I am an American who has been coming to P.E.I. since 1957, when I was five years old. I have always loved the Island. I proposed to my wife here and my oldest child took her first steps in Sea View 32 years ago. My compass always pointed to P.E.I. and I have always returned “home.”
I now own property on the Island, and as a P.E.I. business owner who pays Canadian taxes and is a descendant of Canadians, I feel I have the right to voice an observation. You would be forgiven for thinking it’s a complaint, but it isn’t.
Sadly, I’ve found social gatherings here often devolve into America-bashing. Once on the subject of President Trump, the second amendment, a boarder barrier, or some other damn thing, it’s easier to clean barnacles from the bottom of a lobster boat than to change the subject.
As an example, last fall my wife and I visited an old friend to say goodbye before we left. While there, a local couple dropped in. Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania license plate on my car triggered an episode of the man’s TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome). The first words out of his mouth were, “Pennsylvania went for Trump.” It went downhill from there. He didn’t seem to care about how uncivil he was being to a guest in someone else’s home. His wife, not to be outdone, complained that a relative of hers had recently become a U.S. citizen. She said she had told her wayward relative that she had “gone over to the enemy.” Ditto for her.
“The enemy?” Really? Do most Canadians really feel that way? We are not your enemy. We are your closest allies.
By now, you may be saying, “Well, if you don’t like it, stay home.” I’ve considered that, but I love the Island and won’t be deterred by the “mauvaises pommes.” Some say my president is crude, loud, uncivil, filled with hatred, etc, etc., etc., however some of the commentary I’ve heard from Canadians is just the same. While not all Islanders toss civility out the window when it comes to my country, it is wise to remember that poor behavior does damage good behavior can’t repair.
No, I will not stay home. I understand how incredibly intertwined our histories are. Up to 55,000 of your ancestors fought in our American Civil War. Over 7,000 died. Over 1,300 of you wore American uniforms during the Vietnam War. Surprised? It’s true. Your countrymen volunteered while our draft dodgers ran north. Your government finally asked our government to stop allowing Canadians to enlist. Here’s another example: One day I was surprised to discover a familiar site in the cemetery of St. John the Baptist Church in Miscouche: a U.S. military headstone. It identified a local Canadian who fought as a U.S. Marine in the Second World War.
And let me say that your prime minister and my president have something in common. “No they don’t,” you respond. “They are nothing alike.” Yes they are: they are both impermanent. Temporary. Prime ministers and presidents come and go. Oh, and they’re both egotists, though they express it differently.
American presidents, unlike the Canadian Prime Ministers, are term limited so at most Donald Trump will serve six more years. If he fails to be re-elected, only two more. I tolerated Barak Obama for eight years, and he was my president. So, given Donald Trump is not your president, you can surely tolerate him for a few years while remaining civil on a personal level. In the foreseeable future, he’ll be gone, but the rest of us will still be here, hopefully continuing as friends and allies. When you fail to take the high road, you are no better than that which you claim to deplore.