Small World: Hoist up the maple leaf


Henry Precht

Henry Precht

By Henry Precht

BN Columnist

Now that the first Republican and Democratic debates are behind us, we citizens have a pretty good idea of what’s on offer. Something like when you go to the market, you can choose from the fresh or frozen, loud or quiet, dumb or dumber, rich or rich friends. In two words, the selection is not appetizing.

Meanwhile, up in Canada, in case you didn’t hear the fireworks, they’ve just had national elections and the Liberals won a crushing victory over the right wing Conservatives and the left wing New Democrats. All 10 of the provinces — except two in the Midwest oil belt — went for the Liberal Justin Trudeau as the new prime minister. He’s said to be a pragmatic consensus builder, not an ideologue.

It occurs to me that a solution to our local loss of political appetite might be at hand. Here we are wallowing in a slough of despond; up there they are at the start of a national adventure with peaks of possible greatness before them.

Why doesn’t Maine quietly secede and hitch up with the Maritime Provinces of Canada? I can hear you saying immediately that secession is illegal and the last time states tried that there was a bloody civil war. But, be honest, do you think many Americans would look up from their TV sets or put down their cell phones and take up arms against a rugged bunch of moose hunters? And they don’t exactly have an eloquent Abraham Lincoln to lead them into battle.

Chances are those people from away wouldn’t even notice Maine’s departure: most of the lobsters they eat probably come from the Maritimes anyway. We could do it quietly, putting the keys in the mailbox at Portsmouth and changing the password. Think of the benefits:

First of all, we would get a national leader who is young and loaded with charisma with two (at least) tattoos. As an amateur, he boxes once a week. And for those of you who find dynasties politically compelling, he is the son of a popular PM, Pierre Trudeau, with a mother from a family of political biggies. Better than that, for the royalists among you, the sovereign of Canada is Queen Elisabeth II. How’s that for a dynasty, Hillary and Jeb?

And chew on this: The poorer provinces or “have nots” receive equalization payments from the federal government to bring them up to the income levels of the richer bunch. That receiving group includes the Maritimes, and were Maine to sign up, we would surely benefit, as well.

Counting further blessings to be, Canada has a national health scheme, which already encourages many Americans to take their ailments north. Canada is withdrawing its air force from a combat role in the Middle East and presumably will take on only peacekeeping (not-making) jobs. And get this, at church suppers on Prince Edward Island they don’t serve beans or turkey; they offer mussels and lobster. Line up to the right, please. Doctors and cardiologists also please line up to practice: The national dish is poutine, French fries, covered with gravy and topped with cheese. A sure killer!

What would we lose? Tourists would flock across the border in even greater numbers because the Canadian loony is substantially weaker than the dollar. I wonder if Maine wouldn’t also lose its governor. If the present incumbent had to be polite and to box with the chief, he might choose to move permanently to Florida (where he would still find many Canadians, but a less aggressive variety).

Still have doubts? This should convince you: The Canadian government actually works. Not only is Mr. Trudeau talking about passing new laws — e.g., making marijuana legal — but he also thinks of amending the constitution to change the way elections are conducted. Ever think, ever dream, something like that might be possible in Washington?

Of course, under the new regime, Mainers would have to make some adjustments. Learn a bit of French and a new national anthem (one that you might actually like to sing), speak the Queen’s English, and reduce the number of gun deaths. History books would have to be revised. Or do you already know who won the War of 1812?

Henry Precht is a retired Foreign Service Officer.

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