America seen from Canada


Here are a few thoughts of a Romanian immigrant to Canada about how I see Canada looking to the United States. They also include some personal views about the US international politics as I have seen them in the last five years since I moved to my new continent. As with my main subject about Canada, I will include here mostly some critics and do not insist on the pluses.

As a child, I knew America only from movies. In the thought time of the Ceausescu's communism I knew America from the Voice of America radio broadcast (that we used to hear in big secret there, along with the Free Europe Radio). As a "capitalist" since 1997, I started to know the US much more closely: first from a few visits I had there, then from young friends learning or living in the States, from the Canadian mass-media, our daily Internet (a huge American invention, by the way!), also from a book written by one of my former teachers now an university professor in the States (a book that I've read twice, second time here in Canada where I understood it much better than in Romania - its title is "America, paradisul diavolului"). Briefly, my humble Romanian impression about the big America changed a lot since I came to Canada, mostly negatively, unfortunately. Here I will explain why, briefly in a few examples:

  • First, I think Canadians (especially the half part of the Canadians born here) feel very complexed when dealing with the Americans. I do not understand and like why we should look all the times to the US mostly positively without thinking the facts, considering ourselves so impotent [a se traduce "neputinciosi"] compared with our neighbours! There is no night on TV (I followed mostly CBC and CTV news) to do not compare at least one Canadian issue with how the US deals with it, and mostly the conclusion is they are doing better than us (here I consider responsible the Canadian mass-media)! Moreover, in general in the news there are no other comparisons with other (Western) countries, except rarely with the UK.

  • I do not like at all the fire arms liberty anywhere, that I consider the most important failure of the capitalism, versus the communism! (which I hated in Romania, by the way)! So here in our free world any (crazy) person can possess fire arms and take as many innocent lives as he wants: colleagues, students, spouses, etc, it doesn't matter... Many news like these can be heard each day especially in the US mass-media, and many major events happen years after years (one of the last ones was the Columbine High School shooting) and nothing major is done to stop that! The politicians there argue that they can not change the Constitution (written in the cowboy's times), but I consider the big manufacturers and their money interest and influences up to the power levels is what is all about here..

  • In the last 3-4 years I sincerely disagreed very much with the US international politics, that I am afraid will continue to aggravate worldwide tensions and conflicts, in my humble opinion both because of the actual administration, and mostly because of a non-balanced world, after the collapse of the communism! So I just hope the United Europe will balance the world powers in the near future.. simply for the good of humanity!

  • To be more specific, I did not consider normal that any country (name it "the most democratic" or "the only superpower" or even "the greatest nation on the face of the Earth" :-) should be allowed to take any action inside another country! I will start with the Balcans, about which I think the US did not understand at all their problems (I do not argue I know them, but just I am willing to listen to the local people rather than to "experts in Eastern Europe" having big money and jobs and living in Washington)! Personally I was outraged by the Canadian news (mostly on CBC TV) about how they "covered" the war in Yugoslavia. The Canadian mass-media had daily news covered from 2-3 reporters based in.. Washington and NONE inside Serbia, so one can imagine how accurate and non-US-biased they could cover the tragic events about the war in Yugoslavia.. I have read daily on the web also the Romanian news (Adevarul, Evenimentul Zilei, etc) covered by journalists entering in different ways in Yugoslavia (sometime illegal, sometime being arrested) who reported the news mostly opposite that the Canadian pro-American media!

    I do think Milosevic was a dictator (I lived 20 years under another dictator) but I consider him a patriot, defending his country (against the separatist Albanians or the US or NATO dictature, to be fair). By the way, in 1999 in Yugoslavia the US Army's "surgical precision" took more than 350 innocent lives (or "collateral damages", what a cynical expression!), accordingly to a France Press statistics! Now the Serbian people voted the change, then their coward people in power traded the former president (in the last hours of an US ultimatum, for a cheep $$$ deal :-) and now, hopefully an impartial court will judge Milosevic, so I hope we'll find out soon if there were more 350 Albanian killed from Milosevic's orders. Moreover, we will see (actually we saw) what the pro-separatist Albanian groups are doing there after the Serbian oppression. So in this sense, I considered this US-led war not fair!

  • I did not like the US position about Iraq after the war in 1992, when they and their UK friends repeatedly bombed these people inside their defeated and poor country (the "no-fly zone" pretext)! Then I don't like at all the US "first shoot and then ask" policy about Iraq in 2002, when Bush doesn't seem to know exactly what's the clear aim of his (family?) plans, either to change Sadam and "liberate" the country or to disarm Iraq (if it'll be found having non-approved arms by the UN inspectors)! I also consider Sadam a dictator, but same as with Milosevic I don't think at all normal that a foreign country should be allowed to interfere with other nation's internal problems! I lived and suffered about 10 years under Ceausescu in Romania, but I understood that no other external power is allowed to interfere in any other country to change a regime, even dictatorial, except for its own people! I'm afraid that going ahead with this US way, the words of "independence" and "country" will disappear, and probably after Yugoslavia, Iraq, etc, other countries will come to be "judged" by the US... I just hope that the United Nations and the United Europe to observe that and oppose this trend soon!

  • I did not like the US failing the Kyoto accord, thus becoming the only nation in the world refusing to deal with this increased and scientifically proved climate change problem! Blinded by obscure immediate small business interests and only money, they do not want to affect their economy, but their grand-children probably will wear masks on the streets, if they could walk anymore outside, because the Ozone layer will soon disappear.. Here I braved Canada (except for Alberta) because it seems to disentangle from the US in this problem, and hope that we will sign soon the Kyoto accord!

  • I did not like to see the US becoming again the only nation in the world willing to give exceptions for their troupes around the world in front of a future possible world tribunal supposed to form to mediate conflicts in the world in the future! And our faraway poor Romania seemed to be the first nation (maybe from only two? :-) to sign a treaty to agree to hand the US solders responsible for their acts on the Romanian soil...

  • I sincerely consider (looking to the US mass-media) that the American people is almost totally uninformed about the world, in general! Although (much) poor, I do consider the Romanian and Canadian international news much better covered than in the US - if some international news exist there at all! But probably being non-informed, most of the Americans is easier to "educate" to be able to agree in pools showing to the world how the people are pro their president in different problems involving not only their country (that would be OK with me) but also other people's lives or countries, thousands and thousands of Km away (countries that most of the Americans even don't know or bother to point on a map)!! besides, I think the worst part is the big majority of the Americans don't even realise they don't know what's happening in the world!

  • One year after the sad Sep 11 events in the US I was a little surprised but relieved and happy to hear our Prime Minister Jean Cretien (who announced recently his retiring in two years) carefully choosing his words, sincerely recognizing that "the Western world, not only the Americans, has become arrogant, selfish, greedy and with no limits in regard with the poor world" [not exact quote, but precisely these words]. Not surprisingly, I heard a few people from the mass-media (here or abroad) felt offended (even one of the oposition Canadian parties asked the PM to excuse himself in front of the US :-)

  • Finally a true fact: more than 65% from Americans consider Canada as one of their states! For more astonishing facts just a quick reference to the great satirical TV show "Talking to Americans" by Rick Mercy of CBC TV, 2001!