Transcript: Robert Fulford on Canadian/American Relations | Mar 20, 2004

Robert Fulford stands behind a lectern and addresses an unseen audience. He's in his late fifties, clean-shaven and bald. He's wearing glasses, a brown suit and a brown sweater.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Robert Fulford. Journalist. Canada and America: The longest undefended neurosis in the World. Holy Blossom Temple. February 9, 2004."

Robert says TWO WEEKS
AGO, IN THE FIRST TALK IN THIS
THREE PART MINISERIES, I QUOTED
A REMARK OF THE FRENCH
COMMENTATOR, JEAN FRANCOIS RAVEL
ON THE SUBJECT OF FRENCH
ATTITUDES TO THE UNITED STATES.
RAVEL SAID,
"IF YOU REMOVE ANTI-AMERICANISM,
NOTHING REMAINS OF FRENCH
POLITICAL THOUGHT...

[Audience laughter]

Robert continues TODAY, EITHER ON THE LEFT OR
ON THE RIGHT."
AND THAT SUGGESTED A QUESTION TO
ME.
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF WE SOMEHOW
REMOVED ANTI-AMERICANISM FROM
CANADA?
MY GUESS IS THAT THE EMOTIONAL
RESULTS WOULD BE TRAUMATIC.
WE WOULD BE EVEN MORE BEREFT
THAN THE FRENCH.
ANTI-AMERICANISM IS PART OF US,
BRED IN OUR BONES, AN ESSENTIAL
RITUAL OF OUR TRIBE.
IT'S A SPECIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL
CRUTCH, WILLED TO US, FREE OF
CHARGE BY HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY.
WE WOULD NOT BE OURSELVES
WITHOUT IT.
IT GIVES US REASONS FOR FEELING
GOOD ABOUT WHAT WE ARE, AND
ENCOURAGES HIGHLY WELCOME
DELUSIONS OF SUPERIORITY.
IN ECONOMIC MATTERS, IT PROVIDES
EXCUSES FOR OUR FAILURES AND IN
CULTURAL MATTERS, IT JUSTIFIES
POLICIES THAT MIGHT OTHERWISE
APPEAR TO BE FOOLISH, WASTEFUL
OR NARROWMINDED.
IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS, IT OFFERS US
MANY DELIGHTFUL OPPORTUNITIES
FOR JUSTIFYING OUTRAGEOUSLY
PERVERSE BEHAVIOUR SUCH AS
MAKING A LIFELONG FRIEND OF
FIDEL CASTRO.
IT PROVIDES US FOR A REASON TO
SPEND AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE ON
OUR MILITARY FORCES, SINCE WE
HAVE THE STRONG FEELING THAT
THEY WOULD ONLY BE USED IN
SUPPORT OF THE AMERICANS ANYWAY.
ANTI-AMERICANISM OCCUPIES, IN
OTHER WORDS, A CENTRAL IN OUR
NATIONAL PERSONALITY.
NOW, OVER THE YEARS, IT WAXES
AND WANES.
IT SOMETIMES LIES DORMANT, AND
IT EVEN OCCASIONALLY PLAYS DEAD,
BUT IT NEVER TRULY DISAPPEARS.
NORTHROP FRYE ONCE SAID THAT
IT'S PART OF OUR DEFINITION, OUR
SELF DEFINITION.
HE DEFINED A CANADIAN AS, AN
AMERICAN WHO REJECTS THE
REVOLUTION.
THAT IS TO SAY WE ARE AMERICANS
WHO REJECT THE ONE ESSENTIAL
FACT OF AMERICA.
INTENSE FEELINGS OF ANTI-
AMERICANISM WERE BROUGHT HERE
LATE IN THE 18th CENTURY AND
EARLY IN THE 19th CENTURY BY THE
UNITED EMPIRE LOYALISTS WHO
REJECTED THE NEW REPUBLIC, SAID
GOODBYE TO THE FORMER 13
COLONIES, MOVED NORTH, AND
HELPED BUILD THIS COUNTRY.
TODAY, HARDLY ANYONE SPEAKS OF
THE UNITED EMPIRE LOYALISTS, AND
FEW KNOW THAT THE INITIALS
U.E.L. WERE ONCE A SACRED PART
OF OUR POLITICAL CULTURE.
BUT U.E.L. ATTITUDES STILL LIVE
AMONG US.
THEY WERE ARTICULATED WITH
EXCEPTIONAL PASSION LONG AGO IN
THE ELECTIONS OF 1891 AND 1911.
SIR WILFRID LAURIER, THE LEADER
OF THE LIBERALS, LOST BOTH OF
THOSE ELECTIONS.
HE LOST, MAINLY BECAUSE HE
FAVOURED FREE TRADE WITH THE
UNITED STATES, WHICH, IN HIS
DAY, WAS CALLED RECIPROCITY.
IN BOTH CAMPAIGNS, HE WAS WIDELY
DAMNED ACROSS THE COUNTRY AS A
SELLOUT, A CONTINENTALIST, AND
ABOVE ALL, AS AN ENEMY OF THE
BRITISH EMPIRE.
NOW MANY OF US LEARNED IN HIGH
SCHOOL THAT THAT LAST ELECTION
OF HIS, THE 1911 ELECTION, WAS A
DEFINING EVENT THAT SHAPED OUR
HISTORY AND OUR ECONOMY.
WE LEARNED THAT 1911 MEANT THAT
WE WERE ABLE, OVER THE YEARS, TO
MAINTAIN A TARIFF WALL THAT
PROTECTED OUR INDUSTRIES FROM
AMERICAN COMPETITION THAT WOULD
OTHERWISE HAVE RUINED IT.
IN FACT, THIS WAS NOT QUITE
TRUE.
WE, IN FACT, GREW CLOSER TO THE
AMERICANS THROUGH MOST OF THE
20th CENTURY, AND WE SLOWLY
PRIED OPEN THE BORDER FOR THE
PURPOSES OF TRADE, BUT WE DID IT
BY STEALTH.
MACKENZIE KING LEARNED THE
POLITICAL LESSONS OF LAURIER'S
DEFEATS.
DURING HIS DECADES IN POWER,
FROM THE 1920s TO THE LATE
1940s, KING QUIETLY DISMANTLED
MANY TRADE BARRIERS.
BUT HE ALWAYS TOOK GREAT CARE TO
AVOID AROUSING THE SLUMBERING
BEAST OF ANTI-AMERICANISM.
HE SKATED AROUND RATHER THAN
UTTERING DIFFICULT AND DANGEROUS
WORDS LIKE RECIPROCITY AND FREE
TRADE.
INSTEAD, HE SIMPLY CHANGED A LAW
HERE, A REGULATION THERE, THINGS
THAT HE AND HIS MINISTERS FELT
COULD COMFORTABLY BE CHANGED.
HE PRESENTED EACH LIBERALISATION
OF TRADE AS UNREMARKABLE, AND IN
FACT, MORE OR LESS TECHNICAL AND
NOT OF MUCH INTEREST TO THE
PUBLIC.
MOST OF HIS SUCCESSES FOLLOWED
THIS SAME COURSE.
USUALLY THEY AVOIDED AROUSING
NATIONALIST FURIES.
BUT RECENT HISTORY HAS CHANGED
ALL THAT.
TODAY, ANTI-AMERICANISM LIVES
MORE VIVIDLY IN CANADIAN LIFE
THAN AT ANY MOMENT IN THE LAST
HALF CENTURY, PERHAPS, MORE
VIVIDLY THAN AT ANY MOMENT SINCE
1911.
TERRORISM HAS AROUSED FIERCE
AMERICAN NATIONALISM, AND THAT
IN TURN, HAS CREATED IN CANADA A
NEW STRAIN OF RABID ANTI-
AMERICANISM.
THIS HAS SO COLOURED OPINION IN
ENGLISH SPEAKING CANADA, THAT IN
MANY CIRCLES TODAY, IT IS
CONSIDERED ECCENTRIC NOT TO
EXPRESS ANTI-AMERICAN VIEWS
ALONG WITH CONTEMPT FOR THE
AMERICAN PRESIDENT AND HIS
ADMINISTRATION.
A FRIEND OF
MINE WHO PRODUCES PROGRAMS FOR
THE CBC DEFINES ANTI-AMERICANISM
AS THE CBCs DEFAULT POSITION.
IT'S WHERE THE PROGRAMMERS BEGIN
THEIR WORK, AND WHERE THEY END.
