Bienvenue! As the prime minister of Canada it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this very special issue of The Stranger. Our two nations share a remarkable history together. For generations our peaceful border has stood as a monument to our ability to work together and triumph over our differences. I think of it like a marriage. To the rest of the world we are that perfect couple that never seems to fight, making all the other countries jealous. They all wonder to themselves, What is their secret, how do they make love stay?

It isn't easy, let me tell you! Despite appearances, Canada and the United States have our problems just like any couple. In fact, thinking back 200 years it's surprising we got together at all. To say we didn't get off on the right foot would be an understatement! All you could talk about was slavery this, slavery that, and then you had the nerve to get all up in our business over the monarchy? We Canadians may have overreacted a little when we stormed into your capital and burned the White House to the ground, but that was just our way to show how much we cared.

What a wild ride it's been since then! The United States has emerged as the engine of our global economy and an untiring bloodhound in search of weapons of mass destruction. My country, meanwhile, has focused its energies on universal healthcare, the Avro Arrow, and self-deprecating humour. I for one believe that our differences have only made us that much stronger, in the sense that two individuals can be very strong as they sleep side by side in the same bed night after night knowing in their hearts that their perfect marriage is empty and dead at the core.

So it is that today we find ourselves asking, How did we get here? To return to the metaphor of marriage, Is our love still alive? or Are we free to see other people, possibly Mexico?

Has it really come to this? you might ask. But we were so happy once! Listen, don't even try the sweet talk. Let me lay it on the line, America: Canada has had it with endlessly fellating your superpower-sized ego.

Sometimes the truth is a bitter pill to swallow. Other times the truth can be elusive, like small children or even teenagers who ring the doorbell of your home and then run away. When the truth is both bitter and elusive at once, it takes a courageous newspaper to print it. The Stranger is just such a newspaper, and the cold, hard truth is that our country is better than yours. Not just slightly better, but much better.

On behalf of the government of Canada I congratulate The Stranger on its journalistic excellence in this salute to Canada.

Naturally, Canada has an extremely unique culture with traditions and customs entirely different from those of the United States which many Americans might find strange, or laughable, or even grotesque. Cheese curds on our French fries? Spelling flavour with a "u"? Gun control laws? Read on! It's all true! In the following pages you'll get a taste of what makes Canadians tick, and if I'm not mistaken you'll soon find yourself thinking, Holy shit, their country is so much better!

Go on. Say we're better.

Admit it.

God save the Queen,

Jean Chrétien

Prime Minister of Canada