Transcript: Robert MacNeil on his book Looking for My Country | Jun 22, 2003

A book sits on top of other books. The white and blue cover reads "Looking for my country. Robert MacNeil."

John Bentley Mays and Robert MacNeil sit in a room. Behind them, black and white pictures hang on the wall. John speaks through a microphone. He’s in his late forties, balding and clean-shaven. He’s wearing black-rimmed glasses, a black jacket and a beige shirt.

John says CERTAINLY
IT'S A JOY TO BE HERE WITH
ROBERT MacNEIL.
I'VE ENJOYED HIS BROADCASTING,
HIS SUPERB JOURNALISM OVER
DECADES, AND IT'S A THRILL TO BE
HERE AND TO READ HIS BOOK ALSO,
WHICH WAS VERY EXCITING.
THIS BOOK IS RATHER A REMARKABLE
BOOK I THINK FOR A JOURNALIST TO
DO.
IT'S AN INSIDE VIEW, A BEHIND-
THE-SCENES VIEW OF A LIVE LIVED
VERY ACTIVELY IN JOURNALISM ON
CONTINENT AFTER CONTINENT,
COUNTRY AFTER COUNTRY, AND
TELLING THE STORY ABOUT A
PILGRIMAGE, ONE MAN'S PILGRIMAGE
FROM CANADA TO BRITAIN TO
AMERICA AND WHERE YOU ARE
CURRENTLY LOCATED, WHICH IS IN
NEW YORK.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "John Bentley Mays. Journalist."

John continues AND I WANT TO ASK YOU FIRST OFF
JUST ABOUT HOW THIS BOOK CAME
INTO BEING.
WHY DID YOU WRITE IT?

Robert MacNeil is in his sixties, clean-shaven with combed gray hair. He’s wearing a dark blue jacket over a pale shirt.

Robert says WELL, I
STARTED ABOUT MORE THAN A DOZEN
YEARS AGO AND GOT SEVERAL
HUNDRED PAGES AT LEAST IN PENCIL
IN A MANUSCRIPT THAT I WAS
CALLING "THE CANADIAN FEELING."
HAVING NOT LIVED IN THIS COUNTRY
SINCE 1955 AND HAVING LIVED MOST
ALL THAT LIFE SINCE THEN IN
BRITAIN OR THE STATES, I BEGAN
TO ASK MYSELF HOW MUCH DID I
STILL FEEL CANADIAN AND WHY?
AND THAT LED TO AN EXPLORATION
OF A LOT OF FEELINGS WHEN I WAS
YOUNG AND FAMILY HISTORY AND ONE
THING AND ANOTHER.
AND THAT BECAME CONFUSED AND
BEDEVILLED BY CONTROVERSIES THAT
WERE GOING ON IN THIS COUNTRY AT
THE TIME AND I WAS MAKING ALL
KINDS OF NOTES, QUOTING PEOPLE
LIKE MEL HURTIG AND OTHERS ABOUT
THE LOSS OF CANADIAN SOVEREIGNTY
IN THE FREE TRADE AREA OR
N.A.F.T.A., AND I DIDN'T WANT...
IT DIDN'T FEEL COMFORTABLE TO ME
TO HAVE MY OWN STORY POLARIZED
BY PARTICULAR POLITICS.

The caption changes to "Robert MacNeil. Journalist. Author ‘Looking for My Country: Finding Myself in America."

Robert continues AND SO I PUT IT ASIDE AND WROTE
A NOVEL AND THEN I STARTED WORK
ON IT AGAIN, AND THEN A LOT OF
THE MATERIAL BECAME SORT OF
TRANSMUTED OR TRANSMOGRIFIED
INTO A NOVEL CALLED "THE
VOYAGE," WHICH WAS A NOVEL ABOUT
CANADIAN POLITICS AND A CANADIAN
DIPLOMAT, AND SO I PUT IT ASIDE
AGAIN.

The caption changes to "Recorded May 26, 2003."

Robert continues AND THEN I DECIDED SINCE I WAS
SO UNCERTAIN ABOUT ALL THESE
THINGS, I SHOULD CALL IT
"LOOKING FOR MY COUNTRY."
AND I GOT A CONTRACT WITH MY
PUBLISHER AND I STARTED TO WORK
ON IT BUT HAD A DEVIL OF A TIME
GETTING IT FOCUSSED, PUT IT
ASIDE AGAIN TO WRITE ANOTHER
NOVEL.
IN THE MEANTIME, I HAD LEFT THE
"NEWSHOUR" AND THEN, DISCUSSING
WITH MY WIFE WHERE WE WERE GOING
TO LIVE AFTER I RETIRED FROM THE
"NEWSHOUR," I SUDDENLY REALIZED,
LOOK, I LIVE IN NEW YORK, I
BELONG IN NEW YORK NOW, AND
WHILE I GO TO NOVA SCOTIA IN THE
SUMMER TIME, WE GO...
WHICH IS WHERE WE HAVE A PLACE,
I REALLY HAVE INVESTED SO MUCH
OF MYSELF IN THE STATES AND
AMERICANS IN ME, AND THAT'S
WHERE MOST OF MY FRIENDS ARE AND
FAMILY AND ASSOCIATIONS AND
MEMBERSHIPS AND EVERYTHING ELSE.
THAT'S WHERE I BELONG, AND IF
I'M GOING TO STAY HERE, THE
CHANCES ARE I'M GOING TO DIE IN
THE STATES, STATISTICALLY.

[Laughter]

Robert continues AND I REALLY
SHOULD BE A CITIZEN.
IT'S AN AWFUL LOT EASIER TO COME
AND GO AND EVERYTHING ELSE.
SO THAT'S WHEN...
AND WITH A TORTURED HISTORY WITH
THE IMMIGRATION AND
NATURALIZATION SERVICE, FINALLY
ACHIEVED THAT IN 1997.
COINCIDENTALLY, THE YEAR IN
WHICH THEY GAVE ME AN ORDER...
A MEMBERSHIP AS AN OFFICER IN
THE ORDER OF CANADA, WHICH IS
ALL A BIT WEIRD.

[Laughter]

Robert continues BUT I HAD
TAKEN PAINS TO ASCERTAIN
CAREFULLY FROM THE CANADIAN
AUTHORITIES THAT BECOMING AN
AMERICAN CITIZEN DID NOT
JEOPARDIZE MY CANADIAN
CITIZENSHIP, AND THAT COMFORTED
ME.
AND THE AMERICAN...
WHEN I IMMEDIATELY GOT MY
AMERICAN PASSPORT, IT SAID YOU
MAY HAVE DUAL CITIZENSHIP.
SO ANYWAY, THAT'S...
NOW.
THEN, SO I LIVED WITH THAT FOR
AWHILE, AND SEPTEMBER 11TH
HAPPENED, AND SUDDENLY I HAD A
NUMBER OF EMOTIONAL REACTIONS TO
THAT, WHICH I CAN DESCRIBE IN
MORE DETAIL IF YOU WANT, AND
THAT IS WHAT DECIDED ME, SORT OF
CRYSTALLIZED ALL THE THINGS I'D
BEEN TRYING TO SAY, AND DECIDED
ME TO WRITE THIS BOOK.
THE LONG WAY AROUND, I'M SORRY.

John says BUT THERE
WAS THIS GAP BETWEEN 1997 WHEN
YOU BECAME AN AMERICAN CITIZEN
AND OBVIOUSLY THE LONG LEAD-UP
TO THAT.

Robert says YEAH.

John says AND 2001
WHEN YOU UNDERSTOOD WHAT IT WAS
TO BE AN AMERICAN.

Robert says YEAH.

John says THAT WAS
CERTAINLY WHAT I GOT FROM THE
BOOK.

Robert says YEAH.
YEAH.
WELL, THE GAP WAS I JUST THINK
BECAUSE THIS CEREMONY, UNLIKE
THOSE THAT ARE SO OFTEN
DESCRIBED, THE CEREMONY OF
NATURALIZATION, WHICH ARE
EMOTIONAL AND MOVING AND, YOU
KNOW, SOME GREAT MUSICIAN LIKE
YASHA HAIFITZ COMES AND PLAYS
AND IT'S VERY...
AND IT'S MEMORABLE, THIS WAS A
TOTALLY ARID CEREMONY AMONG 800
OTHER PEOPLE IN A BORING
AUDITORIUM DOWN IN LOWER
MANHATTAN WAITING FOR AN HOUR
AND A HALF WITH SAPPY MUSIC
PIPED IN FROM SOME RADIO
STATION.
THERE WAS NOTHING MOVING ABOUT
IT AT ALL.
IT WAS ALL REALLY MECHANICAL, SO
I THOUGHT NOTHING PARTICULAR
ABOUT IT.
AND I FELT THAT THE WHOLE
EXERCISE HAD BEEN, YOU KNOW,
SORT OF PRAGMATIC AND PRACTICAL
AND THAT WAS IT, AND I HAD THE
AMERICAN PASSPORT, IT MADE IT
EASIER TO COME INTO THE COUNTRY
AND THAT WAS IT.
AND THEN SEPTEMBER 11TH GAVE ME
SUDDENLY A FEELING OF SHARING
THE VULNERABILITY OF THE PEOPLE
I LIVED AMONG, NEW YORKERS AND
AMERICANS, AND UNDERSTANDING IT
ALL BUT UNDERSTANDING IT ON TWO
LEVELS.
ONE WAS THE DERISIVE OR IRONIC
DISTANCE I HAD FROM MY CANADIAN
UPBRINGING AND BRITISH
ASSOCIATIONS MAINTAINED FOR
YEARS ABOUT AMERICA, THAT SORT
OF EXTRA BIT OF SKEPTICISM,
SEEMED TO EVAPORATE A LITTLE BIT
IN THE DAYS AFTER SEPTEMBER
11TH.
AND ALSO...
BUT ALSO ANOTHER THING HAPPENED.
I REALIZED THAT I STILL HAD MY
CANADIAN EAR, BECAUSE GEORGE
BUSH, A WEEK AFTER THE SEPTEMBER
11TH EVENTS, HELD A NEWS
CONFERENCE IN WHICH HE SAID I
CAN NEVER UNDERSTAND WHY OTHER
PEOPLE DON'T LIKE US.
LIKE MOST AMERICANS, I JUST
DON'T GET IT.
AND THEN HE ADDED, BECAUSE I
KNOW HOW GOOD WE ARE.

