Blame it on Canada

Bi-weekly columnist Karen Haviland examines an unfortunate scenario relating to cross-border shopping

I thought times were changing, but I guess I was wrong.

For many years I lived in Canadian border towns and, especially when the Canadian dollar was starting to rival that of the American dollar, enjoyed little shopping forays into the States.

Those ventures were always exciting and filled with expectation, especially prior to the start of the school year. We knew that mom and dad would get more bang for their buck while shopping Stateside and in return, our school clothes and supplies would be more plentiful thanks to the huge savings.

Even now, however, I can remember the grudging look and service that Americans gave us and the constant simmering animosity between Americans and Canadians.

While I’m not a huge cross-border shopper now, preferring to support local economy, I do have to admit that with the weak American dollar, it can be pretty tempting to take our money across the border. I totally understand that there are many Canadians, given our harsh economic times, who will heartily partake of deals on gas and milk (especially when milk is half price).

Apparently, some people from the Lower Mainland are doing just that in Bellingham, Wa. and that has created quite a stir among some of its residents.

According to a news story on the Bellingham store was so inundated with Canadians, that one American decided to take a picture of the long lineups and post it on a Facebook page created solely to complain about the situation.

The creators of the page suggested that Costco should have Americans-only hours in order to avoid the crush of “milk piranhas” (according to one of the page’s respondents) from invading the store.

I got to read some of the shocking comments on that page before it was widely publicized and the creators (I’m speculating) pulled the page.

What I read there was disgusting and polarizing, not to mention out and out hate-filled.

Trust me, it was stereotyping at its worst, and sadly to say, it wasn’t just Americans who were hurling the insults and negativity.

Here are some excerpts from that page.

“You all been there. its [sic] hard to find a parking spot. Them Canadians can be rude. The lines are crazy. We aren’t on a vacation and have an RV to hang out in like those Canadians. We just want to go shopping, not go on an adventure. Costco used to have special opening hours for preferred customers. Why cant [sic] they do that for us loyal American customers?”

Canadians on the page responded by calling the Americans “Ugly Americans” and called them fat, lazy and stupid, among other things.

The whole page was nothing more than an angry cesspool of hate.

Growing up close to the American border as well as actually living in the States as a kid gives me, I believe, a bit of a front row seat when it comes to Canadian/American relations.

I do remember a time when simmering animosity between the two countries was evident. While we didn’t go out of our way to provoke the other, the general sentiment, in my opinion, was at best, one of tolerance. Sort of how we shudder when a creepy crawly meanders by – we shiver and then warily step aside.

While I still hear the occasional negative comment from both Americans and Canadians, I simply view that as being born out of ignorance and don’t believe that is the general feeling on either part.

But it saddens me when a page such as the aforementioned receives over 3,000 likes. It makes me wonder if we, the human race, really have moved forward and embraced people of all races, genders, abilities, religions and preferences.

As George Carlin said, “Can’t we all just get along?”