ON CBC RADIO
FOR INSTANCE, IF SOMEONE
PRESENTS A VIGOROUS PRO-AMERICAN
OPINION, OR A DEFENCE OF GEORGE
W. BUSH, IT SOUNDS ALMOST
OUTRAGEOUS, AND IT CERTAINLY
UPSETS MANY FAITHFUL LISTENERS.
FORTUNATELY CBC PRODUCERS RARELY
ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN.
IF ANTI-AMERICANISM THROWS A
SHADOW OVER MUCH OF OUR PUBLIC
LIFE AND OVER MUCH OF THE THINGS
THAT ARE SAID IN THE MEDIA, IT
MAY, CONCEIVABLY EXERT AN EVEN
DARKER INFLUENCE IN PRIVATE
LIFE.
TWO YEARS AGO, I WROTE A COLUMN
ON THIS SUBJECT AND ITS MANY
PUBLIC MANIFESTATIONS.
I RECEIVED 60 OR SO LETTERS IN
RESPONSE, AND I FOUND THEM
TOUCHING, SURPRISING AND
APPALLING.
I WROTE OF PUBLIC DISCUSSION,
THE KIND OF THING YOU HEAR ON
THE CBC, OR YOU READ IN THE
PAPER, WHAT YOU HEAR FROM
POLITICIANS.
BUT MY READERS WANTED TO TELL ME
ABOUT ANTI-AMERICANISM IN THEIR
PERSONAL AND THEIR PROFESSIONAL
LIVES.
FOR ME, THERE WERE TWO HUGE
SURPRISES IN THIS
CORRESPONDENCE.
THE FIRST WAS THAT SOME
AMERICANS LIVING HERE EXPERIENCE
CANADIAN HOSTILITY AS A MUCH
UGLIER PREJUDICE THAN I HAD
REALISED.
MANY OF THEM DO NOT TAKE IT
LIGHTLY AT ALL, AS CANADIANS
PERHAPS IMAGINE THEY DO.
THE SECOND SURPRISE WAS A
VIOLATION OF A CANADIAN
STEREOTYPE THAT I'VE HELD IN MY
HEAD FOR MANY YEARS.
MY MOST PASSIONATE AMERICAN
CORRESPONDENTS WERE PEOPLE WHO
LIVED IN THE WEST, WHICH IS A
REGION WE USUALLY CONSIDER MORE
PRO-AMERICAN THAN THE REST OF
ENGLISH SPEAKING CANADA.
AN AMERICAN GRADUATE STUDENT
WROTE FROM CALGARY TO TELL ME
THAT FOR YEARS, SHE HAD
FREQUENTLY BEEN INSULTED BY
ANTI-AMERICAN COMMENTS AND THAT
THEY REACHED A CLIMAX IN THE FEW
DAYS AFTER SEPTEMBER 11th WHEN A
FELLOW STUDENT ASKED HER, "DON'T
YOU REALLY THINK THE AMERICANS
HAD IT COMING TO THEM?"
AN AMERICAN JOURNALIST WORKING
IN EDMONTON TOLD ME, "MOST OF MY
COLLEAGUES, ESPECIALLY IN THE
ARTS COMMUNITY, ARE VIRULENTLY
ANTI-AMERICAN.
I AM BARELY TOLERATED."
A STUDENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF
BRITISH COLUMBIA SAID THAT SHE
WAS MOST UPSET BY THE REACTIONS
OF HER PEER GROUP, NOT HER
TEACHERS, BUT HER FELLOW
STUDENTS.
SHE SAID, "MY FRIENDS FREELY
ADMITTED THAT THEY FELT THE U.S.
BROUGHT SEPTEMBER 11th UPON
ITSELF AND DESERVED IT."
SHE SAID MANY OF HER CLASSMATES
OPENLY ASSERT THAT THEY HATE THE
UNITED STATES AND THAT THEY HATE
AMERICANS.
A MAN WROTE FROM GEORGIA TO SAY
THAT HE HAD LIVED IN CANADA A
LONG TIME, LOVED IT IN MANY
WAYS, BUT FOUND THAT ANTI-
AMERICANISM WAS ALWAYS THERE,
WHEREVER HE WENT, SOMETIMES JUST
BELOW THE SURFACE, WAITING TO BE
TAPPED BY SOME ODD EVENT.
SO HE SAID, "IT FINALLY WORE ME
DOWN."
HE LEFT.
THESE LETTERS, WHILE MORE
INTENSE THAN ANYTHING I
EXPECTED, DID CONFIRM MY FEELING
THAT ANTI-AMERICANISM IS THE
MOST WIDELY ACCEPTED PREJUDICE
IN POLITE CIRCLES IN CANADA.
IT'S GENIALLY TOLERATED
EVERYWHERE FROM UNIVERSITY
CLASSROOMS TO DINNER PARTIES, TO
MEETINGS OF THE LIBERAL PARTY
AND THE NDP.
IT IS CONSIDERED NORMAL BY
PEOPLE WHO WOULD LOOK UPON
RACISM, ANTISEMITISM AND
HOMOPHOBIA AS SHAMEFUL.
IN FACT, IT ESTABLISHES AROUND
ITSELF IN SOME PLACES, AN AURA
OF VIRTUE.
IN DISCUSSION OF WORLD AFFAIRS,
ANTI-AMERICANISM HAS BECOME THE
MEASURE OF ALL OPINION, THE
BEGINNING OF DISCUSSION.
THOSE WHO REFUSE TO ACCEPT THIS
PATTERN, OFTEN FIND THEIR VIEWS
IGNORED ON GROUNDS OF
IRRELEVANCE.
MANY I BELIEVE, THEN FALL SILENT
OUT OF FRUSTRATION OR
DISCOMFORT.
ALL THIS TOUCHES ME IN A WAY
THAT IS FAR FROM ABSTRACT.
CLOSE FRIENDS OF MINE LOVE TO
CONDESCEND TO THE UNITED STATES.
IT'S A PLEASURE THEY ALLOW
THEMSELVES AND THEY NEVER FEEL
THE NEED TO JUSTIFY IT.
ONE OF THE SWEETEST...
MOST UM, KIND PEOPLE I KNOW IS A
REGULARLY ANTI-AMERICAN.
AND WHEN AN AMERICAN FRIEND OF
HERS CRITICISED HER FOR THIS,
SHE SAID, "WELL, IF YOU CAN'T BE
ANTI-AMERICAN, WHAT CAN YOU BE?"

[Audience laughter]

Robert continues I THINK MAYBE SHE HAD POURED ALL
HER REPRESSED PREJUDICES FROM
OTHER SPHERES OF LIFE INTO THAT
ONE PREJUDICE.
SEVERAL AMERICANS WROTE TO ME
AND THEY SAID, THAT WHEN THEY
QUESTIONED A CANADIAN FOR AN
ANTI-AMERICAN PREJUDICE, THE
CANADIAN WOULD SAY, "BUT I DON'T
THINK OF YOU AS AN AMERICAN."
AND THEY HAD NO IDEA THEY WERE
ECHOING WHAT SO MANY ANTI-
SEMITES HAVE SAID IN SIMILAR
SITUATIONS.
ANTI-AMERICANISM IS SELDOM
LOGICAL, AND MOST CANADIANS ARE
APPARENTLY GLAD TO LET IT REMAIN
ILLOGICAL, AS IF IT WERE A
NATIONAL CULT, A NATIONAL
MYSTERY.
LAST FALL, THE DISTINGUISHED
HISTORIAN J.L. GRANATSTEIN, WHO
HAS MADE THE SUBJECT ONE OF HIS
SPECIAL INTERESTS SAID, "ANTI-
AMERICANISM HAS BEEN, AND TO A
SUBSTANTIAL DEGREE REMAINS,
CANADA'S STATE RELIGION, THE
VERY BEDROCK OF CANADIAN
NATIONALISM."
IT HAS ITS USES.
FOR DEMAGOGUES, NATIONALISM
FUNCTIONS AS A RESERVOIR OF
VIRTUE.
IT PROVIDES A
WAY THEY CAN DEPICT THEMSELVES
AS SAVIOURS OF THEIR NATION.
JOHN DIEFENBAKER, PRIME MINISTER
FROM 1957 TO 1963 MADE A CAREER
OF IT IN HIS LAST YEARS.
AND A QUARTER
OF A CENTURY LATER, AT A 1997
NATO MEETING IN MADRID, JEAN
CHRETIEN WAS OVERHEARD SAYING
THAT WHENEVER POSSIBLE HE DID
WHAT THE AMERICANS DIDN'T WANT
HIM TO DO.
HE SAID, "I MAKE IT MY POLICY,
IT'S POPULAR."