[laughter]

Robert continues IT'S
INTERESTING YOU LAUGH, BECAUSE
THAT'S EXACTLY IT.
"I KNOW HOW GOOD WE ARE."
THAT PHRASE BUZZED THROUGH MY
HEAD LIKE MANY TELEPHONE LINES
RINGING.
I KNOW HOW GOOD AMERICA IS.
I KNOW HOW GOOD IT'S BEEN TO ME,
AND I KNOW...
I CAN CALIBRATE, AS A JOURNALIST
WHO'S WATCHED IT FOR YEARS, HOW
GOOD IT'S BEEN TO ITS OWN
PEOPLE, RELATIVELY, HOW GOOD
IT'S BEEN TO THE REST OF THE
WORLD AND NOT GOOD.
I ALSO KNOW THAT THE PHRASE...
THE STATEMENT "I KNOW HOW GOOD
WE ARE" IS A LOGIC UNASSAILABLE
TO MOST AMERICAN CITIZENS.
IT IS...
THERE IS NO IRONY IN IT AND IT
IS REVEALED TRUTH.
BUT I ALSO NOW HOW THE STATEMENT
WOULD BE HEARD BY PEOPLE OUTSIDE
AMERICA, EVEN BY AMERICA'S
CLOSEST FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS,
CANADIANS, AND IT WOULD BE HEARD
BY THE LEAST PARANOID WITH A
KIND OF SARDONIC HUMOUR AND A
KIND OF THERE YOU GO AGAIN.

[Laughter]

Robert continues BUT BY THE
LESS CHARITABLE AS THERE, THAT'S
SO AMERICAN, THERE YOU ARE,
BOASTFUL, NAIVE, INGENUOUS, AND
IT WOULD PLAY A LITTLE CURRENT
ALONG THE SYNAPSES OF ANTI-
AMERICANISM THAT EXIST IN THE
NERVOUS SYSTEMS OF MANY PEOPLES,
INCLUDING CANADIANS, BECAUSE A
LITTLE CURRENT OF ANTI-
AMERICANISM IS PART OF CANADA'S
SELF-DEFINITION.
WHAT ARE CANADIANS?
THEY ARE ALL THE THINGS THEY ARE
BUT THEY ARE NOT AMERICANS.
SO I THOUGHT MAYBE I COULD,
THROUGH MY OWN PERSONAL
EXPERIENCE AND MY OWN PERSONAL
PSYCHOLOGICAL JOURNEY, HELP TO
EXPLAIN WHY THE REST OF THE
WORLD HAS THIS AMBIVALENT
ATTITUDE TO THE UNITED STATES...
AND IT'S I THINK ESPECIALLY
MEANINGFUL THAT WE'RE DISCUSSING
THIS RIGHT NOW...
WHICH FLARES UP AT TIMES AND
THEN RELAXES AT TIMES, AS THE
COUNTRY ADMIRES AMERICA FOR ITS
EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENTS AND
THE BASIC IDEALISM ON WHICH IT
WAS FOUNDED AND NOTICES HOW WELL
IT HAS, IN CONSIDERABLE MEASURE,
LIVED UP TO THOSE IDEALS WHILE
RESERVING THE RIGHT TO BE
CRITICAL OF AMERICA WHEN IT
FALLS SHORT OF THOSE IDEALS AND
IS SELFISH, SELF-INTERESTED,
SWAGGERING, YOU KNOW, BULLYING,
WHATEVER IT CAN BE AT TIMES.
AND SO I THOUGHT THAT I COULD
DO, AND THROUGH MY PERSONAL
STORY AND MY PERSONAL
UNDERSTANDING OF THIS DUALITY,
EXPLAIN SOMETHING.

John says IT'S
INTERESTING THE EMOTIONS THAT
YOU FEEL AND THAT YOU REPRESENT
SO WELL IN THE BOOK.
THE TIME THAT YOU CAN WEEP IS
THE TIME WHEN THAT FIREMAN COMES
UP TO YOU AND HUGS YOU AFTER
THE...
EMBRACES YOU AFTER 9-11.

Robert says YEAH.

John says THAT'S
WHEN YOU CAN ACTUALLY IDENTIFY
WITH WHAT AMERICA IS
EMOTIONALLY.

Robert says YEAH.

John says IT SEEMS
TO ME THAT ONE OF THE...
IT IS APPROPRIATE THAT YOU'RE
HERE AT THIS PARTICULAR TIME,
BECAUSE RELATIONSHIPS HAVE NOT
BEEN STRAINED AS THEY ARE NOW
FOR SOME TIME.
I'D LIKE TO TAKE YOU ONE STEP
BEYOND WHAT YOU TALK ABOUT IN
THE BOOK; THEN WE CAN GO ON BACK
TO TALKING ABOUT THE BOOK, IF
YOU LIKE.
BUT THE BOOK REALLY ENDS WITH
SEPTEMBER THE 11TH.
THAT IS THE CLIMAX OF THE BOOK,
THE CLIMAX OF YOUR JOURNEY, YOUR
REAL HOMECOMING TO YOURSELF AS
AN AMERICAN.
WHAT HAS THE IRAQ ADVENTURE
DONE, IF ANYTHING, TO CHANGE
YOUR MIND ABOUT THAT OR TO
CHANGE THE READINESS WITH WHICH
YOU WEEP ABOUT AMERICA?

Robert says IT HASN'T
CHANGED AT ALL.
AND BY THAT I MEAN PART OF THE
PROCESS, AS I SAY HERE...
I TEND TO SAY "PROCESS" IN THE
STATES.

People in the audience laugh.

Robert continues PART OF THE
PROCESS OF ARRIVING WHERE YOU'VE
DESCRIBED ME ARRIVING AND I'VE
DESCRIBED...
AND THIS TOOK A VERY LONG TIME,
AND IT TOOK AN INTIMATE
ASSOCIATION IN PARTICULAR IN THE
LAST 20 YEARS OF MY WORKING ON
THE "NEWSHOUR" WITH THE STAFF
WHO WERE MY PERSONAL FRIENDS AND
WITH WHOM I SHARED ALL MY OWN
GRIEFS AND JOYS AND THEY WITH
ME, AND THAT'S WHEN DURING THAT
20 YEARS...
AND PARTICULARLY MY VERY CLOSE
FRIENDSHIP WITH JIM LEHRER...
I BECAME TO...
I CAME TO UNDERSTAND AMERICANS
IN THE HUMAN REALITY AND LESS IN
THE ABSTRACTIONS I'D BEEN
DEALING WITH, PARTLY FROM MY
UPBRINGING, PARTLY FROM MY
EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS, SEEING THE
WORLD THROUGH AN...
SEEING AMERICA THROUGH AN
OUTSIDE PRISM.
AND ONE OF THE EPIPHANIES THAT
FINALLY CAME TO ME SO BELATEDLY
WAS THAT FOREIGNERS AND
IMMIGRANTS TO AMERICA, BUT
PARTICULARLY FOREIGNERS, TEND TO
SEE AN ADMINISTRATION OF THE
DAY, IF THEY DON'T LIKE IT, AS
THE KIND OF GREAT SATAN, AND
THEY PERSONIFY EVERYTHING.
THEY SEE EVERYTHING AMERICAN
THAT IS NEGATIVE IN THAT
ADMINISTRATION PERSONIFYING THE
WHOLE NATION.
AND THOSE WHO ARE CITIZENS OF
THE COUNTRY, WHO MAY FEEL
EXACTLY AS THE FOREIGNERS FEEL
ABOUT THE PARTICULAR POLICIES
AND ACTIVITIES OF THEIR
GOVERNMENT AT THE MOMENT, KNOW
HOWEVER IRRITATING OR REVOLTING
THEY ARE TO THEM, THEY KNOW THAT
THIS IS A PASSING PHENOMENON,
THEY CAN WORK AGAINST IT IN
ELECTIONS AND WHATEVER, AND THAT
APPLIES TO CURRENT MAJORITIES ON
THE SUPREME COURT OR MAJORITIES
THAT COME AND GO IN CONGRESS,
AND THAT EVENTUALLY THAT WILL
PASS AND THAT THE FUNDAMENTAL
VALUES OF THE COUNTRY REMAIN
UNCHANGED.
AND THAT UNDERSTANDING, TO ME,
RELIEVED ME A LOT OF THE RATHER
SORT OF SIMPLISTIC ATTITUDE I
HAD HAD AS AN OUTSIDER.
AND ALL OF MY CLOSE FRIENDS IN
THE STATES ARE PROBABLY...
HAVE LIVED THROUGH THE PERIODS
OF AMERICAN HISTORY WITH
ADMINISTRATIONS IN THE LAST 40,
50 YEARS THAT THEY DIDN'T LIKE
WITH THAT UNDERSTANDING.
AND THAT HELPED ME A LOT TO
ARRIVE WHERE I AM.
SO I DON'T FEEL DIFFERENTLY
ABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON NOW OR
ABOUT MY DECISION BECAUSE OF
WHAT'S GOING ON NOW.
THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS THE
BUSH ADMINISTRATION IS DOING
THAT I PERSONALLY DEPLORE, BUT
SO DO MOST OF MY FRIENDS AND SO
DO MILLIONS OF OTHER AMERICANS.
THEY'VE BEEN RELATIVELY
QUIESCENT ABOUT IT, ALTHOUGH
IT'S BEGINNING TO CHANGE NOW,
AND SO HAS THE PRESS AND SO HAS
THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
I THINK WE'RE BEGINNING TO SEE
THE BUBBLING UP OF THE MAGMA
UNDER THE MAGMA IN THAT VOLCANO.
WHETHER IT WILL BE EFFECTED IN
THE END BY THE ELECTION NEXT
YEAR, I DON'T KNOW.
SO THAT IS WHY I DON'T REGRET OR
FEEL DIFFERENTLY.
I MEAN, I'VE ASKED MYSELF,
BECAUSE I KNOW...
I KNOW.
I HAVE ENOUGH CONTACT WITH
CANADA AND BEING HERE THIS WEEK,
I KNOW THAT THIS IS A MOMENT, AT
LEAST IN MY MEMORY, WHEN
CANADIANS FEEL MORE
NEGATIVELY...
MANY CANADIANS DO, NOT ALL, BUT
MANY...
ABOUT THE UNITED STATES THAN
THEY HAVE IN ANY TIME THAT I CAN
REMEMBER.
BUT, BELIEVE ME, SO DO A LOT OF
AMERICANS FEEL ABOUT THE
POLICIES THAT ARE ANNOYING
PEOPLE.

