Canada and Mexico: Hey, Remember Us?

north-america-mapHere is today’s current events quiz:

  1. Who is the political leader of the largest exporter of oil to the United States?
  2. Who is the political leader of the second largest exporter of oil to the United States?
  3. Which nations are the top two importers of U.S. goods?


  1. Yesterday Enrique Pena Nieto was inaugurated as president of Mexico.  He promises to create jobs and fight poverty in a nation that suffered 60,000 violent deaths and crushing corruption during the six year term of his predecessor, Felipe Calderon.  Some say he is just another insider and not much will change.  Have you heard anything about our southern neighbor in our mainstream media or from any of our own political leaders?
  2. Stephen Harper was elected prime minister of Canada in 2006 and is now serving his second term.  An advocate of individual freedoms and government accountability, Harper’s administration enjoyed considerable fiscal success early in his presidency, but lately Canada has been held back by the slowdown in the U.S. and world economies.  How many times has President Obama met with the leader of our northern neighbor and largest import customer?  I can’t find reference to more than one meeting between the two.
  3. See numbers one and two above.

Few Americans know the answers to these questions because WE GET NO REAL NEWS.  And because WE HAVE NO REAL POLITICAL LEADERSHIP.

I am embarrassed every time I visit Canada and find that my friends from the Great White North know infinitely more about what’s going on in our country than we do about theirs.  Actually, they seem to know more about our government and events than most Americans do.

Recently a friend from Australia lamented to me that he and his wife drove around the United States for ten weeks this summer and never heard a single word about his home country in the news.

If this is how we treat our best friends, is it any wonder we have so few of them?  And that those we have are lukewarm, at best?

Earlier this week I railed about our critically injured sense of priorities. What should the top priorities of our President be?  He seems to spend most of his time campaigning, either for election or in support of his “tax the rich” non-solution to our economic woes. He engages in small social issues that affect very few Americans and don’t address the thundering herd of elephants in the room – unemployment, debt, and runaway government spending.  His priorities are climate change, fairness, and social engineering.

A true leader would be learning about, supporting, and working hand-in-hand with our North American friends and neighbors.  We should forge a regional alliance to take advantage of our human and natural resources to compete economically with China and Europe.  We should stand side-by-side before the world in support of human rights.  And for God’s sake, why aren’t we helping Mexico become the thriving democracy it should be – not only for our own economic well-being and security, but because it’s the right thing to do for a neighbor and friend?

I’m afraid our friends have, rightfully, lost confidence in us.  It’s time for all Americans to demand that our political leaders reset their priorities.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side
As you walk on by, will you call my name?
As you walk on by, will you call my name?
Or will you walk away?  Will you walk on by?
Come on – call my name. Will you call my name?

Don’t You Forget About Me – Simple Minds

Good Times in Canada, Eh?

We just returned from a fantastic football weekend in Canada.

Yes, they do play football in Canada, and for football junkies like my son and I, it’s a great excuse for a summer road trip.  The Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the BC Lions 23 – 20, and the big play was a missed field goal attempt that was run back 129 yards for a touchdown!  Now that’s something you don’t see in the NFL!

Aside from getting our summer football fix, the thing we enjoy most on our northern excursions is our Canuck friends.  They always make us feel welcome, show us a good time, and are as curious about our everyday lives as we are about theirs.

I was delighted to learn that the economy is great in Saskatchewan.  The mean family income is now $73,000, second among the provinces to Alberta.   New shops and restaurants are popping up all over, and business is brisk.  New football stadiums are planned around the country, including Regina. The streets are filled with shiny new cars and trucks, and pockets jingle with loonies and toonies (one- and two-dollar coins).

On the other hand, my Canadian friends worry about public services.  The health care system is a mess.  The average wait time to even see a specialist is now ten weeks, and the six-month wait time after that for routine surgical procedures forces many patients to spend their hard-earned Canadian money at hospitals south of the border.  They view their health care as “free” but when pressed, they admit that they don’t always get the best value for their tax dollars.  It is a sneak preview of ObamaCare.

For all Saskatchewan’s apparent wealth, we couldn’t help but notice the shabby condition of their highways and other infrastructure.  They definitely have some “shovel-ready” jobs.  It seems that Canada has the same problem we have in the US – things left up to the free enterprise system seem to work out just fine, but anything filtered through the mud-bog of government slows to a crawl.

One of my Canadian friends was fascinated to learn that I own guns, and usually keep one close by for personal and family protection, thanks to our second amendment and my Montana concealed carry permit.  “We can’t even buy a bullet, eh?” he lamented.  “Only the bad guys have guns here.”

I didn’t run into any bad guys.  Just a bunch of good guys who love their country, Riders Football, and Canadian beer.  (PS –  no US flags anywhere – no Star Spangled Banner at the game either!  See my blog about that)

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Green is the Colour.
Football is the Game.
We’re all together
and Winning is our aim!

Green Is The Colour – Saskatchewan Roughriders

I Pledge Allegiance – to the Maple Leaf?

Saskatchewan RoughridersMy son and I are big CFL (Canadian Football League) fans.  We make the long drive from our Montana home to Regina, SK for a game every summer, and listen to our beloved Roughriders on the web.

The Rider fans are amazing – they paint the town green for every home game.  They yell and scream and guzzle Molson Canadian beer, and wear watermelons on their heads.  It’s about as fun a football atmosphere as you could want (well, except for the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium).  And the Canadian rules make for a fast and furious game of football (“He’s at the fifty!  the fifty-five!  and down at the 53-yard line!”)

But that’s not what this blog is aboot (Canadian for “about”), eh?

Whenever we attend a Canadian football game, or listen on the internet, I can’t help but notice that they always play O Canada, the Canadian national anthem, but then never play the Star Spangled Banner.   Never.  The same is true at a Canadian hockey game, baseball game, or any other public event.  They never recognize the US.

By rule, 19 of the 42 players on any CFL team are from the United States.  Obviously, there are not that many good Canadian native football players.  The best players are all from the US, as are the coaches.  Canadians love their football, but it is an American game.  Still, there is never any recognition of the United States at any CFL game.  No flag.  No national anthem. Nothing.  It’s all about Canada.

Now, I don’t have a problem with this.  Really.  It’s their country, it’s their league, they are very patriotic about it, and more power to them.  The Canadian fans welcome my son and I as a curiosity, and frankly as “football experts from the States, eh?”  Our celebrity status is very cool, just like that great Canadian beer.

What I don’t understand is this:  last weekend my band played music for three nights at the fantastic rodeo weekend in Augusta, MT, and we enjoyed watching the rodeo on Sunday.  In addition to the athletic prowess and the terrific Western atmosphere, there was a lot of pageantry and patriotism.  As far as I know, there were no Canadian participants in the event.  There may have been a couple of Canadian spectators.  Still, the rodeo officials made a big deal of riding the Canadian maple leaf flag around the arena, and playing O Canada before our national anthem.


Even stranger than that, about HALF of the spectators stood there with hands over their hearts for the Canadian anthem!  Like they were pledging allegiance to Canada!


Here in Lewistown we have local drag races on summer weekends.  What a great American event!  Vintage American Chevies and Fords,  classic Beach Boys music – it just doesn’t get better.  So why the heck do we have to listen to O Canada before our own precious Star Spangled Banner?  I mean, I like Bachman Turner Overdrive as well as the next guy, but hey!  This is American Drag Racing!

I don’t think the Canucks need to pay homage to the US at their events.  But I also don’t think “O Canada” is required at ours.

Tom Balek, Rockin’ On the Right Side

American Woman, Stay Away from Me! – the Guess Who