Letters to America





LETTERS TO AMERICA (from a Canadian friend)


June  8, 2017

According to a recent survey, Canada's view of the United States has changed for the worse since Donald Trump's election to the presidency.   That's sad but not surprising.  It's no secret that Trump is extremely unpopular here and around the world.  It seems the U.S. president has been practising Dale Carnegie's methods in reverse.  He has made an art of alienating friends and repulsing people.  But Canada?  It really takes an incompetent to drive a wedge between Canadians and their next-door-neighbour. President Trump has managed to do just that.

A survey of 2,000 people was conducted by Environics Institute for Survey Research and released to the Globe and Mail newspaper last month.  The results showed hat Canada's opinion of the United States has reached the lowest point in the 35-year-survey on the relationship between the two countries.  Fewer than half of those surveyed expressed a “favourable view” of America.  Almost 20 per cent of survey respondents indicated they were changing travel plans that included the U.S.  They indicated that the political climate in the United States was their prime reason for doing so.  About eight per cent of the respondents were considering changing travel plans as well.  Canadian school trips to the U.S. have been cancelled due the uncertainty surrounding Trump's wretched travel ban.  His proposed ban has cost the U.S. plenty of tourist dollars.

Under Donald Trump, the United States has changed immeasurably. America's allies can no longer count on the Trump administration to work with them as a team.  Last month, after the G-7 talks, German chancellor Angela Merkel declared that the European Union cannot rely on the United States and Britain any more.  Europe, she said, must take its fate into its own hands.

On June 6, 2017,, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, Chrystia Freeland, questioned U.S. leadership. Freeland rejected Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy and its dismissal of free trade, climate change and the value of Western alliances in opposing Russian aggression and Daesh (also known as ISIS). In a speech to the Canadian House of Commons, Freeland made the following remarks.

The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership puts in sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course.  To say this is not controversial: It is a fact.

After the terrorist attack on London Bridge, Trump insulted Mayor Saddiq Khan at a time when the American president should have been offering his support for the grieving citizens of the city.  Instead of displaying unity and solidarity at home and abroad, President Trump continues to polarize. He has only managed to cultivate a really good relationship with Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Conclusion.  Donald J.Trump is unfit for the presidency and he lacks the necessary diplomatic skills to lead the free world.  In Trumpian terms, his presidency is a disaster.  Every day he holds power, the United States diminishes itself.  You, the American people, deserve better.  I am deeply saddened.

P.S.  Isn't it nice to know, that, thanks to Donald Trump, the United Sstates has aligned itself with just two other countries, Nicaragua and Syria, as non-members of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. (Over 190 countries are on board and have signed the agreement).  According to a recent Washington Post - ABC News poll, 59 per cent of Americans oppose Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris accord, saying it will damage U.S. global leadership.


- Joanne



Sunday, February 12, 2017

When Donald Trump burst upon the political scene, not everyone took him seriously.  Could this blowhard, real estate billionaire from New York City actually become President of the United States? He was great fodder for the media.  He was a reality show host and a magnificent entertainer.  No one could predict what he would say next and it was so much fun to make jokes about his hair. Trump boosted television ratings for TV cable stations. Still, mot very many thought he would win the Republican nomination, but he did. Then, as we all know, he tapped into the discontent in the heartland, especially among older, white men. The unthinkable happened.  He won the electoral college vote.

Donald Trump has been President of the United States for over three weeks now and suddenly he's not so funny.  He's downright scary.  Trump's cabinet does not reflect the true face of America.  It is predominately male, Caucasian and extremely wealthy.  Neither does this privileged group of millionaires and billionaires reflect the blue collar workers who helped Trump win the presidency.

The new president despises the media, which he considers the enemy.  As the cornerstone of a free society,however,  the media deserves to be treated with respect, despite its imperfections and shortfalls.  To those who do not respect and value the media, I have one simple question:  Would you like to live in a country where newspapers and television stations are shut down?

Trump  has also shown disrespect and contempt for judges if they prevent him from getting what he wants.  He has treated the judicial branch of the government shamefully.  He just can't disagree with a judge's decision.   Oh no, not Donald Trump.  He has to refer to the judge as a "so-called judge."

Sadly, Big Brother has come to America.  In the Age of Trump, lies are not lies.  Oh no, they are "alternative facts,"  Truth is not truth anymore.  It is simply dismissed as "fake news."  White supremacists, such as Steve Bannon, have a prominent place in the National Security Council and Trump is attempting to ban travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries from the United States.