BUT WHILE CONVENIENT FOR
POLITICIANS, ANTI-AMERICANISM
DISTORTS OUR NATIONAL SPIRIT AND
TURNS PATRIOTISM INTO SOMETHING
SOUR AND RESENTFUL.
ON ONE LEVEL, THE ISSUE IS THE
HANDLING OF GRIEVANCES.
NO NATIONAL COMMUNITY LACKS
GRIEVANCES, AND IT WOULD BE
SURPRISING, IF A RELATIVELY WEAK
NATIONAL COMMUNITY WERE NOT TO
HAVE GRIEVANCES AGAINST A MUCH
MORE POWERFUL NATIONAL COMMUNITY
LIVING a quarter OF AN INCH AWAY.
AND THE GRIEVANCES ARE REAL.
FOR INSTANCE, THE CURRENT
ADMINISTRATION IN WASHINGTON HAS
SHOWN THAT IS ABSOLUTELY AND
TOTALLY COMMITTED TO THE
PRINCIPLE OF FREE TRADE, EXCEPT
WHEN IT ISN'T.
BUT WHAT MATTERS IS HOW WE
MANAGE SUCH GRIEVANCES, HOW WE
DEPLOY THEM AND ARTICULATE THEM.
WE DON'T LIKE TO ADMIT THAT
ANTI-AMERICANISM HAS BEEN A
FORCE IN CANADIAN LIFE FOR
LONGER THAN ANY OF US CAN
REMEMBER.
I WAS INTERESTED TO DISCOVER
THAT IN THE CANADIAN
ENCYCLOPAEDIA, THERE IS NO ENTRY
FOR ANTI-AMERICANISM.
IT DOESN'T EXIST AS SUCH,
ALTHOUGH A MILLION OTHER MINOR
TENDENCIES, MUCH LESS IMPORTANT,
ARE LISTED AND GIVEN ARTICLES.
BUT THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA INSTEAD
HAS AN ARTICLE ON THE APPARENTLY
NEUTRAL SUBJECT, NATIONALISM.
THIS PIECE, A FEW HUNDRED WORDS
LONG, IS A TYPICAL PRODUCT OF
THE CANADIAN ACADEMIC WORLD OF
THIS PERIOD.
IT'S WRITTEN SO TENDENTIOUSLY,
THAT THE AUTHOR, DENNIS SMITH, A
PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE,
SEEMS INTENT ON LEAVING THE
INNOCENT READER WITH THE FIRM
IMPRESSION THAT THERE IS SIMPLY
NO ARGUMENT TO BE MADE AGAINST
HIS KIND OF CANADIAN
NATIONALISM, AND THAT OUR MAIN,
OR PERHAPS ONLY PROBLEM IN
CANADA, IS THAT WE DON'T HAVE
ENOUGH OF IT.
HE WRITES THIS, "CANADIAN
INTERESTS HAVE BEEN RELEGATED TO
THE MARGINS OF CANADIAN PUBLIC
LIFE BECAUSE OF THE OVERWHELMING
INFLUENCE OF AMERICAN BUSINESS
AND AMERICAN CULTURE.
EFFORTS TO SUSTAIN THE CANADIAN
ARTS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN FACED WITH
THE MASS MARKETING ADVANTAGES OF
AMERICAN COMPETITORS WHOSE
PRODUCTS SPILL OVER THE BORDER.
NATIONALISM," HE GOES ON, "HAS
BECOME TENACIOUS, BUT IT REMAINS
THE PRECARIOUS NATIONALISM OF A
DIVERSE COMMUNITY THAT IS STILL
ONLY DIMLY AWARE OF ITSELF,
EXISTING ALWAYS IN THE SHADOW."
WELL, THAT'S A CERTAIN KIND OF
NATIONALISM THAT DENNIS SMITH
EXEMPLIFIES IN THAT PASSAGE.
ACROSS THE GLOBE, WE CAN FIND
MANY FORMS OF ANTI-AMERICANISM
INCLUDING THE RADICAL ISLAMIC
FORM THAT LEADS TO MASS MURDER.
WHAT WE PRACTISE IN CANADA, WHAT
DENNIS SMITH PRACTISES IN
CANADA, IS A PERSISTENT BUT MUCH
MILDER FORM, ANTI-AMERICANISM
LIGHT, SPELLED "LITE," AS IN BUD
LITE.
I BORROW THAT TERM FROM MOISES
NAIM, THE ECONOMIST WHO WAS
FORMERLY THE TRADE MINISTER OF
VENEZUELA, AND NOW EDITS
"FOREIGN POLICY" MAGAZINE IN THE
U.S.
NAIM REPORTS THAT OFFICIAL
WASHINGTON CONSIDERS ANTI-
AMERICANISM LITE, NO MORE THAN A
MINOR ANNOYANCE, BUT HE BELIEVES
THAT IT CARRIES SERIOUS COSTS.
THOSE WHO DISAGREE WITH SPECIFIC
AMERICAN POLICIES CLAIM NOT TO
HATE AMERICANS, BUT MERELY TO
HATE THEIR PRESIDENT, OR THEIR
SECRETARY OF DEFENCE, OR THEIR
MASS CULTURE, OR THEIR FORM OF
CAPITALISM OR SOME OTHER
ELEMENT.
BUT THE CLIMATE CREATED BY THE
ACCUMULATION OF THESE VIEWS
MAKES IT POSSIBLE FOR MANY TO
ASSUME, AS NAIM SAYS, THE WORST
POSSIBLE MOTIVES FOR ANY
AMERICAN DECISION, SINCE THE
DECISION IS ALWAYS BASED ON LOW
QUALITY OF THOUGHT AND
INFORMATION.
THIS ANTI-AMERICANISM LIGHT,
NAIM ARGUES, CAN WEAKEN AMERICAN
LEGITIMACY, AND CAN WEAKEN
AMERICA'S ABILITY TO INFLUENCE
THE COURSE OF WORLD AFFAIRS.
TO SOME, THAT WILL BE HIGHLY
WELCOME.
BUT IF YOU BELIEVE, AS I DO,
THAT THE FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY
DEPENDS ON THE AMERICANS, THE
SUSTAINING OF DEMOCRACY DEPENDS
ON THE AMERICANS, AND HAS DONE
SO FOR 60 YEARS, THEN THE
REDUCTION OF ITS INFLUENCE WILL
BE A MATTER OF SERIOUS CONCERN.
AS NAIM SAYS, "U.S. ENGAGEMENT
MAY NOT ALWAYS BE THE PERFECT
SOLUTION TO AN INTERNATIONAL
PROBLEM, BUT QUITE OFTEN, IT'S
THE ONLY ONE AVAILABLE."
HE IMAGINES THAT ANTI-
AMERICANISM LITE, WHEN REFLECTED
BACK TO THE U.S., COULD
EVENTUALLY DISCOURAGE U.S.
PARTICIPATION IN WORLD POLITICS,
AND COULD PRODUCE A REVIVAL OF
ISOLATIONISM.
AT THE SAME
TIME, THE LEADERS OF BRITAIN,
SPAIN AND ITALY, SUPPORTERS OF
AMERICAN ENGAGEMENT HAVE TO FACE
DOWN THE ANTI-AMERICANISM LITE
THAT NOW PERVADES THEIR
SOCIETIES.
IT'S HARD NOT
TO AGREE WITH NAIM'S ARGUMENTS,
BUT THIS EVENING, MY CENTRAL
CONCERN IS THE INFLUENCE OF
ANTI-AMERICANISM FEELINGS, NOT
ON THE UNITED STATES OR ON WORLD
POLITICS, BUT ON CANADA AND
CANADIANS.
NOW IN THE ARTS, ANTI-
AMERICANISM PRODUCES A
PARTICULARLY CHILDISH FORM OF
INCONSISTENCY.
PEOPLE WHO MAKE THEIR LIVING
FROM THE ARTS AND THE MASS MEDIA
DON'T HESITATE TO EXPRESS THEIR
DISDAIN FOR AMERICA AND
AMERICANS, AND THEIR RESENTMENT
FOR WHAT THEY PERCEIVE AS
AMERICAN DOMINANCE IN THE ARTS.
YET THEY ABANDON THEIR SENSE OF
INJURY AS SOON AS THEY HAVE A
CHANCE TO CELEBRATE TALENTED
AMERICANS AT OUR FILM FESTIVALS
OR OUR LITERARY EVENTS.
