In their rush to close up the border America shares with Mexico, many conservative politicians, including Bill Sali, the Republican candidate for Idaho's First Congressional District, also urge tighter security on the border with Canada. Over a cup of coffee in downtown Boise last week, visiting Canadian scholar Roger Gibbins called such language "worrisome." Gibbins, the director of the Canada West Foundation in Calgary, was in town for a lecture at Boise State, but he found time to fret over American saber-rattling about the Canadian border.
"Canadians have taken great pride in having the world's largest undefended border," Gibbins said. "There's been no reason for a military presence. Suddenly, what used to be an asset has been identified by certain American politicans as a liability." That's in addition to problems the Canadian economy would face if the border becomes "sticky" in Gibbins's wording. "Close to 90 percent of Canadian trade goes directly into American markets," Gibbins said. "It's a huge concern."
American politics have already left a bad taste in the mouths of many Canadians, Gibbins said, because so many Canadians ally more closely with American Democrats. Add to that the presence of some 2,500 Canadian troops in Afghanistan just now, he said--the 36th Canadian combat fatality since last spring occurred this year--and you have a recipe for resentment against the United States, he said.
"It's been described as, 'Should we be involved in [President] Bush's war?'" Gibbins said.