Normally, we Americans don't have good cause to go out of our way to hoist a mug to toast someone else's independence day. But how about stretching our 4th of July fireworks fuse a bit by adding a belated congrats to our "true north" (a phrase from "O Canada") Canadian colleagues on the commemoration of their own Canadian birthday, which comes 3 days before ours.
Parodies aside, it's become an article of faith that we Yanks down below that 5,525 mile border regrettably do take Canada for granted. Understandable, if not excusable, given how reliable a friend Canada is for us through thick and thin and it does not ask much of us in return. No matter that Canada is our largest trading partner in the world $645 billion in two way trade supporting 8 million U.S. jobs, and right up there as an ally that delivers, delivers and delivers again when we face threats both at home and abroad.
American defense arrangements with Canada are the most extensive in the world (see for yourself and go to www.canadianally.com). Just take a moment to consider what Canada is doing to help the U.S. since 9/11 against Al Qaeda. Canada's elite JTF2 counterterrorism unit joined forces with the U.S. against al Qaeda around the globe. Canadian soldiers are standing side by side with our GIs in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East, and they, too, are sacrificing their own blood and treasure because Canadians understand the threats we face around the globe are common to them as well. Canada's Seventh Book of Rememberance lists 150 Canadians killed in the line of battle since 9/11 -- most of whom were killed in Afghanistan.
Canada has deployed a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar to back up the U.S. as a significant commitment to the NATO-led effort there. Elsewhere in Afghanistan, Canadians are training the Afghani police, and Canada is one of the top donors to Afghanistan's reconstruction pledging over $1.2 billion. Remember, compared to our own nation's 311 million this is a country with a population of only 34 million.
However, let me be the first to assert that military cooperation should not serve as THE yardstick by which to measure Canada's importance to Americans.
Last year, more Canadians visited the U.S. (18+ million) than from any other country or region of the globe. And Canadians poured $20.8 billion into the U.S. economy just from tourism alone (think U.S JOBS!) making it, yes, the single biggest source of U.S. global tourism revenue -- a whopping 15% of the overall $103 billion the U.S. earns worldwide from tourism.
Just think how many more jobs Americans would be out of work but for the importance of Canadian tourism dollars.
OK, I know I preached enough. And yes, there is plenty to add about what the United States has done for Canada in return. But in the world I usually write about in this hollowed blogosphere -- namely terrorism, failed peace, Middle East horrors, etc. -- it soothes the soul to write something good about something great -- that Canadian ally of ours.
Aussi, a mes amis Francophone du nord mes felicitations a cause de votre jour d'independence et merci pour votre amitie a notre pay.