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Diane Francis Teaches Americans About Canadian Politics AKA A Bunch of Stuff Francis Should Have Put in Her Ridiculous Merger of the Century Book

In short, Francis thinks American politics are a mess and the States should merge with Canada because the Canadian system is awesome. Or it would be awesome if we made two enormous changes that would mean it wasn’t the Canadian system anymore.

It’s called “Canada to the Rescue.” Canada to the rescue! Good god. It’s like she’s trying to alienate the readers before they’ve even gotten to the article.

I do wonder at her mind. She spends most of Merger crapping all over everything Canadian, and then ever once in a while she pulls out an article saying “Do what Canada is doing.”

And apparently change requires a merger. Americans can’t make their own government work by themselves by looking about the world and trying new ideas. Only a merger will do the trick. Because Canada is magic. And Americans have so much respect for Canada that they want to be just like us.

In the article, she claims that she was speaking too soon when, during an interview held at some point after the release of the book in October of 2013, she said that, in the case of a merger, Democrats would be elected and that would go a long way to fixing things. After all, look at Obama’s first two years in office. Democrats controlled Congress and he still wasn’t able to get much done.

A reminder: That was back in 2009-2011. Francis has just now decided that more Democrats can’t provide an easy fix. I find this timing interesting. More on that later.

She refers a couple of times to how long it will take to create a merger and seems to suggest such care is necessary. This is fascinating, given the fact that in her book, one of the things she admired about the unification of West and East Germany was how quickly it was done. Is speed no longer something to strive for?

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Well, not yet, but I just learned she's working on a new book. It's going to be about Silicon Valley. I am totally going to buy that sucker - I got so much entertainment out of Merger of the Century that I feel obligated to throw her a few dollars - and check all of her sources.
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Hey, Diane Francis, I found this political cartoon from 1885-1890, and immediately thought of your innovative, new idea about a merger with Canada and America. And look at that vicious, diabolical Britain, working so hard to keep the two countries apart.

The following was published in the Grinchuckle, September 23rd, 1869.

The text is: Young Canada -- "We don't want you here."

John Bull -- "That's right, my son. No matter what comes, an empty house is better than such a tenant as that!"
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An examination of the book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country by Diane Francis, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto, 2013.

In which I wrap it up.


So this turned into a book. A short book, just over 70,000 words, but a book nonetheless. I had no expectation of creating a document anywhere near this length, but I had no idea how bad Francis’s work would be.

And it is bad. I could use other words like incompetent and illogical, which are both accurate descriptions, but sometimes the really basic words are the best. This is a bad argument, because it can’t support her premise, that a merger is possible.

I’m not talking about the revulsion most Canadians feel at the very idea of a merger. I’m not talking about the chauvinism and the hypocrisy Francis expresses. I’m not even talking about a merger that, if it involved two individuals instead of two countries, would have all of the earmarks of an abusive relationship and everyone would be telling Canada to grab the kids and get the hell out. I’m saying that she has failed to put forward a case anyone could rationally believe.

It’s a little like a lawyer who has to represent someone everyone is dead sure is guilty. The defence has to be logical. The lawyer has to say stuff like, “That witness couldn’t have seen that event from that distance when it was that dark.” The lawyer can’t say, “It wasn’t my client; the flying spaghetti monster did it.” That level of incompetence would result in complaints to the law society, at the very least, and hopefully the declaration of a mistrial.

There was no logic here.

First, let’s get rid of the asinine notion that the countries could just merge economically and leave everything else untouched, because that’s clearly impossible. Business is too entwined with too many other areas of life to pluck it out and treat it separately. Let’s just look at law and regulations. Aside from the obvious acts dealing with creating and running corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships, you’ve got securities, banking and taxes. Accounting. Labour and employment. Currency. Health and safety. Workman’s compensation. Human rights codes. Insurance. Environmental law. Industry standards. Licensing professionals. Licensing anything. Criminal law. Family law. Estate law. Pensions. Immigration. Zoning. And that’s just what I thought up in a few minutes.

Not only would there have to be changes to all of those areas of law, but how those changes are made would have to change, as Canada and America have different ways of making laws and regulations. And guess which country would be doing all the changing?

And the next thing to get rid of is this idea that Canadians and Americans are identical. (Beyond that trivial little bit about Canadians being virtually useless and Americans being virtually perfect.)

Here’s one:

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An examination of the book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country by Diane Francis, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto, 2013.

I had to split up some links to keep this post from being ridiculously wide.

In which Francis appears to have given up.

Subchapter headings are hers.


Francis likes how the Australians are handling things.

Francis says:

“After the [Australian] Mabo case established aboriginal claims, the Native Title Act was passed in 1993, and hundreds of land-use agreements since.” (page 319)

Francis says:

“Australia’s laws have established a process to verify, evaluate and adjudicate claims. The National Native Title Tribunal hears claims to establish their validity and to rule on their merits by determining whether lands, rights and/or compensation should be awarded. This process has, in essence, enfranchised the (page 319) 517,200 Australians of aboriginal extraction – representing 2.5 percent of the population – by giving them their day in court.” (page 320)

Odd phrasing, don’t you think? “Giving them their day in court.” That’s meaningless if they don’t win.

And hey, because of it, Australia has been able to get at a lot of resources!

So, let’s look at this well-oiled machine.

Here’s a link to a radio transcript, dated February 28, 2014. The speakers are reflecting on the law’s effects over the twenty years since its enactment. A leader in defending aboriginal rights says that while there had been some successful claims that wouldn’t have been possible before the act kicked in, there are a lot of problems with it. He says:

"It's a white fella legal construct and what it is actually designed to do, in my view, is not to enliven traditional law and custom but to control traditional law and custom."

Other passages include:

“Under the Native Title Act, claims can only be made over certain parts of Australia, such as unallocated or vacant Crown land.” (So, land no one else is using.)

