threat sizzled out, Canadian-American trade became more common. Merchants came from the United States for Canadian supplies such as maple syrup, and our people went into the United States for goods such as Makinaw fudge, which, of course, still drives Canadians across the border! By 1911, The Liberal government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier was all for creating a free trade agreement with the United States. Laurier, unpopular already for not spending enough money on a strong Canadian navy, suffered a stinging defeat after Canadians feared that closer economic ties through Reciprocity would lead to American domination or annexation. In 1917, in the height of the First World War, the American congress voted to fight alongside the Canadian military against the German army in Europe.

History was made in July of 1923, when President Harding became the first sitting US President to visit Canada, thereby kicking off the world's most closest international relationship. Harding spoke to a crowd of 50,000 in the west coast city, but while golfing, the President contracted Pneumonia and died a week later in San Fransisco.

President Frankin D. Roosevelt was perhaps America's most pro-Canadian President. His family had a Summer home on Campobello Island, New Brunswick. Roosevelt reassured Canadians that the United States would not stand by and do nothing should the Nazi tryanny attack their northern neighbour. Roosevelt visited Canada many times before his death in 1945.

Since then, every single American President, save Ford or Carter, has visited our Country, and every Canadian Prime Minister has more than once travelled to Washington. Since the Second World War, the two nations worked together, side by side, to help start the United Nations, to end segregation to minorities, to influence one another culturally. Once and a while, every friendship hits a snag. Nixon was anti-Canadian and called Prime Minister Trudeau every vulgar word you could think of, and Prime Minister Chretien refused to send Canadian troops to Iraq in 2003, against President Bush's wishes.

On September 11, 2001, the Canadian people stood by the side of our southern neighbours in their darkest hour. Airports on the Atlantic coast, especially in Gander, Newfoundland, hosted thousands of Americans when their planes were grounded in response to the attacks. The Canadian government became involved in the war on terror in Afghanistan, and over 100,000 Canadians gethered on Parliament Hill to show in numbers how much we supported our American friends in their time of need. This is an example of what an unbreakable friendship looks like. Canada and the United States will always be best friends for life.


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