John says WELL, I
HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT JUST FROM
WHAT YOU'VE JUST SAID AS WELL AS
FROM THE BOOK, YOU ARE YOUR
MOTHER'S SON.

Robert chuckles.

John continues YOU PAINT
A WONDERFUL PORTRAIT OF HER IN
THE BOOK WITH HER DISLIKE OF
CANADIAN MARMALADE AND HER LOVE
OF ALL THINGS ENGLISH.
THAT ENGLISH ADMINISTRATIONS
WILL COME AND GO AND QUEENS WILL
COME AND GO AND THEY'LL DIE OFF
AND NEW ONES WILL COME ON, BUT
THERE IS THE SPIRIT OF ENGLAND
WHICH WILL NEVER GO AWAY. YOU
ECHO SOME OF THAT SENTIMENT
IN WHAT YOU SAY ABOUT AMERICA,
TO MY EARS, ANYWAY.

Robert says YEAH.
IT IS...

John says COULD YOU
TALK ABOUT YOUR MOTHER A BIT?

[Laughter]

Robert says YEAH.

John says BECAUSE I
FOUND HER JUST ABOUT THE MOST
CHARMING CHARACTER IN THIS BOOK.

Robert says WELL, MY
MOTHER WAS BORN AND GREW UP IN
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA, AND SHE
HAD AS A FATHER A NOVA SCOTIAN
WHO WAS OF SWISS DESCENT OF THE
SWISS PROTESTANTS WHO WERE
BROUGHT OVER ALONG WITH A LOT OF
GERMANS IN 1750 TO BALANCE THE
FRENCH CATHOLIC POPULATION OF
NOVA SCOTIA, AND HER MOTHER WAS
A WOMAN, A SOUTHERN BELLE, FROM
CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE, AND
DEFINITELY A STEEL MAGNOLIA, AS
WE WOULD CALL HER TODAY.
AND SHE AND MY MOTHER WERE AT
LOGGERHEADS ALL THE TIME THEY
WERE BOTH TOGETHER.
AND THEY FOUGHT AND SCRAPPED
LIKE TWO CATS IN A BAG, AND IT
IS TO THAT THAT I ATTRIBUTE MY
MOTHER'S SORT OF REFLEXIVE ANTI-
AMERICANISM.
SHE DISLIKED EVERYTHING AMERICAN
WHEN WE WERE GROWING UP, FROM
THE WAY AMERICAN KIDS WERE
RAISED TO THE WAY AMERICANS CUT
LITTLE BOYS' HAIR, SHE WOULD
SAY, WITH THAT DISGUSTING SWIRL
OVER THE FOREHEAD, THE SORT OF
LITTLE POMPADOUR.

[Laughter]

Robert continues TO THE
MOUSTACHES THAT...
WE WERE A NAVY FAMILY DURING THE
WAR...
TO THE MOUSTACHES THAT AMERICAN
NAVAL OFFICERS WORE, CONSIDERED
VERY UN-NAUTICAL IN THE CANADIAN
AND BRITISH NAVIES, TO THE CUT
OF AMERICAN OFFICERS' NAVAL
JACKETS, WHICH MADE THEIR
BOTTOMS TOO BIG.
THUS MY MOTHER ON THE MIGHT OF
THE AMERICAN NAVY.

John laughs.

Robert continues AND IT WAS A
LOT OF SORT OF LINGERING, HALF-
AMUSING AND HALF-BITER ANTI-
AMERICANISM.
WE SANG WHEN WE WERE GROWING UP
AS ONE OF THE VERSES OF
"MADEMOISELLE FROM
ARMENTIERS"...

Robert sings THE AMERICANS SAID THEY WON
THE WAR,
PARLEZ VOUS
THE AMERICANS SAID THEY WON
THE WAR,
PARLEZ VOUS

He says THE AMERICANS SAID THEY WON
THE WAR BUT THE BRITISH HAD DONE
IT YEARS BEFORE

He continues signing INKY DINKY
PARLEZ
VOUS .

[Laughter]

Robert continues THESE WERE...
ALL THESE...
IN MY MEMORIES, THE ATMOSPHERE I
GREW UP IN, THEY EVEN CRITICIZED
AMERICANS FOR WELDING THEIR
WARSHIPS, WHEREAS BRITISH SHIPS
WERE RIVETTED.

[Laughter]

Robert continues AND THEY WERE
STRONGER.
NOW, WELDING IS A GREAT
ADVANCEMENT IN SHIPBUILDING, IT
MAKES FOR MUCH MORE RAPID
SHIPBUILDING, AND MY FATHER EVEN
WAS GIVEN THE COMMAND OF ONE OF
THE AMERICAN FOUR-STACKER
DESTROYERS THAT HAD COME FROM
THE FIRST WORLD WAR.
IT WAS FULL OF...
THE THING THAT REALLY GOT ME
WHEN I THOUGHT ABOUT IT LATER
WAS THEY CRITICIZED AMERICAN
NAVY OFFICERS, OF WHOM THERE
WERE SWARMS IN HALIFAX, AS THERE
WERE OF EVERY NAVY DURING THE
SECOND WORLD WAR, FOR, IN SUMMER
TIME, WHEN THEY PUT ON THEIR
WHITE CAPS, WEARING PLASTIC
COVERS OVER THEM TO KEEP THE
RAIN OFF.
LOOK AT THEM, THEY'RE SAYING,
THEY'RE WEARING FRENCH SAFES.

[Laughter]

Robert continues I HAVE TO
EXPLAIN "FRENCH SAFES" TO AN
AMERICAN AUDIENCE.
BUT ANYWAY, IT WAS ABSURD, AND
MY FATHER WAS FAR MORE TOLERANT
OF AMERICANS AND HE LOVED
AMERICAN WRITING, PARTICULARLY
HEMINGWAY, AND DURING THE WAR,
HE USED THE NAMES OF DAMON
RUNYAN CHARACTERS AS NICKNAMES
FOR THE CAPTAINS OF OTHER SHIPS
ON THE CONVOY ESCORTS WHEN THEY
WERE SIGNALLING TO EACH OTHER.
BUT THERE WAS MY MOTHER, THIS,
UH...
THIS, UH, ABJECT ANGLOPHILE.

John laughs.

Robert continues AND KNEE-JERK
ANTI-AMERICANISM.
ONCE, MY BROTHER...
WHO ENDED UP VERY SENIOR IN THE
CANADIAN NAVY.
ONCE, MY BROTHER SAID TO HER,
BUT, MOM, WHY ARE YOU SO ANGRY
AT AMERICANS?
YOUR OWN MOTHER WAS AMERICAN,
AND MY MOTHER WOULD SAY, SHE
WASN'T AMERICAN, SHE WAS
SOUTHERN.

[Laughter]

Robert continues AS THAT
EXPLAINED A LOT.
Looking at John, he says ANYWAY, THAT WAS THAT
BACKGROUND.

John says WELL, I
THINK THAT DO YOU CONSIDER
YOURSELF AN AMERICANO-PHILE IN
THE SAME WAY THAT YOUR MOTHER
WAS A BRITISH...
BRITO-PHILE?

Robert says NO.
NO, I'M NOT.
I WAS, LIKE HER, AN ANGLOPHILE
FOR A LONG TIME AND I SORT OF
MIGRATED FIRST TO ENGLAND,
BECAUSE IT SEEMED TO BE THE
FOUNTAINHEAD OF EVERYTHING AND I
FELL IN LOVE WITH IT.
I ADD ALMOST AS A CHILD, BECAUSE
WE READ SO MANY BRITISH STORIES,
THAT THE BRITISH SEEMED TO BE
MORE INTERESTING BECAUSE THEY
WERE WRITTEN ABOUT.
THEY WERE THE SUBJECT OF
LITERATURE.
WE CANADIANS WERE NOT THE
SUBJECT OF LITERATURE IN THE
TIME WHEN I WAS GROWING UP.
THE STORIES WE READ IN THE BOOKS
WERE ALL AMERICAN OR BRITISH OR
FRENCH OR WHATEVER.
AND I DEVELOPED THE IDEA THAT
YOU...
YOU KNOW, TO BE THE SUBJECT OF
LITERATURE OR TO HAVE THE KIND
OF ADVENTURES THAT PEOPLE HAD IN
BOOKS YOU HAD TO LIVE IN ANOTHER
COUNTRY, AND THE FIRST ONE I
CHOSE WAS BRITAIN, GOING THERE
HOPING TO BE A PLAYWRIGHT.
AND THEN THE PLAYS DID NOT
EXACTLY ELECTRIFY THE BRITISH
THEATRE, ALTHOUGH I GOT SOME
ENCOURAGEMENT AND I BECAME A
JOURNALIST.
BUT I DID REALLY FEEL VERY MUCH
AT HOME IN ENGLAND FOR A LONG
TIME.
AND THEN I FINALLY...
IF I COULD JUST EXPLAIN THIS A
LITTLE BIT FURTHER.

John says SURE.

