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Attentive Canadians have often had a clearer understanding of aspects of American life than Americans themselves.

We have had the advantage of being observers at the edge of your playing field. We have been able to watch with an objective eye your disputes of the last 30 years -- socialized medicine, Vietnam, capital punishment, U.S. foreign policy.

It's because we were not caught in the middle of the controversies that we were able to capture the essence of the issues. At times we had a distinct advantage: Our culture offered us one of the alternative sides of an issue, and we saw how you dealt with the other. Gun control is an example.

Now the shoe is on the other foot; Ray Hill reported on the prospect of Canadian separation (May 27) with simplicity and reason. It is not easy to find in Canada, at this stage of our constitutional debate, the kind of journalism that Hill produced on the story. We're too deeply involved.

The crisis can drag on, it is very difficult for many here to acknowledge the last words of Hill's story on the French-English dispute. It is phrased from a uniquely American perspective: One side claims that "all men are created equal in the eyes of God, not one more distinct than the other."


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