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No Bragging Rights

President Obama’s second inauguration brought out an unfortunate Canadian tendency in relation to our American neighbours: smugness.

By: /
23 January, 2013
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In the aftermath of President Obama’s second inauguration, the Ottawa Citizen published a column entitled ‘Polite Canadians won’t brag at America’s party – but they could.’  The piece, by contributor Tim Mak, argued that this moment in American history provided Canada with an opportunity to draw attention to our relative successes on domestic affairs and foreign policy. Mak wrote that:


It is a critical point in American history: the country’s first African-American president was sworn in Monday for a second term in the midst of deep political dysfunction and a floundering economic recovery. A perfect occasion for some cheeky Canadians to brag a little… On the key issues that President Barack Obama pledged to dedicate his second term to in his inaugural address, Canada has already made substantive progress: on supporting democracy around the world; on providing equal rights to gays and lesbians; on creating an aspirational immigration system.


The editors of Foreign Policy’s Passport blog thought otherwise, saying:


 The president’s inaugural address was a chance for Canadians to pat themselves on the back, the Ottawa Citizen snarkily reports.


While other countries took the opportunity to comment on relevant policy areas and offer constructive dialogue on the state of affairs, the Citizen piece broadcasted an unfortunate Canadian tendency: smugness, particularly in relation to our American neighbours, on issues like gun control, immigration, and healthcare. Fortunately, not all Canadian pundits took the inauguration as an opportunity for self-congratulation.  John Ibbitson at the Globe and Mailcontemplated the impact of Obama’s climate change rhetoric on the Keystone Pipeline project:


Simply put: Anyone who believes that approval of the Keystone XL pipeline will be a slam dunk should read the speech carefully. Because every flag it raises is red. If Mr. Obama meant what he said in his inaugural address about taking action on climate change and on renewable energy, then those initiatives will have major implications for the Conservative government.


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