Robert says I WENT THERE
IN TWO BATCHES.
I LIVED IN BRITAIN FOR 16 YEARS
ALTOGETHER, AND I FINALLY
REALIZED THAT WHAT I HAD TO DO
GROWING UP IN THE LAST
GENERATION TO GROW UP IN CANADA
I THINK IN THE KIND OF TWILIGHT
OF COLONIALISM, AND ESPECIALLY
WITH THE INFLUENCE OF MY MOTHER,
KIND OF IN THIS THRALLDOM TO
THESE PEOPLE, AND THE SENSE THAT
THE...
ALL OUR...
THE LINES CONNECTING OUR HEARTS
AND OUR MINDS RAN TO LONDON.
AND IT TOOK ME ALL THAT TIME IN
BRITAIN IN TWO DIFFERENT BATCHES
TO DE-COLONIALIZE MYSELF.
I REMEMBER V.S. NAIPAUL, THE
AUTHOR I ADMIRE ENORMOUSLY,
HAS...
IN HIS WONDERFUL NOVEL SET IN
TRINIDAD "A HOUSE FOR
MISTER BISWAS," HE HAS A SCENE
WHERE THIS INDIAN, TRINIDADIAN
OF EAST INDIAN DECENT, FEELING
SO BRITISH, GETS ON HIS BICYCLE
TO GO TO THE CRICKET MATCH ON
THE SAVANNAH IN PORT OF SPAIN
WEARING HIS TWEED SUIT WITH HIS
BICYCLE CLIPS ON AND HIS ROLLED
UMBRELLA AND HIS FLAT 50 TIN OF
STATE EXPRESS OR WHATEVER THE
CIGARETTES WERE, IN HIS SUIT
POCKET AND GOES THERE AND SITS
IN THE STANDS, WATCHES THE
CRICKET AND FEELS SO BRITISH.
I PLAYED CRICKET AT SCHOOL IN
CANADA.
I LEARNED IN THE CANADIAN BOY
SCOUTS...
THIS IS AMAZING NOW.
I LEARNED IN THE CANADIAN BOY
SCOUTS IN THE EARLY 1940'S THAT
TO FLY THE UNION JACK UPSIDE
DOWN WAS THE SIGN OR THE SIGNAL
OF DISTRESS.
THE UNION JACK!
ANYWAY, IN THE EARLY '70'S, WHEN
I WAS IN MY SECOND BATCH OF TIME
THERE, I WAS WORKING FOR THE
B.B.C. AND I DID A PROFILE OF
THE BRITISH POLITICIAN ENOCH
POWELL, WHO WAS AT THE TIME
WIDELY CONSIDERED RACIST BECAUSE
HE WAS TRYING TO WHIP UP SUPPORT
FOR LEGISLATION THAT WOULD
RESTRICT NON-WHITE IMMIGRATION,
OR MIGRATION, TO BRITAIN.
AND I DID THIS HOUR-LONG PROFILE
OF HIM FOR THE B.B.C. PROGRAM
"PANORAMA," AND IN AN INTERVIEW,
LONG INTERVIEW WITH HIM, I SAID
AT ONE POINT, I ASKED HIM HOW HE
WOULD ENVISAGE SUCH-AND-SUCH IN
THE FUTURE, AND HE SAID YOU
DON'T MEAN "ENVISAGE," YOU MEAN
"ENVISION."
AND I SAID, NO, I THOUGHT I
MEANT "ENVISAGE."
AND HE SAID, THAT JUST SHOWS
YOUR COLONIAL EDUCATION.

[Laughter]

Robert continues I WAS REALLY
PISSED.

[Laughter]

Robert smiles and continues THAT EXCHANGE
ENDED UP ON THE CUTTING ROOM
FLOOR.
[Laughter]

Robert continues BUT HE HAD
PRICKED SOMETHING IN ME, AND I
REALIZED THAT BY HAVING
SUCCEEDED AT THAT MOST BRITISH
INSTITUTION, THE B.B.C., THAT I
HAD KIND OF CLEANSED MYSELF OF
WHAT AUSTRALIANS HAVE CALLED FOR
YEARS "THE COLONIAL CRINGE."
I DIDN'T NEED ANY LONGER TO FEEL
IN ANY WAY SOME KIND OF COLONIAL
INFERIORITY, AND TO HELL WITH
ENOCH POWELL.
AND IT WAS THEN THAT I FINALLY
SAID I'M REALLY A NORTH
AMERICAN.
I LOVE IT HERE, BUT I'M REALLY A
NORTH AMERICAN.
I JUST DON'T...
IT FELT CONSTRAINED AND
CONSTRICTED...
CONSTRAINING AND CONSTRICTIVE IN
ENGLAND, AND THAT WAS AN
IMPORTANT TURNING POINT FOR ME.

John says SURE.

Robert says I'M A VERY
LATE DEVELOPER IN MANY WAYS.
IT TAKES ME A LONG TIME TO FIND
THINGS OUT, AND I'M NOT AT ALL
SURE THAT IN THIS BOOK I HAVE
REALLY TOTALLY UNDERSTOOD ALL
THIS PROCESS.

John says WELL, I
THINK THE BOOK IS AN INQUIRY OF
THAT KIND.

Robert says YES.

John says I MEAN,
IT'S A SEARCH FOR MEANINGS OF
THAT KIND.
BUT IT SEEMS TO ME THAT ALONG
THE WAY YOU HAVE REALLY HAD SOME
REMARKABLE EXPERIENCES THAT YOU
RETELL IN THE BOOK AND THAT SEEM
TO BE...

Robert drinks a bottle of water.

John continues SEEM TO ME TO BE PIVOTAL IN YOUR
GROWING SELF-DEFINITION AS AN
AMERICAN, EVEN LONG BEFORE YOU
BECAME AN AMERICAN, AND I THINK
OF ONE PARTICULAR INSTANCE THAT
IS QUITE FAMOUS ABOUT YOU AND
THAT YOU DO TALK ABOUT
EXTENSIVELY IN THE BOOK IS THE
KENNEDY ASSASSINATION.

Robert says YES.

John says I WONDER
IF YOU COULD TALK ABOUT HOW IT
FELT AT THE TIME TO BE PRESENT
AT THAT INCREDIBLE EVENT.

