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Dear Justin Trudeau: Canada is now sleeping with a rabid, thin-skinned elephant

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Dear Mr. Trudeau,

Your father once observed that Canada's relationship with the United States was like that of a mouse sleeping with an elephant.  Since the election of Donald Trump, that relationship is even more fraught with peril. We are now sleeping with a rabid elephant, which has a very thin skin and poor impulse control.

So how will your government deal with this terrible state of affairs? 

I applaud your determination to keep to the high road and remain polite. However, push will come to shove at some point. How do we protect ourselves while remaining on speaking terms with a powerful government led by rabid elephants?

Have you looked to Lester Pearson for inspiration? 

In 1956, Egypt legally nationalized the Suez Canal. Britain and France, with assistance from Israel, orchestrated a fake provocation in order to justify the occupation of Egypt. This led to a break in relations with the United States because President Eisenhower was against this rush to war when the world was still recovering from the Second World War. NATO itself was in jeopardy.

Long story short, Lester Pearson, who was at that time the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs under Louie St. Laurent, diffused the situation through diplomatic consensus building with other members of the United Nations. He made a successful end run around powerful, recalcitrant actors. The French, Israeli and British troops were replaced with UN Peacekeepers. War was averted and lives were saved.

While it is important to try to find common ground with the Trump regime, it may be impossible.  But Canada can build consensus with other progressive and democratic governments on the many aspirations we have in common. A united front may be a way to deflect unreasonable demands from the Americans. At the very least, it could contain the harm a Trump regime is capable of.

How will your government protect progressive Canadian values in the face of the massive whitelash that led to the Trump victory? Bigots live here too. Trumped up paranoia over immigration can just as easily fracture our country. We will need to push back hard against unscrupulous politicians who use hate speech, even the coded, dog-whistling variety.  

And how do we talk to a government led by a man who only pronounces and never listens? German Chancellor Angela Merkel's congratulatory speech to Trump is published worldwide and has inspired many.  Mr. Trump never responded, likely because he didn't know how. Nevertheless, this remarkable woman set a tone that we would do well to emulate. 

"Germany and America are connected by values of democracy, freedom and respect for the law and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political views. I offer the next President of the United States close cooperation on the basis of these values."

Words have power and do matter. 

Stay strong.  Stay principled. 

Linda Leon

P.S.  We have just invited a suspected sexual predator with poor impulse control to Parliament Hill. When Mr. Trump visits Ottawa in 2017, it would be proper to offer female parliamentarians and staff protection using security personal and hidden cameras.

The Americans should pay for this. After all, this sad state of affairs is their fault.


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