City Hall’s connection to the US

26 Nov

Samuel Johnson once said that “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”.  As I watch the maneuvering in City Hall I’m reminded of his line.  After getting decimated in the recent civic election the NPA is now talking about the perils of US influence in our city politics.  Counselor Suzanne Anton is leading the charge.

“American residents are not allowed to donate to the campaigns of our prime minister or MPs,” she notes. “So how is it right that they can help elect our mayors?”

Anton adds: “Supposing I took a donation from the NRA, what would that do to my political career?”

But ironically, as the reporter from the Sun points out:

Not much. And that was obvious before the 2006 federal election when the U.S.-based National Rifle Association was found to be advising Canadian gun clubs on how to lobby Canadian politicians.

Svend Robinson, then a federal Vancouver Centre candidate, called it appalling. “The NRA has no place in Canadian politics,” he said.

So the NPA doesn’t have a fantastic track record of defending our national honour.  And if the NPA is suddenly going to wrap itself in the flag then it should also be talking about the most influential foreign force in our city — the IOC.  Let’s also talk about the big US developers who are getting $100 million dollars of our money as the result of the Olympics.

The Sun’s piece goes on to talk about US involvement in charities and worries about whether this should be accepted.  This kind of logic is flawed from the start – flawed and dangerous. 

If the tables were turned and Canadians were not allowed to donate money to US charities how would we feel?  The effect of this would be potential devastating.  Think about the victims of Katrina.  Geo-fencing charity separates worthwhile organizations from people who have the means to help. 

And lets not get too cocky.  Canada has benefited tremendously from the investment Americans have made in this country.  Whether it’s local business like biotech or new media or local charities, Americans have the means, comfort with risk and willingness to support worthwhile Canadian causes.  To oppose that support would place the burden on Canadians alone and slow our growth at a time when we need to encourage growth.

The Sun says:

That doesn’t tend to raise eyebrows in Metro Vancouver because the grant money tends to go only to politically correct causes.

But if it went to campaigns beloved by, say, free-enterprisers and gun advocates, there would be howls of anti-American outrage.

But to call green causes ‘politically correct’ seems a bit 1991.  Whatever your opinion is about gun control is, it is  political.  But in 2008 there are very few people who see the environment as a side show and supporting its preservation is not politically correct but biologically necessary.

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