Robert says WELL, IT FELT
A NUMBER OF THINGS.
I WAS WORKING FOR N.B.C. AND I
WAS SENT AS A NUMBER TWO WHITE
HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AND THROUGH
A SERIES OF ACCIDENTS I DID THE
TEXAS TRIP WITH THE KENNEDYS,
AND I WAS IN THE FIRST OF TWO
PRESS BUSES RIGHT UP FRONT IN
THE MOTORCADE, AND WHEN THE
SHOTS WERE FIRED, I WAS SIX CARS
BEHIND THE PRESIDENT.
HIS CAR AND A COUPLE OF OTHERS
HAD ALREADY TURNED THE CORNER TO
GO...
ON DEALEY PLAZA TO GO DOWN UNDER
THE UNDERPASS.
AND WHEN THE THIRD...
WE HEARD ONE SHOT OR ONE BANG
AND WE ALL SAID WHAT WAS THAT?
WAS THAT A FIRECRACKER, WAS IT A
BACKFIRE, WAS IT A SHOT?
AND WHILE THERE WAS TIME FOR US
TO SAY THAT TO EACH OTHER AND
THERE WERE TWO MORE BANGS CLOSE
TOGETHER, AND I SAID, THOSE ARE
SHOTS!
AND I SAID TO THE BUS DRIVER,
STOP THE BUS!
AND HE STOPPED THE BUS, OPENED
THE DOOR, I GOT OUT, HE CLOSED
THE DOOR AND DROVE ON, AND
IMMEDIATELY I KNEW THAT
SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY HAD
HAPPENED, BECAUSE THE AIR WAS
FILLED WITH THE MOST
UNBELIEVABLE SCREAMING.
AND I RAN AROUND THE CORNER TO
SEE AND THEN NOTICED THE PEOPLE
RUNNING UP WHAT BECAME KNOWN AS
THE GRASSY KNOLL.
AND THERE WERE POLICEMEN AND
CIVILIANS.
AND SO THINKING THEY WERE
CHASING SOME GUY WHO'D FIRED A
GUN AS A KIND OF DEMONSTRATION,
I RAN WITH THEM.
AND WE GOT TO THE TOP AND
STOPPED BY THE FENCE, AND
EVERYBODY LOOKED AROUND A BIT,
AND THEN A POLICEMAN WENT OVER
THE FENCE AND I WENT OVER THE
FENCE WITH HIM, AND THERE WAS
NOTHING THERE, JUST EMPTY
RAILWAY TRACKS STRETCHING AWAY
AND NO SIGN OF ANY PERSON.
SO THEN I THOUGHT I'D BETTER
CALL N.B.C. AND TELL THEM ABOUT
THE SHOTS, AND I WENT LOOKING
FOR A PHONE, AND THE FIRST
BUILDING I CAME TO THAT LOOKED
AS THOUGH IT MIGHT HAVE A
TELEPHONE WAS THE TEXAS SCHOOL
BOOK DEPOSITORY.
I DIDN'T KNOW IT HAD ANYTHING TO
DO WITH ANYTHING.
I RAN UP THE STEPS.
AS I DID, A YOUNG MAN IN
SHIRTSLEEVES CAME OUT, AND I
SAID CAN YOU TELL ME WHERE
THERE'S A PHONE, AND HE SAID
YOU'D BETTER ASK INSIDE AND I
DID.
AND I GOT A PHONE AND I CALLED
N.B.C. AND I DID A BULLETIN ON
THE SHOTS BEING FIRED, SAYING
PEOPLE SCREAMED AND LAY DOWN ON
THE GRASS.
PEOPLE CHASED AN UNKNOWN GUNMAN
UP A GRASSY SLOPE.
IT IS NOT KNOWN IF THE SHOTS
WERE DIRECTED AT THE PRESIDENT.
I WAS STILL RECENTLY OUT OF WIRE
SERVICE AND TAKING THAT
PRECAUTION.
ANYWAY, I CAME OUTSIDE, A
POLICEMAN STOPPED ME, AND JUST
AS HE DID AND I IDENTIFIED
MYSELF, A LITTLE BLACK BOY OF
ABOUT EIGHT OR NINE CAME UP AND
SAID TO BOTH OF US, MISTER, I
SEEN A MAN WITH A GUN UP IN THE
WINDOW THERE, AND AT THE SAME
TIME A WOMAN, VERY DISTRAUGHT,
CALM UP AND SAID, HE WASN'T
HURT, WAS HE?
AND I SAID, WELL, I DON'T THINK
SO, AND THE POLICEMAN SAID, YES,
MA'AM, HE WAS HURT BAD.
AND WE WENT OVER TO HIS
MOTORCYCLE AND THE RADIO WAS
SAYING SEVERE HEAD WOUNDS, TAKEN
TO PARKLAND HOSPITAL, AND I
THOUGHT, OH, MY GOD, I'M
SUPPOSED TO BE COVERING THE
PRESIDENT AND HERE I AM CHASING
AROUND.
I RAN SEVERAL STREETS AWAY, GOT
A CAR TO STOP, GOT THE GUY TO
DRIVE ME TO THE HOSPITAL, DID
ANOTHER BULLETIN ON THE WAY FROM
THE GAS STATION, EVENTUALLY GOT
TO THE HOSPITAL, GOT INTO THE
EMERGENCY ROOM, GOT A PHONE,
BECAUSE THE REST OF THE PRESS
HAD BEEN DIVERTED TO WHERE THE
LUNCH WAS TO HAVE HAPPENED.
GOT A PHONE AND HELD ONTO THAT
PHONE ALL AFTERNOON.
SO I KEPT LEAVING IT IN THE
CHARGE OF DOCTORS OR ORDERLIES
OR INTERNS WHILE I WENT OFF TO
FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION,
TRYING TO FIND OUT WHETHER
KENNEDY WAS DEAD, INTERVIEWING
THE PRIEST WHO DELIVERED THE
LAST RITES, TRYING TO STOP
PRESIDENT JOHNSON AS HE CAME OUT
WITH HIS SECRET SERVICE ESCORT,
EVENTUALLY SEEING MRS. KENNEDY
COME OUT WITH THE BLOOD SKILL IN
HER SKIRT AND HER HAND ON THE
COFFIN.
AND AFTER THEY'D GONE, IT
OCCURRED...
YOU KNOW, IT CAME OUT THAT A MAN
WHO'D WORKED AT THE BOOK
DEPOSITORY HAD LEFT THE BUILDING
RIGHT AFTER THE SHOOTING AND HAD
BEEN ARRESTED AFTER KILLING A
POLICEMAN, AND I THOUGHT, GEE,
THAT WAS STRANGE, BECAUSE THAT'S
THE BUILDING I WENT INTO.
I WAS AT THE POLICE STATION THAT
NIGHT AND I SAW OSWALD TWICE AT
CLOSE QUARTERS BEING LED BACK
AND FORTH WITH THE BIG BRUISE IN
HIS EYE WHERE HE'D BEEN HIT WHEN
HE RESISTED ARREST, AND HE
DIDN'T...
NOTHING STRUCK ME AS FAMILIAR
ABOUT HIM.
THAT'S WHEN HE WAS SAYING I'M
JUST A PATSY.
I DIDN'T KILL ANYONE.
AND ANYWAY, ALL THAT WENT ON.
A YEAR AND A HALF LATER, I WAS
IN NEW YORK, AND WILLIAM
MANCHESTER, WHO WAS COMPLETING
THE BOOK "THE DEATH OF THE
PRESIDENT," WHICH AT THAT TIME
WAS THE DEFINITIVE BOOK ON THE
ASSASSINATION, SAID...
CALLED ME AND SAID HE'D BEEN
OVER THE GROUND SECOND BY SECOND
AND WAS CONVINCED THAT IT WAS
LEE HARVEY OSWALD I'D ASKED FOR
A PHONE ON THE STEPS, COULD I
CONFIRM IT?
WELL, I COULDN'T.
HE SAID THAT OSWALD HAD BEEN
INTERVIEWED BY THE SECRET
SERVICE THAT NIGHT AND HAD SAID
THAT AS HE WAS LEAVING THE
BUILDING, A YOUNG BLOND, CREW
CUT SECRET SERVICEMAN RAN UP THE
STEPS AND ASKED HIM FOR A PHONE,
AND I WAS YOUNG, BLOND, SHORT
HAIRCUT, WHITE, GREY SUIT, WHITE
HOUSE PRESS BADGE.
ANYWAY, MANCHESTER SAYS THAT
OSWALD MISTOOK ME FOR A SECRET
SERVICEMAN.
ANYWAY, IT'S SEVERAL PLACES IN
THE BOOK.
WHAT INTRIGUES ME ABOUT ALL
THAT...
THAT IS ALL KIND OF WEIRD, BUT
WHAT REALLY INTRIGUES ME ABOUT
IT IS TWO THINGS.
ONE, ON THE WAY INTO TOWN WHEN
THE CROWDS WERE SPARSE AND I WAS
VERY TIRED AND THERE WASN'T MUCH
TO LOOK AT, I HAD A LITTLE
DAYDREAM, AND IN MY DAYDREAM, I
SAID, WHAT IF SOMEBODY TOOK A
SHOT AT KENNEDY?
I WOULD GET OUT OF THE BUS AND
I'D RUN AFTER THE GUNMAN.
THEN I KIND OF SHOOK MY HEAD AND
SAID THIS IS CRAZY, COME ON, GET
BACK TO WORK, AND I GOT MY
NOTEBOOK OUT.
WHEN THE SHOTS...
REAL SHOTS WERE FIRED, I DID
EXACTLY AS I HAD IN THE DREAM AS
THOUGH I HAD PROGRAMMED MYSELF
TO DO THAT.
THAT WAS ONE THING.
THE OTHER THING IS THIS: I'VE
NEVER HEARD ANY EVIDENCE SOUND
ENOUGH OR SOLID ENOUGH TO
CONTRADICT THE FINDINGS OF THE
WARREN COMMISSION THAT OSWALD
DID IT.
BUT WHY DID THE POLICEMEN AND
THOSE OTHERS RUN UP THE GRASSY
KNOLL?
DALLAS CITY POLICEMAN MUST HAVE
BEEN EXPERIENCED AS ANYBODY IN
THE WORLD AT HEARING GUNSHOTS
ECHO OFF TALL BUILDINGS IN THE
URBAN ENVIRONMENT.
WHY DID THEY RUN UP THERE?
AMONG THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES
ARE IDEAS THAT THERE WAS ANOTHER
GUNMAN ON THE OVERPASS THERE AND
DID THEY HEAR SOMETHING THAT
SUGGESTED THERE WAS A GUNMAN?
I DON'T KNOW.
THAT'S WHY I RAN UP THERE,
BECAUSE THEY DID, AND WHY DID
THEY RUN UP THERE?
IT'S THE OPEN QUESTION IN MY
MIND ABOUT THAT STORY.
HOW DID I FEEL ABOUT IT?
FOR DAYS, FOR THREE DAYS, ALL I
COULD FEEL WAS MY HEART POUNDING
AND MY THOUGHTS COMING LIKE
TRYING TO SQUEEZE DRIED
TOOTHPASTE OUT OF A TUBE.
GOD, WHAT, STORY, GOD, WHAT A
STORY, HOW DO I GET IT OUT, WHAT
DO I SAY?
AND YOU CAN HEAR A LOT OF THAT
AND YOU WILL HEAR IT AGAIN ON
THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY, WHICH IS
THIS NOVEMBER, BECAUSE A and E IN
THE STATES HAS THE N.B.C. TAPES
AT THAT TIME, AND YOU CAN HEAR A
LOT OF MY STRUGGLING TO EXPLAIN
ALL THIS FROM THE PAYPHONE IN
THE HOSPITAL IN DALLAS.
ANYWAY, THE MORNING OF THE
FUNERAL, ON THE MONDAY AFTER THE
FRIDAY, I WAS STILL IN DALLAS
AND WE WERE SHOOTING FOR N.B.C.
"HUNTLEY-BRINKLEY REPORT."
WE WERE SHOOTING THE REACTIONS
OF PEOPLE WHO HAD COME TO VISIT
THE LITTLE SHRINE THAT HAD BEGUN
ON THE GRASS.
PEOPLE...
THIS IS THE FIRST INSTANCE OF
THIS THAT I CAN REMEMBER.
THEY LEFT BOUQUETS AND LITTLE
NOTES, AND PEOPLE CAME LOOKING
AT THOSE AND WE WERE SHOOTING
THEM, AND AN OLD MAN CAME AND
SAT DOWN ON THE PARAPET BESIDE
US AND HE HAD TRANSISTOR RADIO,
AND HE PUT THE TRANSISTOR RADIO
DOWN, AND JUST AT THAT MOMENT,
THE BLACK WATCH PIPE BAND PASSED
THE MICROPHONES IN THE FUNERAL
PARADE IN WASHINGTON.
AND HEARING THE PIPES, I
SUDDENLY DISSOLVED IN TEARS AND
I WAS STANDING THERE SOBBING,
AND IT ALL CAUGHT UP WITH ME
EMOTIONALLY.
A WEEK BEFORE, I HAD BEEN AT THE
WHITE HOUSE ON A BRILLIANT
AUTUMN AFTERNOON WHEN THE SAME
PIPE BAND HAD PARADED UP AND
DOWN ON THE SOUTH LAWN WITH
MISTER AND MRS. KENNEDY AND THE TWO
CHILDREN WATCHING.
MY TWO CHILDREN AT THE TIME WERE
EXACTLY THE AGES AND SEXES OF
CAROLINE AND JOHN-JOHN, AND
SUDDENLY ALL OF THIS JUST
EXPLODED PERSONALLY FOR ME.
FOR SIX WEEKS AFTERWARDS...
AND I'M NOT NORMALLY A
DEPRESSIVE PERSONALITY...
I WAS DEEPLY DEPRESSED BY THIS.
YOU ASK WHAT I FELT.
I FELT I'VE COMMITTED MYSELF...
I'VE MOVED MY FAMILY HERE, I'VE
COMMITTED MYSELF TO THIS COUNTRY
AND SOMETHING LIKE THIS CAN
HAPPEN HERE?
WHAT SPORE OF VIOLENCE IS THERE
THAT COULD PROVIDE A
PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTEXT FOR SUCH
AN ACT?
WHY COULDN'T THE OBVIOUS HATRED
OF KENNEDY AMONG MANY PEOPLE,
WHY COULDN'T THAT BE
ACCOMMODATED AND METABOLIZED
WITHIN THE POLITICAL SYSTEM?
WHAT IS WRONG HERE?
AND EVENTUALLY I CAME OUT OF
THAT, BUT IT WAS A VERY
DEPRESSED PERIOD.
BUT IT WAS ONE OF MANY TIMES
WHEN I ASKED MYSELF...
THERE WOULD BE THINGS I THOUGHT
WERE JUST WONDERFUL AND THEN
SOMEBODY WOULD DO SOMETHING,
LIKE NIXON, AND I WOULD SAY,
COME ON, DO YOU REALLY WANT TO
BE...
DO YOU REALLY WANT TO HANG
AROUND HERE WITH THIS?

