Vancouver, BC (United Press International) -- Canada's national newsmagazine, "Macleans", boldly announced in a cover story that only 15% of Canadians would cast a ballot for George W. Bush if they had the opportunity to do so. The story then goes on to say that Canadians more closely align themselves with Democratic values than with those of Republicans. No kidding. This is a country where newly wed gay couples were named "newsmakers of the year", and the relaxation of marijuana laws is considered a source of national pride.
According to a Canadian Press/Leger Marketing survey in August 2002, most Canadians believed Iraq posed a threat to the United States. Moreover, they didn't think that Iraq was being open and honest with the UN weapons inspectors. A separate poll commissioned by the CBC, The Toronto Star, and La Presse during the same time period, found that only 40% of Canadians supported a war with Iraq. But even given all the above, 38% of Canadians surveyed still felt that George W. Bush was a greater threat to world peace than Saddam Hussein!
Decisive, inspirational leadership and true conservative values have never really sat very well with Canadians--even among Canadians who dare label themselves "conservatives". If you want to try something fun, take a trip to Canada, go up to a Canadian and say, "Hi, I'm a Christian" or "Hi, I'm a right-winger". Then watch with amusement as the blood drains from the face of the listener as though he or she had just heard you say, "Hi, I have Ebola!"
Even California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger -- arguably labelled a social liberal by many Americans -- would be viewed as a "dangerous" hard-core right-winger by most Canadians. The fact that the Governor recently ordered the state's Attorney General to stop the Mayor of San Francisco from granting illegal marriage licenses to thousands of gay couples would probably be enough to get him drop-kicked out of office in Canada. The Mayor would have to be handing out guns (which is just as equally illegal) before any Canadian would bother to sit up and take notice.
Part of the problem is that Canadian conservatives need to grow a spine. Most members of the Conservative Party of Canada initially backed George W. Bush's plan for the liberation of Iraq, and did so publicly. But now that they're in pre-election mode, any talk of Iraq, gay marriage, abortion, or any other social issues is taboo, for fear that their views don't jibe with those of the majority of uninformed Canadians. However, one Conservative Member of Parliament, James Moore, had gone so far as to write a column in late 2002 denouncing Bush's efforts against Saddam Hussein. He later fell into line with his party's official position in support of the war, but still seemed to feel the need to justify his original position to Canadians by saying, "I think George (W.) Bush's diplomacy has been horrific. I think he has done a terrible job of assembling a broader coalition of countries." Moore then went on to say that Bush Sr. had done a much better job of coalition building prior to Operation Desert Storm in the early '90's. The comment is ignorant liberal rhetoric, and just so typically Canadian.
George W. Bush's coalition for the war in Iraq consisted of 31 countries. His father's consisted of 34--a mere three more. It's no wonder only 15% of Canadians back George W. Bush, when even those who are supposedly erudite and conservative politicians can't distinguish leftist spin from reality. Perhaps things would be different if Canadians had access to Fox News for some alternative news coverage, but Fox News is banned in the country by the Liberal government-controlled CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommuncations Commission). It's the only major American news network that the government won't allow to be broadcast in the country. As is the case in Cuba, watching Fox News in Canada is a criminal offence.
There's something about a take-charge, charismatic, decisive, inspirational leader that rubs Canadians the wrong way. The last one to be seen in Canada (Stockwell Day) was tossed from the window of the bus by his own party--the Conservative Party. That should teach him for daring to come out of the closet as a social conservative within the, er, CONSERVATIVE Party! The current frontrunner for the party's leadership is a man named Stephen Harper, who has all charisma and inspirational capacity of a mortician, all the originality of a pair of Calvin Klein knockoffs--and all the ability to maintain due course of a drunken sailor in a windstorm. That means he'll probably do just fine as a party leader in Canada.
If Democratic frontrunner, Senator John Kerry, happens to get elected to the Oval Office this November (heaven forbid), he'll no doubt have a huge fan club north of the border. As evidenced by the success of "Cirque du Soleil", Canadians love a good flip-flopping act. While being stridently against the Gulf War, the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, the Vietnam War, the death penalty, and gay marriage, Kerry has also somehow managed to be equally as passionately in favour of these very same things.
If it was up to Canada, the people of Iraq would still be living under a tyrant by the name of Saddam Hussein. Similarly, if it was up to John Kerry, the USA would still be fighting the Cold War. A 1984 "Kerry for Senate" document disturbingly indicates that, just years prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, when President Ronald Reagan was fighting the Cold War in full-force, John Kerry was campaigning on gutting the defense budget. The "war hero" himself was keen on sending US troops into battle without the best possible equipment. That will score him some brownie points in Canada right there. There's nothing Canadians love more than an impotent military. That's why they keep voting for the federal Liberals, and it's why Alberta's West Edmonton Mall has more fully-functional submarines for the purpose of kiddie rides than the Canadian Forces have for operational purposes.
The 1984 Kerry document, released only a few years before the collapse of Communism, states: "The Reagan Administration has no rational plan for our military. Instead, it acts on misinformed assumptions about the strength of the Soviet military and a presumed "window of vulnerability", which we now know not to exist." He then goes on to denounce Congress for not having the "moral courage to challenge the Reagan Administration" over defense spending, and lists a series of cuts--totalling from $45 billion to $53 billion--that Kerry suggests could be made to the defense budget. Those cuts include reducing by 50% the Tomahawk missile program, and cancelling the programs for the development of the B-1 Bomber, the MX Missile, the Patriot Missile, the Apache Helicopter, F-14 and F-15 fighter jets, and Phoenix and Sparrow missiles.
In 1995, Kerry proposed a bill cutting $1.5 billion from the Intelligence budget. He also introduced a bill that would reduce the Intelligence budget by $300 million in each of fiscal years 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000. There were no equally idiotic co-sponsors of Kerry’s bill, which never made it to the floor for a vote.
Then, only 12 days after 9/11, "cut and slash" Kerry had the audacity to go on CBS's "Face the Nation" to complain that US intelligence wasn't good enough: “And the tragedy is, at the moment, that the single most important weapon for the United States of America is intelligence. … And we are weakest, frankly, in that particular area. So it’s going to take us time to be able to build up here to do this properly.”
In retrospect, Kerry has said his proposed military cuts and cancellations were "ill-advised" and "stupid". No doubt, if he were ever to become President, he'd be accounting for his idiotic decisions as "Commander-in-Chief" in much the same manner. And Canadians would be loving it. George W. Bush could not possibly have a better endorsement than the fact that Canadians can't stand him.
(Rachel Marsden is a political strategist, columnist and media commentator who works in both the USA and her native Canada.)