George Graham

A Shoulder to Lean on



My fellow Americans, are you feeling frazzled? Are your nerves on edge? Are you frightened by the fury, bigotry and hate reflected in the media?

If you are, I suggest you stop listening to the Republican candidates for US President and take time out to contemplate the calm optimism in neighboring Canada.

With typical common sense, Canadians recently gave up on a decade-long experiment in conservative government and elected a Liberal Prime Minister. It’s as if the sun has broken through the clouds on a dreary day.

My brother Bill, who lives in London, Ontario, just posted a New York Times Magazine article on Facebook that provides an intimate look at the new guy in charge. He is Justin Trudeau, son of the legendary Canadian leader, Pierre Trudeau.

You might wonder what Canadian politics might have to do with Americans. After all, American media generally ignore America’s northern neighbors. But this article emphasizes Canada’s importance to America. The writer explains that:

…the United States has no relationship more important than the one with Canada. The country is one of America’s largest trading partners (on par with China), a peaceful neighbor and a crucial ally in global affairs — when the relationship is functional, as it hasn’t been in recent years.

With conservative Stephen Harper leading Canada and Democrat Barack Obama leading America,  the traditional alliance between the two countries was compromised. As the article observes, the two were far apart on such vital issues as the Iran nuclear treaty, Israeli-Palestinian relations and Syrian refugees.

The disagreement was as apparent in domestic policies as in foreign affairs. For example:

In domestic affairs, Harper was strongly in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama resisted; the president killed the project two weeks after the Conservatives lost.

Now, things are totally different. The article paints a picture of reassuring personal congeniality between Obama and Trudeau. It quotes the Canadian Prime Minister as saying:

It was nice to confirm in person how like-minded we are on so many issues. He (Obama) said that seeing my family on TV on election night reminded him of his election in 2008 with his family. I’m looking forward to having a beer with him.

With the tumult raging in America today, with demagogues inciting hatred, bigotry and divisiveness in across the globe, it’s soothing to know that our beleaguered President will have at least one friendly shoulder to lean on.

Click for the Times article.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for