John laughs and says THE ENDLESS CONFLICT.
THE PUSH-PULL OF BEING AN
AMERICAN, I THINK.
WELL, I THINK THAT...
I'M SURE THAT PEOPLE ON THE
FLOOR HAVE SOME QUESTIONS,
PEOPLE IN THE AUDIENCE TODAY,
AND SO WE'LL JUST START.
RIGHT THERE IN THE FRONT.

A man says MISTER MacNEIL, WOULD YOU LIKE
TO BECOME A EUROPEAN CITIZEN IF
THEY ACCEPT YOU, YES OR NO?

Robert says A EUROPEAN
CITIZEN?

The man says IF YOU WANT TO BECOME A
EUROPE CITIZEN, AND THEY ACCEPT
YOU, WOULD YOU LIKE IT?

Robert says WELL, IT
ISN'T OPEN TO ME, BECAUSE I
WASN'T BORN IN ANY EUROPEAN
COUNTRY IN THE EUROPEAN
COMMUNITY.
I DIDN'T HAVE PATRIAL, THAT IS,
GRANDFATHER OR PARENTS BORN IN
THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY SO IT
ISN'T OPEN TO ME.
A NUMBER OF MY CHILDREN ARE
EUROPEAN CITIZENS BY VIRTUE OF
BEING BRITISH CITIZENS, AND IT'S
JUST AN EXAMPLE OF THE SORT OF
MULTI-CITIZENSHIPS PEOPLE CAN
HAVE.
ONE OF MY SONS IS A FILM EDITOR
IN EUROPE, IN BRITAIN.
THAT MEANS HE CAN WORK, AND HAS,
IN SPAIN, FOR EXAMPLE, AS WELL
AS IN LONDON.
I MEAN, I THINK WE'D ALL LIKE
THE LOVELY LUXURY OF HAVING THE
EASE OF TRAVEL AND EVERYTHING,
OF HAVING MULTI-CITIZENSHIPS,
BUT I DON'T THINK IT'S OPEN TO
ME, THAT CASE.
THANK YOU.

John says THERE WAS
A QUESTION RIGHT HERE.

A male attendant says AS A DUAL CITIZEN MYSELF
GROWING UP IN NEW ENGLAND, ONE
OF THE EXPRESSIONS I REMEMBER IN
AMERICAN HISTORY WAS MY COUNTRY
RIGHT OR WRONG.
COMING TO CANADA, I UNDERSTOOD
THERE WAS A DIFFERENT ETHIC
HERE.
HOW DO YOU RECONCILE MY COUNTRY
RIGHT OR WRONG WITH YOUR OWN
PRECEPT OF WHAT IS RIGHT AND
WRONG?

Robert says COULD YOU ALL
HEAR THE QUESTION?
YES.
THE GENTLEMAN SAYS HE HIMSELF IS
A DUAL CITIZEN COMING FROM NEW
ENGLAND AND HE ALWAYS GREW UP
UNDERSTANDING THE AMERICAN SORT
OF ETHIC OF MY COUNTRY RIGHT OR
WRONG, AND HE WONDERS WHETHER
THAT OBTAINS IN CANADA AND HOW
DO I FEEL ABOUT THAT?
I THINK IN TIMES OF ENORMOUS
NATIONAL STRESS, LIKE THE SECOND
WORD WAR WHEN I WAS GROWING UP,
CLEARLY, MOST CANADIANS FELT
THAT, BUT THEY ALMOST NEVER SAY
IT, AND CERTAINLY A LOT OF
PEOPLE IN QUEBEC DIDN'T FEEL IT
AND A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO RESISTED
THE DRAFT DIDN'T FEEL IT DURING
THE SECOND WORLD WAR.
RESISTED TO THE POINT WHERE SOME
HAD TO BE IMPRISONED FOR AWHILE.
OR I SHOULDN'T SAY "HAD TO BE."
IT'S ONE OF THE THINGS I LEARNED
EARLY AS A JOURNALIST.
YOU DON'T SAY "HAD TO BE."
YOU SAY "WERE IMPRISONED."
"HAD TO BE" IS MAKING A JUDGMENT
ON IT.
IN THE EYES OF THE CANADIAN
GOVERNMENT THEY HAD TO BE.
I DON'T BELIEVE IN MY COUNTRY
RIGHT OR WRONG.
I THINK WHILE YOU SHOULD BE
LOYAL AND SUPPORTIVE AND
ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE'S...
WHEN TROOPS ARE IN...
ARE FIGHTING AND IN PERIL, BUT
YOU SHOULD RESERVE TO YOUR RIGHT
AS A CITIZEN IN ANY DEMOCRACY
NOT TO MAKE PATRIOTISM THE
PRESERVE OF THE ADMINISTRATION
IN POWER AT THE MOMENT AND TO
CONSIDER IT A PART OF YOUR
PATRIOTISM AND LOYALTY TO YOUR
COUNTRY TO ASK QUESTIONS OR
RAISE A SCEPTICAL VOICE WHEN YOU
THINK IT'S NEEDED.
AND I THINK THAT...
THAT'S JUST THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT
IT.

John says YES.

Robert says YES.

John says RIGHT
HERE.

A woman says I AM A DUAL CITIZEN, AND I
JUST CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU
BECAME AN AMERICAN.

[Laughter]

Robert smiles.

The woman continues I BECAME A CANADIAN, AND I'VE
NEVER REGRETTED MY DECISION, AND
I JUST FIND SO MANY DIFFERENCES
BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES IN
THEIR PHILOSOPHY, AND I HAVE
RELATIVES LIVING IN AMERICA AND
THEY DON'T...
THEY THINK DIFFERENTLY FROM ME.
AND I JUST CAN'T UNDERSTAND IT.

Robert says THE LADY IN
FRONT SAYS SHE IS A DUAL CITIZEN
AND SHE CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY I
BECAME AN AMERICAN, BECAUSE IN
HER EXPERIENCE THE TWO PEOPLES
THINK SO DIFFERENTLY, RIGHT?
HAVE DIFFERENT PHILOSOPHY AND
THINK SO DIFFERENTLY.

The woman says DIFFERENT PHILOSOPHY.

Robert says I THINK WHAT
PAVED THE WAY FOR ME TO
RATIONALIZE AND ACCOMMODATE THIS
DECISION WAS THAT I REALIZED
THAT THERE ARE PROBABLY AS MANY
AMERICANS WHO FEEL THE WAY I DO
ABOUT ISSUES AS THERE ARE PEOPLE
IN THE ENTIRE CANADIAN
POPULATION.
MILLIONS OF AMERICANS.
THE DIFFERENT PHILOSOPHY THAT
YOU'RE REFERRING TO ISN'T
UNANIMOUS IN THE UNITED STATES.
I HAVE NO DIFFERENCES WITH THE
PEOPLE I LIKE WHO ARE MY...
WHO ARE CONGENIAL TO ME IN THE
STATES.
THEY AGREE WITH ME ON POLITICAL
ISSUES, ON CURRENT MORALITY, ON
THINGS WE LIKE AND DISLIKE ABOUT
THE COUNTRY.
THERE ARE MILLIONS OF AMERICANS
WHO FEEL THAT WAY.

The woman says BUT THEY'RE NOT IN POWER.

Robert says WELL, THEY'RE
NOT IN POWER BUT THEY HAVE BEEN
AT TIMES AND THEY MAY BE AGAIN.
I MEAN, THAT IS...
IF YOU SAY...
THIS IS WHAT I WAS SAYING
EARLIER.
IF YOU SAY THAT THE ATTITUDE OR
THE BEHAVIOUR OF ANY
ADMINISTRATION IN POWER AT A
PARTICULAR TIME REPRESENTS THE
ENTIRE BELIEFS AND VALUE SYSTEM
OF THE COUNTRY, THEN, MADAM,
WITH GREAT RESPECT, I DISAGREE
WITH YOU.
THAT IS WHAT DEMOCRACY IS ALL
ABOUT.
THERE ARE CANADIANS...
THERE MAY BE SOME IN THIS
ROOM...
WHO DISAGREED WITH JEAN
CHRETIEN'S REFUSAL TO SEND
TROOPS TO FIGHT IN THE INVASION
OF IRAQ.
AND YOU COULD SAY THE WHOLE
CANADIAN POPULATION WAS BEHIND
HIM, BUT SOME WEREN'T.
I MEAN, I'M READING COLUMNS IN
THE "GLOBE AND MAIL" OF PEOPLE
WHO DISSENTED FROM THAT.

The woman says MY FINAL QUESTION, MY FINAL
COMMENT.
IT'S THAT I LIKE THE STATES IN
THE EARLY '70'S, '71.
AND THAT WAS JUST AFTER KENNEDY
AND THE CIVIL...
THE WAR AND EVERYTHING, AND IT
STARTED TO TURN CONSERVATIVE
THEN, AND IT'S GOTTEN MORE AND
MORE CONSERVATIVE AND IT'S
GOT...
IT HAS PROGRESSED TO WHERE IT
SEEMS TO BE THAT THEY'RE...
RELIGION, THEY'RE MIXING UP
RELIGION AND POLITICS.