It's tragedy that a Houston surgeon, Dr. Alireza Shamshirsaz, has cancelled a trip to Iran to perform lifesaving surgeries due to the uncertainty surrounding President Trump's refugee and immigration travel ban!  Shamshirsaz, an Iranian-born professor of obstetrics and gynecology, specializes in fetal surgery.  Although he has a green card, Shamshirsaz is concerned that he would be stranded in Iran and unable to return to his wife and patients in the United States.

Then, of course, there is the delightful Mexican border wall.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell estimated that the cost of the wall will be $12 to $15 billion.  However, a study by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reports that the cost of a double set of steel fences along the U.S.-Mexican border could be 25 times greater than congressional leaders forecast last year.  The cost could exceed $49 billion over the projected 25-year lifetime of the fence.

I can only say this.  I'm glad my taxes here in Canada aren't gong to be wasted on a contemptible wall.  I'm also pleased that I have universal health coverage.  My sympathy goes out to all Americans who will lose their health coverage, especially those with pre-existing conditions.  Trump has repealed Obamacare without having a viable replacement.

Trump has ignited and energized the forces of the far right with their vile anti-immigrant xenophobic and anti-Muslim agenda. They are emboldened.  Unfortunately, Canada is not immune to this sickness.  On Sunday, January 29, there was a shooting at a mosque in Quebec City.  Six people were killed and eight others,were injured.   The suspected shooter, Alexandre Bissonette, 27, is a right-wing gun lover.  He is an admirer of French far-right politician Marine Le Pen and of Donald Trump.

The victims of the Quebec shooting were not radical terrorists.  The were observant Muslims praying at a place of worship.  Their house of prayer was violated.  Canadians were appalled and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the attack.

On Saturday, January 28, just hours after Trump signed an executive order restricting immigration from seven Muslim majority countries, a mosque in Victoria, Texas was burned to the ground in Victoria, Texas.  Outraged Americans raised $600,000 to rebuild the mosque.

After more than three weeks of the Trump presidency, I'd be very surprised if he lasts four years without getting impeached - but who knows?  Space would not allow me to list all the contemptible things he has said and done.

I have a request to make, though.  Would my Americans readers, who are appalled by the actions of Donald Trump, email a few lines to me here in Toronto, Canada.  Remind me that Trump's views are not shared by the majority of Americans.

Here are some statements that have given me solace during this dark time.

"We are here to recommit our city as a place of inclusion and acceptance where people are welcomed  and valued, and where their fundamental rights and humanity are respected and enshrined."

- John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, Canada


"Vive le Canada because we need you very, very badly,"

- Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, during a recent visit to Ottawa

To ultra-conservative "Christians" who are anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant, I suggest you reread the following passage: Luke 10: 26-27.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet Donald Trump for the first time tomorrow.  Trudeau, unlike Trump, values inclusiveness and welcomes immigrants.  He disagrees with Trump on most issues but has to be diplomatic.  Yet, at the same time, it's incumbent upon Trudeau to defend Canada's interests. Next to China, Canada is the United States' largest trading partner.  Trump is a staunch protectionist and there is a lot at risk.


- Joanne



Thursday, November 10, 2016

When I woke up on Wednesday morning I thought I had had a terrible nightmare.  I soon realized it was not a bad dream.  It was real.  What have you done, America?  How could you have elected Donald Trump as your next president and commander-in-chief?  I write this with a heavy heart.  I am very disappointed and despondent over the result of the U.S. presidential election.  It's hard to believe that millions of Americans are so angry and alienated that they are willing to throw basic decency out the window in the misguided belief that one privileged billionaire is going to "make America great again."  How I despise that slogan!  When did American stop being great?  That's beside the point. Trump's slogan is really code for "Let's put white Anglo-Saxon Protestants back in control again."

I've listened to Trump supporters and they are so grossly mistaken.  They feel that Trump is somehow going to help them "take back their country" from the "corrupt establishment" and the "elites."  They do not comprehend that Trump himself is part of the establishment.  He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  He has never had to struggle to make a living.  He is a rich New York real estate tycoon.

Some Americans voted for Trump because they falsely believe that he will restore a mythical bygone Leave it to Beaver era, a time when Ward and June Clever ruled the roost and blacks, Hispanics, women and immigrants were put in their place.  They are going to learn the hard way that it is not possible to go back to the 1950s or to reverse social and technological change. The tragedy is that we are all going to suffer for Trump's folly.  He won't be able to deliver what his supporters want and they will eventually become disillusioned.  Italians will know what I'm talking about.  They've already had a Donald Trump-like leader, Silvio Berlusconi, as their former prime minister. Berlusconi, a media tycoon, is the owner of the Italian football club AC Milan and a notorious womanizer.

