Sunday, November 4, 2012

A modest election proposal

By Tom Hawthorn

Boulevard Magazine
November, 2012

A cocky America invaded Canada 200 years ago. Conquering our land would be “a mere matter of marching,” insisted Thomas Jefferson in one of his less Jeffersonian moments.

American troops occupied Laura Secord’s house, ordering her to serve them food and drink. She plied them with booze, overheard their battle plans, then rushed to warn the local British commander. The red coats and Iroquois allies repulsed the invaders. A chain of chocolate emporiums was then named in the heroine’s honour by a grateful nation. (I may have fudged some of the details here.) Unfortunately, it has proved difficult to build a national mythology around the Battle of Beaver Dams, which sounds like an episode of Hinterland Who’s Who. Only about 30 combatants died, which is what police in Detroit now consider a slow night.

The war continued. They burned down Muddy York. We burned down the White House for the win.

What did the United States get out of the War of 1812? Two songs — Francis Scott Key’s Star-Bangled Banner and Johnny Horton’s Battle of New Orleans. Only one of those became a Billboard No. 1 hit and it is the one not sung before baseball games.

Two centuries later, our noisy neighbours in the basement claim to be the greatest democracy on the planet. Heck, I’m not convinced our American cousins have the greatest democracy on the continent. As those jokesters from the Canada Party argue, our frozen wasteland is “America, but Better.” They have suggested Canada take over the downstairs neighbour. “Not an invasion,” they insist, “an intervention.”

Invasion or intervention, you can expect push back from a nation with a constitutional right to the “pursuit of happiness,” which means they don’t much cotton to being told what to do by no well-meaning, socialist-medicine-taking northern varmints.

We Canadians should continue our policy of stealth infiltration. In the 1950s, Americans were convinced Communists were everywhere — acting in the movies, teaching in their schools, putting fluoride in their water, even hiding under their beds. While distracted by Red witch-hunts, those patriots entirely missed the maple invasion as Canadians slowly poured across the border before quietly insinuating into all facets of American life. Why, you’d hardly know we were there. Play spot the Canuck.

Kiddie crooner Justin Bieber? Canadian.

Michael Bublé? Canadian.

The Band? Neil Young? David Letterman’s musical sidekick? Canadian.

Celine, Avril, Joni, Alanis, Shania? Canadian.

Big-eared electronic dance deejay deadmau5? Canadian.

Titanic director James Cameron? Canadian.

Cutie patootie actor Michael Cera? Canadian.

Cutie patootie actress Ellen Page? Canadian.

Ironsides, from the old television show? Canadian.

Let’s Make a Deal host Monty Hall? Jeopardy! quizmaster Alex Trebek? Capt. Kirk and Scotty from Star Trek? Canadian.

John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Carrey, Dave Foley, Mike Myers, Leslie Nielsen, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short? Canadian.

Curly-haired silent-film ingenue Mary Pickford, known as “America’s Sweetheart”? As Canadian as a maple donut at Tim Hortons inside a hockey rink.

Jennifer Granholm, the firebrand former Democratic governor of Michigan who made a keynote address at the Democratic convention? Canadian.

Conservative political pundits David Brooks (born in Toronto) and Charles Krauthammer (raised in Montreal) and David Frum (son of Barbara) all have a Canuck connection.

With so many of us having successfully infiltrated, we have lulled our southern allies into thinking we’re pretty much similar. With Americans going to the polls this month, we should quickly launch the final volley in our two-century-old plan — to finally end the War of 1812 by allowing ourselves to be absorbed into the United States.

Canada agrees to become the 51st state in exchange for adding a maple leaf to the 50 stars on the flag. Our population is about the same as California’s, so we’d get about 55 votes in the Electoral College. Barack Obama outpolls Mitt Romney by 68-10 in Canada (and by 50-19 even in Alberta, aka Texas North). A close contest becomes a landslide. Americans get health care and, overnight, become a world curling power. Meanwhile, we Canadians get our hands on the mightiest military machine history has ever seen. Today, America. Tomorrow, the world.