THEY CLAIM TO RESENT THE POWER
OF THE AMERICAN MARKET AND TO
SEE IT AS SOMETHING ALL
PERVASIVE, AND EVIL, A GREAT
GREEN SLIME COVERING THE PLANET,
BUT THEY DO THEIR BEST TO
PENETRATE THAT MARKET, AND IF
SUCCESSFUL, THEY THEN HOLD UP
THEIR TRIUMPH IN AMERICA AS AN
EMBLEM OF CANADIAN EXCELLENCE.
THERE'S A PROFOUND HYPOCRISY
INVOLVED HERE WHICH RUNS RIGHT
THROUGH OUR CULTURAL COMMUNITY,
BUT MOST CANADIANS IN THE
MOMENTS OF EUPHORIA WHICH COME
WITH SUCCESS, ARE WILLING TO
IGNORE IT.
ANTI-AMERICANISM ALSO HAS A WAY
OF MAKING US INTO GRIEVANCE
COLLECTORS.
AND LIKE ALL GRIEVANCE
COLLECTORS, WE STRUGGLE TO MAKE
OUR REACTIONS LOOK, AS MUCH AS
POSSIBLE, LIKE RIGHTEOUS ANGER,
WHEN THEY MIGHT MORE ACCURATELY
BE DESCRIBED AS ANNOYANCE OF
PIQUE.
WE ALSO HAVE DEVELOPED AND
CULTIVATED THE ANNOYING HABIT OF
ELEVATING EVERY TINY SETBACK TO
THE LEVEL OF TRAGEDY AND
SCANDAL.
THESE TENDENCIES ARE ACTED OUT
MOST VIVIDLY IN CULTURAL POLICY.
IN THE COURSE OF HALF A CENTURY,
CANADIAN CULTURAL POLITICS HAS
TALKED ITSELF INTO A TIGHT
CORNER.
OUR PERSISTENT RHETORIC DEFINES
US AS VICTIMS AND LOSERS, AND WE
HAVE DEVELOPED THE MOST INTENSE
ANXIETY ABOUT U.S. HEGEMONY.
THIS, AND NOT ARTISTIC
EXPRESSION HAS BECOME THE
SUBJECT TO WHICH CULTURAL
ORGANISATIONS AND CULTURAL
BUREAUCRATS IN OTTAWA, DEVOTE
MOST OF THEIR ATTENTION.
THERE ARE A FEW ARTISTS, OF
COURSE, SOMETIMES A GOOD MANY
ARTISTS WHO LOOK UPON THE U.S.
AS A SERIES OF CHALLENGES, A
PLACE OF POTENTIAL CONQUEST.
BUT THEY'RE FAR OUTNUMBERED BY
THOSE WHO SEE AMERICAN CULTURE
AS THE ENEMY, EVEN THOUGH ALMOST
EVERY INDIVIDUAL WHO SUBSCRIBES
TO SUCH A VIEW IS, IN SOME WAY,
AN ENTHUSIASTIC CONSUMER OF
AMERICAN CULTURE.
I REMEMBER ONE TIME, GEORGE
BOWERING, FAMOUS CANADIAN POET,
WINNER OF THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S
AWARD AND SO ON, GEORGE BOWERING
SAID HE WAS TOTALLY AGAINST THE
AMERICANS, HE HATED EVERYTHING
ABOUT THEM, HE HAD NO USE FOR
THEM, EXCEPT FOR THEIR POETRY
AND THEIR BASEBALL .

[Audience laughter]

Robert continues WELL IF POETRY AND BASEBALL ARE
THE ONLY TWO THINGS HE REALLY
CARES ABOUT MUCH, BUT IN ANY
CASE, HE'S ANTI-AMERICAN.
WE WHO WRITE ABOUT, OR OTHERWISE
DEAL WITH THESE ISSUES, DEVELOP
A CERTAIN COLLECTIVE HABIT OF
MIND, IT'S HARD TO AVOID.
THERE'S AN ENGLISH TERM FOR THIS
HABIT OF MIND, BUT IT'S
PATHETICALLY INADEQUATE.
IT GOES SOMETHING LIKE, MENTAL
CONDITIONING CAUSED BY ONE'S
JOB, BUT THE FRENCH EQUIVALENT
IS POETIC AND EVOCATIVE.
IN FRENCH IT'S CALLED A
"DEFORMATION PROFESSIONELLE."
IN THE ARTS, THIS PROFESSIONAL
DEFORMITY TAKES THE FORM OF
LOOKING CONSTANTLY FOR POLITICAL
AND GOVERNMENT SOLUTIONS TO
CULTURAL PROBLEMS.
TO UNDERSTAND HOW IT WORKS, WE
HAVE TO GO BACK A LITTLE WAY TO
ANCIENT TIMES AND THE STORY OF
RYERSON PRESS, ONCE A PUBLISHING
COMPANY THAT MANY IN THIS ROOM
WILL NEVER HAVE HEARD OF.
IT BECAME, IN 1970, NO LESS THAN
A CULTURAL SCANDAL.
MANY CONSIDER
THE DEATH OF RYERSON IN 1970, A
KEY MOMENT IN THE HISTORY OF
CANADIAN PUBLISHING.
OTHERS CONSIDER IT A KEY MOMENT
IN THE HISTORY OF CANADIAN SELF
DECEPTION AND HUMBUG.
IN TORONTO,
FOR ABOUT 140 YEARS, THERE
EXISTED A COMPANY, THAT WAS
FIRST CALLED THE METHODIST BOOK
ROOM, AND LATER RENAMED IN
HONOUR OF EDGERTON RYERSON, THE
PIONEER CHURCHMAN AND EDUCATOR.
RYERSON PRESS WAS THE BOOK
PUBLISHING ARM OF THE UNITED
CHURCH OF CANADA.
BUT IT ISSUED, IN ADDITION TO
RELIGIOUS WORKS, MANY NOVELS,
BOOKS OF POETRY, AND BOOKS OF
NONFICTION, BOOKS OF ESSAYS.
IN THE 1920s AND 1930s, IT WAS A
FORCE THAT HAD TO BE TAKEN
SERIOUSLY.
IT PUBLISHED THE BOOKS OF SUCH
ONCE CELEBRATED POETS AND
WRITERS AS, SIR CHARLES C.D.
ROBERTS AND FREDERICK PHILIP
GROVE, AND THEIR CONTEMPORARIES.
FROM THE 1950s ONWARD, HOWEVER,
ITS BOOKS EXUDED AN AIR OF
DEDICATED AND CONSISTENT
MEDIOCRITY.
A GLANCE AT ONE OF ITS
WRETCHEDLY PRODUCED VOLUMES
SUGGESTED THE FIRM WAS DYING A
SLOW AND NOT STATELY DEATH.
READING THE BOOK USUALLY
CONFIRMED THAT IMPRESSION.
FOR YEARS, RYERSON PRESS WAS
CLOSE TO THE GRAVE.
FINALLY, IN DECEMBER 1970, THE
UNITED CHURCH, HAVING LOST MONEY
THAT IT DIDN'T WANT TO KEEP
LOSING, SOLD THE COMPANY TO
McGRAW HILL.
McGRAW HILL WAS A RESPECTABLE
FIRM THAT HAD ONE FLAW, IT WAS
BASED IN NEW YORK.
SO RYERSON NOW BECAME A BRANCH
PLANT OF AN AMERICAN COMPANY
UNDER THE NAME OF McGRAW HILL
RYERSON.
TO MY ASTONISHMENT, THIS NEWS
WAS FOLLOWED BY MUCH LOUD
CURSING AND GNASHING OF TEETH.
"OUR CULTURE," THE TORONTO STAR
ARGUED, "WAS BEING SOLD OUT TO
THE AMERICANS."
WE HAD TO DEFEND OURSELVES, THE
OTHER CANADIAN PUBLISHERS
CLAIMED, OR ALL OF CANADIAN
PUBLISHING WOULD DISAPPEAR AND
WITH IT OUR LITERATURE.
IN THIS MOSTLY IMAGINARY CRISIS,
THE PUBLISHERS AND THOSE WHO
HOPED TO BE PUBLISHERS DEVELOPED
A SHREWDLY CRAFTED PESSIMISM.
THIS NEW MANNER SOON BECAME THE
BASIS OF THEIR APPEAL FOR HELP,
AND SPREAD TO THE OTHER ARTS AS
WELL.
ALL OF THEM SOON MASTERED THE
RHETORIC OF VICTIMOLOGY.
A FEW OF US NOTED, AT THE TIME,
THAT RYERSON PRESS HAD BEEN FOR
DECADES AN EMBARRASSMENT TO
EVERYONE WHO HAD ANYTHING TO DO
WITH IT.
