Hello again, friends.
It’s almost Independence Day here in the US, and Canada celebrated their national birthday yesterday. It’s as good a time as any to reflect a bit on what makes our two nations different yet remain probably some of the best friends and allies in the world today.
Canada and the US share a lot of qualities, of course. We’re both primarily English-speaking cultures, although Canada is officially bi-lingual with a strong element of French-derived culture; while the US has no formal official language it is effectively bi-lingual with a large portion of its population having Hispanic roots. Both nations also have many other minority populations that speak languages from all around the globe and from indigenous peoples who were here before this continent was colonized by Europeans.
Both nations derive a lot of their culture from their English roots, to include their judicial and legislative systems although the US has a much more heavily modified version of the English Parliament while Canada’s judicial system is influenced somewhat more by French Civil law instead of the ‘common law’ more prevalent in the US.
We also share the longest land border between any two nations on the planet, and it’s probably the easiest international border to cross anywhere outside of the European Union despite some additional restrictions added after 9/11. No military units, walls or fortresses face one another across this largest of all international frontiers; if anything, the US and Canada are probably the closest military allies on Earth, even decades after the end of the Cold War.
Despite being the world’s largest trade partners Canada isn’t quite the economic powerhouse as is the US, but it’s only a matter of degree since both nations are still quite wealthy and for much the same reason. Income disparity isn’t quite as stark in Canada as in the US, in my opinion because Canada has a more integrated social welfare system–and because it never suffered the specter of slavery.
Canada’s population is barely one-tenth that of the US although its surface area is marginally greater. Less of that land area is developed or even suitable for farming or intensive habitation due to its location on the continent but it still has enormous natural resources–including some of the largest proven reserves of fossil fuels–and an agricultural output second only to the US.
Although the two nations almost went to war in 1867, since then they have shared an almost unbroken peaceful political and economic history with one another with few of the problems that have vexed other close neighbors. Canada is not as many would flippantly say ‘just a part of the US’; nor does Canada’s ‘socialism’ present any sort of political danger to the US. We are similar, but different in many important ways, and the two nations have pursued different goals in different fashions as suits their citizens and political climates. ‘Vive la differance’, I say. Friendships among nations, like those among individuals, rely just as much on differences as similarities.
Happy Birthday, United States, and Happy belated Birthday, Canada!
Keep striving, friends.