Friday, January 14, 2005

Britain sold us down the river, literally

Have you ever been seriously stabbed in the back? I learned some disturbing information about my country. Bear with me, I know this was a long time ago but way back when Canada was just a baby, we got screwed over by, well, I guess, the mother country.

Britain was watching the Franco-Prussian War from the sidelines and I suppose they believed they would have to get involved or that someone would involve them in it. In any case, they supposedly didn't want to worry about having the US at their backs. It seems as if they believed the US would attack but I don't see why the Americans would. I suppose I can see that whole 'eye for an eye' thing, but I've never been attacked by an eagle before so I wouldn't know. Here again, back-stabbing comes into play but I think it's more like, backclawing. Anyway, Britain wanted to be pals with the US and so, when problems arose between Canada and their southern neighbours, Britain stepped in and a conference was called in Washington, 1871.

The reason for the conference was because the Americans wanted compensation for damage done by the ship "Alabama" during the war. They said the "Alabama
", a Confederate ship, had caused a lot of damage to Union ships. British shipyards had been contracted by Confederates to build a lot of warships and the "Alabama" was one of them. In compensation, the US suggested Britain hand over Canada, a Dominion country. (Boy do I want to smack someone with a pipe for suggesting that. Compensation my ass.)

Meanwhile, John A. (our Prime Minister) is also at the Conference and wanted compensation for Fenian raids (a bunch of Irish guys who came up from the US and burned down houses and barns because they wanted to free Ireland from Britain). He also wanted a new reciprocity treaty. The old one had ended in 1866 and with it, the US no longer had rights to fish in Canadian waters. Anyone want to guess what the Americans actually did? That's right, they wouldn't stop fishing in our waters or sailing up and down the St. Lawrence.

So, you might wonder, what happened at this conference? Remember how I was talking about back-stabbing? Well, here is where it comes into play. Normally, one would expect Britain to support Canada because, well, hey, the US broke away and had this huge war of independence. But because Britain was freaked out about 'eagle attacks', she sides with the US, firmly cutting through flesh and muscle, to lodge a really sharp knife into Canada's back.

They gave the US pretty much everything they wanted, except the country. They gave the US access to Canadian fisheries for 10 years (for this the US gave us $5 million, ooooh). The US also got free navigation on the St. Lawrence, never mind the fees. The western border is also finalized. There were three plans for how the San Juan islands would be divided up but the US ended up getting all of them and Canada got the Gulf Islands.

What exactly did Canada get in return for all of this? The right to navigate some obscure rivers in Alaska. Alaska? What the heck?

Britain kind of bad about screwing us over so they give us 2.5 million pounds. Well, that just makes everything better, including that whole fear about sovereignty.

So, let's recap. Canada gets stabbed by parent, US comes to fish in our pond, we get pocket change and a free pass to river rafting in some place we can't even find on the map.

By the way, I couldn't find any information on eagle attacks so if anyone has any information on this, please let me know.

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