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Mrs Everywhere

"America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?"

Gabrielle Taylor

well, America, you've convinced me, a Canadian, to fear you might swarm up as a mass and kill us all. I'm now far more afraid of you than I am of being hit by a falling plane. It's not the American media that's made me feel this way, but the American individuals I see bragging about their country's greatness, and how they're going to stomp these bastards into the ground, and any other bastards that happen to be on the way to stomp the first bastards.

Is this why the US and Canadian governments downplay that some of the hijackers crossed from Canada -- that there are investigators at the Yarmouth ferry in Nova Scotia -- perhaps a hundred miles from my house -- they may have driven past me on the Trans Canada highway only five minutes from my house -- checking if two of the hijackers came in on that ferry? And investigators at the Quebec-Maine border crossings looking for many more than two? I've seen international news about the man seized in Germany, but the Canadian end is very quiet.

The Maine-New Brunswick border -- like most of the Canada-US borders -- is easily permeable -- I know, I crossed it myself only a month ago at Calais. I didn't say a single word; I was smuggling migraine pills across the border to mail to my ex-husband.

My driver did ninety seconds talking, and then we were through.

Despite that my government denies that Canada was used this way, it almost certainly was. It's just too easy to take advantage of Quebec -- the only province in Canada with its own, non-federally administered immigration and a desperate need for more French speakers to bolster its sagging population. Quebec gave welfare to would-be-bomber Ahmed Ressam in Montreal for years despite that he was turned down for refugee status, where he stole from tourists and plotted to blow up part of California for the millennium with his accomplice Mokhtar Haouari, flower shop owner and document forger. Quebec has a history of terrorism, though largely against its own people.

The rest of Canadian immigration, regardless of what Raymond Chretien says, is just not that impenetrable. I've lived in the federal capital for seven or so years off and on, and the joke is that you can tell where the trouble is in the world by what new kinds of restaurants there are in Ottawa, because we took refugees so freely. It was Lebanese and Middle Eastern restaurants this year, and they were flourishing, because they were cheap and good and proliferating like strawberries.

Ressam lived in Montreal for years. If it turns out these other guys lived there too -- a known hotspot for Middle Eastern recruitment -- are you going to invade Montreal, America? Or simply make Canada your 'protectorate' since us funny, simple little abo-Americans clearly can't be trusted to run our own affairs?

Listen, I lived in the US for five years, in Oregon and California. I was married to an American and I could have become one myself. I have very dear American friends. I have Americans in my family tree -- going back to Roger Barton who was thrown out of Long Island in 1665 or so for "riotous misdemeanors".

I know you, America, not in the way that those glorifying you know you, but in the way of the foreigner. You have a strong incomprehension of those who cannot embrace your ways. It is as though you cannot see that any other way can reasonably exist. This is why I ultimately left, because even my husband, a brilliant and funny and warm man, could not comprehend that there were priorities that were not his own, but that still had value. I married an extraordinarily exceptional American, and if even he could not escape his context, why should I expect that of anyone? How could I? Everything that exists exists in context; one defies it as one defies gravity, by working very hard at it.

America, I never wanted to be in your power again, and now I realize that I have never left it. Can never leave it while we're both alive.

I accept that Canada must change to accommodate that we live next door to the most powerful nation in the world and apparently people hate you because you're beautiful. That's inarguable. But if you try to occupy us, you will find us indigestible. We may look like you and talk like you and to a large extent live like you, but we are not you. You don't even know us.

Canada -- particularly including Quebec -- must pull together at a federal level to forge these new policies ourselves, or risk having them externally imposed by force by a nation that comprehensibly does not want any more planes crashed into its headquarters. We must put aside all regional differences now, as we did in 1867, or be swallowed up by American outrage.

As for those on the net boasting about America's greatness: is this the time to indulge an atavistic instinctive response like beating your chest to show Og No Hurt By Charging Mammoth?

Gabrielle Taylor is in the backwilds of Sackville, New Brunswick, working on a novel in spite of herself.

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