“The toughest requirement is that claimants have to be able to prove a continuity of traditional laws and customs on the land being claimed since European settlement.”

“That often involves lengthy historical research - as well as evidence from living parties.” (My, how efficient.)

“And even when claims are successful, Native Title does not necessarily give the Indigenous parties exclusive rights to the land.”

“In many cases, they have the right to live on the area or use it to for some ceremonial or traditional practices - including hunting.”

“So far there have been 213 successful Native Title determinations; 54 have been struck down.” (Are those the “hundreds of land-use agreements” Francis mentioned?)

“Some have come at the end of long and painful court cases.”

“At present, more than 420 claims are outstanding.”

“In many cases, the elders who launched the claims haven't lived to see them resolved - and many of the benefits of native title haven't flowed through to the communities that need them most.”

“Recognition of Native Title does not, by itself, give any exclusive rights to land - for example, through ownership of mineral resources.”

“But in practice, traditional owners commonly have the right to negotiate with resources companies over exploration or can enter into a land use agreement to settle on financial payments for the right to prospect - though this varies from state to state.”

See? No matter what Francis would have you believe, people with different points of view can actually talk and come to an agreement that works for everyone, instead of one side just screwing the other over.

“Melanie Stutsel is a spokeswoman for the Minerals Council of Australia. … Look I think the Native Title Act and the Native Title system is one of the most complex legislative environments in which we work. It's clearly taken a long time for us to get the system to a point where industry understands what the expectations are from a regulatory sense, but also in terms of the partnerships in the community in which it operates.’"

“There's another review going on now, by the Australian Law Reform Commission.” (There have been several.)

“One of its key concerns, the long time it's taking to solve a claim.”

"‘The only people who have uncertainty in Native Title are the Native Title claimants. We also know now that the content of Native Title is very poor. It's the right to do things on land which someone else now owns and from our point of view, from this rep body's point of view we don't think that's acceptable.’"

Here’s an article from February 12, 2014, called “Unfinished business: native title compensation” which discusses the huge complications around recognising and valuing aboriginal title.

Here’s an article from November 21, 2013, that says:

“The High Court has handed down a decision which further confirms that native title rights to hunt, fish and gather can trump state legislation that conflicts with the continued exercise of such rights, effectively creating a dichotomy of rights and practical difficulties for policing compliance.”

So perhaps things aren’t as neatly tied up as Francis would have us believe.

This is a link to a report on poverty in rural areas in Australia. People in rural areas are, in general, more likely to be living in poverty, and aboriginals in rural areas are more likely to be living in poverty than non-aboriginal people.

Here’s an article from April 29, 2013, called “Australia’s Boom is Anything But for its Aboriginal People.” Trigger warning, there’s some disturbing material.

We’ve got all of the same problems in Canada, unfortunately. I’m just saying the Australian way might not be the path to take.

Francis claims there are 1,300 unresolved land claims in Canada and couldn’t be bothered to provide a citation. I’ve been googling and not even Statistics Canada, as far as I can tell, has a number on that. Here’s an article from May 29, 2008, that says there are 450 unresolved land claims in Canada, but the number could have jumped up since then, I guess.

Francis bitches about all of the land claims going on in Canada – mostly without citations - and how they’re holding up all the rich people and governments wanting to get at the resources.

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An examination of the book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country by Diane Francis, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto, 2013.


All of the chapter and subchapter headings are hers.

I had to split up some links or the post would be too ridiculously wide.

In which Francis manages to repeat herself and contradict herself all at the same time.



This is about Francis making predictions, and we know how good she is at that.

Francis says:

“Canada has become nearly as dependent on the United States as it has historically been on the Britain.” (page 295)

Let’s say this is true. Then it’s high time we stood on our own feet, isn’t it?

She feels Canadians have been basically voting for a merger anyway, by buying America’s stuff and selling stuff to Americans. Ignore all those other trade agreements hiding behind the curtain.

Bwahahahaha! She uses the term “white knight.” Yes, yes, I know of its use in parlance regarding business transactions, but given there are so many Americans who insist America is the world’s White Knight in absolutely everything, it’s hard to take it seriously.

And I’ve never been able to buy into the “Knight in shining armour” thing, given the crusades and the fact that regardless of the code of chivalry, knights had no problem raping people. Here’s a link to an article about rape in Medieval England and France, if you have the stomach for it. Seriously, trigger warnings. Here’s a link to an article about the crusades. Trigger warnings.

This is her logic. America is slowly getting control over Canada with all of the buying and selling, and compares this to a creeping takeover, which she says:

“…is illegal in stock markets in developed countries because creeping takeovers allow buyers to avoid paying a premium to shareholders for control. The only defense against such maneuvers is to recruit the assistance of a white knight, an acceptable partner who is willing to pay a premium for control. In the case of Canada, the white knight would be the United States, but the Americans have been doing most of the creeping.” (page 295)

I’m just throwing up a definition of white knight up here to remind everyone why this is so hilarious:

“A white knight is an individual or company that acquires a corporation on the verge of being taken over by forces deemed undesirable by company officials (sometimes referred to as a "black knight"). While the target company doesn't remain independent, a white knight is viewed as a preferred option to the hostile company completing their takeover. Unlike a hostile takeover, current management typically remains in place in a white knight scenario, and investors receive better compensation for their shares.”

America is going to save us from Americans!

I decided I really hated myself and looked up some case law dealing with creeping takeovers.

Here’s an Ontario case Neo Material Technologies Inc. (Re), which can be found online here: Basically, Company A announced that it was going to buy a bunch of stock in Company B, a company in which Company A already had a significant amount of stock. Fearing a creeping takeover, Company B – DUN DUN DUN! – passed a new Shareholders’ Rights Plan:

“…to prevent the acquisition of control of, or a creeping takeover bid for, the Company by means of a partial bid. The [Second Shareholder Rights Plan] requires that any offer to acquire shares of the Company be made to all shareholders for all of their shares to ensure that all shareholders of the Company are treated equally and fairly in connection with any take-over bid for the company. The [Second Shareholder Rights Plan] is being adopted to discourage discriminatory, coercive or unfair attempts to take over the Company.” [paragraph 21]

Company A complained and the judge said, “Too bad, suckers!”

