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Canada: America to blame (?)

from Bella - Friday, September 20, 2002
accessed 1512 times

I'm intersted in how Canadians (and other Nationalities) really feel ...

I have a question regarding U.S./Canadian relations for any who may have some insight for me - Canadian or not.

First of all, I'm not looking for a fight - one of my best friends in the world is Canadian and I was thrilled to visit Vancouver some time back - including but not limited to the beautiful UBC. I'm posting this question because I know that there are a few Canadians here, and perhaps you can help clarify this issue for me.

As many of you may know, the Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien recently made the following statement concerning 9/11:

"I do think the Western world is getting too rich in relation to the poor world. And we're looked at as being arrogant, self-satisfying, greedy, and with no limits. And September 11 is an occasion for me to realize it even more,"

Some individuals on this side of the boarder have taken offence to his statement, seeing it as a personal attack on the U.S.

In addition, I was listening to the the radio yesterday and heard that a poll was done by a major newspaper in Toronto, which states that about 80% of Canadians feel that we brought the attacks upon ourselves. I apologize that I cannot give proper credit for the poll (again, it was on news radio and I was in my car) and therefore if any/all of you wish to disregard the statement until proper support can be given, I understand. I have yet to research the poll for myself, and therefore cannot provide a link for you to refer back to at this time.

This being said - I am wondering a couple of things:

A: Is the United States over reacting about the statement made by Jean Chrétien? Or, does the Canadian Government actually feel that we are responsible for the attacks of 9/11.

B: More importantly however, do the PEOPLE of Canada believe that we brought the attacks on ourselves?

C: Is the Prime Minister's statement ignorant? - I mean, Osama Bin Laudin is not by any means a poor man. Were the attacks made because of the West being rich and greedy or because of radical Islam - or both?

Thanks to all who reply!

Reader's comments on this article

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from jokerkarma
Tuesday, October 08, 2002 - 07:54

My question is, do we really know it was Bin Ladin?
I'm not american or canadian, I'm spanish, but I'm still not sure if it was Bin Ladin or not, I haven't seen any proof it actually was, secondly, I do think the USA government has brought it on themselves, they've been fucking with most arab countries for years, it's the oil deal and the PLO, 11/9 is a pretty heavy deal, I in no way agree with whoever did the attack, but neither do I agree with the way Bush and his government have dealt with the problem.
Whoever it was that attacked the USA obviously attacked both USA and the rest of the west.
There is definitly a contrast between the rich west and the rest of the world.
(reply to this comment)
from seeker
Sunday, September 22, 2002 - 02:19

I am a Canadian and I am becoming progressively more depressed about America's rush to war. Many see this new war as not so much stopping Iraq's weapons program ,nor about making Iraq free, but about the US seeking to gain control of the second largest proven oil reserves in the world.

I see Dubya on the TV, I read about him in the papers, and I am amazed that people take him seriously. He is a scary dude.

If American readers want to get a better idea of what Canadians and other people think of American foreign policy, I suggest you read some online editions of foreign papers. is excellent, the de facto national paper of Canada. In England, is quite good.

Here is a clip from the Globe and Mail

From, Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Now it's a moral crusade for Mr. Bush


The get-him-before-he-gets-us line wasn't working. Neither were the dubious allegations of connections between Baghdad and Sept. 11. The world wasn't signing up for Phase Two of the War Without End. So George W. Bush is trying a new rationale: humanitarian action, and freedom in the Muslim world.

As Prime Minister Jean Chretien observed, whether Saddam Hussein is connected to Osama bin Laden is now irrelevant. The Second Gulf War isn't even so much about weapons of mass destruction any more, although it still is, sort of, in theory anyway, because the Iraqis have been out there trying to make suspicious purchases, and even though they've been thwarted, can anyone prove those rooftops in the spy photos aren't covering tanks of nerve gas?

No, it has morphed into a humanitarian crusade. Remember all those doctors who went to Iraq during the 1990s and came back with tales of malnutrition and needless deaths from treatable diseases? They were dismissed as bleeding hearts when the question was whether to loosen UN sanctions. Now it turns out the Iraqis really have had it rather bad.

And now we care. Not because their suffering has suddenly become intolerable or because it is likely to get worse, but because the hard-liners in the Bush administration see an opportunity to begin implementing their master plan for the Middle East. At the United Nations last week, President George W. Bush reached back into the 1980s to argue for the urgency of action in 2002. He cited Iraq's war against Iran and its use of chemical war against the Kurdish minority. He didn't mention that the United States abetted the former and ignored the latter. How strange.