MORDECAI RICHLER WITH HIS
SPECIAL TALENT FOR CLARITY, SAID
HE WAS "GRATEFUL TO THE
AMERICANS, THOSE IDIOTS, FOR
TAKING THE DAMNED THING OFF OUR
HANDS."

[Audience laughter]

Robert continues HE HAD ANOTHER IDEA.
HE SUGGESTED, "MAYBE THE POOR
FOOLS WOULD LIKE TO BUY THE RCMP
MUSICAL RIDE AS WELL."

[Audience laughter]

Robert continues NEVERTHELESS, A PUBLIC AND
POLITICAL CONSENSUS EMERGED.
WE WERE IN DANGER, GOVERNMENT
HAD TO HELP.
ONTARIO SET UP A ROYAL
COMMISSION, AND IN OTTAWA,
BUREAUCRATS WROTE SOLEMN REPORTS
TO EACH OTHER WHILE POLITICIANS
GAVE SPEECHES AND PRESS
CONFERENCES.
A NEW ORGANISATION OF PUBLISHERS
WAS FORMED TO WHICH ONLY
CANADIAN OWNED COMPANIES COULD
APPLY FOR ADMISSION.
THIS WAS MORE THAN THREE DECADES
AGO, BUT MUCH OF WHAT HAS
HAPPENED SINCE LIES IN THE
SHADOW OF THAT REMARKABLE SERIES
OF EVENTS.
BOOK PUBLISHERS ARE NOW
ROUTINELY SUBSIDISED BY
GOVERNMENT, AND SO FAR AS WE
KNOW, THIS WILL CONTINUE FOR
ETERNITY.
PUBLISHING, LIKE FILM MAKING AND
TELEVISION HAS BEEN ENSHRINED AS
AN ESSENTIAL INDUSTRY THAT MUST
SOMEHOW BE KEPT ON ITS FEET, NO
MATTER HOW HIGH OR LOW THE
QUALITY OF THE WORK IT PRODUCES.
PUBLISHERS AND THEIR
BUREAUCRATIC ALLIES SO STRESS SO
OFTEN, THE POSSIBILITY OF
BANKRUPTCY, THAT A COMPANY'S
MERE SURVIVAL IN THE FACE OF
AMERICAN COMPETITION, IS
DEPICTED AS A HEROIC ACHIEVEMENT
IN ITSELF.
THE FEDERAL BOOK PUBLISHING
SUBSIDY TURNED INTO THE ULTIMATE
FORM OF WELFARE, YOU COULD BE
PAID JUST FOR BEING ALIVE.
SOMETIMES OUR PUBLISHERS GIVE US
EXCELLENT BOOKS.
SOMETIMES THEY ACT LIKE THE
COALITION OF THE INCOMPETENT.
IN BOTH CASES THEY RECEIVE
CHEQUES, PRINCIPALLY BECAUSE
THEY'RE NOT AMERICAN.
IN FAIRNESS THOUGH, BEFORE I
LEAVE THAT POINT, I SHOULD
MENTION THAT THIS DOESN'T
ACTUALLY MAKE ANY OF THEM RICH,
BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY
COMPANIES NOW, THAT THE MONEY IS
SPREAD SO THINLY, THAT MOST OF
THEM CONTINUE TO TEETER ON THE
BRINK OF BANKRUPTCY, AND SOME
FALL INTO IT.
THE ATMOSPHERE THUS CREATED IS
THE ANTITHESIS OF ORDINARY
BUSINESS PRACTICE.
IF A CANADIAN
BOOK PUBLISHING COMPANY DID
WELL, IT'S EXECUTIVES WOULD
PROBABLY BE RELUCTANT TO
DISCLOSE THAT FACT, BECAUSE
NATIONALISM, LIKE FEMINISM
RELIES ON THE STATUS OF VICTIM
TO SUSTAIN ITS ANGER AND ITS
ENERGY.
IN THE ARTS, PERHAPS ALSO IN
POLITICS, THIS INVOLVES A
RHETORIC THAT IS INVARIABLY
CONTRADICTORY.
ON THE ONE
HAND, THE PUBLISHERS COMPLAIN
ABOUT THE OVERWHELMING POWER OF
THEIR AMERICAN COMPETITORS,
INCLUDING AMERICAN BRANCHES IN
CANADA.
ON THE OTHER HAND, BEING IN
BUSINESS WITH PRODUCTS TO SELL,
THEY CELEBRATE INDIVIDUAL
TRIUMPHS AND DEMAND THAT THESE
BE ADMIRED.
INDIVIDUALS WHO BECOME ADDICTED
TO THIS FORM OF NATIONALISM CAN
BE IDENTIFIED BY THEIR CONSTANT
USE OF THREE KEY WORDS, THE
WORDS ARE, "IN THIS COUNTRY."
A WRITER, EVEN A CELEBRATED
WRITER WITH MANY READERS, WILL
SAY, OFTEN WITH A MELANCHOLY
SIGH, "IT'S HARD TO MAKE A
LIVING AS A WRITER IN THIS
COUNTRY."
IN THIS COUNTRY... LEAVING THE
IMPRESSION THAT IT'S EASY FOR
WRITERS TO MAKE A LIVING IN
FINLAND OR BELGIUM OR AUSTRALIA.
WHAT THEY MEAN, REALLY IS, THAT
IT'S PROBABLY EASIER IN THE
UNITED STATES, WHICH IS A
DUBIOUS IDEA THAT FEW AMERICAN
AUTHORS WOULD ENDORSE.
TOXIC ANTI-AMERICANISM, AS ROBIN
ROGERS MENTIONED, HAS BEEN ONE
OF MY SUBJECTS FOR MORE THAN 40
YEARS, AND I CONFESS I STILL
HAVEN'T FOUND THE ANTIDOTE.
MY OWN POSITION HAS OFTEN BEEN
INFLECTED BY AMBIVALENCE, THOUGH
AT THE BEGINNING, IT SEEMED TO
ME ABSOLUTELY SIMPLE.
I GREW UP IN TORONTO AS A
PATRIOTIC CANADIAN, LOVING
AMERICA AND SEEING NO ESSENTIAL
CONTRADICTION IN THOSE FEELINGS.
THE AMERICANS WERE SIMILAR TO
US, BUT ALSO DIFFERENT, AND IN
MANY FASCINATING WAYS.
THEY HAD A LOT TO GIVE US.
WE AGREED WITH THEM ON MOST
ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS, AND I WAS
DELIGHTED THAT THEY LIVED JUST
DOWN THE ROAD, MAKING THEIR
VAST, DIVERSE AND ENGAGING
CULTURE EASILY AVAILABLE.
IN THE RELATIONS OF ALL
COUNTRIES WITH THE U.S., ENVY IS
SAID TO PLAY A LARGE ROLE.
FOR MY PART, I ENVY THE
AMERICANS THEIR 19th CENTURY.
I DON'T ENVY THE BLOOD THEY SHED
IN THE CIVIL WAR, BUT I ENVY
THEM THE MEANING THAT MEMORIES
OF THAT WAR GAVE TO THEIR
NATIONAL LIFE FOR GENERATIONS.
THOSE MYSTIC CHORDS OF MEMORY,
AS ABRAHAM LINCOLN CALLED THEM.
WE HAVE NOTHING LIKE THAT.
I ENVY THEM THAT ARRAY OF 19th
CENTURY GIANTS, MELVILLE,
WHITMAN, EMERSON AND ABOVE ALL,
MARK TWAIN.
WE HAVE NOTHING LIKE THEM.
OUR 19th CENTURY, CULTURALLY,
LOOKS BY COMPARISON, LIKE A
WASTELAND.
FOR THAT MATTER, I ENVY THEM
THEIR 20th CENTURY.
I ENVY THEM DUKE ELLINGTON, JOHN
FORD, SAUL BELLOW, ERNEST
HEMINGWAY AND SCORES OF OTHERS.
THIS ENVY OF THE UNITED STATES
SEEMS ABSOLUTELY NATURAL TO ME,
AND IT LEADS ME NOT TO
RESENTMENT, BUT TO
APPROPRIATION.
I'VE ALWAYS BELIEVED THOSE
ACHIEVEMENTS BELONGED TO ME IF I
WANT TO CLAIM THEM.
THEY BELONG TO ME AS ONE OF MY
TRADITIONS.
AND MOREOVER, I HAVE DEVELOPED
THE PASSIONATE VIEW THAT ONLY A
PERVERSION OF OPINION COULD ROB
ME OF THESE PLEASURES.