The target in Ontario case Falconbridge Ltd. (Re) also passed a new shareholders’ rights plan.

The target in Afexa Life Sciences Inc. (Re) also used a shareholders’ rights plan. They lost the case, but it was more a matter of the judge deciding the plan had served its purpose and it was in the shareholders’ best interests to let it go. (This one is from Alberta.)

Here’s a paper written by actual lawyers about the increasing use of rights plans in Canada as a means to protect a company from certain kinds of takeovers. Now, first of all, one of the purposes of such a plan is to give the people in charge a chance to find other bids, or a better price, so it’s not necessarily about stopping a takeover from happening at all. And the paper discusses the fact that there are other means that can be used to render a plan ineffective and so Canada’s belief in the power of such plans might be illusionary. I’m just saying that the “white knight” option isn’t the only one. Maybe they’ll sell to the people who were engaging in the creeping, but with better terms for everyone. Maybe they’ll choose to sell to someone else entirely, if they can find a better deal. Maybe they’ll sell to a bunch of different people. I know Francis wants us to be all enamoured with the whole “America is a possessive boyfriend, that means he loves you!” scenario, but I’m all for keeping one’s options open.

Here’s a newsletter written by actual lawyers that addresses things like how much stock people can buy before they have to make a formal bid and/or make a report of their activities. It also says that security regulators are proposing laws that will make it easier to defend a company against certain kinds of takeovers, though at the time of the writing of the newsletter, it wasn’t known whether tougher laws would be enacted.

Also, call me crazy, but I can’t see America fighting American big business to protect little ol’ Canada.

Finally, America wouldn’t qualify as a white knight because Canada’s “current management” – the Members of Parliament and the senators – would all be fired.

She talks about how much America already owns of Canada as though that weren’t scary and more likely to make us want to find anyone else to buy our stuff.

I won’t go into what Francis calculated based on people having salaries of $150,000 a year, (page 196) I’ll just give you a link to a CBC article from September 11, 2013 that says this:

“It shows that the median family income in Canada is $76,000 — generally higher in the west than the east — while the median individual income is just $27,600. That means just as many individuals earn less than $27,600 as earn more.”

She repeats a bunch of stuff she’s already said.

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An examination of the book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country by Diane Francis, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto, 2013.

In which Francis proposes a model in which Canadians will have to pay taxes to the American federal government (while living in Canada) and will have to obey federal American law (while living in Canada) but won’t be permitted to vote in presidential elections (unless we leave Canada.) Seriously, WTF?

All of the chapter and subchapter headings are hers.



Don’t look at the title and think Francis is going to spend any time getting down to brass tacks about how we would actually merge a constitutional monarchy with a republic.

She mentions the monarchy only long enough to say Canadians’ affection for it is “fickle,” so I guess we’re supposed to toss it. That will completely fuck up our Constitution and legislation, but we’re supposed to be taking a lighter to all of that, anyway. It means rejecting not only England but all of the other countries in the Commonwealth, some of whom we really like, but who needs friends? It means slashing a bunch of promises we’ve made, but who needs honour? The Commonwealth Games are a great party, but they’re not as big and as famous the Olympics, so they’re not worth participating in, and we’re only supposed to talk to other countries to make money and threaten to shoot their people.

Francis starts the chapter this way:

“A merger makes business sense. But still, many corporate consolidations fail, not over compensation or money issues – payments are always negotiable – but when fights erupt as to who will occupy the corner offices, will have the keys, the titles and, ultimately, run the place. Another obstacle can be a clash between two corporate cultures. If political infighting takes over, an otherwise worthy union of compatible corporations can be derailed. And, naturally, any transactions of this size between two established nations would be daunting.” (page 255)

And that’s all she says about this, because we all know who will have the corner offices and the keys and the running of the place and Canadians will just have to suck it up.

This time when she talks about how alike Canadians and Americans are, she talks about our pessimism concerning the economy and how dangerous the world is getting. Kinda like how a whole lot of other people feel in a whole bunch of other countries.

She repeats herself.

This is where she talks about how Canadians will be the ones expected to demean themselves by asking to be subjugated to the Americans. Or, as she says a Royal Commission from 1985 puts it:

“‘The United States has clearly indicated that any overtures toward free trade would, of necessity, have to come from Canada. Canadians have the largest interests at stake, but the Americans, we believe, would welcome a first approach from Canada.’” (page 257)

And thanks to Brian Mulroney, we did.

American lingo alert. She speaks of Liberals and left-leaning Conservatives working to create, among other things, a “welfare state.” (page 257)

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An examination of the book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country by Diane Francis, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto, 2013.

In which Francis fails to find a good example.

All chapter and subchapter headings are hers.



We’re going to pretend it makes sense to use the reunification of West and East Germany as some kind of blueprint for a merger between Canada and the States.

Summarising Francis’s description of events, East Germany became a communist dictatorship and by 1961, 3.5 million Germans defected, so the Soviets built the wall to keep more from leaving. (page 215)

Wall comes down.

Oh lord, this is a bad one. Francis says:

“In late 1989, East Germany and other socialist satellites were cast adrift after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Many, especially younger people, streamed into West Germany looking for work, and without a place to stay they slept in doorways and parks. East Germany was heading toward bankruptcy, with a population one-quarter of West Germany’s and a moribund economy that fell, according to some estimates, to only 8 percent of West Germany’s.” (page 216)

Problem. This is the source Francis cites for that paragraph:

And this is what it actually says:

“As might have been expected, the economy of eastern Germany went into a deep and precipitous slump immediately after unification. Within a year after unification, the number of unemployed rose above 3 million. Industrial production in eastern Germany fell to less than half the previous rate, and the total regional product fell precipitously through 1991. One estimate was that in 1991 the entire production of eastern Germany amounted to less than 8 percent of that of western Germany.”