In 2002, in an attempt to stop massive immigration from coast northern Africa, the Bersusconi government proclaimed the Bossi-Fini law (named after the leaders of two right-wing Italian political parties). This law provided for the expulsion of undocumented immigrants, with the assistance of the police at the border.  It also called for undocumented immigrants to be taken to detention centres.

Like Trump, Berlusconi has a penchant for making eyebrow-raising and politically incorrect remarks. Many are overtly racist and sexist.  After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, Berlusconi said, "We must be aware of the superiority of our civilization, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and - in contrast with Islamic countries - respect for religious and political rights, a system that has as its value understanding of diversity and tolerance."  In 2003, he told traders at the New York stock exchange that they should invest in Italy because "we have the most beautiful secretaries in the world."  That same year, in an interview with The Spectator, he called Benito Mussolini "a benign dictator who did not murder opponents but sent them 'on holiday."  In 2005, Berlusconi caused a stir in Finland by remarking that he had to "dust off his playboy charms" in order to persuade the Finish president, Tarja Halonen, that the European Food Safety Authority should be based in Panama rather than Finland.  In 2008, two days after Barack Obama was elected the first black President of the United States, Berlusconi commented that Obama was young, handsome and even tanned."

In 2012, Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud  Due to his advanced age, he was not jailed. However, he was asked to decide whether he wanted to served his one year prison term by house arrest or by performing community service.  In 2013, Berlusconi was found guilty of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abusing his office. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and banned from public office.  He appealed the sentence and his conviction was overturned a year later.

Like Berlusconi, Donald Trump revels in his political incorrectness. His followers revel in it too. That's one reason they voted for him.  The President of the United States, however, just can't say whatever he feels like.  Trump will find himself in a great deal of trouble if he doesn't learn to be more diplomatic. Does he have enough self-control to button his mouth when he needs to?  During the election campaign, he did not demonstrate the ability to do so.  If he does learn to exercise some discipline, will he be as popular with his adherents?

Donald Trump also appeals to his supporters because until now, he has never been an official politician. He has never held public office, never been a mayor, a governor or a senator.  He's a politician now, however, and he's going to act like one. What's worse is that he's a politician without political experience.  He doesn't have the knowledge and judgement to make difficult decisions.

Why am I so upset, you may ask.  I live in Canada and I didn't even have a vote in the election.  Yes, that's true.  However, the election of Donald Trump (with a little help from his friends at the FBI) is going to have consequences for me and for the whole world.  Because of the immense power of the United States, the Trump era will have a powerful influence around the globe.  I also care very deeply about what happens to the people of the United States.

Here are some of the repercussions of a Trump presidency in the United States and worldwide:

* The election of Donald Trump is devastating news for the environment.  Trump believes that climate change is a hoax, perpetrated by the Chinese.  He will do nothing, absolutely nothing to combat climate change.  The oil barons will rule.  It will be "drill, baby, drill."  All of President Obama's progress on clean air and climate change will be obliterated.  The world can ill afford four years of American inaction on climate change.  Sadly, under Trump, there will be more than inaction on the environment.  There will be regression.

*  The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer in the United States.  The "1 percent" will rule. The Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) will be repealed and millions of Americans will lose their health care coverage, especially the poor and the vulnerable.  All of this is bound to cause social unrest.

* The election of Donald Trump will likely have a domino effect.  It will encourage extreme right wing and anti-immigrant parties around the world.  Elections are imminent in France and Germany. Trump's victory will only serve to encourage the far-right forces and their leaders, such as Marine Le Pen, leader of France's National Front.  Le Pen congratulated Trump yesterday and she expressed her hope that the same kind of upset would occur when France goes to the polls in 2017.  "Congratulations to the new President of the United States, Donald Trump, and to the free American people," she declared.

* There will be many more mass shootings in the United States.  Donald Trump wants no part of any restrictions on gun ownership and has been enthusiastically supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA).  This means that the gun crazies will run rampant.  There will be more accidental shoots and more intentional shooting.  Mentally unstable people will easily get their hands on semi-automatic weapons.  Prepare for more Sandy Hooks and Virginia Techs and Columbines.

* Vladimir Putin, that former KGB great paragon of democracy, is quite pleased that his good pal, Donald, won the election.  In fact, a senior Russian diplomat, Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, stated today that Russian government officials had contacts with members of Donald Trump's campaign team.  Hope Hicks, the spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, denied any such connection between Russia and the Trump team. Someone is definitely lying here,  I tend to believe the Russian diplomat.