THAT'S CERTAINLY NOT MY OWN
PRIVATE NOTION.
I THINK SENSIBLE CANADIANS IN
GENERAL, THEY MAY NOT PHRASE IT
JUST THAT WAY, BUT I THINK
SENSIBLE CANADIANS IN GENERAL
USE THE HERITAGE OF THE UNITED
STATES AS IF THEY HAD A PART
OWNERSHIP IN IT, WHICH I BELIEVE
THEY DO.
BUT IN THE 1950s, AS I BEGAN
STUDYING SOME OF THE STRUCTURES
OF OUR CULTURE, I CAME TO
UNDERSTAND THAT THIS WAS FAR
FROM BEING THE OFFICIAL VIEW.
THE OFFICIAL VIEW WAS EMBODIED
IN 1951, IN THE REPORT OF THE
ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE ARTS,
SCIENCES AND LETTERS, CHAIRED BY
VINCENT MASSEY.
THE COMMISSION LED TO THE
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CANADA
COUNCIL THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF
CANADA, AND INDIRECTLY, MANY
OTHER GOOD THINGS.
SADLY, IT ALSO DEVELOPED, FOR
CANADA, A DEFENSIVE AND NEGATIVE
VIEW OF CULTURE.
IN THE MASSEY REPORT, THE UNITED
STATES WAS DEPICTED AS AN ALIEN
CULTURE JUST ON THE VERGE OF
SWAMPING AND OBLITERATING
CANADA.
MASSEY'S OWN CULTURAL SYMPATHIES
LAY MAINLY WITH ENGLAND.
AND LIKE AN ENGLISHMAN OF A
CENTURY AGO, HE SAW THE U.S. AS
BOTH A BAD EXAMPLE AND A MENACE.
HE WAS BLIND TO THE APPEAL OF
AMERICAN MASS CULTURE, BUT HE
KNEW THAT IT WAS MONSTROUSLY
POPULAR WITH HIS FELLOW
CITIZENS.
HIS REPORT WARNED THAT IT COULD
SATURATE CANADA AND MAKE
DISTINCT CANADIAN EXPRESSION
IMPOSSIBLE.
NOW UNLIKE MANY, THE MAJORITY,
OR ROYAL COMMISSION REPORTS, THE
MASSEY COMMISSION REPORT WAS A
HUGE SUCCESS.
IT WAS QUOTED ENDLESSLY AND IT
ENTERED THE BLOODSTREAM OF THE
COUNTRY.
AFTER IT WAS ASSIMILATED, WE
WERE SET ON OUR COURSE.
WE SHOULD SUPPORT CULTURE NOT
FOR ITS OWN SAKE, BUT TO SAVE US
FROM AMERICA.
EVER SINCE 1951, THAT IDEA HAS
HAUNTED DISCUSSION OF THE ARTS
IN CANADA.
IN OTHER WORDS, WE LEARNED TO DO
THE RIGHT THING FOR THE WRONG
REASON.
IN THE EYES
OF MANY PEOPLE, ABOVE ALL, THE
GROWING ARMY OF CULTURAL
BUREAUCRATS, THE ARTS BECAME A
QUESTION OF NATIONAL DEFENSE.
THEY WERE NOT
SEEN AS A WAY OF UNDERSTANDING
THE WORLD, AND OURSELVES, MUCH
LESS SEEN AS OBJECTS OF PLEASURE
FOR AESTHETIC CONTEMPLATION.
THEY WERE SEEN INSTEAD AS A
POLITICAL FUNCTIONARY, AS A
MEANS TO KEEP AMERICA AT BAY.
OVER THE YEARS, CULTURE, IN OUR
COLLECTIVE IMAGINATION, HAS
TURNED INTO A FORTRESS, A PLACE
OF SHELTER, WHICH WE MUST, AT
ALL COSTS DEFEND.
CERTAIN KEY WORDS DOMINATE OUR
LANGUAGE WHEN WE DISCUSS THIS
SUBJECT, PARTICULARLY IN
PARLIAMENT, BUT ALSO IN THE
NEWSPAPERS AND IN THE
CONFERENCES OF ARTS
ORGANISATIONS.
THE KEY WORDS INCLUDE, SAVE, AND
PROTECT AND RESCUE AND PRESERVE.
A HEADLINE IN MACLEANS A FEW
YEARS AGO, SAID, "ON GUARD FOR
THEE, SHEILA COPPS TURNS UP THE
VOLUME TO PROTECT THE CULTURE."
THOSE WORDS ALONE, GUARD AND
PROTECT SEEM TO PROPHESY DEFEAT,
OR AT BEST, STASIS.
WHAT WE DESCRIBE AS AMERICAN
MASS CULTURE, SHOULD MORE
PROPERLY BE CALLED NORTH AMERICA
MASS CULTURE.
MANY CANADIANS TAKE PART IN IT.
CANADIANS FORM A CRUCIAL PART OF
THE AUDIENCE FOR IT.
YET WE'VE COME TO BELIEVE WE CAN
REFUSE TO ACCEPT EITHER
RESPONSIBILITY OR CREDIT FOR IT.
IT IS NOT OURS, IT IS SOMETHING
WE LOOK AT, AS THE WORK OF
FOREIGNERS FOR WHOM WE WILL
NEVER BE RESPONSIBLE.
LAST SUMMER A TYPICAL CANADIAN
NEWSPAPER HEADLINE APPEARING
OVER JOHN DOYLE'S TV COLUMN IN
THE GLOBE AND MAIL SAID, "THE
EMPTY INANITY OF AMERICAN
CELEBRITY."
APPARENTLY IMPLYING OBVIOUSLY,
THAT CANADIAN CELEBRITY IS
NEITHER EMPTY NOR INANE.
IN ANOTHER PIECE, DOYLE
DESCRIBES WATCHING TV ON, "A
DULL DAY OF MIND NUMBING
AMERICAN PIFFLE CULTURE."
FOR CULTURAL JOURNALISTS, THE
U.S. OFFERS AN EASY PUNCHING
BAG.
WHAT CANADIAN READER WOULD
OBJECT TO SOMEONE WHO POURS
CONTEMPT ON AMERICA.
OUR NEWSPAPERS, LIKE OUR
POLITICIANS AND OUR CULTURAL
BUREAUCRATS IMPLY THAT WE SHOULD
TAKE A POSITION OF UNEARNED
SUPERIORITY FROM WHICH WE CAN
LOOK DOWN ON THE UNITED STATES.
EVEN SO, EVEN THOUGH I HAD SO
MANY TIMES, RECOGNISED,
DEPLORED, DESPISED AND SATIRISED
THESE TENDENCIES, EVEN SO,
AROUND 1970I BEGAN TO SEE MERIT
IN THE NATIONALIST ARGUMENT.
IT SEEMED TO ME, ON REFLECTION,
THAT COUNTRIES WITHOUT CONSCIOUS
AND ARTICULATED NATIONAL GOALS
AND INTENTIONS, WERE LIKELY TO
BE OVERWHELMED BY OTHER FORMS OF
NATIONALISM.
CERTAINLY AMERICAN NATIONALISM,
THOUGH NEVER, NEVER CALLED THAT
IN THE UNITED STATES, WAS IN A
POSITION TO OVERWHELM CANADA.
NOW THIS UNCOMFORTABLE FACT LAY
BEHIND THE UNEXPECTED SUCCESS
AND UNPRECEDENTED INFLUENCE OF A
SINGLE BOOK, "LAMENT FOR A
NATION," BY GEORGE GRANT, WHICH
WAS PUBLISHED IN 1965.
THIS WAS A LANDMARK IN CULTURAL
NATIONALISM, THOUGH IT SEEMS TO
HAVE BEEN MISUNDERSTOOD BY A
GREAT MANY OF ITS READERS.
UPON LENGTHY EXAMINATION AND
WHEN CONSIDERED ALONGSIDE HIS
OTHER WORKS, "LAMENT FOR A
NATION" TURNED OUT TO BE MORE OF
A CONDEMNATION OF LIBERAL
DEMOCRACY AND MODERNITY, THAN AN
ATTACK ON AMERICAN POWER IN
CANADA, WHICH IT WAS ON THE
SURFACE, AND AN ATTACK ON THE
LIBERALS WHO FACILITATED
AMERICAN POWER, WHICH IS HOW ITS
EARLY READERS SAW IT.