That 8 percent statistic she talks about occurred AFTER unification, not before. Does she read this stuff before she uses it?

And the rest of the stuff going on in the paragraph isn’t too pretty, either.

Apparently, America West Germany had no problems and got nothing from the deal. At least, all she says about what was done in the deal was:

“Five re-established East German states, or lander, that had been abolished in the 1950s joined West Germany in return for a generous currency swap, assumption of all debt, entitlement obligations, (huh?) a pledge to modernize the eastern economy and a promise to clean up the environmental degradation caused by communist industries. In 2010, on the twentieth anniversary of reunification, estimates of the cost, spread over two decades, ranged upward from $2 trillion, depending upon what is included.” (page 216)

There will be another mention of that $2 trillion shortly.

Francis says:

“The world’s biggest transaction was a tremendous achievement and was executed in less than a year.” (page 216)

Because an essential part of any merger of two political units is speed.

Francis says:

“But for East Germans, readjustment took a toll. Most retrained, and many lost their jobs for lengthy (page 216) periods or had to relocate to West Germany or other parts of the European Union.” (page 217)

We wouldn’t have anything like a European Union to move to, nowhere we would be accepted without government paperwork giving us residency and the right to work. We wouldn’t even have the Commonwealth for support, as we would be stripped of our place in it as a consequence of the merger. (Can you see the Americans acknowledging the Queen as their head of state? Me neither.) Any treaties with other countries with the goal of allowing citizens to move back and forth for work – we’ve got one with Greece ( ) and the Netherlands ( - would be voided.

A bunch of Canadians would be made economically vulnerable, and at the same time, Canada would be cut off from her family and friends.

Francis says:

“But by 2012, Germany’s economy was Europe’s biggest, the fourth-biggest in the world and the second-largest exporter after China.” (page 217)

I didn’t bother to follow the citations she provides for that sentence, but I did read the source of the first citation in this chapter. It leads to an article in the New York Times called “Germany Looks to Its Own Costly Reunification in Resisting Stimulus for Greece.” It’s here: Germany isn’t thrilled with the idea of rushing to save Greece because of the results of its own reunification.

“…with the nation pouring $2 trillion or more into the east, by some estimates, to little immediate benefit to the former East Germany, still struggling more than two decades after German reunification.” (There’s that $2 trillion Francis mentioned.)

“While unemployment in the former West Germany is 6 percent, it remains stubbornly higher, at 11.2 percent, in the east. In 2010 gross domestic product per capita was more than $40,000 in the former West and just under $30,000 in the former East, compared with 1991 figures of $27,500 in the West and about $12,000 in the East. But much of the narrowing in the gaps between east and west, experts say, is attributed to the migration of job seekers westward as much as to any significant improvement in the east.”

“You don’t entrust your credit cards to anyone if you can’t control the spending,” said Jens Weidmann, president of the Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, in an interview Friday with the French newspaper Le Monde.

“Pooling debt is not the right tool for growth,” said Mr. Weidmann, a former economic adviser to Chancellor Merkel. “This would pose both legal and economic problems. I don’t think we’ll be successful in trying to resolve the debt crisis with more debt outside the regular budgets.”

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An examination of the book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country by Diane Francis, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto, 2013.

In which Francis talks about the benefits of the merger. Canadians needn’t bother reading this chapter, as it doesn’t apply to us.

All of the chapter and subchapter headings are Francis’s.



You might think this would be a lengthy chapter, given Francis is trying to sell us something, but you’d be wrong. It’s the second shortest chapter in the book, if you don’t count the introduction and the conclusion, which I don’t. And Francis pads it out by repeating stuff from other parts of the book and throwing in stuff that is truly unnecessary.

This also represents my shortest post to date.

Francis says:

“The term ‘synergy’ comes from the Greek word synergos, which derives from the phrase ‘working together.’ Colloquially, synergy is the combination of two or more things that can produce a preferable result that otherwise would not be possible if they remained independent of each other. Mergers and acquisitions are all about synergy.’ (page 177)

I like the “urban dictionary” definition better:

“Marketing buzzword only rumoured to imply the combining of forces for greater productivity and mutual understanding.”

Did you ever see the movie In Good Company starring Dennis Quaid? In which a big company buys out a smaller company, talks about synergy, and then fires everyone?

Francis says:

“Ideally, if Canada and the United States combined, they would be able to cherry-pick the best policies and practices from each economy and adopt what works best for both. For instance, Canada’s banking and regulatory system would be a good match with the American work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit. The tax rates in some jurisdictions would be lower than they are in Canada, except for Alberta.” (page 177)

Canada doesn’t have a good work ethic. Does that mean if Canada and America merge, Canadians will lose their paid vacation leave and half their stat holidays? Because that doesn’t sound like a miserable existence at all.

I’m sorry, but whenever she talks about America’s entrepreneurial spirit, I go back to the Google/Motorola bomb. I know it’s just one, unusual example, but it is the example she chose.

And, you know, the whole crash in 2008.

Let me get this straight. We’re going to add the population of Canada, around 35,000,000, to the population of the States, around 320,000,000, and provide universal health care and improve education throughout the States? Because that’s a lot to ask of 35,000,000 people. And lower taxes?

Oh, wait, she doesn’t talk about health care or education here.

Francis says:

“The most obvious synergy would be matching Canada’s underdeveloped resource potential with America’s money, markets and workers.” (page 177) (Italics mine.)

Francis’s argument is that Canada lacks skilled labour, and instead of Canada getting on that with better training programs, we should just give all the jobs to Americans. Maybe that’s why we won’t have to worry about how many vacation days we get.

Here’s a link to a Reuters article from January 21, 2014, about the lack of skilled workers in the U.S. construction industry.

