Joel Garreau's Outlook article "Don't Cry for Canada, We'll Pick Up the Pieces" {June 17} was offensive. While it was obviously intended to be a light "what if Canada were up for grabs" story, the author crossed that fine line separating the sarcastic from the distasteful.

Canadian politics and history should be important to Americans not just because of Canada's geographic location, but because Canada is this country's biggest trading partner. One would think your paper would spend more effort on serious discussion of the importance of the Meech Lake Accords rather than devoting so much space to joking about them. Americans tend not to have a clear understanding about their neighbor to the north. Perhaps your paper is part of the reason why. -- Ellen M. Miller

As a Canadian, it was with some amusement that I read Joel Garreau's article about picking up the pieces of a fractionated Canada. Many of his cutting comments about the various regions of Canada were delightfully on the money.

However, I must profess that his article caused me considerable irritation. Despite its humorous tone, it displayed the typically arrogant attitude that makes Americans so unpopular north of the 49th parallel. Garreau, in deciding on the pieces of Canada to be ingested, never addresses the question of whether those pieces would wish to be consumed, but instead smugly assumes that Canadians would jump at the chance to become part of the United States.

If there is one bond among Canadians, it is fear and loathing of becoming part of the United States. It's not that Canadians have anything against the United States, it's just that we're different, and we'd like to stay that way. Canadians love their country and are willing to fight to keep it. For that reason, I feel that Canada will weather its constitutional crisis.

-- Robert S. Winning

Although I enjoyed Joel Garreau's article, he did make a major factual error:

Ontario was not settled by those Americans who "were on the losing side in the American Revolution." On the contrary, most of the settlers were Americans who were on the winning side. They migrated to Ontario because land there was much cheaper than in the Northwest Territories of the United States. In addition, Ontario had no taxes because it was heavily subsidized by the British government. However, due to the pillaging and looting of their farms and villages by U.S. forces during the War of 1812, this group became as anti-American as the earlier losers (the Loyalists) from the Revolutionary War, who settled primarily in the Maritime Provinces.

-- Herb Chisholm

Your paper sometimes displays the sensitivity of a rock. The latest example is the commentary by Joel Garreau in Outlook.

Canada is our longtime, very good neighbor for whom most Americans have the highest regard and occasionally a spot of envy. In its hour of travail, it doesn't need some Yahoo trying to be funny at its expense.

While the "pieces" of Canada, including Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Ontario, are all first-rate, there is little chance, should Quebec break off, that the Canadians who occupy the remaining provinces would want to join the United States. Further, at the rate that we are trashing our own country, I strongly doubt if the Canadians would want us to join them.

The two best ways that we could help Canada during this crisis would be to 1) keep our big mouths shut, except to let Canadians know that they have our best wishes; and 2) have our government buy a mile-wide strip of land along our border with Quebec, so that whatever happens, a corridor will connect Canada's eastern and western provinces.

It's time for us to act like good neighbors instead of like jerks.

-- Donald L. Moore