Canada Declares Independence
Remaining 50 States Indifferent; Alberta to Remain Montana Panhandle
OTTAWA, ON (SP) — In a surprise move Saturday, Canadian Governor Jean Chrétien (D - QC) declared the state of Canada to be a sovereign nation, independent of the United States. Official reaction from Washington was muted.
Governor Jim Douglas of neighbouring Vermont exclaimed mild surprise, and said he hoped that "our two states continue to enjoy a peaceful coexistence, as we have pretty much always done, to my knowledge." Governor George E. Pataki of New York, after referring to a map, indicated that his state does share a border with the new nation, somewhere upstate. President George W. Bush was unavailable for comment.
Chrétien announced that Canada would shortly be renouncing its seat at the G8. "I am, to me, you know, giving back da seat is a big assertation of our indépendence. Da only reason why we got da sit when dey increase da G5 to G7 in 1976 was because of de Americans don't like to see so many Européan across da table from dem, and dey want anudder vote for demself…"
Canada has already applied to the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva for its own telephone dialing country code. According to the Hon. Allan Rock, new Canadian Minister of Industry, "Having a country code of our own will make it look more like we run our own show. Most other independent countries have their own country code, separate from the arrogant American code '1'. Well, I guess Grenada doesn't have its own. All the other ones do, like France, Germany, Liechtenstein, and Djibouti." He added that, according to ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi, several country codes were available. "We're looking at something catchy and easy to remember, like 282, 383, or 424," said Rock. He declined to comment on the possibility that spicier, more suggestive codes were under consideration, such as 696, 699, or 969.
Said newly-named Canada Post President André Ouellet, "As an independent country, we will no longer be treating Canadian destinations as just slightly-cheaper U.S. ones. The U.S. destinations will henceforth be considered 'International', since the mail will now move between two nations. New signage in postal outlets will reflect this." At a post office in downtown Winnipeg, pensioner Annie McMurphy showed some initial confusion upon seeing a newly labelled mail slot. "International? But I'm mailing this to my cousin in Seattle… Oh right, it's a different country now." All signs are expected to have been converted by the end of the year.
The new country's newspapers will commence updating their style books. No longer to be described as simply "American", sports figures and Hollywood cultural icons hailing from south of the 49th parallel will now be described as "North American". Said Peter Scowen, entertainment editor of the Toronto Star, "Of course, even though we're our own country now, 90% of our programming, music, movies, and whatever we call 'culture' will still originate in the 'Remaining 50', until such time as we get our own viable counterparts up and running. Until then, 'North American' will be used as a blanket phrase to describe all culture originating in the U.S., while offering a hint that Canada also has an influence on that culture as a whole — minor as it may actually be at present."
The newly formed "Statistics Canada" recommends simply using existing U.S. statistics and dividing by 10. "The Remaining 50 U.S. states have a population about 10 times the size of ours, so it should be all good to just divide," said Ivan P. Fellegi, Chief Statistician of Statistics Canada. "In fact, most of the time it will be sufficient to simply use American statistics, and not even bother to indicate that they may differ from Canadian stats. I mean, how different are we, anyway?"
Makers of paper and polystyrene coffee cups and plastic lids will be phasing out labels warning consumers that their coffee or tea is "hot". Canadian consumers have endured the warnings with grudging acceptance ever since an Albuquerque, New Mexico woman suffered third degree burns after spilling a cup of McDonald's coffee on herself in 1994, and was subsequently awarded U.S. $2.9 million in damages. Paul House, president and COO of the TDL Group Ltd., parent company of the Tim Hortons coffee chain, described the reason for removing the warning labels. "We feel that, while the population of the Remaining 50 may benefit from the warnings, consumers in Canada are sufficiently familiar with hot beverages and their associated hazards that they will avoid burning themselves, for example by placing a scalding hot, filled-to-the-brim cup of coffee between their legs and attempting to open the cup's lid while in a moving vehicle."
Business leaders have agreed to desist calling for the re-adoption of the U.S. dollar. "The Canadian dollar is our currency now; we hope that all Canadians will accept it, as it is a vital part of our national identity," said David A. Dodge, governor of the Bank of Canada, in an address to the Empire Club in Toronto. "Eventually, it would be nice if people even started considering it mildly treasonous to suggest ditching the 'Loonie' in favour of the Greenback. Of course, it'll take time for people to build up enough loyalty to our new nation of Canada to go that far."
The National Hockey League will eject the 24 teams not located in the new nation of Canada. The six remaining teams will comprise a league truly "national" in scope, said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. "Otherwise we'd have to rename the league, or it wouldn't make sense. How could you call it 'national' when fully 80 percent of the teams are from another country?" In similar moves, General Motors and McDonald's will both attach red maple leaves to their logos for use in Canada. "We wish the people of Canada well in their new independence," said GM chairman John F. Smith, Jr. "Being an American corporation, we at GM hope that, by using the maple leaf symbol on our logo, we will show the people of Canada that we understand that our branch plants up there in Canada, are in Canada… and that we know it." In order to further avoid the potential for confusion, when operating branch plants in Canada, the company will be referred to as General Motors of Canada.
Noted Canadian journalist Robert Fulford, writing in his column for the National Post, suggests that being a country will pose challenges for the self-esteem of Canadians. "Now that we are our own country, we will shed our inferiority complex. No longer just a state with an average population, we will see ourselves as a nation with a population greater than that of all the Scandinavian countries combined. While it is true that those countries enjoy more prestige on the world stage, have their own car companies, mobile phone companies, Nobel Prizes, and so on, now that we are out from the shadow of the United States we will forge an influential role for ourselves. All we need to do is stop seeing ourselves as a pale imitation of our giant neighbour. At first it will undoubtedly be difficult to resist comparing ourselves to the U.S., but eventually we will learn that there are other countries in the world to which we can look for examples of how we want to be, directions we want to move in, and so forth."
Paul Celucci, former Governor of Massachusetts, is the appointed ambassador to the new country. In his first statement in that office, he criticized Canada for wanting to adopt and adhere to its own, distinct foreign policy. "It escapes me why, now of all times, with the war on terrorism, Iraq and all that, the people of Canada would choose to act as if they were their own separate country."
In a rare incidence of opposition to the declaration of independence, Albertan Ralph Klein (R - AB) decried the move. "Alberta has always been loyal to President Bush and this great nation of ours, and will always be so. From our solidarity in the rejection of the Kyoto Accord to the support of our troops in Iraq, we done stood behind our president. Declaring anything but total allegiance to America ain't nothing short of treachery." Pending final discussions in the state capital Helena, Alberta is to retain its current status as an appendage of Montana.