7.09.2006

relations

I've been cruising the blogosphere, reading Canadian bloggers' take on the recent meeting between Stephen Harper and the Resident. Predictably, lefties feel Harper is kissing up to his mentor, that he's a puppet, and that any day now Canada will be in the full thrall and command of the Cheney Regime. Conservatives are relieved relations with the US have thawed, and that more money will be spent wasted on the military.

Try as I might, I didn't see any fawning on Harper's part. I agreed with this assessment in the Globe and Mail that Harper was careful not to appear too buddy-buddy with the least popular US president in decades, that he was cordial, but not fawning. (I don't agree with the G&M's position on Afghanistan; I'm only referring to the tone and demeanor of the meeting.)

Liberal Canadian bloggers seem to forget that most of Paul Martin's tough talk about the US was just that: talk, calculated to resonate with voters. On international affairs, the actual policy differences between Liberals and Conservatives are slight. (I don't want to say nonexistent, as there might be minor differences that I'm unaware of.) Bill Graham's warning to Harper is a lot of hot air, given Harper said he doesn't intend to re-open debate on missile defence.

Don't get me wrong. I don't like Harper. I want to see Canada pull out of Afghanistan, I want to see a serious child-care program crafted and enacted, I want money and attention put into social programs like housing, education and health care. I don't want the government dangling tax cuts in front of voters' faces like catnip. But I still don't see Harper as a puppet of the US.

If he's biding his time, lying low until he comes back with a strong majority, and then he'll turn Canada into the 51st state, well, that's an excellent reason to get a strong Liberal leader and turf these guys out.

All the anti-Harper sentiment out there really makes me want proportional representation. If we could gather all that feeling together, we could really get somewhere.

17 comments:

redsock said...

Conservatives are relieved relations with the US have thawed

Were they ever frozen? I read this DU post the other day:

While flipping through the channels, I stop at CTV's Canada AM where they are talking to their man Tom Clark in Washington about Harper's visit. I'm just in time to hear Clark say "Harper is trying to mend a relationship badly damaged over the past 10 or 15 years!" He actually said that.

The poster mentions Chretien and Clinton, so may this thawing is re Bush-Martin? But that doesn't go back 15 years (i.e., 1991). Can anyone elaborate?

L-girl said...

Were they ever frozen?

I thought the "thawing" cliche referred to W-Martin. 10-15 years, I don't know about that. I'll be curious what readers say about that.

Genet said...

I agree with you. I think that there is some mythological sentiment in Canada that tries to equate Harper with the US right, just because he is right-wing. However, the political landscape is too different for that kind of simplification.

As you said, I don't like Harper either. However, he is not the psychopath that people try to make him seem to be and I don't find him particularly scary. Misguided and not my style, but he is hardly a horseman of the apocalypse. Thank something that it is a minority government, though.

L-girl said...

Thank something

I like that. I'm going to use it!

Grace said...

It might not show up in face-to-face meetings but isn't it odd that Bush cancels meetings with a liberal government but has two within a few months with a conservative PM?

Also, Harper does his work to "thaw" relations via other means. Increased spending on defense (while cutting tax breaks to the poor), an agreement regarding softwood lumber that does not benefit Canadian producers, a re-vote of same-sex marriage.

He leans right just far enough behind the scenes and remains "aloof" in person for the cameras.

As for "frozen" they were definitely a bit iced over under the Chretian government because of Iraq and some comments made by his office.

Personally I think Canadians pay far too much to the "relationship" with America and developing policy based on it and not enough time actually doing things in Canada's best interests.

Found your blog through Mitch and been reading regularly.

Welcome to Canada!

L-girl said...

It might not show up in face-to-face meetings but isn't it odd that Bush cancels meetings with a liberal government but has two within a few months with a conservative PM?

But that's Bush, not Harper!

Also, Harper does his work to "thaw" relations via other means. Increased spending on defense (while cutting tax breaks to the poor), an agreement regarding softwood lumber that does not benefit Canadian producers, a re-vote of same-sex marriage.

Those are his policies, that's true, although with the exception of SSM (which he is only doing to satisfy his right-most supporters), the Liberals did almost the same. How does any of that constitute kissing up to Bush?

I'm not saying Harper's policies aren't conservative, that would be absurd. I'm saying he does not appear to be kow-towing to US interests.

Found your blog through Mitch and been reading regularly.

Welcome to Canada!


Thank you, and welcome to wtmc! :)

Tom Douglas said...

Regarding redsock's surprise at CTV's Tom Clark saying: "Harper is trying to mend a relationship badly damaged over the past 10 or 15 years!"

Tom Clark has always had a hard time hiding his right-wing beliefs behind his boyish, blond and bland visage.

