David T. Jones, Alternative North Americans: What Canada and the United States Can Learn from Each Other, Washington: DC, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies, 2014, 339pp., E-Book available free of charge at: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/ alternative-north-americas-what-canada-and-the-united-states-can-learn-each-other
David T. Jones, a retired senior Foreign Service officer, served as political minister counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa from 1992 to 1996. A specialist in politico-military affairs, he was an adviser to two U.S. Army chiefs of staff. In retirement, Jones has continued research and writing on U.S.-Canadian bilateral issues and foreign affairs, publishing numerous articles.
David Jones has written a compelling critique of Canada and Canadian attitudes towards the U.S. He has not shown bias or unevenness, but it is fair to say that this book will find few if any readers in Canada. As he implied toward the end, it is sometimes more difficult to speak truth to weakness than truth to power. The author writes with considerable wit and humor, but, as indicated above, I suspect both will be lost on any potential Canadian readers. His research question, simply put, is: “Uncle Sam, what do you really think of Canada?” and he explores 12 major and at least 3 minor areas on discontent on both sides of the border.
The author comments on the problems associated with the 200 mile EEZ when both countries have overlapping claims; on the still not completely resolved Gulf of Maine boundary; and on several unresolved boundaries to include the Beaufort Sea; the Dixon Entrance; the Juan de Fuca Straits Seaward Extension; and the Machias Seal Island (U.S. owned by treaty but claimed by Canada due to a lighthouse it built). He concludes with various proposed solutions and resolutions, none of which the Canadians wish to pursue.
Jones muses that although the majority of Canadians have come from some other part of the world they do not expect to return there to satisfy the desires of Native Canadians who would prefer all non-aboriginals to depart. “That attitude, combined with a sense of guilt by fortunate Canadians, has left them with a system for immigrants and refugees that is open to exploitation. It is a system that so extensively empowers immigrants and refugees within the Canadian legal system as to make the process ludicrous to an outside observer” (p.54). The author addresses at length the immigration system, with many examples of Canadian faults and failures, and the separate but equally dismal refugee processing and adjudication system, again with many examples, observing: “…upwards of 500,000 surreptitious illegal immigrants in Canada are a significant concern as they illustrate to potential terrorists that the Canadian immigration and control system is feeble at best and paralyzed at worst” (p.75).
Mr. Jones also discusses the failure by the Canadian media to report the extent of violent crime in Canada; on poor or inadequate prisons, on hate crime that has now morphed into thought crime; and on Canada’s Human Right’s Act Section 13 which is used to allow free speech to anyone bashing Israel but not to Israeli’s bashing Muslims as noted in Canada’s annual “Israel Apartheid Week.” This chapter also contains several examples of Indians taking the law into their own hands (land occupation, extortion, blackmail, beatings, and murder) and intimidating the government until their demands were met. He opines, concerning Canada’s unwillingness to confront Native Peoples, that: “A society that abrogates its responsibility for implementing one law for all of its citizens will drive the conclusion that there is no law that all must obey and that any law is a subject for debate rather than adherence. …Such a society will prompt, later if not sooner, vigilante action by citizens desperate to protect themselves or simply rejecting the privileges accorded to others” (p.85).
The author summarizes numerous cases of RCMP inadequacy from failed investigations to political influence to misuse of funds. He also discusses media bashing of Tasers use by police while the media offers no alternative. Canadian prisons are viewed as luxury accommodations. It remains easy to get a pardon five years after release from prison. He details the failure of “statutory release” (after serving 2/3 of a sentence), which includes murders and child predators. Unfortunately, the most violent Canadian offenders serve less than 3 years in prison. Mr. Jones offers several examples of innocent individuals defending themselves or their property and then finding themselves charged with violating Canadian law. Canadians seem to believe that the laws of any state other than Canada should not apply to a Canadian who committed a crime in that other state. Mr. Jones also discusses the refusal of CBC to publish photos and information on suspected war criminals loose in Canada so as not to infringe on their human rights and on three noteworthy U.S. extradition failures.
He discusses Canada’s borders, resources, and technologies and opines that others might conclude Canada is the national equivalent of a man “having been born on third base but thinking he hit a triple” (p.102). The UN Human Rights Report speaks well of Canadian human rights (an A report card) but acknowledges that problems exist by Canada’s expansion on limitations on the majority’s free speech (declared as hate speech) and protecting the majority’s property rights from aboriginal Natives. Additionally, there are no restrictions, controls, or checks and balances on selecting judges and significant problems with the federal and provincial human rights commissions, to include the fact that the recipient of a human rights complaint need not be told who the complainant is or what action is alleged. The recipient is thus left in limbo awaiting further information. The normal common law juridical rules of evidence are relaxed, as are the standards of proof. Many commissions hear a plaintiff in secret, denying a defendant the right to confront an accuser. Others admit hearsay. Unlike a defamation trial, the truth is not necessarily an adequate defense. There is no presumption of innocence. The commission determines who may accompany a defendant as counsel and advisors as well as his right to call witnesses and experts.The commissioners are not judges and they need not even be lawyers. They can question the author or publisher on his or her “intent” and on their thoughts in publishing material. Consequently, it is infinitely easier to convict a defendant in a human rights tribunal than in a court of law under hate crimes legislation. Reportedly in federal Section 13 cases, there is a 100 percent conviction rate. In effect, the accused is presumed guilty upon being accused (p.109-110).
In the chapter entitled “Language and Discord,” the author discusses the burden, social and fiscal, of imposing a two-language system on 80% of the non-French speaking population and the loss of potentially good to great politicians and civil servants due to a system that requires fluency in both languages for any federal or bureaucratic position. Canada spends approximately 2.5 billion a year on bilingualism while the country remains at 17% bilingual, same as it was in 1921. The author believes that bilingualism was designed to have French speakers feel comfortable in every part of Canada, but English speakers in Quebec are marginalized and their rights as citizens abused.
In the chapter “The Canadian Military and Defense of North America,” the author notes that Canadian troops performed exceptionally well in WWI, better than the other Allies, and in WWII, Canadian efforts were even more impressive. Canadians liberated the Netherlands and provided a safe haven for the Dutch royal family. Mr. Jones then describes the downward spiral of Canada’s military from the 4th largest in the world after WWII to today’s 68,000 troops currently unable to even take on UN security roles. He also describes in detail how Canadian attitudes (and politicians) have shifted over the past century from a country willing to be involved in foreign wars to one that sees no need to provide for its own defense, assuming the U.S. will do so.
Mr. Jones presents a lengthy discussion of the various political parties in Quebec (and nationally) and the Quebec referendums held for sovereignty that all failed, although the 1995 one came very close to a majority vote. He went to great length to stress the U.S. response to the Canada-Quebec question: non-interference and self-determination and concludes that politicians in the Rest Of Canada are beginning to see merit in letting Quebec go while Quebeckers, having gained economically and politically, see value in staying within Canada. Actually, the U.S. would prefer dealing with a united Canada but it could deal with a disunited Canada.
David Jones concludes this remarkable book with a short re-hash of all the problems previously covered and he includes an Annex, entitled “Presidents and Prime Ministers: A Candid View,” where he compares the relationships of Canadian PMs and U.S. presidents over the past 25 years.
This book is insightful, easy to read, available free of charge as an e-book, and extremely interesting to any American reader with the thought of ever visiting our neighbor to the north. For Canadians, although equally insightful and perhaps educational, it would be extremely difficult to endure. David Jones has written a most constructive book, thus the answer to his research question could be “not much” but an even more honest answer would be “rarely, if ever.”