Is there an inconsistency between the uncompromising assertion of global superiority and the impulse to promote freedom and rescue people from distress? Not at all, especially when you take into account the moral element at the centre of Mr. Bush's personality.

Part of what is inspiring him may well be the Clinton administration's disastrous record on pre-empting atrocities -- notably the genocide that killed 800,000 in Rwanda in 1994. After Mr. Bush read about that earlier this year in a memorandum that raised the possibility of a similar episode in Burundi, he is said to have scribbled in the margin: "Not on my watch."

Good for him. And how nice if the fallout he foresees from "regime change" in Baghdad were to come true. "The people of Iraq can shake off their captivity," he told the UN. "They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world."

But five words were missing from the speech: "The United States was wrong." Wrong to arm Mr. Hussein during the 1980s, wrong to hang Iraqi dissidents out to dry during the 1990s. Wrong to create an Islamist monster in Afghanistan. And certainly wrong to work so assiduously on the side of authoritarianism in the Muslim world over so many decades.

One problem with humanitarian intervention as a justification for aggressive action is that there are so many places where it might be undertaken. Why not rush to save starving North Koreans from their bizarre, repressive leadership? Why not liberate Tibet from China? Why not stop Russia's scorched-earth campaign in Chechnya? Why not intervene in Sudan's civil war?

There are several answers. There's always a calculation to be made about consequences and the prospect of success. Crises have differing impacts on U.S. and other Western interests. There may be better ways of dealing with them than consigning the world to a future of perpetual high alert and continued military strikes.

What about the tantalizing prospect of "reforms throughout the Muslim world"? As things stand, they probably would aid the rise of militant Islamism.

In Algeria, in Saudi Arabia, in Egypt and elsewhere, people disillusioned with authoritarian U.S.-supported regimes find radical ideas attractive. Washington has acquiesced in the suppression of political freedom precisely because it would allow militant Muslim parties a stronger voice, and in some cases enable them to form governments. Realistically, are such people likely to look to a U.S.-installed regime in Baghdad as a moral beacon? Are they likely to see the duelling among warlords in post-Taliban Afghanistan as a model?

Self-defence is something everyone can understand. Hence the widespread support for the campaign against al-Qaeda. Moral crusades are different. They're vulnerable to charges of self-righteousness and suspicions about motives, whether their protagonists are tree-huggers, peaceniks or the leader of the free world.

(reply to this comment)
from Jules
Saturday, September 21, 2002 - 12:01


I should preface this by saying that I am not speaking for all Canadians, there are other Canadians and nationalities here that may share other opinions. I am not an expert on any of these issues, and have a great deal of “catching up” to do still. These are just my opinions and what I understand of these topics. I do try to keep an open mind, and access as much information as possible on everything.

Also, please note that the poll cited did not say that the Canadians believed American people shared responsibility for the attacks. The issue is US foreign policy. Among my non-exer friends, and the Canadians I know, I would say this is an accurate reflection of their opinion. Chrétien’s remarks were made this summer, and there has been strong criticism here for the airing of this interview on the one year anniversary of the attacks. It was in poor judgment and was insensitive and offensive to the victims. However, among the Canadians I know, they agree with his statements, which are critical of the Western world and capitalistic greed, not solely the US.

I live in the financial capital of Canada, which is an hour’s flight from NYC. On the morning of 9-11, I and my colleagues watched the towers fall on the news live from our own tower, and like the rest of the world we were stunned and terrified. Planes headed for the US were rerouted to Canadian airports, where many small towns opened their doors and homes to the thousands of stranded passengers. There was an outpouring of support for the US in the months following, and Canadians offered relief, money, blood and whatever else they could for the victims of the attacks. Bush, in his speeches repeatedly ignored Canada, when thanking supporters and allies, but Canadians are used to being snubbed by the US, and no one really got too bothered.

Canada does not have much comparatively to offer in the form of military support, but our troops went to Afghanistan in support of the US led coalition. In April, four of our soldiers were killed and eight wounded by US pilots who apparently were under the influence of stimulants, and had been told to hold their fire. When Bush was pressed for a comment on this by a Canadian journalist, he gave the back of his hand and a mumbled remark on his way to another engagement. While we were burying our dead, the Canadian national anthem was booed at a hockey game during the US.