Here’s a link to a Texas Enterprise article from February 12, 2014, about lacking skilled workers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Here’s an article on Bloomberg Businessweek from March 20, 2014, about the shortage of welders.

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I probably won't have another post until next week. I have a gazillion things to do, as well as going to a science fiction convention and the tulip festival.

An examination of the book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country by Diane Francis, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto, 2013.

In which Francis demonstrates she doesn't understand Canadian health care - maybe not American health care, either - and accidentally shoots her own argument.

Chapter and subchapter headings are Francis's.



Francis says:

“American health care is run by the private sector, with the result that costs are twice as high as the average expenditure among the thirty-four other rich countries in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). Their systems are principally nationalized, and run as not-for-profit organizations. Worse yet, American health care is not only unnecessarily costly, but medical outcomes are no better than the European, Canadian or Japanese models.” (page 162)

Will her book talk about America actually changing its health care system? Nope. And wait until you see what she proposes to do to our health care.

Francis says:

“Government-managed health care saves money by negotiating volume discounts for pharmaceuticals and equipment, and by operating hospitals as nonprofits, so excessive fees are eliminated. Government-mandated health care, with universal coverage, eliminates the need to sue to recoup medical costs, thus reducing medical insurance costs for practitioners and facilities.” (page 163)

…eliminates the need to sue to recoup medical costs… Uh, what? So those classes in law school when we had to read cases that went into excruciating detail about judges calculating damage awards down to the last freaking dime, those were all in my head? Was I smoking some of that marijuana? (Dear cops, no.) That senior partner in the law firm I worked at, he didn’t actually have a practice? He just hung around the office drinking coffee and playing that weird video game in which a polar bear whacks a penguin? (So much more realistic than Coke commercials.)

In the decades Francis has lived here, she’s managed to miss the fact that the government doesn’t actually pay for all medical expenses. The following is a (partial) list of stuff not covered by the Ontario government. I don’t expect you to read it, but on the lengthy list are wheelchair ramps. In other words, if something goes wrong and you end up needing a wheelchair, you pay for the moderations to your house unless you’re covered by private insurance or you can litigate for it.

I just did a search on LexisNexis for “medical malpractice” and got 2168 hits. I picked a case at random, involving a hair laser treatment gone seriously south. It can be found here - had to cut the link in half, sorry:

Here’s a summary of the results:

“Based on the foregoing factors, I assess Mrs. Ayana’s non-pecuniary general damages at $35,000.00.” (paragraph 301)

Special damages were $ 695.24. (paragraph 305)

“I am satisfied that Mrs. Ayana requires further counselling for post-traumatic stress. I assess the cost of her future care at $1,200.00 based on 12 sessions at $100.00 each.” (paragraph 308)

Her son and husband were awarded $9,000. (paragraph 312)

Doctors get sued. Hence the need for malpractice insurance.

I love universal health care, grand thing, but portray an accurate picture, please. It’s got gaps and flaws, too.

Francis says:

“But the 2012 presidential election was a de facto endorsement of universal health-care coverage, in the form of a piece of legislation nicknamed ‘Obamacare’…(page 163) ‘Obamacare’ is the first step in health-care reform and will give greater control over the costs of the system.” (page 164)

Man, she made me read about Obamacare. I was perfectly happy just being appalled at Republicans for beating a horse so dead the kids who ate its glue have graduated from high school.

The definition of universal health coverage according to the World Health Organization:

Universal coverage (UC), or universal health coverage (UHC), is defined as ensuring that all people can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.

I’m providing a link to an article/comment in the Globe and Mail which explains why Obamacare is not universal health care:
The writer says this:

“Even though its most virulent critics raise the spectre of ‘Canadian-style’ health care, ‘Obamacare’ does little to change the enduring differences between the two health care systems.”

I’m providing a link to a Washington Times article which has the following quote:

“Although Mr. Obama’s health care law requires all Americans to buy insurance or face fines, the system is built on private companies offering coverage to individuals or groups of consumers and thus is far from the kind of Canadian or European system the phrase ‘universal health care’ connotes. Such systems — also called ‘single payer’ — usually consist of one national government entity paying for and providing care for all citizens.”

The following is a link to an article on the Washington Post that discusses those not covered by Obamacare, which has the following quote:

"Even if the law were fully implemented, there would have been 26 million uninsured people," co-author Steffie Woolhandler said in an interview Thursday. "This isn't just about the Medicaid expansion. This is the system as originally designed."

To me, this looks like a government making health insurance cheaper. Does that count as a step towards universal health care? I don’t think so. I’m no expert, but Francis doesn’t appear to be, either.

And we all know it’s not just the expense of the insurance that’s the problem, right? More on that in a future post.

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An examination of the book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country by Diane Francis, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto, 2013.

In which Francis continues to deliver a big “Fuck you!” to both the average Canadian and the average American.

Chapter and subchapter headings are Francis's.



Put on a hardhat, because this gets anvillicious.

Francis begins the chapter with this:

“On August 15, 2011, Google announced a bombshell bid to buy Motorola Mobility, the phone division of the storied U.S. electronics pioneer, for $12.5 billion. The offer was 63 percent above the company’s market capitalization, and payable in cash, in a declining stock market. The strategy was bold but essential. Google was girding for an epic battle against Apple to capture the lucrative market for smartphones and tablets, which many believe will eventually replace cell phones and laptops. The struggle, wrote Businessweek, was ‘between Silicon Valley’s two superstars that would change the future of mobile computing.’” (page 135)

Francis says:

“Motorola had been the Google of its day…. But corporate excesses, innovation fatigue, marketing missteps and the onrush of rivals such as Samsung, Nokia and Apple dragged it downward.” (page 135)

Francis says:

“This was a classic merger, both offensive and defensive. The offer generated much speculation and much handwringing on the part of Nokia, Samsung, Microsoft and Canada’s Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry. But Motorola shareholders were certainly happy. They could cash out, at a profit, from an intensely competitive sector that Apple, America’s biggest corporation, had been dominating.” (page 136)

So, to summarize the metaphor, strong and innovative America buys floundering and weak Canada. Canadian politicians and businessmen get a bunch of cash and get out of the game, which has gotten way too scary for them, leaving the running of everything to America.