Robert says I THINK IN
DEFERENCE TO THE OTHER PEOPLE
HERE, IF I COULD JUST SUMMARIZE
WHAT YOU'RE SAYING.
THAT YOU LIKE THE STATES, YOUR
ORIGINAL COUNTRY, I GATHER,
BETTER IN THE '70'S AND BEFORE,
BEFORE IT BECAME SO CONSERVATIVE
AND BEFORE RELIGIOUS
FUNDAMENTALISM BEGAN TO HAVE
SUCH AN INFLUENCE ON THE
POLITICS, AND I AGREE WITH YOU.
I DON'T LIKE THAT EITHER.
BUT I CAN BE QUITE HAPPY LIVING
THERE DISLIKING THAT AND...
AS I COULD BE, YOU KNOW...
YOU DON'T HAVE TO APPROVE WHAT
THE CURRENT POLITICAL SITUATION
IS TO ADMIRE THE FUNDAMENTAL
VALUES OF OPENNESS AND LIBERTY
AND OPPORTUNITY AND
CONGENIALITY, WHICH ARE MANY OF
THE ATTRACTIVE CHARACTERISTICS
OF AMERICANS.
THAT'S MY COMMENT ON THAT.
DO WE HAVE A QUESTION FROM THE
BACK, PLEASE?

A female attendant says DO YOU THINK THERE'S ANY
CHANCE THAT BUSH WILL NOT BE
RE-ELECTED?

Robert says I THINK THERE
IS A CHANCE.
IT LOOKS LIKE A LONG SHOT AT THE
MOMENT.
IN ONE OF THE PASSAGES IN THIS
BOOK RECALLS BEING AT SOMETHING
CALLED THE GRIDIRON DINNER IN
WASHINGTON, WHICH IS WHERE THE
PRESS CELEBRATES ITSELF, THE
PRINTED PRESS CELEBRATES ITSELF
EVERY SPRING, AND THEY ALWAYS
INVITE THE PRESIDENT, THE
SUPREME COURT, THE CHAIRMAN OF
THE JOINT CHIEFS, FOREIGN
AMBASSADORS.
IF YOU DROPPED A BOMB ON THE
BUILDING THAT NIGHT YOU WOULD
ELIMINATE A LOT OF THE POWER
STRUCTURE IN WASHINGTON.
ON THAT EVENING, THE FIRST GULF
WAR WAS JUST OVER AND THERE WAS
THE PRESS FAWNING ON GEORGE
BUSH, SR., WHOSE CURRENT
APPROVAL RATING WAS 93 PERCENT,
AND THEY WERE CELEBRATING HIS
ENORMOUS VICTORY IN THE GULF.
ONE COLUMNIST SAID AFTERWARDS
WITH SOME DISGUST THAT SHE HEARD
BUSH'S WARTIME AGONY COMPARED
WITH THAT OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, FOR GOD'S SAKE.
ANYWAY, THE PRESS, WHICH DOES
SKITS PRO AND ANTI THE
ADMINISTRATION AT THESE DINNERS,
JUST LAMBASTED THE DEMOCRATS FOR
HAVING NOBODY SUICIDAL OR
FOOLISH ENOUGH TO RUN AGAINST
THE TOTALLY UNBEATABLE GEORGE
BUSH, SR.
SITTING AT THE "WASHINGTON POST."
TABLE THAT EVENING WAS BILL
CLINTON.
WE ARE AT THE SAME POINT IN THE
CYCLE, ROUGHLY, AS 12 YEARS AGO.
GEORGE W. BUSH'S APPROVAL RATING
IS 63 PERCENT.
HE HAS JUST WON WHAT MANY
AMERICANS REGARD AS AN IMPORTANT
VICTORIES, TWO, IF YOU INCLUDE
AFGHANISTAN, WHILE OTHER
AMERICANS ARE UPSET ABOUT IT.
NEVERTHELESS, THE COUNTRY, A
MAJORITY, APPROVE...
SO FAR...
APPROVE IT.
BUT THE ECONOMY IS NOT IN GREAT
SHAPE.
A LOT OF THE ISSUES THAT HAD
BEEN REPRESSED UNDER THE AURA OF
PATRIOTISM AND ANXIETY THAT
STEMS FROM SEPTEMBER 11TH AND
WHICH THE ADMINISTRATION IS
PLAYING VERY SKILFULLY...
PLAYING BOTH LEGITIMATELY,
BECAUSE IT'S THE JOB OF ANY
ADMINISTRATION TO PROTECT THE
COUNTRY FROM WHATEVER PERCEIVED
DANGERS THERE ARE AND ALSO TO
EXPLOIT IT POLITICALLY, AS IS IN
THE NATURE OF DEMOCRATIC
POLITICS TO DO.
YES, I THINK THE DEMOCRATS HAVE
NOT SO FAR PRODUCED A CANDIDATE
WHO LOOKS CLEARLY VIABLE, BUT
THEY MAY AND, YES, I THINK
THERE'S A CHANCE, BUT AT THE
MOMENT YOU'D HAVE TO GIVE A BIG
ADVANTAGE TO THE PRESIDENT.
Pointing to the back of the room, Robert says YES, RIGHT HERE.

A young woman says YES, AS AN EXPERIENCED
JOURNALIST, WOULD YOU CONSIDER
IN THE PERIOD LEADING UP TO THE
INVASION OF IRAQ THAT THERE WAS
THE UNDUE PRESSURE ON THE
MAINSTREAM MEDIA TO, IN EFFECT,
BE APOLOGIST FOR THE BUSH
ADMINISTRATION AND ITS POLICY
AND IT'S MANY MANIFESTATIONS AND
TO NOT BE SUFFICIENTLY CRITICAL
OF IT?

Robert says THE
QUESTIONER IS ASKING DURING THE
LEAD-UP TO THE INVASION OF IRAQ,
WAS THERE UNDUE PRESSURE ON THE
PRESS NOT TO BE CRITICAL OR
SCEPTICAL ABOUT THE MOTIVATION?
I THINK THE PRESSURE WAS SELF-
INFLICTED.
I THINK IT WAS THE PRESS
APPREHENDING THE ANXIETY OF THE
AMERICAN PEOPLE ABOUT TERRORISM
AND THE APPEAL TO PATRIOTISM
THAT IS ALWAYS ATTENDANT WHEN
AMERICAN TROOPS GO INTO ACTION.
I MEAN, THE PRESS GOES A BIT
GOOEY ABOUT IT AND MISTY-EYED,
AND IT'S JUST IN THE...
IT'S JUST A MANIFESTATION OF
AMERICAN PATRIOTISM.
AND THAT THE CONGRESS EARLY ON,
BACK IN THE FALL, HAD GIVEN THE
PRESIDENT THE AUTHORITY TO DO
THIS, AND I THINK A LOT OF THE
PRESS WAS NOT AS QUESTIONING AS
IT NOW IS, BUT QUITE A LOT OF IT
WAS.
THE "NEW YORK TIMES," THE MOST
POWERFUL NEWSPAPER IN THE
COUNTRY, ARGUED FORCIBLY RIGHT
UP TO THE LAST DAY WHEN HE
ACTUALLY GAVE THE ORDER TO GO
INTO WAR, THAT THIS WAS THE
WRONG WAR TO GO TO AT THE WRONG
TIME AND QUESTIONED ALL THE
BASES, ALL THE RATIONALIZATIONS
THE ADMINISTRATION WAS GIVING
AND SO DID QUITE A LOT OF THE
PRESS.
HOWEVER, IT LOOKED...
IT BEGAN TO LOOK INEVITABLE THAT
IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN, AND ONCE
THAT INEVITABILITY WAS SORT OF
ABSORBED AN DIGESTED, THEN THE
COUNTRY TURNED, AS IT ALWAYS
DOES, TO SUPPORT THE TROOPS.
AND IF YOU OPPOSED THE INVASION
OF IRAQ, AS I DID, THINKING THAT
THERE MIGHT HAVE BEEN ANOTHER
WAY OUT OF IT, AND I THEN HAD TO
SAY...
I REMEMBER SAYING TO MY WIFE AND
TO MY FRIENDS, YOU KNOW, ALL YOU
CAN DO NOW THAT IT'S STARTED IS
HOPE THAT BUSH IS RIGHT, THAT IT
WILL BE QUICK AND CLEAN, BECAUSE
THAT IS THE ONLY WAY TO ENSURE
THE FEWEST POSSIBLE CASUALTIES,
AND YOU CAN'T WISH A LOT OF
AMERICAN SOLDIERS DEAD AND YOU
CAN'T WISH A LOT OF IRAQI
CIVILIANS DEAD, AND YOU HAVE TO
HOPE THAT IT COMES UP IN A WAY
THAT WILL ACTUALLY BENEFIT BUSH
POLITICALLY, AND I THINK A LOT
OF THE PRESS FELT THAT WAY ONCE
IT HAD STARTED.
THE GENTLEMAN IN THE YELLOW TIE.

A man with a yellow tie says ECONOMISTS, FOR VERY OBVIOUS
REASONS, SEE CONVERGENCE BETWEEN
ENGLISH-SPEAKING CANADIANS AND
AMERICANS.
SOCIAL SCIENTISTS, ON THE OTHER
HAND, SEE QUITE THE REVERSE.
I WONDER WHAT YOUR TAKE ON THAT
WOULD BE.

Robert says WELL, I THINK
YOU HAVE DESCRIBED IT MORE
CRISPLY AND BETTER THAN I COULD
BY SORT OF WALLOWING AROUND OR
FLOUNDERING AROUND TRYING TO
ELABORATE ON THAT.
ECONOMISTS DO SEE A CONVERGENCE
OF AMERICAN AND CANADIAN
INTERESTS WHICH ARE, FOR OBVIOUS
REASONS, THE TWO ECONOMIES ARE
INCREASINGLY INTERTWINED.
AND SOCIAL SCIENTISTS SEE
DIVERGENCE.
I JUST BEGAN READING...
I ONLY GOT A CHAPTER IN TODAY...
THE NEW BOOK BY MICHAEL ADAMS,
WHICH MAKES THAT POINT VERY
FORCEFULLY: THAT BASED ON SOCIAL
SURVEYS HE'S BEEN TAKING IN THE
STATES AND CANADA OVER THE LAST
DECADE OR SO ON THREE DIFFERENT
OCCASIONS, SORT OF INTERVIEWS
IN-DEPTH ON A HUNDRED DIFFERENT
VALUES IN THE TWO COUNTRIES, HE
SEES A DIVERGENCE OF AMERICAN
AND CANADIAN VALUES.
AND I DON'T REALLY HAVE ANYTHING
TO ADD TO THAT.
I CAN SEE TRUTH IN BOTH THINGS.
BUT HOW ARE WE DOING?
CAN I ASK YOU...

