“Hello!! Is President Bush there? It’s de Prime Minister of Canada calling! Jean Chretien … Yes C-h-r-e-t-i-e-n. Yes, dat’s right. I’ve been waiting for three hours.”

“I’m sorry, but President Bush is having a state dinner with Tony Blair, the prime minister of Great Britain, and he doesn’t want to be disturbed. They’re celebrating.”

“Yes, I can hear the noise.”

“President Bush will call you when he’s free?”

“He said dat three days ago! Kindly remember President Bush described Canada as ‘family.’ Who am I talking to now? The ‘cleaning lady’?! De rest of the White House staff are celebrating. It does sound like dey’re having fun.”

“Yes, sir, that Tony Blair is a real cut-up. He was just telling a funny story about the Russian ambassador turning up at a Coalition victory party in Buckingham Palace – only he was a day late.”

“Yeah, dat is a good one.”

“I thought so. All the friends of the Coalition are whooping it up here and drinking toasts to each other endlessly. The ambassador from Afghanistan is here with his five wives! That created quite a stir. The Irish ambassador is doing a little tap dance on top of the oval table. What a head he’s going to have tomorrow! I’m sorry, sir, but I’ve got an important call coming in. I think it’s that guy who wants to sell the president a horse for his ranch. I’ll get President Bush to call you, Mr. Crouton.”

“It’s ‘Chretien’!”


Suddenly a new voice came on the line. “Jean, it’s me, George. My secretary – she calls herself ‘the cleaning lady’- just told me you’d called. I’m sorry I couldn’t get back to you before but we got into a lot of heavy talk. You know what it’s like when you’ve got 30 heads of state and they all want to talk at the same time. And eat, man, like there’s no tomorrow. No more ‘French’ cuisine for us, Jean, we’re eating Texas-style dinners now. What can I do for you?”

“George, I’m worried about the new American legislation due to take effect next year that would require all Canadians to register at the border each time they cross. Manley said it could turn border crossings into parking lots.”

“Yeah, he’s probably right.” said President Bush. “But you don’t have to register.”

“I don’t?!”

“No. Just every third time.”

“I don’t think that’s funny, George. We can reciprocate.”

“Don’t threaten me, Jean. Remember what happened to that guy with the mustache in Iraq.”

“George, I’d like to think that the present difficult relationship Canada is having with the U.S. is just a bump in the road.”

“I agree. But we haven’t agreed on how big the bump is.”

“You know, George, we’ve always had a history of getting along together. The longest undefended border in de world.”

“Yeah, yeah, Jean, I’ve heard that. But some people in our government say that lately you’ve been getting a free ride. You’ve shrunk your military forces down to not much more than they have in Monaco.”

“Don’t forget, George, dat we have ships in the Persian Gulf.”

“Yeah, they’re going to shoot only in self-defence.”

“We’ve got troops heading for Afghanistan.”

“Good time to send them. The shootin’ war’s over.”

“George, we want to know if our name is on the list to help rebuild Iraq? We’d like to bid on some of these big rebuilding jobs there.”

“You’re on the list.”

“How far down?”

“From A to Zed?”


“You’re just after Zed.”

“George, dat is no way to treat members of your ‘family!'”

“Jean, if you were members of our ‘family’ – where were you when we needed you? The only ‘family’ we could link you up with is the UN – France, Germany, Russia and a host of others. We know, Jean, you weren’t on the other side. But you just weren’t on our side. Neither hot nor cold.”

“We were on your side when we thought dat you were right. Remember Afghanistan?”