* Terrorists must be quite pleased by Trump's electoral victory.  They can recruit young Muslims to their cause by telling them that the election of Donald Trump is proof that they will never be accepted in the United States of America and the rest of evil Western society.  They can offer acceptance and purpose to these young people.

Those are some of the consequences of America's poor judgement and Trump's folly.  Although I don't want to be too smug, I'm so glad I'm here in Canada.  I have to remind myself that a Trump-like disaster has already happened here.  My own city, Toronto, elected a populist showman for mayor - Rob Ford,  Still, the Ford disaster wasn't anywhere near the scale of the Trump debacle.  Ford was elected mayor Canada's largest city, not President of the United States of America.

Some Trump refugees will soon be moving north, or at least they will try to do so.  On election night, the Canadian immigration website crashed because so many Americans were planning their escape from Trumpland.  The unfortunate thing is that the Trump earthquake will be felt everywhere on the planet. There will be tremors here in Canada too.

Note: I try to take heart by telling myself that this too shall pass and that the world will survive the presidency of Donald Trump.  Oh yes, and someday a woman will be President of the United States. She just won't be Hillary Clinton.


- Joanne



Tuesday, November 8, 2016



Well, America, the big day has finally arrived.  Your ugly, seemingly interminable 2016 presidential campaign has come to an end.  Mercifully!  Thankfully!  As I sit watching from my perch here in Canada, I am saddened that the United States is so deeply divided.  However, I have confidence in the spirit and the resilience of the American people.  There will be scars from this nasty campaign, but I believe America will bounce back.  I believe that the majority of Americans are decent and that they want the best for their families.  They are not filled with hatred and contempt.  They are hopeful for a better future.  That is why American voters will reject the dark, fear-ridden vision of their country presented by one Donald J. Trump.

Trump has stirred up the basest instincts of Americans.  His vision of America will be rejected because "the land of the free and the home of the brave" is so much better than that.  It is so much more generous than that.  It is so much more welcoming than that.  Yes, there is anger and discontent in America, but you will come together again.

Donald Trump is a born entertainer but that does not qualify him to be a leader of the free world. Deep down, most American voters know this.  They know who is better suited to the presidency. They will not entrust their country to a demagogue who has insulted women, immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, veterans etc.

Tonight I will watch the election results.  I will see history being made as the first woman is elected President of the United States.  If I am wrong, and Trump emerges victorious, I will be terribly shocked and disappointed.  I am betting, however, that American decency will triumph and that Hillary Rodham Clinton will become the 45th president of the Republic.


- Joanne




August 16, 2016

Donald Trump is definitely not popular among Canadians.  In fact, most of us cannot fathom voting for such a man.  A poll released on August 9, 2016, revealed that there is deep concern in Canada about the notion of a Trump presidency.  According to the poll, conducted by Insights West, 79 per cent say they are "very" or "moderately" concerned about the possibility that Trump could end up in the White House.  Just six per cent of those who responded to the survey stated that they are not worried about the New York real estate mogul winning the U.S. presidential election on November 8th.  A solid majority, thinks that a Trump victory would be disastrous for Canada.  64 per cent
expressed the opinion that it would be "very bad" for Canada if Trumps wins.  Another 14 per cent said it would be "bad."  In comparison, 27 per cent said a Hillary Clinton presidency would be "bad" or "very bad" for Canada.  while 47 per cent said a Clinton victory would be "good" or "very good."

The Conservative Party of Canada has tried to distance itself from Trump's politics.  Its interim leader, Rona Ambrose has stated that Trump’s position should not even be regarded as  right-wing, but something far more extreme.  “I think he’s off the spectrum, frankly,” Ambrose declared last December, in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press. “That’s not a voice that we welcome in our party.”

I seriously doubt, however, that you, my American friends, will be thinking about Canada when you cast your vote in November. Still, as you well know, the eyes of the world will be watching you as you make your decision on election day.  That is because your decision will affect the entire world, not just America. Your decision will decide which direction the United States will take in the years to come.

A Donald Trump victory will mean that the United States will become dangerously isolationist.  Those of us who have learned the lessons of history know what happened when the United States failed to join the League of Nations.  World War II followed. That's what happened.

America cannot cut itself off from the rest of the world without dangerous consequences.  Trump has been highly critical of both NATO and the United Nations.  He has called NATO "obsolete"   Of the UN, he has said the following: “Where do you ever see the United Nations?”. “Do they ever settle anything?  It’s just like a political game. The United Nations - I mean the money we spend on the United Nations.”

