Welcome to Canada

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PRINCE RUPERT, British Columbia: An American flag has been burned and a court order has been distributed. But the Alaska-bound ferry Malaspina loaded with American tourists remains hemmed in by a tiny armada of Canadian fishing boats at Prince Rupert. The vigilantes are protesting Alaskan catches of the premier salmon as they swim toward Canada. Since quota negotiations between the neighbors collapsed last month, the Canadians say, their Alaskan counterparts have taken far more than their share of the prized fish, threatening to put the Canadian fishermen out of work. That has stirred up some memories. "Canadians have learned bitter lessons from the unemployment that happened in Newfoundland when the cod fisheries disappeared," says TIME's Nicole Nolan in Toronto. Canadian fishermen suffered during a four year ban on all commercial cod fishing in the early nineties brought on by massive over-fishing, much of it done by large refrigerated European ships. "It had devastating consequences regionally," says Nolan. "The memory of that has great psychological power for Canadians." This time around, Nolan expects Canadians, and their political leaders, to back the mini-armada, despite the black eye that a blockade of innocent vacationers could give Canada's tourist industry. "Canadians don't like to be pushed around or feel that they are being bullied by the Americans," she said. Sometimes they like to bully back.