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No, I don't have a wolf dog

There's much to teach new U.S. ambassador

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To: Bruce Heyman

From: A licensed Canadian

Re: Welcome to Canada, eh?

Dear Bruce: I know you probably have a lot on your plate now that you have been confirmed as the new U.S. ambassador to Canada, but this seemed like a good time to introduce myself and welcome you to the True North Strong and Free.

So, like, way to go, Bruce! Beauty, eh! Sorry, my bad. It's probably a bit early to be assaulting your ears with the Canadian version of the English language. What I meant to say was: Congratulations! Well done, sir!

Even though we don't know much about you, Bruce, we suspect we are going to like you a lot more than the last guy... um, give me a moment here while I Google the name of the last U.S. ambassador. OK, it was a guy named David Jacobson, who, like yourself, was originally from Chicago.

I think I speak for all Canadians when I say we were pretty fond of old Dave, mostly because, as far as anyone knows, he didn't actually do anything during his stint in Canada. The last thing we Canadians appreciate is an American coming up here and, well, trying to do stuff.

I am assuming, Bruce, you are a typical American in the sense the only things you know about Canada are the things you have learned from watching TV shows, most of which are American. That means you are exactly like us, because everything we know about the U.S. comes from our favourite TV shows, which have taught us the most common occupations in the U.S. are:

1) Sexy, well-dressed ER doctors;

2) Sexy, well-dressed police detectives;

3) Sexy, well-dressed trial lawyers;

4) Kardashian sister.

I will take a stab in the dark here and guess the only Canadian show you have ever seen was Due South, wherein Canadian actor Paul Gross portrayed a Mountie who was sent to your hometown, Chicago, to help the police solve crimes while accompanied by his partner, Diefenbaker, a deaf, white wolf dog.

This show, while entertaining, was somewhat misleading, Bruce. Unfortunately, not all of us own wolf dogs. So there is a lot for you to learn about Canada, although based on what you told the U.S. Senate during hearings last year, you already know a great deal about the Great White North.

For instance, here's something you told U.S. senators: "If confirmed, I plan to embrace this unique mosaic of Canadian history, culture and people by visiting the diverse communities across the beautiful and expansive country of Canada in each of its 10 provinces and three territories."

You know what would happen if we went up to a typical Canadian on the street and asked them how many provinces and territories there are in Canada? They would give us a deer-caught-in-the-headlights look, then back away the way you would back away from a naked man wielding a machete in the frozen food aisle at Safeway.

Another thing you will need to learn, Bruce, are the words to our national anthem. Don't look to us for any help, though, because -- as anyone who has been to a football game, hockey game or any other major sporting event in this country can tell you -- NONE of us actually knows all the words to O Canada.

It's true: When the time comes to sing our anthem, we, as a nation, tend to look at one another nervously, then, completely out of tune, hum in the following manner:

"O Canada

Our home and TV land!

True patriot love dum dum dum dum de dum

With glowing hearts dum dum de dum

We stand on cars and freeze!"

The thing is, Bruce, we Canadians are not big on overt displays of nationalism, other than the fact we like collecting as many gold medals as possible in international sporting events, but even then we tend to say "sorry" to all the other nations we have beaten. It's a Canadian thing.

As an investment banker, you obviously know a lot about the economy. We read you told your Senate hearings American ingenuity is, quote, "the special sauce" in the economy. What does that make Canada, Bruce?

Are we the sesame-seed bun? An all-beef patty? The pickles? Canada does not want to be your pickles, Bruce. It's better you know that from the start.

That said, we are really looking forward to seeing you up here.

The important thing to remember is you cannot consider yourself an honorary Canadian until you have stood in line for over an hour to get your first double-double. It sounds kinky, Bruce, but it isn't.

You're going to love it up here, Bruce. Now pull on your tuque, get comfortable on the chesterfield, and I'll go get us some poutine and a two-four, eh?

Standing on guard for thee,

Doug Speirs


P.S. Don't blame us for Justin Bieber. Not all Canadians are crazy. Just the Toronto Maple Leafs fans.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 14, 2014 A2

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