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Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and Senior Advisor on Water to the President of  the United Nations General Assembly.   She also chairs the board[…]

Do Americans sufficiently respect Canadians?

Maude Barlow: Well Canadians and Americans have many similarities and most of us in Canada have family in the US because the families came over from wherever and some went to Canada, some went to the US.

In a way we are very similar. In a way, we are quite different.

We live in a big harsh cold climate and our ancestors knew that if we didn’t share, we wouldn't survive. So, we invested more faith in our governments and collective notions and social programs and East-West links than Americans.

I always say that our founding model or kind of ethos is sharing for survival. Whereas in the US it is more survival of the fittest.

And your founding principles of life, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Ours is peace, order, and good government. We are just kind of boring in comparison. We have a different kind of model.

I do a lot of work here in the US, but when I come here sometimes, I am stunned by the belief that everything is about the market and about even the environment, about entrepreneurship, green entrepreneurship right. Is it [Inaudible] somehow save everything. 

I was at a water conference in Lubbock, Texas a couple of years ago [circa 2007]. They put up this great big billboard/PowerPoint on the first day and just showed how the demand for water in Texas is going right up, and that the water supply is going right down, and this is a crisis and what are we going to do?

And I said to them, "You have got a private system here and the big losers can buy their way out of everything. You have got T. Boone Pickens, as if he isn't rich enough, going around buying up aquifers, water rights and sitting on them. Why don’t you say no to that? Why don’t you limit the amount of water any one person or corporation can own?"

Oh, well, that would go against you know capitalism and entrepreneurship and the market and they hate government and they don’t trust the government because they never do anything right.

So, we kind of struggled for two days. At the end of the second day, I said, "I don’t think I convinced you, but on the other hand, you didn’t answer the question you put up yesterday morning, which was that x, demand and supply."

A lot of people came up to me and said, "You really, you really made me think that maybe we have got to start looking differently." 

So, that was a real clash of two different kinds of thought processes.

But I have fun in the US. I was on a call-in show not long ago and this guy called in and he said, "You are a bleeding heart liberal."  And I said, "Hey, I am a Canadian. I don’t know what that means."  We had some good fun with that.

Oh, heavens, you guys don’t know anything about us.

I tell you, we could blow up up there and I don’t know. I don’t think it would get first page on the New York Times or anywhere.

It is funny, when I have been doing this [Blue Covenant] book tour here, people at home say well you have been reading about such and such and I say, of course I have and unless they go online, there is no news about Canada here.

It is just we know everything.

I was in Hollywood, Los Angeles for the first time a couple of weeks ago [circa March 2008] and every single street vying and all.  I know that this is part of our culture in Canada too--because all of your networks, all of your magazines, all of your movies come here.

I know everything about New York. I know about the St. Patrick's Day Parade. I know everything. It is famous in Canada.

Most Americans know just about that about us and we kind of laugh about it. We kind of feel a little inferior sometimes and unloved and all of that, but it is an interesting phenomenon.

The US is the big guy on the block and most Americans don’t have to do anything about us except we are where the cold air comes from.

Recorded On: March 17, 2008