My Journey to Canada: Part 6………..by Balwant Sanghera
February 15, 2021: Living in the shadow of a war or conflict is a very traumatic experience for anyone. Like many other places of armed conflicts and on-going wars, people of India, particularly those living in the Punjab during the 1962 War with China ,1965 War with Pakistan and other armed conflicts will recall the constant fear of living during the conflict/war. When the relations between two or more neighbouring countries are not friendly, there is always a likelihood of an armed conflict.
This realization became very obvious to me when I arrived in Canada in 1966. We are very fortunate to live in a country that has very good relations with its next door neighbour. As a matter of fact, Canada and the United States have a common longest undefended border between the two nations. Except for some skirmishes in 1812 the relations between Canada and United States have been very friendly and cordial.
Both Canada and the U.S. have very strong bonds. Both are fairly rich and resourceful countries. Both have very common values. Both are members of common alliances like NATO, NORAD, G-8, G-20 etc. However, despite these similarities, both Canada and the U.S. are also miles apart on many other issues. Take for example, Canada‘s model of MOSAIC and Multiculturalism. Canada is home to more than 200 communities and more than 200 languages from all over the globe. Canadian MOSAC is like a flower garden which recognizes, celebrates and appreciates different cultures, customs, traditions and languages. This aspect was fully recognized in the Multiculturalism Act of 1971. It has made Canada a very inclusive and welcoming nation.
No doubt, our neighbours to the south also welcome people from all over. However, rather than our model of a MOSAIC they have the model of a Melting Pot. Americans expect every newcomer to integrate, merge and be part of the American dream. Similarly, our medical systems are also quite different from each other. The other difference that is quite apparent is Canadians and Americans knowledge about each other’s countries. Canadians know a lot more about our American neighbours than our American friends know about Canada. As a matter of fact, when we move away/south from our adjoining border states, some of the Americans even look at our Canadian money as funny money. As usual, relations between our two nations depend a lot on the chemistry between leaders of both countries. Also, the policies of the two main political parties in Canada-Liberals and Conservatives and Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. play a major role in this regard.
During the mid sixties, American President Lyndon Johnson (Democrat) and Canadian Prime Minister Lester (Mike) Pearson (Liberal) got along fairly well. Certainly, the two leaders had differences over American war/ involvement in Vietnam. However, on the whole relations stayed normal. Pearson was followed by Pierre Elliot Trudeau as Prime Minister of Canada in 1968. In the U.S. Richard Nixon and later Ronald Reagan (both Republicans) succeeded Johnson as Presidents. Trudeau had some philosophical differences with both. However, despite this they managed to get along well with each other. When Brian Mulroney, a Conservative, became Prime Minster in 1984, the relations between him and Reagan warmed up considerably.
This warm relationship between our leaders and countries continued under Bill Clinton (Democrat) and Jean Chretien (Liberal). Since then relations between the leadership and the two countries have been fairly good under following administrations under Stephen Harper (Conservative) and George Bush (Republican), Barack Obama (Democrat) and Justin Trudeau (Liberal). However, this relationship turned sour when Donald Trump (Republican) was elected president of the United States in 2016. The recent election of Joe Biden (Democrat) is likely to turn things around. There is every hope that both of our countries and their leaders will continue to have an amicable and productive relationship. It is in the best interests of both of our countries and the world.
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