The thought of Donald Trump having any authority over nuclear weapons sends shivers down my spine.  He is too erratic to lead a powerful nation.  He is not disciplined enough to make life and death decisions.  Trump has the personality and the temperament to be a reality show host.  He is an entertainer, not a world leader.  Unfortunately, for some Americans, the line between "reality show" and "reality" has become terribly blurred.

The President of the United States has to be clearly understood.  He or she can't make reckless remarks, only to later declare he or she was only joking or being sarcastic. Trump seems unable to meet that requirement.  He revels in uttering outrageous statements and stirring up controversy.  Then after some time has passed, he claims he was just being sarcastic.  A case in point is Trump's recent assertion that President Barack Obama founded ISIS.  After days of accusing Obama of being the founder of the radical terrorist organization, Trump promptly changed his tune and insisted that his ridiculous claim had merely been sarcastic.  He took to Twitter and criticized CNN for reporting "so seriously" that he had referred to the president and Hillary Clinton as ISIS's founder and most valuable player.  "THEY DON'T GET SARCASM?" he shouted in capital letters.

Can you imagine a "President Trump" threatening to use a nuclear weapon and then tweeting that he was just being sarcastic!  It's a scary thought, isn't it?  That's precisely why this Republican presidential candidate is unfit to lead the United States of America.

Here are some of the other disastrous consequences of a Donald Trump victory in November:

* A Trump victory will mean a tremendous setback in the battle against climate change.  This would happen at a critical time when the world needs American support to protect our environment for future generations.  A Donald Trump presidency will also mean a tremendous setback for health care in America because he will repeal the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare).

* A Trump victory will mean more tax breaks for the very wealthiest Americans.  Wall Street will run amok.  American capitalism will be unregulated and unfettered.  Do you recall the last time that happened?  Remember all the pain and suffering caused by the Great Recession of 2008?

* A Trump victory will mean that nothing will be done to stop the horrible gun violence plaguing the United States.  Criminals and unstable individuals will continue to easily get their hands on semi-automatic rifles.  There will be more Columbines and Sandy Hooks and Virginia Techs. It will be all in the name of a misinterpretation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The National Rife Association will be as pleased as punch.

Hillary Clinton is leading the polls right now, but there is a long way to go in this seemingly interminable election.  Anything can happen between now and November.  The Democrats can not afford to be complacent. or they may be faced with a rude awakening on November 8th.  They should keep in mind that they haven't reached the finish line yet.

A great many Canadians, including myself, will breath a deep sight of relief if Donald Trump loses the election.  I respect Americans and I believe their decent values will prevent them from sending Trump to Washington.  If I am wrong, then the United States is not the country I think it is.  If I am wrong, the world is in peril.


- Joanne




June 22, 2016

President Barack Obama has visited Canada twice during his nearly eight years in office. On February 19, 2009, not long after his inauguration, Obama went to Ottawa because it is traditional that the first foreign visit made by an American president should be to Canada.  He returned to Canada in June of 2010 for the G8 summit and the G20 Summit Meeting in Huntsville, Ontario and Toronto, Ontario respectively.

Obama's third presidential visit to Canada will take place next week.  He he is scheduled to address a joint session of the Parliament of Canada on Wednesday, June 29, 2016.  It will be a historic moment and one that Canada watchers in the United States won't want to miss.  On June 29th, Barack Obama will become the seventh sitting American president to address Canada's parliament after Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

Since 1981, every U.S. president, with the exception of George W. Bush. has chosen to visit Canada first.  Bush decided to make Mexico the destination for his his initial foreign visit.  Bush, however, did visit Canada four times during his presidency. He attended three summits, the 3rd Summit of the Americas in April 2001, the 28th G8 Summit in June of 2002 and the North American Leaders' Summit with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderón in August of 2007.

Warren G. Harding was the first sitting American president to visit Canada.  He stopped in Vancouver, British, Columbia on July 26, 1923, on his way home from a tour of Alaska.  Harding, however,  never made it back to Washington, D.C,  On August 2, 1923, he fell ill and died at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California.  The official cause of death was "apoplexy."


President Warren Harding at  Shaughnessy Heights Golf Club (1923)

Harding in car leaving  Shaughnessy Heights Golf Club (1923)


Franklin D. Roosevelt was a frequent visitor to Canada, before and during his presidency.  FDR's family would spend summers on Campobello Island in the province of New Brunswick.  While president, Roosevelt vacationed on the island.  During World War II, he attended two important conferences in Quebec City with Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  The first conference took place in August of 1943, the second in September of 1944.

