- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2001

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — For a moment, as President Bush in his joint session address Sept. 20 to the Congress and the nation singled out Britain and Prime Minister Tony Blair for praise, I thought back some six decades ago when then Prime Minister Winston Churchill spoke in the same chamber as an ally in World War II.
Said President Bush:
"America will never forget the sounds of our national anthem playing in Buckingham Palace. America has no truer friend than Great Britain. Once again, we are joined together in a great cause. I'm so honored the British prime minister had crossed an ocean to show his unity with America. Thank you for coming, friend."
Tony Blair, sitting to the right of Mrs. Bush in the presidential box, stood up to deafening applause, an ovation of unprecedented length for a foreign dignitary. And so deserved. This show of friendship between a British prime minister and the president of the United States was the "special relationship" at its finest between the two English-speaking democracies.
The people of Eastern Canada had demonstrated their generosity to the thousands of airline passengers whose planes en route to the United States on Sept. 11 were suddenly diverted to Canadian airports. But where was official Canada on Sept. 11? Nowhere to be seen. So now there is a great wailing from Ottawa that oh dear President Bush omitted Canada from his memorable speech. He mentioned South Korea, Australia, Latin America, Paris, Berlin. And then that spectacular acclaim for Britain. Oh well, sorry about that, Prime Minister Jean Chretien. No insult intended.
Nonsense. That omission was as deliberate as a haymaker to the jaw. There was more visible concern about the disaster by the government of Quebec than by the Chretien government. The Quebec government immediately canceled a long-planned three-day arts festival in New York, ran ads expressing sympathy and sorrow. Three cheers for Quebec Premier Bernard Landry.
Not all the kind words of Secretary of State Colin Powell days after the speech nor yesterday's meeting between President Bush and Mr. Chretien at the White House can make up for the omission of Canada from the speech heard round the world.
Despite the denials, a deliberate snub obviously was intended. All the courteous words of Mr. Bush about Canada were what one would expect from a courteous president. Nothing was more pathetic than to listen last Sunday morning to the embarrassed words of Canadian Foreign Minister John Manley in a CBC radio interview trying to explain Canada's future policy about terrorism and why the omission of Canada from the historic Bush speech was not significant.
At the Bush-Chretien meeting Monday, there was a ghost in the Oval Office, one only visible to the Canadian statesman. It was the ghost of the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau, whose 14 years as the Liberal Party prime minister were marked by as much anti-Americanism as he dared muster against Canada's biggest and best customer.
Mr. Trudeau regarded the United States as a far greater menace to world peace than the Soviet Union and as for his great friend, Fidel Castro, the Cuban dictator was a victim of American imperialism. Mr. Chretien, Mr. Trudeau's protege, has tempered that anti-Americanism.
But on Sept. 11, instead of showing his sympathy with the American tragedy and convening his Cabinet and the House of Commons, as Tony Blair had done in the emergency, Mr. Chretien became invisible. So Canada became invisible in President Bush's speech.
And when Mr. Chretien finally did convene the House of Commons he announced, according to the New York Times, that he would not be stampeded into transforming Canada into "a fortress against the world." Even more, "Let there be no doubt; we will allow no one to force us to sacrifice our values or traditions under the pressure of urgent circumstances." That's telling the Americans as they mourn their 6,000 dead.
Mr. Chretien didn't deal with the fact that Canada has become the haven of every terrorist group in the world, according to the Toronto National Post, which said:
"Canada's vulnerability to infiltration by terrorists is deeply entrenched. Its refugee laws are probably the most lax in the Western world. Anyone who arrives on Canadian soil and claims to be a refugee is entitled to a hearing, a lawyer and generous welfare benefits."
Here is a case history of terrorist Nabil Al-Marabh, 34, recently arrested by the FBI in connection with the latest WTC bombings. Earlier, he had been picked up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, hidden in the back of a truck as he tried to cross the border into the U.S. at Niagara Falls. He was carrying a forged Canadian passport and citizenship card.
Rejected for refugee status in 1994 he was deported. He re-entered Canada with forged travel documents when we was caught again. He was released last July into the care of an Islamic cleric in Toronto. He then fled to Michigan, then to Illinois where he was picked up by the FBI.
Ahmed Ressam was arrested two years ago by U.S. Customs trying to cross the border from Canada at Washington State. His car was loaded with enough explosives to destroy the target, Los Angeles Airport and everybody in it. He had been living in Montreal even though he had been turned down for asylum.
Perhaps one shouldn't fault Canada for its mishandling of immigrants; after all, most open societies have an immigration problem. What was offensive was Prime Minister Chretien's demagogic rhetoric, his warning to President Bush that Canada wouldn't be stampeded or forced to sacrifice its values because "of urgent circumstances." I got the feeling he would half-agree with Alexa McDonough, head of the socialist New Democratic Party, who told the House of Commons that the U.S. "doesn't have the moral authority" to pursue terrorists.

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