January 26, 2006

Getting Off on the 'Right' Foot? PM v. Prez - Round 1

Throughout the entire campaign there have been chatter about how close Harper would bring Canada to the US. It’s no secret that the Bush administration relished the idea of a more conservative Prime Minister running our nation. And it’s no secret that Harper, in the past, has consulted and ‘bent over’ for American conservatives. However, that’s the past and working with the US, no matter who you are, is always more about treading lightly rather than holding hands in harmony. I would even go as far as saying that Mulroney’s relationship with Reagan was probably more taking it then giving, but he seemed to like it that way. Yet, therein lies several problems. On one hand, Harper wants a better relationship rather than the traditional antagonistic one our Liberal Prime Ministers share with Republican Presidents. However, he can’t get too close or otherwise he’s seen as a sock puppet and probably will get used (many times, in many ways). That would result in the Canadian population essentially disowning him, something Harper can’t afford in a minority government. On the other, he can’t withdraw from the relationship too much because then he’s seen as unwilling and he becomes exactly what he’s criticized the Liberals of being. And he risks losing any opportunity to negotiate – if there is such a thing with Bush – issues such as softwood lumber. That alone is a problem. The Bush administration has shown that it doesn’t negotiate in good faith very well. Already it seems Harper has gotten a taste of what it is like to be in this ‘relationship’. Not even a week into being Prime Minister-designate, he’s gotten a message about his plans to better monitor the Arctic area that we essentially control (so long as it is frozen). The US has basically told him off for wanting to be more militant over our sovereignty. From where I see it, Harper should expect more of this from the US. Especially since the current American administration are very hawkish and like to freely, push their weight around. Most major problems occur between our Prime Minister and the President when the President is a Republican. I think this has less to do with our Prime Ministers usually being Liberal but more with the fact that they are Republican. This is something Harper has to notice fast, if he hasn’t done so already. Harper needs to find a way to establish himself as more than just a conservative Prime Minister willing to bend backwards at every whim. Being a conservative may be a good starting point, but I doubt it really stands for much in the scope of it all. He has to do this because if he doesn’t establish himself fast and hard, the Americans will and may have already started to do, as minor as this Artic situation is. With the American administration already putting in their two-cents, unprovoked, we can be sure there will be a lot more coming. Having a better relationship with the US may cost more than Harper is willing to give and I wouldn’t doubt if we end up with more of the same from the US; nothing. The only difference is that the Prime Minister’s explanations may have less anti-American rhetoric.

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Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)