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In her book Lost in Canada, Lydia Perovic – who came to Canada in the 1990s from Montenegro – laments how so much in this country has come to be viewed through American frameworks.

“The internet speaks American and so, increasingly, do we,” she wrote. We’re “importing wholesale the culture wars as they happen in the U.S., adopting the diagnoses of American problems as universally relevant.”

While American culture and creeds have not consumed Canada, they have no doubt taken a considerable toll. How about the spillover we saw in our own Jan. 6-style ordeal, when insurrectionists shut down the heart of Ottawa? Or the effects of the United States’ violence-soaked entertainment complex, its bigotry and racism, its cross-border gun traffic? Or the carry-over from the assault in that land on what constitutes truth, and from the hate-filled political cleavages that have denigrated their democracy?

There have been other periods of unsavoury impacts from the great republic, but rarely if ever a harvest this unseemly.

Today, the bilateral story of most importance from the Canadian standpoint isn’t trade drama, which we survived from the tumultuous Trump administration by negotiating a new North American free-trade agreement. It isn’t bilateral irritants, like the ones addressed by Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau at this week’s Three Amigos summit in Mexico.

Rather, it’s the age-old threat of Americanization.

Did I say old? Well, it’s been around a while. In 1907, when Wilfrid Laurier was Canada’s prime minister and Teddy Roosevelt was U.S. president, a young American named Samuel Erasmus Moffett published a book. Its title? The Americanization of Canada. The collywobbles about the damn Yankees were prominent then, and they are still around today – with good reason.

A good sign from the Mexico summit is that the Canada-U.S. relationship has been stabilized. During the Trump administration, in which Canadian attitudes toward Americans sunk to an all-time low, the Three Amigos get-togethers weren’t even held. At this one, Mr. Biden and Mr. Trudeau reached a deal to repair the Nexus border-crossing system; Mr. Trudeau pledged to purchase an American missile system to be donated to Ukraine; and Mr. Biden scheduled, at long last, a visit to Canada.

It was an indication among many signals that the course of the bilateral relationship now is toward greater integration. Today’s world, as described by Goldy Hyder, head of the Business Council of Canada, requires the North American leaders to think about their politics in self-contained continentwide terms, rather than in discrete individual countries.

The war in Ukraine, in combination with the resolutely adversarial turn of economic megapower China, has necessitated this shift. With a focus on strengthening North American supply chains to compete with China’s, Canada’s economic reliance on the United States intensifies. The long-held hope that Ottawa could find alternative markets so as not to be so reliant on the U.S. is an increasingly forlorn prospect. Globalization is giving way to its opposite.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also had the effect of broadening Canada’s military reliance on Washington, returning it to a cold war footing. In the new tripolar world, there is no choice. The U.S. is our chief hope, our leader in the fight. By virtue of our geography and owing to the U.S.’s size and power, the one constant for Canada since the decline of Great Britain has been America’s indispensability.

More integration is likely whether we like it or not, and it comes at a time when, if we’re to talk of broken societies, the United States is far and away the title holder, as even Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre might concede. He might acknowledge also that the reason for it is the rise and ravages in that land of the hard right.

The challenge for Canada is and has always been to borrow the best from America and leave the worst behind. We’ve done a decent job of that since Sam Moffett wrote his book 116 years ago, especially given his judgment at the time: ”The conclusion to which all the converging lines of evidence unmistakably point is that the Americans and the English-speaking Canadians have been welded into one people.”

Not quite, Sam. Here we are, more than a century on, and the differences are still writ large. The welding has been into two, not one, as Canadians have been reasonably successful with the help of cultural measures from their governments in resisting Americanization. In today’s internet age – with the U.S. presence even more overwhelming – the challenge is greater, and requires yet more vigilance.