Friday, November 7, 2008

Letters from Canada

EDIT: This post has been edited to show only Canadian views on Obama's election.

What does an Obama presidency mean to our neighbors up North? Below are the words of Kyla Bea, Ben, and Hillary. I hope you enjoy reading their words as much as I did. These words are directly from the hearts of people from the Canadian Prairies; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Kyla Bea says:

More than anything, for me Obama's presidency means a shift away from fear.

The feeling I've had as someone from the outside of the US is that over the past few years the US has been evolving into more and more of a closed state. Crossing the border in a car is more stressful than it has been before, I have friends who've had their cars stripped down to the point that border guards pull the interior panels off their doors and leave them to piece it together. Friends of my family have been separated from their 12 and 13 year old daughters for hours while they're all questioned separately for no apparent reason.

I'm aware that Canadian citizens have been detained indefinitely by US officials in Guantanamo Bay. That taking a laptop on a road trip to the US can mean that its entire contents can be copied and filed against me. That our government is too scared to say anything to the Bush administration that would offend them. I take my nose ring out
when we cross the border, I don't want to draw attention to myself.

To me, Obama means having a President who seems honestly interested in the plight of the people who make up the United States. He wants to listen. To respond. To be honest with his citizens and the world. He is empathetic, sophisticated, intelligent. He really believes in what America can be, and he wants to work on it. To me, Obama is someone who people want to work hard for, someone whose advice the public would willingly take. He's a modern man, and seems like an even more modern leader.

He's taking basic principles of living a good life—kindness, honestly, humility—and applying them to the highest office in the country. It's an approach that is compelling in its utter simplicity and poignancy.

I'm a political science major, and my husband is a dual citizen so much of my immediate family lives in Florida. I want to love you guys so much, you're such a part of everything the my country & my family does. I just think that this Obama gentleman is going to be much easier on my heart.

Ben says:

Over the summer, I had dinner with a couple visiting from the United States. Now, don't get me wrong, I have American relatives and no underlying bias against them - well, no more than the average Canadian - but I nearly offed myself with the salad fork about thirty-two times.

These were the ultimate, hyper-stereotype of Americans. They spent the entire dinner discussing how much bigger the portions would be in the States, asking the waitress why she wouldn't accept American money instead of our funny money, how silly it is that we have a French province - I mean why wouldn't we make them speak English? - and how awful and unpatriotic Obama supporters are.


Obama becoming president gives me hope that Americans are beginning to take pride in not only their country but also in how their country fits in with the rest of the world. That it's not only about staying true to their American roots but also being sensitive, encouraging and accepting of others. I just don't see Obama visiting France and saying - "This pastry ain't nowhere near what desserts taste like in the States!"

Canada spent the past eight years shuddering when someone mentioned the president. Canada spent the past three and a half years worrying about what was to come. Canada spent the past four months fearing another term featuring laughable politicians (more Palin than McCain). And it's not all over. Canada is still watching in awe as select states vote to take away civil rights - and don't even try to tell me that Proposition 8 is anything but that.

Nonetheless, Obama has inspired the United States to care, to talk, to debate, and to really look at where they fit in and where they are going. For that, he gains a lot of respect from his Northern neighbours.

Hillary says:

Even though Canada has its own identity, it's naive to think that we are not influenced by the States. This is why I am so excited that Obama has been elected President. As a woman, I'm happy that Obama supports women's rights under Roe vs Wade. Roe vs Wade inspired Dr. Henry Morgentaler to challenge Canada's abortion law, which resulted in the law being declared invalid. I am scared that if Roe vs Wade is reversed, it will provide ammunition for pro-life organisations to challenge Canada's stance on women's right to choose.

This is only one of the many reasons I am excited to see Obama elected.

PS to Mermanda: This cracks me up:

Educational Background:
Barack Obama:
Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in International Relations
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden: University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)


John McCain: United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin: Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism Matanusk