The shareholders benefitted from the deal. How nice for them. How do you think the Motorola employees felt? You know the 4,000 – 20% of the company’s labour force- that were fired (they called it laying off) shortly after the acquisition – and the further 1,200 that were fired in 2013.

So, the Canadian politicians and businesses get a nice payout, and the regular Canadians? Fuck ‘em.

Then, in early 2014, 22 months after the acquisition, Google kept the patents but sold most of its Motorola assets to Lenovo Group Inc., a Chinese company, because the “bold” strategy hadn’t worked.

So, here’s how it goes. America buys Canada, puts a whole lot of Canadians out of work, keeps what is of benefit to it, and sells us to China. Sign me up for that.

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An examination of the book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country by Diane Francis, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto, 2013.

In which Francis tries to make Canadians terrified of everyone she didn't mention in the previous chapter, and Americans, demonstrates a rainbow of hypocrisy, and confirms that she should never try to talk about law stuff ever.

The chapter and subchapter headings are hers.




In short – skipping a lot of details – during Prohibition alcohol could be made in Canada, but not purchased there. (With exceptions.) It could be exported. In the States, Prohibition was much stricter.
Al Capone bought alcohol (legal according to our laws) and sold it in the States (illegally.)

Francis says:

“The American federal government and police forces knew differently and were furious about Canada’s complicity, but they were powerless….Prohibition was responsible for what has been, apart from the War of Independence and the War of 1812, the only public border dispute between the two countries that involved violence.” (page 99)

And it was all our fault. This is not the only time an American has told us we didn’t have the right to make laws they didn’t like.

And I love the fact that Francis puts selling alcohol in the same category as invading another country and killing people.

Speaking of unwanted, illegal things being brought over a border; Guns! This Canadian couple was caught bringing in a whack of them. But I bet in this situation, Francis thinks that’s all Canada’s fault and has nothing to do with the States at all.

Here’s another article with the title ‘Screw Canada’: Arrest of gun-toting American at Canadian border enrages U.S. firearms community

Do you think guns have any connection to violence?
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An examination of the book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country by Diane Francis, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto, 2013.

In which Francis wants Canadians to be terrified of all foreigners. Including the Americans. And wow, does she play fast and loose with her source material.

All of the chapter and subchapter headings are Francis’s.

I had to break up some links so the post wouldn't be too wide.




Francis says:

"Aggravating the predicament was the reality that emerging or developing economies had decoupled from their rich customers and virtually sailed through the collapse, recession and debt crisis." (page 31)

Who benefits if the whole world crashes all at once?

A long paragraph about how the ‘rich club’ (her term) is losing its huge share of the world GDP over time, and this is clearly bad. (page 32) Listen, I get that being on top is safest, and having to share is difficult and scary, but her argument stinks of “old white male” privilege. The fact that the good ole boys (and some women) are losing their power is inherently wrong.

On the last paragraph of page 33 and the first two sentences of page 34, Francis packs in a whole lot of details and, at the end, gives a single citation to a report called Preparing for China's urban billion. I’m sure she’s relying on human nature here, because if someone follows the link, they’ll find a document that's 540 pages long, and will probably say to themselves, “Screw that! I’m not reading 540 pages!” And she’s right. I didn’t. And I don’t think she did, either, as everything she talks about in the paragraph is in the first 20 pages. You don’t have to slog through her paragraph, which I’m providing here, but if you do you’ll find she twisted some things and also provided some “facts” that aren’t actually in the report.

Francis says:

"Emerging economies have a superior economic model because they cannot afford to slow down. China must create roughly 300,000 jobs a week, or 15.6 million jobs a year, to keep employment levels steady. India must grow at roughly the same rate. By contrast, America had a workforce of about 154 million in 2011 and Canada’s entire workforce totaled slightly more than 18 million. China must build the equivalent of one Chicago a year, in terms of urban infrastructure and buildings, to meet its objective by 2030, which is to triple its middle class by urbanizing a billion of its citizens and relocating them to new cities or to new neighborhoods (sic, no u) in old cities. To do that, China must build 50,000 skyscrapers, 170 new mass-transit systems (page 33) and 200 cities housing more than one million persons each, according to management consultant McKinsey Global Institute." (page 34)

Here’s a paragraph from the actual report that addresses some of those figures in a manner that I think has a completely different tone from the one Francis uses:

"In transportation, up to 170 cities in China could meet planning criteria for mass-transit systems by 2025, more than twice the current number in Europe. This could promise to be the greatest boom in mass transit construction in history. In addition, China will pave up to five billion square meters of road and up to 28,000 kilometers of metro rail. China’s skyline will change spectacularly, fulfilling the most ambitious dreams of real-estate developers. We project that China will build almost 40 billion square meters of floor space over the next 20 years, requiring the construction of almost 20,000 and 50,000 new skyscrapers (buildings of more than 30 floors) – the equivalent of up to ten New York Cities." (page 18 of the report.)

Basically Francis seems to be saying the Chinese are frantically building stuff just to keep people employed while the report she actually uses for her source is really optimistic, saying that while there are challenges and will be in the future, things are looking good, and China is an excellent investment opportunity.

The report also says:

"With continued economic growth, job creation in cities will be huge. MGI estimates that urban China will have between 450 million and 500 million jobs in 2025, compared with almost 290 million in 2005." (page 20 of the report.)

If you can figure out Francis’s employment math from that, please let me know.

