They chuckled; they laughed; they happily swarmed the president’s entourage; and they gave Biden a standing ovation. They even chortled at his corny jokes and the poor taste references to his bad French.
Was anybody else cringing at the antics of our federal parliamentarians and their associates?
But why did MPs and invited guests in Ottawa do that?
Why the love-in? Nary a rule-breaker or a killjoy among them. The BQ, in lockstep with the Tories and the NDP just got swept along. Biden said he flunked French in school, so he wouldn’t bother to say more than “Bonjour” in his Maryland twang. How insulting.
The President said “our labour unions cross borders”– true ’nuff. Canada is the only country in the world (outside the US) to have US-based unions. About 30% of trade unions in Canada are little brothers of giant US unions: think Service Employees International Union (SEIU); think Steelworkers; think Teamsters; think United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). A sizeable portion of Canadian members’ dues goes right into bank accounts of the US union headquarters, only to be returned to Canada when or if the US “parent” union okays Canadian members going on strike. And, by the way, how many of these “international” unions have a headquarters in Canada? Sorry, time’s up. Not one. It only goes one way.
Biden said that of all the US presidents, he was the unions’ best friend. Even a better friend than Franklin D Roosevelt? Someone has a short memory.
Biden said he’d always be Canada’s best friend: he has our back. Really? His “made in America” pitches at home don’t jibe with that. How many manufacturing plants have US corporations moved from Canada to the US, to Mexico, and offshore since the Free Trade Agreement of 1989?
What about Roxham Road? President Biden’s faux pas –his appreciation of China rather than Canada for “stepping up” to closing Roxham Road, he covered by saying “Excuse me, I applaud Canada” — a cue to those assembled who went wild with applause.
Rather than abrogating or at least amending the Safe Third Country Agreement, as the Liberals had proposed in 2022, Biden bulldozed through a nasty change. Indeed the change will mean a “job creation program for smugglers”. As University of Toronto law professor Audrey Macklin writes, “the smuggling business will grow in response to this government-created demand and become increasingly lucrative, as well as violent and lethal.”
Nor will the new rules diminish “illegal” border crossings at which refugees risk life and limb to enter Canada– especially in winter. Instead, the Americans have “allowed” Canada to accept 15,000 refugees (though Biden misspoke again in Parliament and said 1,500) in the next year through “legal” points of entry. It is nowhere close to the 40,000 plus refugees that came through Roxham Road 2022 alone.
On a humorous note, we understand that Biden’s entourage boasted he and the First Lady would have dinner with Trudeau and his wife on Thursday evening, Trudeau’s staff insisted it would be only a snack.
But the deed is done: one for the US, zero for Canada. It’s enough to bring back memories of President Lyndon B Johnson who also got his way. In 1965, after Canadian Prime Minister Lester B Pearson gave a speech that condemned Johnson’s decision to begin the bombing of North Vietnam, Johnson was furious. He grabbed Pearson by his shirt collar, twisted it and lifted him by the neck.
We didn’t need to see it happen again – Trudeau and all the MPs applauded like trained seals whenever the US President uttered his homespun, yet insulting, platitudes about hockey teams (he liked the Maple Leafs but his wife didn’t). Certainly standing ovation-worthy.
Featured Cartoon at the top: By Aislin (Terry Mosher), cartoonist at the Montreal Gazette, 1965.