GEORGE GRANT, WHO WAS THEN A
PROFESSOR OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES
AT McMASTER, WROTE IN A STYLE
THAT UNFORTUNATELY, OWED RATHER
TOO MUCH TO ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS
OF HIS FAVOURITE MODERN
PHILOSOPHER MARTIN HEIDEGGER.
GRANT WAS ABLE TO OVERLOOK
HEIDEGGER'S NAZI AFFILIATION IN
RETURN FOR HEIDEGGER'S HATRED
FOR INDUSTRIALISATION, NARROW
SPECIALISATION, AND WHAT BOTH
HEIDEGGER AND GRANT CONSIDERED
THE DEADENING BLANDNESS AND
SAMENESS OF MODERN LIFE.
THE MORE YOU STUDY GRANT, THE
MORE DISTANT HE SEEMS FROM
HIS ADMIRERS.
IRONICALLY ANOTHER HERO OF HIS
WAS LEO STRAUSS, THE PHILOSOPHER
WHO HAS LATELY BEEN OFTEN AND
UNJUSTIFIABLY REVILED AS THE
INSPIRATION FOR GEORGE W. BUSH'S
FOREIGN POLICY.
ALL IN ALL, GRANT WAS AMONG THE
MOST COMPLICATED WRITERS OF HIS
TIME, AND IT WAS POSSIBLE TO
FIND IN HIS WORK WHATEVER A
READER WANTED TO FIND.
BUT THERE'S NO QUESTION THAT HE
BECAME THE ONLY PHILOSOPHER, THE
ONLY CANADIAN PHILOSOPHER OF THE
20th CENTURY TO HAVE A DIRECT
INFLUENCE ON POLITICS.
"LAMENT FOR A NATION" INSPIRED
SOME OF THE BRIGHTEST CANADIANS
OF THE '60s, AND PROVIDED A
FOUNDATION FOR WHAT WE CALLED IN
THE 1970s, THE NEW NATIONALISM.
THIS TENDENCY TO WHICH MUCH OF
THE CULTURAL COMMUNITY COMMITTED
ITSELF WAS ATTRACTIVE AND
PROMISING, OR SO I THOUGHT.
IN TIME,
HOWEVER, MY SYMPATHY FOR IT
DISSOLVED.
I SLOWLY REALISED THAT IT WAS
MORE ANTI-AMERICAN THAN PRO-
CANADIAN.
IN FACT, IT WAS A REWRITE AND A
RERUN OF THE ANTI-AMERICANISM OF
THE PAST.
AND I BEGAN
TO UNDERSTAND THAT IT REFLECTED
A FANTASY OF INDEPENDENT
EXISTENCE THAT HAD NO
RELATIONSHIP TO THE REAL
CIRCUMSTANCES OF OUR TIME IN
HISTORY AND OUR PLACE ON THIS
CONTINENT.
IN FACT, THE MORE THE NEW
NATIONALISM SPREAD, THE MORE
FANTASTIC IT GREW.
ONE EMINENT POET IN THIS
MOVEMENT, TOLD ME IN ALL
SERIOUSNESS, THAT HE DID NOT
BELIEVE CANADA COULD EVER
POSSIBLY ACHIEVE TRUE
INDEPENDENCE, UNTIL IT ENGAGED
IN ARMED STRUGGLE WITH THE
AMERICANS.
[Audience murmuring]
FINALLY THE NEW NATIONALISM
TURNED INTO SOMETHING OLD, AND
EVENTUALLY IT DISAPPEARED FROM
PUBLIC VIEW AND RETREATED INTO
DUSTY CORNERS OF A FEW POLITICAL
SCIENCE DEPARTMENTS.
BUT SOMETHING LIKE IT SPRANG TO
LIFE IN THE LATE 1980s.
THAT WAS WHEN BRIAN MULRONEY'S
GOVERNMENT PROPOSED A FREE TRADE
AGREEMENT WITH THE U.S.
NATIONALISTS...
WITH THE UNITED STATES.
THE FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH
THE UNITED STATES CAUSED
NATIONALISM TO COME OUT OF
HIBERNATION.
NATIONALISTS SEIZED ON THIS PLAN
AS A FRESH AND POTENT ISSUE, A
NEW REASON FOR HATING AMERICANS.
MARGARET ATWOOD, RICK SALUTIN
AND MANY OTHERS, PEOPLE WHO HAD
SELDOM PREVIOUSLY SHOWN ANY
INTEREST IN TRADING ARRANGEMENTS
WITH THE U.S. NOW EMERGED AS
PASSIONATE COMMENTATORS AND
SOMETIMES ANGRY EXPERTS ON THIS
SUBJECT.
THEY ARGUED THAT THE FREE TRADE
AGREEMENT WOULD AMERICANISE
CANADA UNDERMINING OUR POLITICAL
INDEPENDENCE, OUR HEALTH CARE
SYSTEM, OUR CULTURE, AND
EVERYTHING ELSE OF CONSEQUENCE.
THEY FURTHER CONTENDED THAT
AMERICAN AND CANADIAN SOCIETY
WOULD BE, FOR PRACTICAL
PURPOSES, INDISTINGUISHABLE IN
THE NEAR FUTURE, AND CANADA
EVENTUALLY WOULD DISAPPEAR.
THE CBC DID ALL IT COULD TO
RALLY OPINION AGAINST THE FREE
TRADE AGREEMENT.
AND JOHN TURNER, AS THE LEADER
OF THE LIBERAL PARTY, ATTACKED
IT WITH AN ALMOST HYSTERICAL
VEHEMENCE.
BUT AFTER MULRONEY AND FREE
TRADE WON THE ELECTION OF 1988,
NOTHING LIKE THAT HAPPENED.
INSTEAD IN THE FOLLOWING 15
YEARS, THE TWO COUNTRIES GREW
FARTHER APART, UNTIL THEIR
OPINIONS ON QUESTIONS RANGING
FROM HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE TO
DEFENSE, BECAME ALMOST
ANTITHETICAL.
AND NOT LONG AFTER MULRONEY'S
CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT RATIFIED
THE AGREEMENT, THE LIBERALS
BEGAN A LONG, FURTIVE CREEP BACK
TOWARD THE CONSERVATIVE POSITION
OF FREE TRADE.
BY THE TIME THE LIBERALS
RETURNED TO POWER IN 1993, WITH
JOHN TURNER DISCARDED, AND JEAN
CHRETIEN AS THE PRIME MINISTER,
THEY HAD ADOPTED WITHOUT DEBATE,
THE VERY POLICY THEY HAD
DENOUNCED AS TREASON ONLY A FEW
MONTHS BEFORE.
HAVING TORN THE COUNTRY APART
EMOTIONALLY, HAVING TURNED
HUSBANDS AGAINST WIVES AND
PARENTS AGAINST CHILDREN, THEY
CASUALLY DROPPED THE SUBJECT
WHEN IT NO LONGER SEEMED
APPLICABLE.
THAT ARGUMENT OVER FREE TRADE,
LARGELY POINTLESS, AS IT TURNED
OUT, CAN STAND PERMANENTLY AS A
SPECTACULAR CASE OF ANTI-
AMERICANISM PUT TO POLITICAL
USE.
LIBERALS WHO REMEMBER IT,
PROBABLY NOW CONSIDER THAT THEIR
LEADER'S RHETORIC OF 1988 WAS
NOTHING MORE THAN A POLITICAL
GIMMICK THAT DIDN'T QUITE WORK.
BUT SURELY IT LEFT A POWERFUL
RESIDUE OF SILENT, ANTI-U.S.
EMOTION.
EIGHT YEARS AGO, AFTER THE
PASSIONS OF 1988 HAD APPARENTLY
COOLED.
J.L. GRANATSTEIN, WHOM I
MENTIONED A FEW MINUTES AGO,
WROTE A VALUABLE HISTORICAL
SURVEY, UNDER THE TITLE, "YANKEE
GO HOME? CANADIANS AND ANTI-
AMERICANISM."
AT THAT MOMENT ANTI-AMERICANISM
WAS QUIET, IT WAS HIDING IN THE
BUSHES AND GRANATSTEIN WAS
MISLED.
HE CALLED THE CONCLUSION OF HIS
BOOK THE END OF ANTI-
AMERICANISM.
HE WROTE, "THE DAYS OF YANKEE GO
HOME, SUCH AS THEY WERE IN
CANADA, ARE OVER.
IT'S YANKEE COME BACK, AND BRING
MONEY.
ANTI-AMERICANISM IS WEAKER IN
CANADA NOW THAN EVER BEFORE."
AND HE ALSO SAID, "WE ARE
FINALLY OUTGROWING OUR REFLEXIVE
ANTI-AMERICANISM."
