Tossing pebbles at a grizzly bear?
By Jim Poling Sr.
Published on June 28, 2018
It is a dilemma I never expected to confront.
Next month there is a youth baseball tournament in Cooperstown, New York, home of the baseball Hall of Fame. A grandson is one of the players and I planned to be there to cheer him on.
Like many Canadians, however, I am outraged by the Trump administration’s treatment of Canada and I want to keep as much of my money as possible away from the Americans.
Canadians can never forget how Trump savaged us during the G7 earlier this month. He warned Canadians that standing up to him will cost us a lot of money, and he called Prime Minister Trudeau weak and dishonest.
Then he unleashed his fascist hounds, one of whom said there is a special place in Hell for people like Trudeau.
The U.S. has slapped hefty tariffs on our steel and aluminum, calling them potential threats to its national security. The tariffs are an insulting attack on the Canada-U.S. historic friendship and will damage our economy.
Canadians have reacted swiftly with calls for consumer boycotts of U.S. goods, services and travel. An Ipsos Poll two weeks ago showed 70 per cent of Canadians were looking at ways to avoid buying U.S. goods.
Some say the boycotts will have little effect on the giant U.S. economy. It is like tossing pebbles at an attacking grizzly bear. Others say they worsen the situation and hurt ourselves.
Probably, but it would be wrong not to fight back and not let America know we won’t sit back and absorb its bullying. Anything we do will not seriously hurt the overall U.S. economy, however, consumer boycotts will be effective in some U.S. regions.
Pull Canadian tourism out of places like Florida and border states and you’ll hear the wailing. The Naples (Florida) Daily News published a story last week expressing concern about Canadians talking about cancelling visits.
Stop buying Ivanka Trump clothes and accessories, Heinz ketchup, Hershey candy and people who make or sell those products will jump on their politicians. Stop buying Kentucky bourbon and Wisconsin cranberry products and Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, the Republican bosses who represent those states in the U.S. Congress, will hear from their voters.
Giving up U.S. products and travel is not easy and can’t be taken to the extreme. It is not practical to expect someone with a significant investment in a Florida vacation property to stop going there.
We all can be more aware, however, of watching product labelling, avoiding American products and buying more Canadian products.
Also, when you boycott U.S. products or services write those companies and tell them why. Get your message out through social media and encourage your friends to do the same.
I will go to Cooperstown to support my grandson. I don’t intend to hurt him because the U.S. government is hurting us. I will reduce my visit, however. I will watch his game but forgo the couple of days of sightseeing that had been planned.
There is something more important than consumer boycott at play here. Canadians need to change their relationship with the United States. We have been very close and very friendly, much like close relatives.
The Americans have chosen to place their trust in an authoritarian government, which is implementing policies and practices not acceptable in Canada. That’s their business but it changes the way we see them and deal with them.
We have friendly relations and do business with other authoritarian governments, (for instance China, Russia, Cuba, Jordan). But these relations are quite different from the historic blood brother/sister relationship we have had with the U.S.
We now have to change that historic relationship from one that was totally trustful to one that is cautiously friendly. We should no longer treat them like our best buddies and favourite neighbours.
If Americans decide to turn away from authoritarian government perhaps our relationship might return to what it was. But that is doubtful; too much damage already has been done.
If viewing Americans differently and buying fewer of their goods and services causes us some pain, so be it. There always is a price to be paid for confronting the bullies of the world.