When Canada rocked the world

When the Tories attacked Michael Ignatieff for having been abroad and seen the world, the Liberal leader did not respond with an attack on narrowness and parochialism. Instead he succumbed to it, saying sometimes you had to go abroad to see how much the world loves Canada. Another sorry example of how Canadian politics makes even smart people talk as if they had neither brains nor wit. As it happens, one thing you learn if you spend time abroad but not under a rock is that foreign newspapers pay about as much attention to Canada as they do to Guatemala. Which Mr. Ignatieff probably does know. But while Canadian politicians pretend to pay attention to the world, they generally express not sober analyses of what we can really do and how but wildly exaggerated views of our influence and effectiveness (skewered by Roy Rempel in the Breakout Educational Network book Dreamland) that seem intended partly for domestic political consumption and partly for self-flattery.

I was therefore struck by this passage in The Spirit of English History, a 1943 book by English historian and Labor Party sympathiser A.L. Rowse: “The achievement of nationhood by Canada aided the working-out of a peaceable settlement of the boundary with the United States in the course of this century. In this it has formed a primary link in the friendship between the British Empire and the United States, which, signalled by alliance in two world wars, is a determining factor in the history of our time.”

So there's something we really can proudly take credit for. Over to you, Mr. Harper, Mr. Ignatieff, Mr. Layton, Ms. May and (har har) M. Duceppe.