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As McCain visits Canada today, millions of them are down here!

June 20, 2008 |  4:00 am

Last summer at a labor forum in Chicago, Sen. Barack Obama, going after the anti-free-trade union vote, promised that as president he would take up numerous serious treaty issues with the president of Canada.

Alas for the freshman senator, as much as many Americans think that Canada is so much like the United States (and feel that's a compliment to say), Canada does not have a president. It has a prime minister. (By the way, what's his name?*)

President. Prime minister. What's the difference, right, in the world's largest bilateralOh, come on, you knew it was Avril Lavigne, the one in the middle Her guards are unidentified due to national security trading relationship? A little more than a billion dollars a day going back and forth.

This morning the Republican Party's presidential nominee-to-be, Sen. John McCain, travels to the capital of Canada (no, it's not Toronto).

So The Ticket decided to explore a number of other things that Americans don't know about Canada, like so many of these familiar faces on TV, the big screen, the radio.

Thanks to our industrious colleague Patrick Day, we've assembled a photo gallery here of a few folks you probably didn't know were Canadian -- and some secrets about their politics. (Even though they're not U.S. citizens, it's really illegal for them to donate to American politicians.)

So many people in American society, especially around Los Angeles, are famous but not as being Canadian. Many of them are pretty funny folks. (They also spell and talk funny, like humour and rumour, and people being in hospital. Their Thanksgiving is in October, if you can believe that. They can only afford three downs in football up there. And how long has it been since a Canadian NHL team won the Stanley Cup?)

OK, here's a few northern names for breakfast: Michael J. Fox, Matthew Perry, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Leslie Nielsen, Mike Myers, Lorne Michaels -- who invented and still runs "Saturday Night Live" -- that bald weird guy Paul Shaffer ,who leads Letterman's band, and that other bald guy who gives away millions in briefcases, Howie Mandel. Speaking of giving stuff away, Alex Trebek on "Jeopardy!" and Monty Hall from "Let's Make a Deal." All Canucks.

Keifer Sutherland (Dad Donald too), Keanu Reeves, John Candy, Peter Jennings, Christopher Plummer, Paul Anka, Norman Jewison, Ivan Reitman. Brendan Fraser and Margaret Atwood. For old-timers, Raymond Burr, Walter Pidgeon, Raymond Massey, Lorne Greene, Rod Cameron, Mack Sennett, Jack Warner, Louis B. Mayer, Jay Silverheels and Chief Dan George. Canadians all.

The original America's Sweetheart, Gloria Pickford, was actually Canadian, as was Superman's girlfriend (Margot Kidder), the original King Kong's love (Fay Wray) and James Bond's forever-thwarted love, Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell).

So the countries have been bound closely together by culture as well as geography and history. (Americans remember the British burning Washington and the White House in the War of 1812, but they forget that was in retaliation for the Americans sacking Toronto, then called York.)

Since 9/11, Canadians have quietly paid a dear price in terms of lives lost for fighting next to their next-door neighbors -- or neighbours -- in Afghanistan, something few Americans realize and McCain, the former POW, must surely appreciate in his speech today. Outside of the grand old Chateau Laurier hotel in downtown Ottawa, McCain won't see much of Canada, which is 10% larger than the United States with but 10% of the population.

But what likely matters invisibly in the Canadian mind today will be the nonpolitical fact that while the younger U.S. presidential candidate who perhaps most Canadians would intuitively favor for president considers visiting a faraway place like Iraq for the first time in a few years, the older would-be president from Arizona pays at least a day's worth of attention and respect to the nation that has and will continue to play a far larger role in American life. Even if like so many of its famous citizens, it's not all that famous as Canadian, eh?

Allright now, click on the photo of who-is-that-anyway and take The Ticket's little photo tour of the politics of some other famous unknown Canadians.

--Andrew Malcolm

(* Canada's prime minister is Stephen Harper.)