MARCH 22, 2013: DEAR UNCLE SAM, WE USED TO MEASURE IN MILES PER HOUR TOO..HONEST

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I realized how far we have come off the tracks from that golden era of miles per hour when I had to cuff my over-30 nephew after he asked how many kilometers were on a large 1972 Chrysler Imperial.

 

Those of us from a kinder and gentler time knew that old Impy was a miles car-not a kilometers car.

 

 

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Canada used to be a miles per hour country until we elected Pierre Trudeau to run our country from the late 60s until the early 80s, with an-all-too-brief timeout from the guy in the late 70s.

 

Some of you older Americans may remember Trudeau’s ex-wife Maggie for her brief fame as a Rolling Stones party girl in the 70s, including a famous photo that made its way to Playboy magazine. Older Canadians are more likely to remember Pierre Trudeau as either a hero or a villain in Canadian politics.

 

I live in western Canada and I remember the man as a villain to put it politely in our G-rated online publication. I have a long list of grievances about his run as our Prime Minister but, for the purposes of our car philosophy, I will concentrate on his push for metric measurement.

 

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Trudeau was not a huge fan of the United States and he designed many of his foreign policy decisions around his desire to make Canada more European than North American, including the metric measurements.

 

The prevailing attitude was that the world was shifting toward the metric system and away from the Imperial measurement. The metric system was based upon the efficiency of ten as a number and would put everyone on the same page in the measurement game.

 

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Great idea except the United States was not moving into a metric system so our biggest trading partner, closest neighbor and best global friend was standing pat in the measurement game. However Trudeau let his ego and anti-US philosophy run the show, so we ended up as a metric country, even though all of our historical legal measurements were made in acres, quarter sections and townships.

 

None of that mattered to Trudeau and now we have an entire generation that measures in kilometers and has no idea about miles on a car odometer simply because the man was an egomaniac who got the keys to the country long enough to run up huge debt and make it his own little social experiment.

 

Some of it didn’t take because most people in Canada still measure themselves in feet and pounds, even if their driver’s licenses scream centimeters and kilograms in accordance with the Trudeau manifesto. But even Trudeau was unable to change quarter miles at drag strips, miles per gallon and 0-60 times in Canadian car guy culture.

 

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It didn’t have to be this way because Canadians should never have moved away from miles per hour, except for one guy with a completely unchecked ego named Trudeau who decided for us a long time ago.

 

For me it is just another reason to love old cars that drive in miles per hour because any time before the Trudeau era in Canada was a golden age for cars and our country.

Jim Sutherland

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