After attending the 1943 Quebec Conference, Roosevelt stopped in Ottawa.  He became the first American president to visit Canada's capital.  He delivered a speech outside Parliament on a speaker system that echoed through the neighbourhood.


FDR on Campobello Island in 1933


On June 11, 1947, Harry S Truman became the first President of the United States to address the Canadian Parliament. Dwight D. Eisnhower addressed Canada's parliament twice during his presidency. - once during his first term in office on November 14, 1953 and once during his second term in office on June 13, 1958.

Harry Truman addressing Canadian Parliament in 1947


John F. Kennedy came to Canada only once during his presidency.  From May 16 to May 18, 1961, Kennedy was welcomed to Ottawa for a state visit,  During that visit, on May 17, 1961, he delivered a memorable address to the Canadian Parliament in which he described Canada's relationship with the United States in these words: "Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder."  JFK would likely have visited Canada again if he had lived to finish his first term in office or survived to win re-election in 1964.


JFK with Prime Minister Diefenbaker in Ottawa in 1961


Lyndon B. Johnson visited Canada three times while President of the United States.  On September, LBJ had an informal meeting with Prime Minister Lester B, Pearson with regard to the Columbia River Treaty. In August of 1966, he Laid cornerstone at the Roosevelt Campobello Park in New Brunswick and conferred informally Pearson..  In May of 1967, Johnson attended Canada's world fair in Montreal, Expo 67 and later met privately with Pearson and Governor General Roland Mitchener in Ottawa.

Richard M. Nixon made a state visit to Canada from April 13-15, 1972.  This was the only time he visited Canada during his presidency.  He met with Governor General Roland Michener and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.  On April 14, 1972, Nixon became the third sitting American president to address the Canadian Parliament.


Nixon addressing Canadian Parliament in 1972

Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter never visited Canada during their time in office.

Ronald Reagan visited Canada five times during his presidency.  On April 6, 1987, Reagan became the fifth sitting U.S. president to address the Canadian Parliament.

George H.W, Bush visited Canada four times during his presidency and met with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, twice in Ottawa and twice in Toronto.  In May of 1991, he and Mulroney signed an Air Quality Agreement.

Bill Clinton also visited Canada five times during his presidency.  On February 23, 1995, Clinton became the sixth sitting U.S. president to address Canada's parliament.


- Joanne



March 7, 2016

Hey America, did you watch the feature on Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, on 60 Minutes last night?  Did you know that the venerable CBS news and current affairs program made a glaring error.  The show started provide some details about Trudeau's mother, Margaret, and flashed an old black and white photo from 1981.  The problem was that it wasn't Margaret who appeared in the picture with Trudeau's late father, former PM Pierre Elliott Trudeau.  It was Canadian actress Kim Cattrall, best known for her role as Samantha Jones on HBO's Sex and the City.  

Here is some background:  Pierre Trudeau wed Margaret Sinclair when she was only 22 and he was 51.  They had three sons, the eldest being Justin.  Margaret struggled with mental health issues (she has bipolar disorder).  The couple separated in 1977, but did not divorce until 1984.  Pierre, who died September 28, 2000, had a reputation for dating celebrities, including Barbara Streisand, Jane Fonda, Liona Boyd, Margot Kidder and Catrall, who the 60 Minutes gaff in stride.  She responded with a good-natured tweet: "I have a son who is the Prime Minister of Canada?  I couldn't b more proud." Someone else tweeted: "Seems like Americans really do need to 'pay a little more attention to Canada.'  Really@60 Minutes?  Kim Catrall?"

60 Minutes later apologized for the mistake.  We regret the error on one of the several video and still images shown of Margaret Trudeau.  It was corrected online last night," a spokesperson for the show told The Hollywood Reporter.  Obviously, someone was asleep at the switch.


1981 photo of Pierre Trudeau and Kim Catrall used on 69 Minutes


You'll be seeing more of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie, when they travel to Washington, D.C. later this week for a state visit with President Obama.  The Trudeaus will dine at the White House and hobnob with Washington's wealthy and powerful.  It's the first such visit since Bill and Hillary Clinton welcomed then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien in 1997.  The Obamas have not hosted a large number of state dinners, only nine during Barack Obama's two terms in office.

I’m amazed that Trudeau is continually asked if he’s too young and inexperienced for the job.  During last October’s election campaign, his political rivals ran campaigns ads declaring that he was “Just not ready” to lead.  “Nice hair, though,” they added sarcastically.

