I wasn't born a Canadian. I was born in Newfoundland and became a Canadian at age four when as a result of a referendum Newfoundland left British colonial status behind to join the Canadian federation. For more than 50 years I have been a Canadian.
For more than 50 years I have been proud to be a Canadian. I was proud to be a Canadian when Canadian diplomats helped settle the Suez Crisis. I was proud to be a Canadian when collective action had to be taken the last time an expansionist megalomaniac decided to march down the Korean Peninsula. I was proud to be a Canadian when Canadian peacekeepers moderated Cyprus. I was proud on the infrequent occasions Canadian leaders took a tough stance during the Cold War. I was proud when Canadian troops played their role in the liberation of Kuwait, and more recently Afghanistan.
Today, I am embarrassed to be a Canadian. I am embarrassed to be represented by a Prime Minister who is so detached from reality and a sense of Canada's true interests. I am embarrassed by a political system which is impotent in the face of a Prime Minister descending into perfidy. I am embarrassed that the Prime Minister was accorded a standing ovation in Parliament by his party for having decided to let others take up Canada's cudgel in the war against terror.
I am embarrassed by the ignorance of history and the evil possibilities of human nature that are revealed in the fact that six out of 10 Canadians are against the United States taking action against Iraq without the United Nations' support in spite of the fact that a clear majority believed that the United Nations should have authorized the war. I am embarrassed that my countrymen evidently believe more in the preservation of the UN than they do in the values the UN was created to preserve.
I am embarrassed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation which wears its antipathy for the war effort as a badge of honour.
I am embarrassed by Member of Parliament Carolyn Parrish who noted, "Damn Americans: Hate those bastards," and by the fact that while she was roundly criticized by even the left-wing Toronto Star, under our electoral system there isn't a "damn" thing we can do about her.
I am embarrassed that MP Parrish is a moderate by comparison with left-wing MP Bill Blaikie who accused President Bush of "planning every minute of his life to kill as many Iraqi children as he can in the name of oil or whatever it is that's really on the agenda." I am embarrassed that I live in a country where such a tiny, spite-encrusted intellect could be elected to the nation's Parliament.
I am embarrassed by the naiveté of the Canadian Liberal Parliamentarian, Colleen Beaumier, who visited Iraq and returned to tell Canadians, "President Hussein has spoken to his ministers and said some of these 'anti-freedom and anti-human rights' laws are harsh and they have to be revisited." What with such a nice man running Iraq, aren't those Americans beastly for what they are doing.
I am not embarrassed by the student demonstrators who use excessive language to press their case, for we expect them to be ignorant -- that is why we call them students. But what can explain their teachers encouraging them to do this?
Like a very large and growing number of Canadian families, some of our children now reside in the United States. They are there because of the mutual interest reflected in the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and its provision for easy migration. I am embarrassed for them that their new neighbours might associate them with the Canada of Jean Chrétien.
I am embarrassed that my U.S.-born grandson, and hundreds of thousands of grandchildren of other Canadians, will one day say: "Why did Canada take Saddam Hussein's side in the war against terror," because as a child, not having the benefit of diplomatically crafted subordinate clauses, he will see clearly that in war, if you are not with them you are effectively against.
I am embarrassed that my many American friends and collaborators might, if even for an instant, associate me with the views expressed by my government and the Members of Parliament who have supported it in its present stance.
I am most of all embarrassed because we Canadians, who have so much to be grateful for from our longstanding collaboration with the United States, are turning our backs on our continental friends and partners in preference for the company of posers, scoundrels and genocidal lunatics.