In addition to these personal slights, which did create resentment here, there is growing criticism of the Bush administration’s policy of unilateralism. Canada considers itself an active member of the global community, and has played a leading role in UN peacekeeping missions for 50 years. Beginning with the Bush presidential campaign of “nation building”, it has been increasing evident that the only consideration is for US interests and short-sighted economic gain. The Kyoto Accord was rejected by the US, saying it would harm the US economy. The US opposed the International Criminal Court at every step, saying it undermined US authority. This is from a man who had hardly travelled outside US soil prior to his inauguration.

Disregard for world opinion and undermining of the UN brings instability, and this is a concern for Canadians as well as other nations. It’s been a little frightening to see the propaganda machine swing into full gear in the US, with American people being fed the delusion that the world is standing behind them in support of whatever their government is doing. It’s frightening to see indifference and even support for the erosion of the same civil liberties that we are supposed to be fighting to protect. The reality is that the US will do what it wants to, and its’ allies will probably go along. The policy of “might is right” is fine when you are the one holding the gun, but is this really the global society that we want to be building?

I love American people, I love their vivaciousness, enthusiasm and passion. I support the values that America was founded on. The cruelty and horror of the innocent people slaughtered on September 11th is something that nothing and no one can justify. We all share this planet though, and no one country should decide policy for the world.

(reply to this comment)
From geo
Monday, January 20, 2003, 22:55

canada always believes that it plays leading roles in worldwide events, i think the rest of the world mostly just humours them.(reply to this comment
From roughneck
Monday, January 20, 2003, 23:07

At least we don't bomb friendlies. :-) (I doubt we could afford it if we wanted to, what with the price of muntions these days and the loonie exchange rate... )
(reply to this comment
From Snuzzles
Friday, December 06, 2002, 14:28

I'm Canadian. I agree 100% with Jules. Nuff said.(reply to this comment
From Albatross
Saturday, September 21, 2002, 20:50

The past few months have found me agreeing with so many of your opinions that it comes as a bit of a surprise today to find myself taking exception to some of your opinions in the above article. I say “some” because as always, you raised what I considered are several valid points. I only wish I had the time to address things on a point-by-point basis. Perhaps time will permit further discourse on this at a later date.
Addressing this very nuance subject in quick general terms is not something I am willing to do to this debate.
Let me just say that Canadian have the uniquely ideal position of benefiting from the defensive posture, economic cooperation (Canada is one of the biggest US trading partners) and historical and geographical closeness of our two countries.
Canada consistently scores in the top 5 best places in the world to live. At the same time however Canada contributes far less per capita to foreign aid and relief than several other western nations including the US.
As you suggested, everything is not black or white in an argument of this nature.
I do believe that our status as the world’s only superpower brings with it some added responsibility, responsibility which we are not always living up to. I unfortunately do not see the world moving towards the utopian society that the UN charter works towards. I see the clouds of major culture clashes forming on the horizon. A showdown with a radicalized Islamic world is a real possibility in the next couple of generations. Europe is not prepared to withstand this time. They will find it difficult to win round two in the millennium old battle with Islam. Even now there are those preaching the call to turn the UK into an Islamic state. And once again I feel it is the US who will have to step in and preserve western civilization, along with all it brings, both good and bad.
Europe (and Canada) is in its usual uncomfortable spot. It hates the US and it’s “cowboy attitude," but it realizes that is has more in common with the US than with almost anywhere else in the world. Despite our often-egocentric manner, we are the bodyguard of human rights. Europe may be the intellectual incubator of the concept in its current manifestation, but when push comes to shove, it is our soldiers who do the bulk of the bleeding, and it is our citizens who foot the bill.
That being said, I am however optimistic. We have elections every four years. Perhaps we will soon be blessed with someone slightly more urbane and global, to finesse our necessary but delicately balanced place on the stage of global cooperation.

(reply to this comment
from Jules
Friday, September 20, 2002 - 07:47

Interesting question. I am Canadian, and I don't have time to give a proper answer right now, but this about the poll is true. Here is the article from the Toronto Star.
(reply to this comment)
From JoeH
Friday, September 20, 2002, 13:24

great article! my love for canadians is growing(reply to this comment
From Albatross
Friday, September 20, 2002, 13:47

ummm Joe: to this comment
From Albatross
Friday, September 20, 2002, 13:51

this too: :P to this comment
From monger
Friday, September 20, 2002, 15:20

South Park kicks ass!(reply to this comment
From Bella
Friday, September 20, 2002, 12:21

Thanks for the link Jules! I'm looking forward to your thoughts on the subject when you have time! (reply to this comment

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