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Moving border closer to home

Gay marriage is supported, stem cell research is practiced and there is no capital punishment.

Yes, Canada is pretty different than the United States of America. The relationship between the two countries is reflecting this increasing difference, Jeffery Simpson said last night in his speech, “Writing Across Borders: Canada — U.S. Perspectives.”

Students and faculty members gathered at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union to listen to Simpson, a national affairs columnist for The Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper, and the author of five books. He has won all three of Canada’s main literary awards for his non-fiction book writing, his political writing and his column writing.

Simpson said that many Canadians are frustrated that Americans don’t seem to pay much attention to Canada. He’s not surprised by this, though, since the United States is a superpower with many issues and other countries to be concerned about.

“I’m not insulted by it,” Simpson said.

He said that even though many Canadians aren’t thrilled with Americans right now, a quote by 1960’s Canadian protest party leader remains true: “Americans are our best friends whether we like it or not.”

Although somewhat cliché now, Simpson maintained that the quote is accurate.

“It connotes a truism with a lovely little twist,” he said.

Simpson explored whether the trend of more distance and less cooperation between Canada and the United States is a passing trend or an indication of a permanent change.

He illustrated the difference in opinions between the two countries by presenting the fact that while the U.S. presidential election was close, in Canadian polls, Kerry was favored by a vast majority.

Despite the fact that Canada and the United States might be growing apart in their views on several issues, Canada can’t completely ignore the concerns of the United States, even though Canadians might sometimes feel ignored by Americans. Part of the reason behind this, Simpson said, is the fact that the United States imports about 80 percent of Canada’s exports.

“You can’t take your best customer for granted,” he said.

Canada also has to cater to the U.S. concern of terrorism, although this is not an issue of large concern in Canada.

“The average Canadian doesn’t feel terrorism is something their country is threatened by,” Simpson said.

Canadians generally want to keep the U.S. border open, though, so they have to make Americans comfortable with the security there.

The presentation seemed well-received by Simpson’s audience.

“I think it was thorough and very balanced,” said Rebecca Mancuso, faculty adviser to Club Canada. Club Canada had an information table set up during the presentation.

Mancuso said she thought Simpson was a good choice to bring to the University because of his wide appeal and because it allowed several different groups to cooperate in planning the event.

“We’re really happy to be a part of Communication Studies Week,” she said.

The presentation was a part of the School of Communication Studies’ Communication Studies Week. It was also sponsored by the Florence and Jesse Currier Endowment, the Canadian Studies Center, the political science department and the Canadian government.

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