A woman says WE CAN TAKE ONE MORE
QUESTION.

Robert says LET'S HAVE
ONE MORE QUESTION.
LET'S HAVE THE LADY HERE WHO'S
RAISED HER HAND.
YES, YOU.
YOU'VE RAISED YOUR HAND SEVERAL
TIMES.

A female member of the audience says WITHIN YOUR CIRCLE OF FRIENDS
AND ALSO WITHIN MAINSTREAM
AMERICANS, WHAT DO YOU SEE AS
THE PERCEPTION OF AMERICANS
ABOUT CANADIANS TODAY?

Robert says WITHIN MY
CIRCLE OF FRIENDS AND WITHIN
MAINSTREAM AMERICA, WHAT DO I
SEE AS THE PERCEPTION OF CANADA
AMONG AMERICANS TODAY?
TO BE ABSOLUTELY BLUNT ABOUT IT,
THE FIRST THING YOU HAVE TO SAY
HONESTLY IS INDIFFERENCE.
AMERICANS LEARN SO LITTLE ABOUT
CANADA FROM THE MEDIA AND CANADA
IS SO OFTEN SO INVISIBLE IN
AMERICAN MASS MEDIA THAT IT
TAKES THOSE OF SPECIAL INTEREST
TO...
WHO HAVE BUSINESS INTERESTS OR
FAMILY CONNECTIONS OR SOME OTHER
REASON OR WAYNE GRETZKY GOES TO
L.A. OR PETER MANSBRIDGE DOES
NOT GO TO NEW YORK...
ALTHOUGH THAT'S A BIGGER STORY
IN CANADA THAN IN THE STATES.

[Laughter]

Robert continues OR KEN
TAYLOR, THE FORMER AMBASSADOR IN
IRAN, RESCUES AMERICAN HOSTAGES.
IN OTHER WORDS, TO PUT...
AND INCLUDED IN THAT, IN THAT
THING, PUT THE FACT THAT OR
CANADIAN TROOPS GET BOMBED BY
FRIENDLY FIRE IN AFGHANISTAN.
THAT MADE A VERY BIG STORY IN
THE STATES.
THEN THE REFUSAL OF JEAN
CHRETIEN TO SEND TROOPS TO IRAQ
MADE A BIG STORY.
BUT THEY TEND TO BE NOT THE KIND
OF STORIES THAT HAVE LEGS, THAT
GO ON AND ON AND ON BUILDING.
STORIES THAT DO ARE THOSE
GENERATED BY MUCH MORE BY TRADE
DISPUTES, WHICH SEEM TO HAVE
ENDLESS LIFE.
AS SOMEBODY SAID IN WASHINGTON
YEARS AGO, NOTHING IS EVER
SETTLED IN WASHINGTON, AND THE
KIND OF RIVALROUS NATURE OF THE
AMERICAN POLITICAL SYSTEM ALLOWS
THINGS THAT SEEM TO HAVE BEEN
SETTLED IN TRADE AGREEMENTS TO
BE CONSTANTLY CHALLENGED, AND
THOSE ARE THERE.
MARGARET ATWOOD SAID A LONG TIME
AGO CANADIANS AND AMERICANS MAY
LOOK THE SAME BUT THE CONTENTS
OF THEIR MINDS ARE QUITE
DIFFERENT.

[Laughter]

Robert continues THAT IS TRUE
EXCEPT THAT IN THE CANADIAN
MIND, THERE IS HUGE AMERICAN
CONTENT, AWARENESS IN EVERY WAY,
FROM CONSUMPTION OF AMERICAN
POPULAR CULTURE TO AWARENESS OF
POLITICAL REALITY IN THE UNITED
STATES.
IT WAS SAID AWHILE AGO THAT
CANADIAN HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
KNEW MORE ABOUT AMERICAN SUPREME
COURT JUSTICES THAN THEY DID
ABOUT CANADIAN SUPREME COURT
JUSTICES BECAUSE THERE WAS SO
MUCH MORE PUBLICITY ABOUT
AMERICA AND SO ON.

People in the audience listen carefully.

Robert continues THE AMERICAN HEAD HAS TINY
CANADIAN CONTENT, UNLESS THERE
ARE THE SORT OF SPECIAL
INTERESTS, AND THAT IS JUST A
REALITY.
I THINK THAT WAS EVEN INCREASED
AFTER THE COLD WAR WHEN AMERICA
TENDED TO I THINK TURN INWARDS.
WHEN AMERICAN NETWORKS BEGAN
CLOSING BUREAUS OVERSEAS BECAUSE
THEY TRIED FOLLOWING THEIR SORT
OF CONSUMER RESEARCH FELT THAT
AMERICANS WERE NOT SO INTERESTED
IN THE WORLD OUTSIDE ANYMORE.
I MEAN, THAT CHANGED VIOLENTLY
WITH SEPTEMBER 11TH, BUT IN A
PARTICULAR CONTEXT.
AND THE REALITY IS THAT
AMERICANS ONLY PAY ATTENTION TO
CANADA WHEN THERE IS SOMETHING
THEY DON'T EXPECT, GOOD OR BAD.
AMERICANS...
THERE WAS A STORY FOR SEVERAL
DAYS ABOUT THE WONDERFUL
HOSPITALITY OF CANADIANS TO THE
AMERICANS WHOSE PLANES WERE
GROUNDED ON SEPTEMBER 11TH AND A
FEW DAYS AFTERWARDS IN
NEWFOUNDLAND AND NOVA SCOTIA.
WONDERFUL STORIES, HEARTWARMING
STORIES, AND THEN THEY PASSED
BY.
I THINK PART OF THE REASON FOR
THIS IS...
THE WORD "INDIFFERENCE" IS TOO
STRONG.
IT IS THAT AMERICANS THINK OF
CANADA, FOR THE MOST PART, AS A
BENIGN AND UNTROUBLING, NICE
PRESENCE ON THE NORTHERN BORDER
THAT, FOR THE MOST PART, THEY
DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT AT
ALL.
AND APART FROM A LITTLE PARANOIA
ABOUT THE PERMEABILITY OF THE
CANADIAN BORDER AFTER SEPTEMBER
11TH, EVEN THOUGH THE PEOPLE WHO
PERPETRATED THE SEPTEMBER 11TH
ALL SEEM TO HAVE BEEN ADMITTED
BY AMERICAN IMMIGRATION
AUTHORITIES WITH VISAS,
NEVERTHELESS THAT.
AND THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS
THAT THE COOPERATION BETWEEN THE
TWO COUNTRIES, HOWEVER MUCH
FRICTION THERE MAY BE AT THE
MOMENT, GOES ON.
WHILE CANADIANS DON'T LIKE TO
TALK ABOUT A COMMON DEFENCE
PERIMETER, IT'S A BIT OF A...
POLITICALLY INCORRECT TO TALK
ABOUT THAT, NEVERTHELESS,
CANADIAN SECURITY AUTHORITIES
ARE GOING ABOUT IN A QUIET WAY
HARMONIZING AND COORDINATING
THEIR SYSTEMS FOR SCRUTINIZING
AND WATCHING FOR PEOPLE WHO MAY
BE A THREAT TO EITHER COUNTRY,
AND, IN EFFECT, WE'RE GRADUALLY
CREATING A KIND OF COMMON
DEFENCE PERIMETER.
THAT DOESN'T EXTEND SO FAR TO
THE MISSILE DEVELOPMENT ISSUE,
WHICH IS IN THE OFFING IF THE
BUSH ADMINISTRATION PRESSES IT.
SO I THINK IT'S...
THE FUNDAMENTAL DEMEANOUR OF
AMERICANS TOWARDS CANADIANS IS
WHEN IT COMES INTO THEIR MENTAL
HORIZONS THEY THINK, NICE
PEOPLE, NOT A THREAT, SOMETHING
WE DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT.
EACH AMERICAN PRESIDENT WHO
TAKES OFFICE HAS TO BE TOLD
AGAIN THAT CANADA IS AMERICA'S
BIGGEST TRADING PARTNER.
FAMOUSLY, IN THE NIXON
ADMINISTRATION, A CANADIAN
MINISTER WENT TO BE BRIEFED BY
JOHN CONNELLY, WHO WAS THE
TREASURY SECRETARY, AND CONNELLY
TALKED TO HIM FOR ABOUT
15 MINUTES, THE CANADIAN
AMBASSADOR WAS AGHAST TO HEAR,
ON A BRIEFING PAPER PREPARED
ABOUT JAPAN.

[Laughter]

Robert continues BUT ANYWAY,
MOST AMERICAN PRESIDENTS, AT
LEAST UP UNTIL FAIRLY RECENTLY,
CAME INTO OFFICE THINKING THAT
JAPAN WAS THE BIGGEST TRADING
PARTNER OR EUROPE OR SOMETHING
ELSE.
SO...
BUT THE GENERAL POSTURE, MENTAL
POSTURE, OF AMERICANS TOWARD
CANADIANS IS ONE...
IS BENIGN EXCEPT WHEN WHIPPED UP
BY A SORT OF, YOU KNOW, IF
YOU'RE NOT FOR US YOU'RE 'AGIN
US AND WHERE MISTER BUSH IS GOING
TO DELAY OR POSTPONE HIS VISIT
TO CANADA AND SO ON AND SO ON.
YOU KNOW, ALL THAT.
OKAY, I THINK THAT'S PROBABLY
ENOUGH.

John says I THINK
THAT'S IT.

Robert says ENOUGH BLAH,
BLAH, BLAH, ISN'T IT, YEAH.

John says THANK YOU
VERY MUCH.

[audience applauding]

John says THANK YOU
FOR MAKING IT SO EASY.

Robert and John shake hands.

Robert says THANK YOU.

Watch: Robert MacNeil on his book Looking for My Country