Mona Charen

A comedian once said that visiting Canada was like rummaging in your attic. "You go up there and say 'Wow, there's all this neat stuff up here! There are mountains and rivers and cities." And a parliament and a television network.

It is a fact of life -- sad or not I leave to readers -- that most Americans have no strong feelings about our northern neighbor because we often forget entirely that Canada exists.

Having just returned from a nine-day trip to "Beautiful British Columbia" (it's on their license plates) I can attest that there is much to admire in Canada. BC abundantly deserves its moniker. The mountains plunging down to the sea are a very spectacular effect, augmented by acres of flowers both wild and cultivated. Western Canadians are wonderfully friendly and accommodating people -- though the PC atmosphere is occasionally stifling. Everything from coffee cups to sightseeing busses carries the preface "eco." The so-called First Nations (Indians until the 1980s) get lavish amounts of attention (much of it patronizing) out of proportion to their percentage of the population (4.4). A video screen outside of the Vancouver exhibition hall trumpets the region's allures, including this testimonial: "Who said 'When I'm in Canada I feel that this is the way the whole world should operate?' Jane Fonda." Swell.

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Canada is a good neighbor and perhaps deserves more appreciation from us. But for as long as some Americans, including the most noisome portion of the Democratic Party, insist upon citing Canada's single-payer health care system as a model for the United States, even those of us who would prefer to be lauding the magnificence of the northern dominion must demur.

Here's a cautionary tale from last week's Canadian Press. The incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Anne Doig, has described the health system as in crisis. "(Canadians) have to understand that the system that we have right now -- if it keeps on going without change -- is not sustainable," she said. "... We all agree that the system is imploding. We all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize."

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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