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News Briefs II

Canada Drops U.S. Television Shows In Effort to Build Identity

The Washington Post

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. helped stitch together a country when it spanned Canada's vast landscape 60 years ago, and it is trying to help keep a nation together today by deporting a pesky and, it feels, identity-threatening immigrant from its schedule: Bart Simpson.

And the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and the gang from "All My Children" and a host of other lucrative but way-too-American television shows. They are popular. They earn lots of advertising revenue for the network. But they aren't Canadian, and in these days of anxiety over the nation's future, things Canadian are trading at a premium.

This is a country that worries frequently about its national identity - whether there is one, how to define it and whether it creates enough of a distinction from the United States to warrant a border.

It is an issue so deeply embedded in public discourse that it almost resolves itself: A Canadian is someone who worries about what it means to be a Canadian.

However, in an era of deepening economic integration with the United States, and in the shadow of the country's near breakup after the Quebec sovereignty referendum last fall, the old concerns about what the nation is are circulating with new vigor.

The federal government has been distributing millions of dollars' worth of Maple Leaf flags in hopes of boosting loyalty to the Canadian federation, and also has established a "Dear Canada" page on the World Wide Web full of warm cyber-grams from citizens.

According to Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, the web site and other efforts of a new Canada Information Office are explicitly intended to counter the "lies" of Quebec separatists.

"A nation built around good beer, the lake in summer and hockey in winter is fine," read one of the pithier entries.

Amid Efforts for Expanded Forum, Perot's Message Not Connecting

Los Angeles Times

Four years ago, Ross Perot energized millions of potential voters with his self-financed $60 million independent presidential campaign. His outsider message and his pledge to bring business-style solutions to government clicked with voters who feared for their own jobs and were fed up with the inability of Washington to control the soaring federal debt.

Tuesday, Perot's lawyers will be in court for a hearing on his demand to participate in this year's presidential debates. If he is allowed in, the core message voters will hear is the same:

The nation faces fiscal calamity because Washington won't rein in spending, the country is hemorrhaging jobs because of "stupid one-sided" trade agreements and government is saddling future generations with massive debt.

But Perot's message of impending fiscal disaster seems not to be registering with a 1996 electorate that is far more upbeat than in 1992; his promise of grand solutions supported by few details has lost its allure; and Perot's manipulation of his own Reform Party to make sure he was its nominee has disenchanted many former supporters.