This is not to say that Prime Minister Trudeau is above criticism or that he is destined to achieve greatness.  It’s only to point out that he is not too young for his position.  Born Christmas Day, 1971, Trudeau is 44 years old.  That’s older than Theodore Roosevelt’s age when Roosevelt assumed the office of President of the United States.  On September 14, 1901, Roosevelt was 42 years old when he became president following the assassination of William McKinley, making him the youngest person to hold the office.  John F. Kennedy was 43 years old at his inauguration in 1961.  He was youngest person ever “elected” to the presidency. 

By the way, Justin Trudeau is the second youngest Prime Minister of Canada.  Joe Clark, who was prime minister for about nine months in 1979, was younger than Trudeau when he became prime minister.  Mr. Trudeau is very youthful looking.  However, the pressure of being PM is bound to age him.  After seven years in the White House, Barack Obama’s hair has turned grey.

As for experience, Justin Trudeau has been a Member of Parliament since 2008.  Donald Trump, a leading candidate for the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States, has never even held public office.  Compare that to Hillary Clinton who has served as a United States senator and the American Secretary of State.  Compare that to Bernie Sanders who has been the Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, a member of the U.S . of Representatives and is currently a U.S. senator.  It should be evident to anyone who watched the Democratic debate last night from Flint, Michigan that the quality of the discourse was of far higher standard than that of the Republican’s circus.  There was absolutely no comparison.  Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were feisty and witty.  Not only that, but they had a civil debate on issues of substance. 


- Joanne



February 23, 2016

There have been some fascinating Canadian angles to this 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.  First of all, one of the leading Republican candidates, Senator Ted Cruz, was born in the True North. Ironically, here in the land of Cruz's birth, a politician's birthplace is not an issue at all.  In fact, it is not an issue in most countries.  What's wrong with an immigrant holding the office of President of the United States?  Perhaps it's a problem for the xenophobic Donald Trump and his supporters, but the vast majority of immigrants are loyal to their adopted country.  Some are more loyal than native-born citizens because they are so grateful for the opportunity that their adopted country has afforded them.

My own grandparents were immigrants to Canada from Sicily, Italy.  They continually told me how proud they were to be Canadian citizens and how privileged they were to live in Canada.  They said this despite the fact that many Italian Canadians were sent to internment camps during World War II.

Have right-wing Republicans forgotten the words of the poem on a plaque mounted inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. They come from a poem called "New Colossus." written by Emma Lazarus.  Perhaps they need to be reminded of Lazarus' stirring ode.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!






The United States and Canada have not always live up to the values enshrined in the Statue of Liberty.  Nevertheless, both countries have aspired to those values.  We should never lose sight of them.


Another Canadian angle in the current American presidential election campaign involves Senator Marco Rubio's political ad "Morning Again."  Aside from the fact that "Morning Again" is not very original (Ronald Reagan's 1984 slogan was "It's morning again in America"), the ad raised eyebrows when it began with a photo of the skyline of Vancouver, British Columbia. Canadians have grown accustomed to seeing Toronto or Vancouver or Montreal standing in for U.S. cities in American movies, but this is something new and unexpected.

Late night comedians, such as Stephen Colbert, have been been having a great time making jokes about the one-minute ads. Colbert, the host of The Late Show, mocked the Rubio commercial for its "very Canadian vision."  "It turns out the skyline is Vancouver, and that American tugboat of optimism has a Canadian flag on the back," Colbert commented, while showing the opening shot of the ad to his audience.  "Maybe it's trying to tug Vancouver into the United States."

This was followed by Colbert's own version of the ad, called "It's Morning Again in Canada."  "I believe this ad speaks to all Americans," the talk show host deadpanned as a display of graphics appeared behind him.  Stereotypes such as moose and poutine were shown, along with with photos of Canadian singers Céline Dion and Justin Bieber, the Toronto Raptors and Queen Elizabeth.

It appears that Rubio, a Florida senator, is no better at geography than he is at science (He's a climate change denier).  He should take heart, though.  At least he hasn't been taken to task for his spelling, as was former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle.

Unfortunately,  Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, has a good chance of becoming the next President of the United States, especially if The Donald self-destructs.  The anti-Trump forces are already coalescing around him.  At 44, he's young for a politician, and he is appealing to the growing population of Hispanic Americans.  This is a large demographic from which the Republicans would dearly like to receive more support.

Senator Rubio's views, however, are quite right-wing.  In 2013, for example, he voted against an expansion of background checks for gun purchases.  He would also repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare - never mind that 18 million more Americans now have health coverage.  He wants to roll back that progress and replace it with a market-driven alternative, and reform Medicare and Medicaid.

