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Michael Moore

Michael Moore is an Academy-Award winning filmmaker and best-selling author

September 20th, 2010 9:48 AM

A Canadian’s Response

Today's OpenMike blog

On Thursday I was invited by the Toronto Film Festival to interview on the stage the great British director Ken Loach and his screenwriter Paul Laverty. It was a fascinating and fun discussion, and when I opened it up to the audience for questions, an American soldier who was AWOL stood and announced he had come to Canada because he believed the war to be illegal and could no longer fight. He and many other war resisters have gone to Canada in the hopes that the peace-loving Canadian people would take them in as they did during Vietnam when 50-100,000 Americans were allowed into Canada because they didn't want to kill Vietnamese.

These citizens (as they are now) were following the protections of the Geneva Convention and precedent set at Nuremberg that every soldier has a duty to resist orders that they believe to be immoral or illegal.

But for our current wars, the Canadian government has broken with its tradition and become complicit in our crimes. The Canadians gleefully helped the Bush administration render an innocent man, Maher Arar, to Syria for torture. The Canadian government has spent $1.3 million trying to deny due process to Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, who was 15 years old when he was captured and has spent the last seven years in Guantanamo.

I responded by saying that it was shameful the way Canada was behaving as our enabler and I encouraged people to support a bill in parliament that will provide protection to American war resisters.

These comments were picked up widely, from ABC to Perez Hilton. And they elicited many comments, especially from Canadians. Most were of this vein:

"Michael you re so very right about Canada and I am ashamed to be a Canadian right now. We have drifted very far away from the basic principles that once made us a great country. No election in the near future will change the way we have become - it will take a revolt by the population and I don't see that happening."

But someone with the handle of "canuckcutie" wrote a stinging and thoughtful response objecting to my criticism of Canada. I thought it was worth reprinting here:

"Let me begin by stating that I have been on board with everything you have ever said up until now and have turned quite a few people on to you and your films over the years.

"Your recent statements regarding Canada being shameful and not the Canada we knew have me somewhat irked, but I will make my points brief.

"Firstly, in the 1960's when we so graciously welcomed American draft dodgers into our country, there was a DRAFT, which, correct me if I'm wrong, was not in place during the Iraq war, therefore there was no necessity for Americans to flee to Canada. [MM: Canada took in both 'draft dodgers' and soldiers who were 'deserters.']

"As to this new bill before Parliament, is it wrong to protect one's country from a neighbour who has bullied it for decades? Why are we blaming Canada for not letting in these soldiers who are fleeing persecution when the real issue is the fact that America will persecute them in the first place?

"Secondly, you are not the America we once knew. This new America slams us for our dirty oil, even though it's much safer than drilling for oil in deep water and seems to think that the Canadian arctic and all of it's resources belong to it because it borders Alaska. Global warming is making our country ripe for the pilfering in the eyes of this new America and we Canadians feel a wee bit threatened and untrustworthy of a country living on credit who has not paid us for goods purchased over the years. A country which keeps espousing 'Buy American,' without thinking how this can harm NAFTA or even noticing that it doesn't actually make anything anymore that it's people can buy without going bankrupt. An America that goes to war at the drop of a hat ostensibly to defend democracy when it is not even a democracy itself.

"If you want to know what a true democracy looks like, I suggest you take a good look at how the Swiss are running things.

"If Americans are disappointed in the "new Canada" I say you have only yourselves to blame."

Wow. Not very polite, but all worth thinking about. We all know what it feels like to have a loud, obnoxious, out-of-control neighbor. Why HAVE the Canadians put up with us? But why do they then elect a conservative government two elections in a row?

Anybody want to join this discussion?

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