Virus: America First? Not before Canada

Let’s take a look at an offshoot of the coronavirus pandemic, one that disrupted relations between President Donald J. Trump and 3M, which was political, and between the U.S. and Canada, which was unconscionable.

Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. (Photo: Fox News)

Trump keelhauled 3M for not immediately heeding his call to divert their manufacture of N95 respirators from elsewhere to the United States.  

America First at work.

“We need the masks, we don’t want other people getting it,” he said at a Saturday briefing. 

Yeah, but. . . .

The issue has been resolved with 3M agreeing to ship 166 million made-in-China(!) respirators to the U.S., while millions of made-in-U.S. respirators will be shipped to Latin American and Canada, which the U.S. had halted. 

Is the U.S. entitled to cut the line, to swoop in and demand masks, when other countries had placed their orders first? Countries like Canada, for instance. Where is the morality in that?

3M initially resisted the president’s executive order, warning in a statement the move would have “significant humanitarian implications” for other countries desperate for safety equipment. Countries that had placed their orders. 

In Canada, Ontario premier Doug Ford said nearly 3 million masks were intercepted by U.S. officials.

“The hard truth is, our supplies in Ontario are getting very low,” said Ford, indicating that Canadian lives were on the line.

The new agreement, said a 3M statement, permits 3M “to continue sending U.S. produced respirators to Canada and Latin America, where 3M is the primary source of supply.”

OK, crisis resolved, but it never should have gotten this far, certainly not with Canada, our Northern neighbor.

Is Canada special? Yes.

Memory is sometimes short, so let me remind you of two incidents, one at 9/11 and one in 1979.

Let’s start with the earlier one.

On Nov. 4, led by students, and unimpeded by Iran’s Islamic government, radicals breached the walls and took control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, holding 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

The Iranians missed six Americans who slipped out of the Embassy and secretly were sheltered for months by Canadian diplomats, under the lead of Ambassador Ken Taylor. They were hidden until the CIA rescued them using an incredible scheme that became the basis for the 2012 “Argo” movie.

Once the hostages’ rescue was announced, signs appeared all over America — “Thank you, Canada” and “Canada, Merci.”

Remember? We owe them.

Less traumatic were aircraft ordered to land immediately after the 9/11 attack. That tragic day, 6,595 passengers and crew from 38 flights landed in Gander, Newfoundland, a Canadian town of 10,000. 

Canadian generosity and hospitality treated the strangers, mostly  Americans, like family. 


Canadians are not just neighbors and friends. More than any other nation, they are family.

They should always be #1 to us.

14 thoughts on “Virus: America First? Not before Canada”

    I’m wondering if that rain storm, complete with thunder and lighting purged us of the virus ?
    Yea, I remember those incidents and more. I also remember that there are laws that are either followed or not followed. ( illegal immigration comes to mind. marijuana is another )
    I have never been privy to the top secret communications from the White House. We don’t know exactly what took place concerning 3M. We, as always, only know what we are told. Did 3M, like every other world wide manufacturer, a) do what they were told, b) what they felt like, c) what they always did, d) whatever ? “C” would seem the most likely, since business has told politics what to do for the 50 years. 3M gets some material from Canada, produces the masks here, then sends them back across the border. While that takes place, the China plant kicks back into the manufacturing mold and starts shipping worldwide. About this time, we could be listening to Bud Abbott and Lou Costello with their” baseball monologue”.
    Everybody has an opinion. Just don’t be too quick to made a decision.

  2. “Nothing evanesces as swiftly as a political friendship.” — V. Benedict

  3. Stu,
    If you are going to use the phrase “we owe them”, let’s back up to December, 1917, when an ammo ship exploded in the harbor of Halifax, Nova Scotia and leveled the city and surrounding communities. The first non-Canadien city to respond? Boston. And Boston supplied so much help, so quickly, before any direct appeals for help were issued, that the city of Halifax still gives Boston a Christmas tree every year to say thank-you for that help over 100 years ago.
    So, do we owe them or do they owe us?
    I believe that we (the U.S.A.) should be willing to help other countries. But, our government is supposed to take care of our citizens first, so until every medical professional here has the PPE and life saving equipment and drugs to do their jobs none of those materials should be leaving the country. Just like if you are on a plane that loses cabin pressure you put your mask on first and then help the others around you.

    1. Boston helped them 100 ago and they still remember, eh?OUR needs don’t supersede orders that other countries placed before us. As noted, what kind of morality is that?

  4. Stu,
    An interesting add-on to this particular story is that 3M’s manufacture of N95 masks in the U.S. is heavily dependent on a particular specialty fibre produced in British Columbia and exported to America. Apparently, this is the only North American source of the material. So speaking as a Canuk (and, as always, politely) it was just a tad rich to be told by your President that we couldn’t get a product made in the US that couldn’t be made there without Canadian-supplied materials. Needless to say, this particular tiff has been somewhat worked out for the moment, but the mood up North is we’re going to create domestic capacity for this and similar healthcare essentials and never rely on the U.S. again. Ever.

    1. David, the person in our White House, who thinks he is some sort of dictator, does not speak for the majority of us (the votes cast for and against him prove that). I wish to apologize for his idiotic words and actions.

  5. Israel is a strong ally of the USA. Yet despite warnings, Israel attacked a US Navy ship, the Liberty, in international waters, killing many crewmen. Our relationship with Israel survived that dirty deed, and so will our friendship with Canada. I think.

    1. Reviving THAT canard, that was put to test by a congressional investigation (that I guess you don’t accept)? You were in the service. You know “fog of war.”

      1. A canard is unfounded rumor; the attack was real, the deaths were real. The cover up was real. Israel did what it had to do to protect itself at that time. The so-called ‘investigation’ and conclusion was necessary to protect the alliance.

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