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Aug-09-2012 16:00TweetFollow @OregonNews
Canadians are not unarmed Americans with health careby Daniel Johnson, Deputy Executive Editor
Despite using the same language, reading the same books and magazines and watching the same movies Canadians are, at bottom, fundamentally different.
(Calgary, Alberta) - Known primarily as the oil capital of Canada, every July Calgary hosts the “Stampede” which attracts more than a million visitors to the city—from all over the world. This year it attracted Walt Wawra and his wife—he a 20-year veteran of the Kalamazoo, MI police department.
They were walking in Nose Hill Park, a natural environment park that lies in the northwest part of the Calgary and is surrounded by 12 residential communities and covers 11 square kilometres. It has many hiking trails and dedicated off-leash areas.
After their Calgary visit, he posted a letter to the editor of the Calgary Herald:
”I recently visited Calgary from Michigan. As a police officer for 20 years, it feels strange not to carry my off-duty hand-gun. Many would say I have no need to carry one in Canada.
”Yet the police cannot protect everyone all the time. A man should be allowed to protect himself if the need arises. The need arose in a theatre in Aurora, Colo., as well as a college campus in Canada.
”Recently, while out for a walk in Nose Hill Park, in broad daylight on a paved trail, two young men approached my wife and me. The men stepped in front of us, then said in a very aggressive tone: "Been to the Stampede yet?"
”We ignored them. The two moved closer, repeating: "Hey, you been to the Stampede yet?"
”I quickly moved between these two and my wife, replying, "Gentlemen, I have no need to talk with you, goodbye." They looked bewildered, and we then walked past them.
”I speculate they did not have good intentions when they approached in such an aggressive, disrespectful and menacing manner. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ they did not pull a weapon of some sort, but rather concluded it was in their best interest to leave us alone.
”Would we not expect a uniformed officer to pull his or her weapon to intercede in a life-or-death encounter to protect self, or another? Why then should the expectation be lower for a citizen of Canada or a visitor? Wait, I know - it's because in Canada, only the criminals and the police carry handguns.
Walt Wawra, Kalamazoo, Mich.
That letter generated a considerable amount of national coverage—and derision.
On Twitter, the letter was the butt of jokes even spawning its own hash tag: #NoseHillGentlemen.
Gawker called Wawra the “laughingstock of Canada.”
The Globe and Mail’s headline was: “Gun-loving U.S. cop draws Twitter jeers after 'aggressive' encounter with Canadians”
The National Post headline was: “American tourist who lamented lack of gun during encounter in Calgary park sparks online ridicule”
One twitter comment: “A clerk at London Drugs asked me if I was having a nice day. I think she might have wanted to stab me.”
The first comment on a CBC story was by “M. J. Coldwell” who wrote: “So much for an armed society being a polite society. You wish you had a gun to back up your ability to be a jerk? Tough, stay in the US where you belong.”
Sherry Halfyard, originally from Vancouver, now a business consultant in Tempe, Arizona, wrote that since moving to Arizona: “I’ve become more defensive, I don’t look closely at anyone while idling at an intersection, nor do I honk or flash my lights at a dangerous driver. In Canada, a friendly gesture, flashing lights to warn drivers of awaiting police, more than once has saved me a speeding ticket. Not here, who knows how this action will be interpreted and whether or not that person has a gun?”
Naomi Lakritz is a columnist with the Calgary Herald. Born in Wisconsin, she concluded her column: As an American who is also a Canadian citizen, all I can say is, thank God I live in Canada.
Erin Crusch works in the Calgary Mayor’s office. On her blog she wrote:
“In between guffaws at all of the jokes being made at Mr. Wawra's expense, I started to feel a bit sorry for the guy. Not because people were mocking his formal language or behaviour, but because I can't imagine what it must be like to live in a world where I'm suspicious of every stranger, every casual encounter, every uninvited interaction... I appreciate the levity of #NoseHillGentlemen, if for no other reason that it reaffirms how sensible the majority of us are about guns and gun control... To me, it says that we assume people have good intentions until they show us otherwise. Just one more reason to be thankful that I'm raising my kids here, in the True North Strong & Free.
Many Americans, particularly those on the political right, seem to carry around the belief (conscious or not) that America owns the world, or at least should own the world. Wawra seems to be one of those paranoids who resents that Canadians have the inexcusable effrontery to want to run their country their own way.
Wawra later wrote:
“Many would say I have no need to carry (a handgun) in Canada, yet I have a unique perspective based on years of police experience. The perspective (is that) the police cannot protect everyone all the time. A man should be allowed to protect himself if the need arises... My perspective proved true a few days ago for my wife and I.”
His perspective is uniquely distorted. Sure, he had years of police experience—American experience.
There’s an old saying: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Similarly, “very aggressive tone” is in the ears of the American.
An anonymous commenter at CBC wrote:
According to his letter, Mr. Wawra says:
The National Post reports that “the “very aggressive” strangers he encountered may have just been representatives from an oil company giving out free passes to the Stampede.”
Calgary Cultural Ambassador Jenn Lutz said in a tweet that the two “very aggressive” men Wawra encountered were simply giving out free stampede passes.
If confirmed, this would explain why they looked “bewildered”. If they had had bad intentions and were thwarted, they would be more likely to look “angry”, “sullen” or “resentful” none of which applied to them, according to Wawra.
___________________________________Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Daniel Johnson as a teenager aspired to be a writer. Always a voracious reader, he reads more books in a month than many people read in a lifetime. He also reads 100+ online articles per week. He knew early that in order to be a writer, you have to be a reader.
He has always been concerned about fairness in the world and the plight of the underprivileged/underdog.
As a professional writer he sold his first paid article in 1974 and, while employed at other jobs, started selling a few pieces in assorted places.
Over the next 15 years, Daniel eked out a living as a writer doing, among other things, national writing and both radio and TV broadcasting for the CBC, Maclean’s (the national newsmagazine) and a wide variety of smaller publications. Interweaved throughout this period was soul-killing corporate and public relations writing.
It was through the 1960s and 1970s that he got his university experience. In his first year at the University of Calgary, he majored in psychology/mathematics; in his second year he switched to physics/mathematics. He then learned of an independent study program at the University of Lethbridge where he attended the next two years, studying philosophy and economics. In the end he attended university over nine years (four full time) but never qualified for a degree because he didn't have the right number of courses in any particular field.
In 1990 he published his first (and so far, only) book: Practical History: A guide to Will and Ariel Durant’s “The Story of Civilization” (Polymath Press, Calgary)
Newly appointed as the Deputy Executive Editor in August 2011, he has been writing exclusively for Salem-News.com since March 2009 and, as of summer 2011, has published more than 160 stories.
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