Nope, I didn’t read the whole thing, but it was a pdf document and I searched for 300,000 and got no hits relevant to employment, got no hits for 1.5, the only hits for Canada were about grain and water, and the only references to 154 had nothing to do with America. The term “relocate” was used largely in reference to factories, with a couple of mentions regarding people willingly relocating. Not saying people weren’t forced to move in real life, just saying the report doesn’t seem to address it the way Francis did. If it does, it uses different language. The only hit for India that was in a sentence was this:

"The freedom that China’s cities have had to acquire land – and subsequently sell it for development – has been one of the key ingredients of China’s urbanization stories and distinguishes China from other countries such as India." (page 35, and the identical sentence on page 83 of the report.)

Here’s a link to the site that will give you access to the report:


She talks about violent protests over rising food prices in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mexico, Bolivia, Yemen, Egypt, and others. (page 35)

Some countries froze food prices for a while. (page 36)

Yay! Another spun quote. From this article, The Psychology of Food Riots, she plucks out the following quote:

"Assuming a connection among rising prices, hunger, and violent unrest seems logical." (page 37)

As I said, I’m not checking all of her sources, but this one felt hinky. Why did it feel hinky? Did you read that sentence and think there’s a ‘but’ coming? Well, there is!

"But for all the noisy media coverage and declarations by senior policymakers, few people have remarked on the actual motives of those who, in 2008, destroyed property in Argentina, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Peru and brought down Haiti's government and are currently causing havoc in Tunisia and across the Middle East. After all, food riots have occurred throughout history but have not usually correlated with hunger or food prices. For the most part, the planet's 700 million-900 million hungry people have suffered in silence. And price volatility does not necessarily lead to screaming crowds, either. There are many more examples of people accepting volatile prices than rioting over them. So there is more to the protests than the logic of the pocketbook. A key psychological element -- a sense of injustice that arises between seeing food prices rise and pouring a Molotov cocktail -- is missing."

"It is not yet clear how big a role food riots played in the toppling of the Tunisian government. But if history is any guide, Tunisians' feelings of being cheated were more important than actual food prices."

"Policymakers today must be mindful of the psychological causes of food riots when they discuss the correct mix of trade and protectionism that will safeguard our food security. If they simply embrace the efficiency of the market, public feelings of injustice may cause more trouble than the volatile price of food itself."

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An examination of the book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country by Diane Francis, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto, 2013.

This post is huge, I had to cut it in two, and it's the largest I’ll be putting up and about a quarter of the length of my entire document. And it’s only about Francis’s introduction. What can I say? She got a lot wrong in a very short space.

In which Francis tries to convince us that two Canadian prime ministers who worked hard to create a separate voice for Canada on the world stage turned around and supported a merger with the States. (And some other stuff that’s wrong.)

She wants to do history? Let’s do history!

The part about the prime ministers is what accounts for most of the length of this section. TL:DR version: No, they didn’t.

She says of Prime Minister Robert Borden (1911-1920):

"...brought up the subject of a possible three-way merger – between the U.S., Britain and such Commonwealth countries as Canada and Australia, among others (How the hell is this a three-way merger?) – to his British counterpart, David Lloyd George. But Borden’s 'Anglo-Saxon' merger fell on deaf ears, according to Oxford University historian and Canada Margaret MacMillan (who is also Lloyd George’s granddaughter.)” (page 15.) (Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World (New York: Random House, 2002.)

Francis’s citation for this paragraph is from a book I found the book in a university catalogue. I don’t live in that city, and I don’t have a card, which means I’d have to read the book there instead of taking it with me. So, no.

Francis quotes MacMillan:

"If the League of Nations did not work out, Borden suggested to Lloyd George, they should work for a union between ‘the two great English speaking commonwealths who share common ancestry, language and literature, who are inspired by the democratic ideals, who enjoy similar political institutions and whose united force is sufficient to ensure the peace of the world,’” she wrote, citing the Christie Papers, which are minutes taken during these negotiations and part of the National Archives of Canada. (page 15)

I thought about going to the National Archives to check this out, but I don’t live in Ottawa anymore, and unless they’ve really changed their way of doing things, getting access to the actual materials is a real pain in the ass. And have you ever had to read microfiche? Oy.

Define “union.” If it’s meant to include a bunch of countries, why does it mean Borden wants to merge with the States in particular? I can’t see Borden being such a bad diplomat that he would tell the British Empire it should give the States equal footing. They didn’t know they were eventually going to fall. Sure, they’d had a severe knock, but they’d had severe knocks before and had climbed back up.

Francis says:

"Borden’s suggestion was ironic considering that he owed his political career to his fierce opposition to free trade with the United States, which he had been proposed by his opponents in the 1911 election. His winning motto had been, 'No truck nor trade with the Yankees.' (Page 15) Then, in 1919, the merger of the U.S. with Britain and its dominions, such as Canada, seemed like a good idea. Even so, Borden dropped the suggestion and went on to other, more urgent initiatives." (page 16)

I can find no reference to Robert Border contemplating a merger with the States, not online and not in any of the books at my disposal. Independence for Canada was a long-time goal of his, and while he didn’t achieve that, he was able to use Canada’s participation in World War I to leverage more recognition for Canada. He also pushed for all British dominions to have more independence. And he supported the League of Nations, though he was very opposed to some of its articles. And he made a new trade agreement with the States in the middle of the war because Canada had run out of cash, due to their war activities, and they were desperate. To twist that into some desire to actually merge with the States is either dishonest or delusional. Possibly both.

Yes, Francis provides two sources for her claims, but another thing I’ve learned from reading this book is that Francis’s interpretation of source material can be, well, I’ll be kind, creative.

If anyone has access to those sources and can demonstrate that Borden actually supported making Canada a part of the States, I’d be happy to hear of it. (In the sense of being correct. Obviously, I don’t like the idea of one of our prime ministers being willing to sell us out.)

