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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
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A Little Understood Neighbor

Canada is north of the United States and East of Alaska. The geographic area of Canada is slightly larger than the United States. The total border of Canada with the United States is over 7,000 miles, the largest border in the entire world.

It has a population of some 33.5 million, mostly concentrated close to the border of the United States.

Now, I have to admit that there is a pro-Canada prejudice from me as my father was born in Canada. In addition, I have spent more than a year of my life living in Canada. Each summer, while a teenager, I would go to Canada and work on my uncle’s farm – the same area in which my father and his nine brothers and sisters grew up.

One of the jokes about my farming experience in Canada was that my father wanted to get me away from New York City in the summer so I would not get into trouble. The experience in Canada was great for me, as I actually worked at all aspects of a dairy farm – from cutting hay to milking cows and from hoeing corn to threshing grain. For a teenager, it was a lasting experience.

As for the culture of Canada, it is like living in many Long Island communities – single family homes and major cities very similar to New York. The English language is everywhere – except in Quebec which uses French. In Quebec, the second language is English.

Beyond Niagara Falls as a tourist attraction, many families from the United States spend summers fishing all over Canada. And theater productions are regular attractions. In addition, Canadians are very friendly to visitors.

Beyond tourism, we have strong economic ties with Canada, and the per capita incomes in both countries are very close — $46 thousand in the United States and $40 thousand in Canada. Much of our oil products and gas come from Canada. We export around $204 billion to Canada and import some $226 billion leaving a $21 billion dollar gap in favor of Canada.

In the foreign affairs arena, the Canadian military joined us in the 1991 liberation of Kuwait, but did not join the United States in the 2003 effort to eliminate Saddam Hussein even though Great Britain did join us in that effort.

Today, Canada is totally committed to the efforts of the United States to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.

There is one other economic tie and that relates to shopping across the borders. Canadians regularly come to the United States to shop. When visiting northern parts of New York State it is common to see Canadian flags flying alongside the Stars and Stripes. It is a sign of greetings to Canadian visitors.

Finally, many Canadians, not wanting to wait for healthcare in Canada, regularly come to the United States for treatments. We truly are good neighbors. And Canada is a great place to visit.

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