In sum, Marco Rubio may not be as bombastic and flamboyant as Donald Trump, but his views are just as damaging,


- Joanne




January 21, 2016

This is the first of some ongoing missives from me to my American readers.

Most of the time, Canada is not even on America's radar screen.  Canadians are just your nice, friendly next-door neighbours. We have a great deal in common with you and we don't rock the boat, at least not too often. (Remember when we refused to join the American invasion of Iraq?).  Our prime minister at the time, Jean Chretien, refused to be a part of Bush's folly.

To a certain extent, I understand America's attitude toward Canada.  The United States has a lot on its plate.  It has many serious concerns, much more pressing than the goings-on north of the border.  Not only that, but it's in the midst of a presidential election year.  We, of course, have already had our federal election (back on October 19th).  We had a gruelling 11-week campaign, the longest one in Canada since 1872. but your presidential elections seems to last for two years.  It's just exhausting for the candidates.  In this digital age, there must be a better way.

It's not the length of your presidential campaigns, however, that really concerns me. It's the quality of the Republican candidates.  Although I am not a U.S. citizen, the outcome of the election will influence my life and the lives of millions of people around the world.  We all have a vested interest in who will become the 45th President of the United States.  If the American people should elect one of the Republican candidates, especially one Donald J. Trump, then the world and the United States will be in a sorry mess.  They are not moderate conservatives.  They are right-wing zealots.

The latest news concerning  Mr. Trump is that he has been endorsed by none other than Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and former Republican vice-presidential nominee.  Standing beside Trump at a rally at Iowa State University, Mrs. Palin asked supporters if they were "ready to stump for Trump."

Is Sarah Palin's endorsement of Donald Trump a purely opportunistic move?  Is Palin lending him her support in the hope that he will select her to be his vice presidential running mate, or does she truly believe he is the best candidate with the best ideas. My guess is that it's a combination of both. However, I wouldn't be surprised if Trump does choose Palin to run with him if he, God forbid, wins the Republican nomination.  She would offset accusations that he is a misogynist, especially if, as seems likely, Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee. A female vice presidential running mate would serve Trump's purpose.

For now, Trump wants to win in the state of Iowa.  Unfortunately, Palin's endorsement could give him a boost in the upcoming Iowa caucuses.  He needs a victory there on February 1st to to give his campaign momentum.  His closest rival is Canadian-born Texas senator Ted Cruz, a Tea Party darling, who would also be a disaster as president.

Comedians and late-night television hosts have been having a field day with Donald Trump and his antics. He provides great fodder for their jokes.  However, his candidacy is no long funny. Trump is actually making it easier for ISIS to recruit supporters.  Every time he spews his anti-Islamic or anti-Mexican remarks, the terrorists can say. "We told you that you so! You'll never be accepted by America.  Come and join us.  We will welcome you.  You belong with us."

Donald Trump appeals to the worst instincts of Americans, not their best.  He builds walls, not bridges.  His views and attitudes are racist, sexist and xenophobic.  He is a master of the politics of fear, distrust and division.  Sadly, at a time when there is so much concern over terrorism, his toxic brand of politics appeals to many.  I just hope that the American people won't be taken in by him.  I hope that their better nature will prevail and that they will ultimately reject Donald Trump's policies.

The team of Trump and Palin  would be an unmitigated disaster.  They are not the presidential dream team.  If they were the subjects of a movie, it would be called Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue. Donald Trump constantly boasts that he will "make America great again."  I wasn't aware that America had ever relinquished its claim to greatness.  If only The Donald and his new sidekick, Sarah Palin, would stick to what they know best: reality television.  Trump should be hosting reality shows, not sitting in the Oval Office.

The front pages of The New York Post and the Daily News featured Palin's endorsement of Trump. The New York Post's headline read "Lady and the Trump," while the Daily News blared "I'm With Stupid!"under a photo of the two.


MAPLE LEAF NOTES

*  It wasn't all that long ago when the Canadian dollar was worth more than your American greenback.  However, its value has been sinking for a while.  This would be an opportune time for you to visit us here in the True North.  You would get great value on your money on the exchange rate.  So, why not come and visit us.

* Unlike Michelle Obama, the wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has no title.  The term "First Lady" is an American term.  In Canada's parliamentary system, the prime minister is the head of government, not head of state like the American president. Therefore, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau should be referred to as the wife of the Canada's prime minister.  By the way, if Hillary Clinton becomes president, how will the U.S. press refer to Bill?  Just wondering . . .


- Joanne

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