The U.S. Ambassador 

The U.S. Ambassador

U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins has criticized Canadian politicians--almost certainly referring to Prime Minister Paul Martin--for using the U.S. government and its policies as a foil or target in a campaign.

The immediate issue was probably global warming--with Martin cricizing the Bush administration, while Canada actually has a worse record than the U.S.

Here is the part that got to me the most:

"What if one of your best friends criticized you directly and indirectly almost relentlessly? What if that friend's agenda was to highlight your perceived flaws while avoiding mentioning your successes? What if that friend demanded respect but offered little in return? Wouldn't that begin to sow the seeds of doubt in your mind about the strength of your friendship?" Mr. Wilkins said.

Even for more conservative or right-wing Canadians, I think this is clearly one of those times (here we go again--a bit like the Vietnam era) when it is a relief to be a Canadian, or not to be an American. This is obviously not a particularly noble reaction when the U.S. is grappling with so many issues.

Is there any defence for us? Montaigne said something like: in the sufferings of our dearest friends, there is something that does not displease us. Meaning, I guess: we are always glad it is them and not us.

But we should probably keep our mouths shut about some real or perceived U.S. problems.

Meanwhile, Wilkins' remarks, which may have been suggested, let us say, by the White House, have probably helped Martin's chances in the election, and thus backfired.

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