Magazine | February 29, 2016, Issue

Straight Outta Calgary

True story: More than a decade ago, I wrote a cover story for National Review on the pressing need to bomb Canada. In my cogent and searching essay, titled “Bomb Canada: The Case for War,” I made the argument that Canada needed toughening up. A once serious country was in danger of becoming a self-parody. Its self-anointed status as a moral superpower was exactly the kind of thing that would get Vladimir Putin to laugh milk through his nose (if by “milk” you mean vodka).

I’ve always felt a little bad about the piece, for several reasons. First, picking on Canadians is like smooshing an ice-cream cone in an Amish guy’s face (and Harrison Ford is never around). Also, Rich Lowry, as is his wont, went for tabloid sensationalism. He put a picture of Canadian Mounties on the cover with the word Wimps! splashed across it. That was unfair, given that the tradition of the Mounties is what I believed Canada needed to get back to.

And then there was that other thing. Unbeknownst to me, or anyone in the editorial ranks, the U.S.–Canada Partnership for Growth had bought an ad run in the magazine. Such is the ethical absolutism of this journal that we not only maintain a high wall between the business side and the word-making side (our motto: “We use words goodly!”), but we make sure it is totally soundproof as well. So when the issue hit the stands it was all “Bomb Canada” on the front and “Two Great Countries That Go Great Together” on the back. (That’s not an exact quote; I may be thinking of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial. “Hey, you got poutine in my hamburger!” “Aw, you got hamburger in my poutine, eh?”)

Needless to say, we lost that account.

But I’ve recently come to think that maybe I wasn’t tough enough on our northern neighbor.

That notion occurred to me while listening to Donald Trump explain why he “lost” the Iowa caucuses. I put quotes around “lost” because Trump insists that he didn’t really lose. He says that Ted Cruz stole his Iowa victory by spreading misinformation — that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race. I’d rather not get into all of that, though; what I found interesting was this remark from Trump: “What kind of people do we have running for office?” he said in Milford, N.H., taking dead aim at Cruz’s character. “No, it’s honestly really, really dishonest. And I think I know why. You know why? Because he was born in Canada!”

Note that this is a different argument from Trump’s usual “birther” charge. He is not saying that Cruz’s status as a “natural-born citizen” is constitutionally suspect. Nor is he insinuating, again as he often does, that Cruz is being dishonest about his secret Canadian citizenship. No, he’s saying that Cruz is dishonest because he was born in Canada. In other words, these stinking Canadians are coming down here and stealing our elections, our very democracy.

And I am beginning to think he may be right.

First, let us review some facts. During the Seven Years’ War, what would become French Canada attacked what would become America. During the American Revolution and the War of 1812, proto-Canada was a hotbed of loyalists and royalists eager to see the United States smothered in the crib. This is why Ben Franklin wrote in his autobiography, “Canada delenda est” (“Canada must be destroyed”).

Sure, since Canada became a country, it has fought with us in some world wars, and it deigns to play in our baseball league. But perhaps that was just to lull us into a false sense of security; Homo canadensis is famously patient. Have you noticed how deeply Canadians have infiltrated the United States? Game-show hosts (Alex Trebek, Monty Hall), comedians (all of them, minus some of the Jewish ones and three of the black ones), singers (Paul Anka, Joni Mitchell, Robert Goulet, that woman who sang the Titanic song), journalists (Peter Jennings, Morley Safer): The list goes on and on. But no matter how long it gets, there’s one job that doesn’t appear: president of the United States. Sure, they’ve made inroads into our political system. Jennifer Granholm was governor of Michigan. But the brass ring has eluded them.

Perhaps Donald Trump has punctured the conspiracy. He alone recognizes that Cruz has been a long-dormant sleeper, the much feared but never confirmed “Manitoban candidate” lurking in plain sight. How brilliant of Ted Cruz to master the U.S. Constitution. The better to hide behind it, eh?

I mean, have you ever noticed that there’s something vaguely not right about Ted Cruz? Something just slightly off? Unlike Al Gore, who is almost surely an extraterrestrial, Cruz is subtly insidious: a Tim Hortons–swilling Canuck, heck-bent on shoving the metric system down our throats.

Thank goodness Donald Trump spotted it when no one else could or would.

Or so I thought. Just days after he called out Canadian perfidy by name, after weeks of insisting that Ted Cruz could never be on the ballot for president because of the maple syrup that runs through his un-American veins, Trump told radio-show host Hugh Hewitt that he’s open to making Cruz his vice president.

The stinking Canadians got to Trump. And if they can get to him, they can get to any of us.

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