Updated: December 24, 2013 6:04AM
In the 1995 movie “Canadian Bacon,” the U.S. president (Alan Alda) starts a war with Canada on the theory that the public rallies around war-time presidents.
The movie was funny because comedian John Candy was in it and the idea that America would care enough about Canada to go to war seemed ludicrous.
But now there’s a new idea floating around that President Barack Obama, fighting plummeting opinion polls, might consider: a new country containing both the United States and Canada. It would relegate Obamacare to yesterday’s news!
Diane Francis, a respected journalist and author who lives in Toronto and New York City, has laid out serious arguments for a mutual union in a new book, “Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country.”
She argues, “A merger will provide millions of Canadians and Americans with new jobs, exponential resources, enormous capital increases, and protection against conflict with countries including China and Russia, among others.”
Presumably, good-natured Canadians would keep hot-tempered Americans from starting new wars and possibly help end current ones.
Francis suggests a U.S.-Canadian merger would make the new country the world’s undisputed economic superpower. In exchange for its huge, untapped natural resources, Canada would get the protection of a larger military.
Francis worries that both Canada and the United States are showing signs of decline, which could be prevented by a merger, she says. She is concerned that despite sharing geography and values, the U.S. and Canada have a border that has become “more clogged than ever, hurting trade and tourism” because of security controls, terrorist threats, drug smuggling and regulations.
The templates for a merger come from the reunification of East and West Germany and the European Union, which offers economic and security advantages while letting disparate cultures survive.
Since the War of 1812 ended, Canadians and Americans have been friends. They mostly sound alike, except for words such as “about,” believe in democracy, don’t think of each other as “foreigners” and take pride in each other’s movie stars. Their political parties are similar, although Canada has managed not to have a tea party.
One challenge is that Americans almost never think of Canada, while Canadians spend too much time thinking of, and being slightly resentful of, the United States. Other problems are Americans’ affection for guns, which many Canadians find appalling, and America’s rejection of national health care, of which Canadians are very proud.
If the two countries merged, the new leader would be expected to approve the controversial northern leg of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline down through the Midwest instead of waffling over it as Obama is doing, worried about climate change versus more oil.
On the other hand, Quebec separatists still would be unhappy.
As for what the name of the new country would be, why, isn’t it obvious?
The new flag would have maple leaves instead of stars.
Hollywood, at least, is salivating at the possibilities.
Ann McFeatters covers national politics for Scripps Howard News Service.