This is somewhat of an inside joke. When I was in D.C. a few years ago for the Craft Brewers Conference, I went for a long walk around the city, a little sightseeing. I made my way past the Canadian Embassy, in part because I had been invited to an event there later that same night by my good friend Stephen Beaumont, and I wanted to know where I would be going so as not to get lost. As I ambled past the embassy, I noticed four sleeves on four columns, part of a circular ring of columns, in front of the building. On each, was a word expressing the nature of Canada’s special relationship with America: Friends, Neighbours, Partners, Allies.
I chuckled to myself, but for some reason it stuck in my mind and when I saw Stephen later that day, I badgered him incessantly, repeating to him — in a low, serious voice — Friends … Neighbours … Partners … Allies. I changed the delivery, the emphasis and inflection, each time, like an actor trying out different versions searching for just the right one. If it was funny the first time (and I say charitably it was), by the fiftieth, Stephen’s patience was wearing understandably thin. But I was too far gone, it was an earworm caught in my head like an annoying song that you can’t stop from replaying over and over again until you want to scream. To his credit, he suffered through it for the next few days until the conference was over. But seeing that today is Canada Day, it brought back those four little words and so I’d like to say to everyone I know in Canada: “Happy Canada Day to my Friends … Neighbours … Partners … Allies!”