I’m throwing a bunch of information and quotes at you from Warlords: Borden, Mackenzie King, and Canada’s World Wars, by Tim Cook, Allen Lane, Toronto, 2012, that I think are relevant to Francis’s claims. Pretty much all of my quotes about Borden and King are from this book, because I’m not interested in putting a bunch of different citations in just to prove I read more than one book, and this particular book is really useful. It is dedicated to the two prime ministers Francis uses and addresses her claims. However, I’m not thinking of him as “The Word of God” as I’ve seen some numbers that are different from his.

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An examination of the book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country by Diane Francis, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto, 2013.

This post is huge, I had to cut it in two, and it's the largest I’ll be putting up and about a quarter of the length of my entire document. And it’s only about Francis’s introduction. What can I say? She got a lot wrong in a very short space.

HER INTRODUCTION - In which Francis whitewashes Canadian-American relations

Francis says:
Canadians and Americans are so indistinguishable to outsiders that Canadians who don’t want to be mistaken for Americans pin Maple Leaf flags on their lapels or backpacks when they travel. (page 3)

This is the first sentence of the introduction. That Canadians don’t want to be mistaken for Americans. This is true. Why is this true? Because we don’t want to be mistaken for Americans. So there’s no point to the rest of this book.

Francis says:
Perhaps we seem indistinguishable because we get along so well. (page 3)

Bwahaha. Well, perhaps relatively. Because we aren’t shooting at each other. Currently.

And as I pointed out in my first post about this, I really don’t care that foreigners can’t tell us apart. I mean, yeah, it would be great if they could, but that they can’t is no reason for Canadians to just chuck it. Lots of people from a lot of countries deal with the fact that they’re often mistaken for their neighbours. Does that mean they should just merge?

This is what Francis says about the War of 1812:
The last war we fought against each other was two hundred years ago, when 2,500 Americans invaded Canada, then called British North (page 3) America, thus causing the War of 1812. The British retaliated and invaded the United States, sacked Washington, D.C., and then lost the Battle of New Orleans. (page 4)

Oh, lord, who is she trying to kid?

I’ll be discussing that little 2,500 figure later – She’s really relying hard on ignorance with that one. - but let’s remind ourselves of some facts.

President Madison declared war on June 18, 1812. (A Very Brilliant Affair, The Battle of Queenston Heights, 1812, by Robert Malcomson, Robin Brass Studio Inc., Cap-Saint-Ignace, 2003, page 31.)

The Americans sacked York (Toronto) on April 27, 1813. Flames Across the Border, by Pierre Berton, Anchor Canada Edition, Toronto, 1981, page 43.)

On August 24, 2014, over one year later, the Brits burned down Washington. (Flames, page 366.)

The Treaty of Ghent, which was to end the war, was signed December 24, 1814. (Flames, page 418.)

Word didn’t reach New Orleans, though, and that battle took place in January 1815. (page 423) And yes, the British (we) lost. Spectacularly.

How much does a battle that takes place after the treaty is signed count? Especially when it doesn’t kick-start the war again?

In the same book, Berton said:
The Battle of New Orleans, renowned in song and story, had no military (page 423) significance, was fought to no purpose. (page 423)

He added:
Having won the last battle, the Americans were convinced that they won the War of 1812. Having stemmed the tide of invasion and kept the Americans out of their country, Canadians believed that they won the war. Having ceded nothing they considered important, the British were serene in the conviction that they won it. But war is not a cricket match. The three nations that celebrated peace were beggared by the conflict, their people bereaved, their treasuries emptied, their graveyards crowded. In North America, the charred houses, the untended farms, the ravaged fields along the border left a legacy of bitterness and distrust. (page 424) (italics mine.)

A lot of people consider the War of 1812 the beginning of a Canadian entity. We were attacked and a disparate group banded together to fend off the attackers. She treats the war like a bar brawl that leaves the participants putting their arms around each other and buying each other beer.

And as you know, the invasion in 1812 wasn’t a one off.

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Merger of the Century? No Thanks, Diane Francis.

An examination of the book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country by Diane Francis, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto, 2013.

This is the first of several parts I’ll be posting over the next couple of weeks.

After reading this book, I’ve wondered what her earlier ideas for titles were. Canada is a Worthless Parasite that has Done Nothing but Dance on America’s Tab and It’s Time to Pay Up or What Canadians Want: Who Cares? or Everyone Knows Someone is Going to Fuck Canada Over, It Might As Well Be America

The writer’s disdain for Canada is unmistakable and unrelenting, is what I’m saying. This contempt is also shown for immigrants, foreigners in general, aboriginals, environmentalists, liberals, Quebec, and anyone who isn’t wealthy. I began this book thinking, yeah yeah, another American thinking Canada is worthless, and ended it feeling breathless and shocked. What a vicious person.

Yes, I can see the comments now. Ad hominem attacks. Read the book yourself.

Well, I don’t really want anyone else to expose their brains to this poison.

This will come off as very anti-American. Diane Francis calls herself American-Canadian, but her values are entirely “stereotypical” American. It’s a good thing I know a lot of Americans who aren’t like this, or I’d think they really were as bad as we joke about them being.

In her view, Canada is of no value beyond the resources America should be able to exploit, and we should destroy everything we are to be American. If she had said we should destroy ourselves and become English (love England, hi cousins) or German (fabulous people, fabulous country) or Japanese (lived there two years, awesome) then this would be very anti-English, anti-German, or anti-Japanese.

Some of the best people I know are Americans, America has done great things in the past and does great things now, and I love visiting, but in this blog I’m responding to the points she raises, which involves saying why, no, the way America does that thing is not good for us.

And a strange thing happened as I read the book. By the end I was actually a little offended on America’s behalf, because in her pitch about how amazing Americans are, she makes them look kinda psychotic.

I didn’t follow the proper rules of citation re: footnotes or endnotes, because they’re annoying, and this isn’t either a professional or academic document. I put the information right beside the relevant text and any readers will be able to follow links to the source.

I also didn’t observe the rules regarding formatting quotes, for the same reason, but if anyone reads this, they’ll be able to follow along.

The following is my introduction to the series of posts I'll be writing.

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