Archives October 2009

KUDOS TO CANADA

A recent visit to my wife’s hometown of Cornwall, Ontario, left me with a new perspective about our friendly neighbor to the north.

Let’s start with a make-up Rotary Club meeting at the Ramada Inn, next to the bridge which crosses into the U.S.A. Yes, people were very friendly, Yes the food was great. But most stunning, was the homage paid to the United States in the opening ritual. I noticed two flags at the front of the room; One with the red maple leaf, the other with the stars and stripes. Then, the woman president said, “Let’s all sing the national anthems.” (Emphasis added to the plural) To my amazement, I was in another country where their citizens were singing The Star Spangled Banner, before they moved on to Oh Canada. Stunned, would best describe my reaction.

I later asked the president, why? For several reasons, she replied. The Canadians love and respect the United States. Rotary Clubs are international, but they originated in the U.S. Cornwall borders our country, and their district includes Rotary Clubs south of their border as well.

While in Canada for those few days, I asked a number of people about their health care system. Boiled down, this is what I got:

* The population feels protected by a national system where everyone is covered

* Doctors make far less money because most are on the government teat.

* Waiting lists and priorities do exist. The most serious get attention first. Less serious problems, such as the need for shoulder or knee replacements, may require many months before someone will get an MRI. Same with minor stomach aches and head colds. Cancer and heart disease goes to the front of the line.

* Much depends on the province one lives in. Health care systems are more reliable in wealthier provinces, such as Ontario and Quebec, than in more rural, such as Manitoba.

* Canadians who can afford, may still buy private health insurance as a guarantee for speedier health care no matter the illness.

* The costs are skyrocketing. Many fault the huge influx of immigration…legal and illegal, which is overloading the system.

* With the lack of domestic health care providers to meet the demand, Canada is turning to foreign doctors and nurses for their health care.

Moving on —

Friendlier people do not exist anywhere else on earth. Eh? Not only in Ontario and Montreal, Suzanne’s roots. On 9/11/01, yours truly was aboard an British Airways flight from Heahtrow when the news came about the terrorist attack. My plane was diverted to a previously unheard of town called Moncton, New Brunswick. I had to remain there for three days before the U.S. Airports reopened. The people of New Brunswick were amazing, hosting and boarding many of the 2500 passengers from the twenty-two planes that landed at that small airstrip. They did all they could to alleviate the burdens and anxiety of passengers whose lives were wrenched from a normal straight line, to a sudden spiral.

Sure, Canada has it’s problems, like anywhere else. Eh? But they have stood shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. in many conflicts, including the current war in Afghanistan. But not without a mind of their own, for their government did not feel the pre-emptive war in Iraq was justified, though they did send personnel to help with reconstruction and the training of Iraqi police.

Mind of their own, indeed. During the recent summit at the United Nations, Canada was among the first (with Israel) to lead the boycott of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during his address to the General Assembly. The U.S. followed suit, walking out along with several other nations, leaving the assembly half empty while the mad man of Iran blathered on with hate rhetoric. “There is no way I am going to permit any official of the government of Canada to be present and give any legitimacy to remarks by a leader like that,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Amen.

Canada facts that you might find interesting:

* Canada is the second largest country in the world, with 3,883,855 square miles.

* Canada has the ninth largest economy in the world

* Canada is the home of many great inventions, including: Basketball, Lacrosse, the electric light bulb, the electric range, insulin, the electron microscope, standard time, the telephone, and the zipper.

* The baseball glove was invented in Canada in 1883.

* Canada is the second largest country in the world, with 3,883,855 square miles.

* Canada ranks number one in imported oil to the U.S. Twenty percent of our crude oil comes from Canada.

* Canada boasts such trivia as having the longest tunnel in the world (9 miles), the longest coastline, longest highway, and the world’s tallest tower (Toronto).

* Most people don’t realize that hundreds of well-known celebrities hail from Canada, including Jim Carrey, Kiefer Sutherland, Shania Twain, Michael Fox, Celine Dion and Alex Trebek. 

Most memorable, however, will be that moment I heard the Rotary Club gathering of forty-plus Canadians singing two national anthems, theirs and ours, as though we are all one. And, indeed we are. Eh?

THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE: IS IT DESERVED?

 

It was in 1994 that I stopped believing in the validity of the Nobel Peace Prize. That was when the prize was awarded, albeit jointly, to Yassar Arafat…one of the most notorious criminals in the history of the world. Imagine that; A peace prize awarded to a terrorist.

So much for the Nobel.

No, Barack Obama is not a terrorist. But, much the same as Arafat, there are multi-millions of people throughout the world, and in this country, who strongly disagree with the decision from Oslo to bestow the award upon someone who is a long way from proving himself worthy.

Mr. Obama has star power. He makes eloquent speeches. His words seem lovable and caring. Sure, it’s a wish for every human being on the planet that we could live without the existence of nuclear weapons, one of his stated goals. Sounds great. Now, if we could only make the rest of the world believe that, particularly North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, India, Russia, China and Israel. Then again, maybe if we disarm first, all the other countries will follow our lead?

Anyone willing?

Israel is a small country of 6 million surrounded by dozens of hostile countries comprising populations over 300 million, many of whom are openly dedicated to the total annihilation of the Jewish state. So…is it reasonable for any of us to expect Israel to lay down their weapons, including nuclear, because Mr. Obama wishes it?

Interestingly enough, the award puts the president in a precarious position as he ponders decisions on what to do in Afghanistan and Iran, and all the likely consequences therefrom. The Peace Prize winner might feel that he must live up to the expectations of the Osloites, and of millions around the globe, by withdrawing. Either that, or crush the hearts followers if he decides to take any aggressive action there, or other parts of the world…even if it’s the right thing to do. Abe Lincoln was right when he said, “You can please some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all the time,” as Mr. Obama is learning.

Mr. Obama has often expressed his well-articulated desires. But desires do not always translate to accomplishments. To date, Mr. Obama’s accomplishments are thin. The country has not moved from the depths of economic abyss, unemployment is looking more like a Jimmy Carter dilemma of 1979, and the world stage is on the verge of disastrous confrontation.

The award was much too premature. While the tinderboxes in Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, Israel and the Palestinian theaters continue to kindle, and with no solution yet achieved, the Nobel voters may one day see themselves with proverbial egg on their faces. Meanwhile, the prestige of the coveted peace prize may dwindle even further.

Well, at least Mr. Obama’s name will be etched on the list among so many other notable past winners. That’s quite an honor.