BUT I AM IN NO POSITION TO
DERIDE JACK GRANATSTEIN'S
INSIGHTS.
BOTH GRANATSTEIN AND I HAVE, AT
DIFFERENT TIMES AND FOR QUITE
DIFFERENT REASONS, UNDERSTATED
THE POTENCY OF THE ANTI-
AMERICANISM LURKING AMONG OUR
FELLOW CITIZENS.
IF HIS ASSUMPTIONS IN 1996 WERE
INCORRECT, AS THEY WERE, MY OWN
PREDICTIONS WERE EVEN LESS
PRESCIENT, AND WORSE, WERE MADE
MUCH MORE RECENTLY.
A FEW DAYS AFTER THE ATROCITIES
OF SEPTEMBER 11th, 2001, I
SUGGESTED THAT THE NEW
HISTORICAL PERIOD THAT WAS NOW
UNFOLDING, WOULD FORCE US TO
RETHINK OUR CONNECTION TO
AMERICA.
I DIDN'T PREDICT THE END TO
ANTI-U.S. PREJUDICE, BUT I
IMPLIED THAT IN RESPONSE TO THE
ATTACK OF THE RADICAL ISLAMISTS,
WE WOULD NATURALLY ALIGN
OURSELVES WITH THE AMERICANS.
OF COURSE I
WAS ENTIRELY WRONG.
CANADIANS SEIZED THE NEW ERA AS
AN OCCASION TO FOCUS ON THE MANY
FLAWS WE HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN
EXISTED AMONG THE AMERICANS, AND
PERHAPS ALSO ON A FEW WE NEVER
NOTICED BEFORE.
AS A PEOPLE, WE HAVE LATELY DONE
ALL WE COULD TO DISTANCE
OURSELVES FROM THEM.
WE HAVE
DECIDED TO SEE THEM, WHENEVER
POSSIBLE, AS RECKLESSLY
BELLICOSE.
WE HAVE EXALTED IN THEIR
FAILURES AND ONLY GRUDGINGLY
ADMITTED THEIR VICTORIES.
IN THE PROCESS, IT SEEMS TO ME,
WE HAVE BETRAYED OUR BEST
FRIENDS, AND SHAMED OURSELVES.
WE HAVE ALSO AVOIDED SUBSTANTIAL
PARTICIPATION IN THE GREAT
CONFLICT OF THIS PERIOD.
FOR DECADES WE HAVE BEEN HEADING
IN THIS DIRECTION.
UNDER PIERRE TRUDEAU, CANADA
BEGAN A SLOW MOTION VERSION OF
UNILATERAL DISARMAMENT,
GRADUALLY REDUCING OUR MILITARY
FORCES.
THIS CONTINUED UNDER MULRONEY
AND CHRETIEN.
THE LACK OF MILITARY STRENGTH
GAVE US YET ANOTHER WAY TO
DIFFERENTIATE OURSELVES FROM THE
AMERICANS.
WE LEARNED TO REDEFINE OUR
WEAKNESS AS SOME KIND OF WISDOM.
DURING THE LIBERAL PARTY'S
LEADERSHIP BATTLE IN THE SUMMER
OF 2002, THE QUESTIONS OF
DEFENCE AND TERRORISM, SURELY
KEY ISSUES OF THE DAY, WERE
BARELY MENTIONED.
IT WAS AS IF CANADA LIVED ON A
SEPARATE PLANE OF EXISTENCE,
UNTOUCHED BY THE PASSIONS AND
THE TERRORS DISTURBING MUCH OF
THE WORLD.
PAUL MARTIN'S SUPPORTERS WERE
THEN SUGGESTING IN PRIVATE, THAT
THIS WOULD CHANGE FOR THE BETTER
WHEN HE BECAME PRIME MINISTER.
AT THE MOMENT, THAT'S NOT AT ALL
CERTAIN.
LAST WEEK, AND EDITORIAL IN THE
TORONTO STAR CONGRATULATED THE
NEW PRIME MINISTER ON KEEPING
HIS DISTANCE FROM THE AMERICANS
IN THE SPEECH FROM THE THRONE.
THE STAR SAID THAT "CANADIANS DO
NOT REGARD THE WAR ON TERROR AS
A PRISM THROUGH WHICH TO VIEW
OUR GLOBAL INTERESTS."
"THAT," THE STAR SAID, "WAS THE
AMERICAN WAY."
BUT FOR US IT WOULD BE AN
OBSESSION NOT A VISION.
WE STILL HAVE LITTLE IDEA WHAT
LEADERSHIP THE NEW GOVERNMENT
WILL OFFER, IF ANY.
BEFORE CLOSING, I SHOULD
ACKNOWLEDGE MY PERMANENT DEBT TO
THE INTELLECTUAL WHO FIRST
BROUGHT THE COMPLEXITIES AND
CONTRADICTIONS OF THIS SUBJECT
TO MY ATTENTION.
HE WAS FRANK UNDERHILL, A
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO HISTORIAN
AT THE MIDDLE OF THE LAST
CENTURY.
IN 1933, UNDERHILL WROTE THE
FOUNDING DOCUMENT OF THE
CANADIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATS, THE
REGINA MANIFESTO, AND THEN IN
THE YEARS THAT FOLLOWED, HE
BECAME THE SHREWDEST CRITIC OF
CANADIAN LIBERALISM, AND THEN A
PARTICULARLY ACUTE ANALYST OF
THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IN U.S.
CANADA RELATIONS.
THAT'S THE POINT AT WHICH I CAME
UNDER HIS INFLUENCE.
WHEN DISCUSSING THE MASSEY
REPORT, HE ARGUED THAT WHAT
MASSEY CONSIDERED ALIEN AMERICAN
INFLUENCES, WERE SIMPLY THE
NATURAL FORCES OPERATING ON A
CONTINENTAL SCALE, WHICH IS
PRECISELY HOW MOST CANADIANS
EXPERIENCE THEM.
UNDERHILL LEFT ME WITH THE
BELIEF THAT THE TEST OF CANADIAN
MATURITY WILL LIE IN HOW WE
ADJUST TO THE INEVITABILITY OF
AMERICAN LEADERSHIP.
WHEN HE DIED IN 1971, WE HAD NOT
YET FOUND A WAY TO MEET THAT
TEST, AND THREE DECADES LATER,
THIS PROJECT IS STILL BEYOND OUR
CAPACITY.
TWO WEEKS AGO, DISCUSSING ANTI-
AMERICANISM AROUND THE WORLD, I
ADMITTED THAT MY INTEREST LAY,
NOT SO MUCH IN GLOBAL STRATEGY,
AS IN WHAT WE MIGHT CALL THE
PSYCHOPATHOLOGY OF POLITICS AND
SPECIFICALLY, THE
PSYCHOPATHOLOGY OF NATIONALISM.
PLACING ANTI-AMERICANISM IN
CANADIAN CONTEXT FORCES ME TO
CONSIDER IT MORE PERSONALLY.
FEW PUBLIC ISSUES SO DEEPLY
AFFECT MY OWN LIFE AND MY IDEA
OF MYSELF.
FEW SUBJECTS HAVE CLAIMED SO
MUCH OF MY ATTENTION AS BOTH A
JOURNALIST AND A CITIZEN.
FEW PROBLEMS HAVE SO OFTEN MADE
ME QUESTION MY PRINCIPLES.
IN VARIOUS WAYS AND VARIOUS
MOODS, I HAVE LIVED THROUGH MANY
OF THE CHANGES THAT I HAVE
DESCRIBED THIS EVENING.
MUCH OF THE TIME I'VE FOUND
MYSELF OPPOSED TO THE NATIONAL
CONSENSUS, BUT MY OWN STRUGGLE
OVER ALL THESE YEARS HAS BEEN NO
LESS DIFFICULT, AND NO LESS
TROUBLED THAT THEN CONTINUING
STRUGGLE OF CANADA ITSELF.
IN THESE MANY CONTROVERSIES,
I'VE TRIED, ABOVE ALL, TO LEARN
HOW TO THINK ABOUT THIS PROBLEM
RATHER THAN MERELY REACT TO
EVERY TURN IN HISTORY.
BUT I RUEFULLY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT
FOR ME, AS MUCH AS FOR MY
COUNTRY, LEARNING TO THINK
RESPONSIBLY AND CREATIVELY ABOUT
THIS ISSUE REMAINS EVEN NOW, A
MAJOR PIECE OF UNFINISHED
BUSINESS.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION.

[Applause]

Watch: Robert Fulford on Canadian/American Relations