Any time Tom Clark talks about federal politics, I take his comments with a grain of salt that would make Lot's wife look like a Lilliputian

L-girl said...

Any time Tom Clark talks about federal politics, I take his comments with a grain of salt that would make Lot's wife look like a Lilliputian

Good to know. :)

Welcome to wmtc, Tom Douglas. What a great Canadian name you have. (Just minus the dimunitive.)

James said...

Part of the problem (I think) is that Harper's been quoted spouting Bushian talking points, so people immediately figure he's Mini-Bush. Which is certainly the last thing we need up here.

And "freezing" of Canada-US relations has been mainly a matter of US spin on Canada's refusal to go to Iraq. Either that, or those talking about a "thaw" miss the days of Brian Mulroney singing "Irish Eyes are Smiling" with Ronald Reagan.

From an old Air Farce radio routine:

Aide: Mr. President? The Canadian Prime Minister is on the phone.
Reagan: Canada? Do we own them?
Aide: Yes, sir. But they run it.

Thank something

I like that. I'm going to use it!


An aquaintance of mine uses "Thank the Random Quanta!".

L-girl said...

And "freezing" of Canada-US relations has been mainly a matter of US spin on Canada's refusal to go to Iraq.

[slapping forehead] Of course! I knew it sounded familiar. :)

An aquaintance of mine uses "Thank the Random Quanta!".

I often use "thank goddess". I don't believe in a female diety anymore than I believe in a male one, but as a figure of speech, it suits me better than thank god. "Thank random chance" doesn't roll off the tongue.

sharonapple said...

Harper and Bush were cordial, and this didn't surprise me. For the most part these things are political dumb shows. The politicians make sure they bring up points, but what's typical are that they aren't going to be dealt with unless it's beneficial to the other side.

Okay, so sue me, I don't trust Harper, not that I think he's one of the four horsemen and I'm sure he'd be a great baby sitter, but I've always looked at him with a jaundince eye when it comes to his politics because of a speech he gave to the Council for National Policy. Any group that has Tim LaHaye, writer of the Left Behind series, founded this group and has James Dobson and Jerry Fawell as members scares me a little.

And the fact that he's said this to the same people doesn't help:

But seriously, your country, and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world.

http://www.cbc.ca/canadavotes/leadersparties/harper_speech.html

Now the speech was given in 1997, but the fact that he mimicks American conservative talking points makes me believe that he hasn't completely moved beyond his admiration of the US and the people at the head of the conservative movement in America.

Of course his subsequent defense of it wasn't really heartening either:

"I was the leader of a conservative organization addressing another conservative organization. And obviously we admire values of freedom and democracy and the promotion of our traditional values and I think we all understand that," Harper told reporters."

In the same speech, Harper also told the group that Canada was "a northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term."

Harper said he wasn't serious about that quote.

"The other comment as you know was tongue-in-cheek."


http://www.cbc.ca/story/canadavotes2006/national/2006/01/12/harper-quotes060112.html

No, he's not a monster... but at the same time I don't think he should be prime minister either. So sue me. He just doesn't reflect my values. My opinion, and I'm free to it.

L-girl said...

Those are good points you brought up. Worth remembering.

but at the same time I don't think he should be prime minister either.

Neither do I!

So sue me. He just doesn't reflect my values. My opinion, and I'm free to it.

Why are you so defensive about it? No one here likes Harper. (Since RobfromAlberta stopped posting, anyway.)

sharonapple said...

I know, but since he's not the boogey man, I always feel as though I should give him a break... but then it occurs to me that I don't really like his policy or his budget (tax-cuts to rich and middle class, tax increase to the poor; breaking the agreements with Native groups)... and this makes me want to... vote for someone else at least.

Budget link:

http://www.canadawebpages.com/pc-editorial.asp?Key=2286&editorType=article&editorPrimeKeyword=morrow


Interesting point on the softwood lumber agreement. The Liberals took a slightly stronger stand than the Conservatives. They wanted binding third party agreements, something that sent US negotiators from the table. (No interfering with American soverignty, I suppose.)
http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/HET/Softwood/disputes.htm

Lone Primate said...

I don't think much of Harper's tax policies... consumption taxes like the GST, when they absolve the basic necessities of life (and I'll give Mulroney and Wilson full cred for that), are sensible because they're borne by people with the greatest ability to bear them. For Harper to cut the GST means either we're going to stop paying down our debt (at least as much), or cut social spending (funny how the military never gets included in "social" spending, though, under the Tories... why spend on keeping people alive when it's so much sexier to spend on potentially killing other people? Schwing!!!), or shift the tax burden to more general incomes that hit everyone. Worse, the legislation made no provision for people who had built the tax into their prices not to swallow up the difference as profit. It's not the huge swindle the gulping of the MST was after it was "replaced" by the GST, but still... why is it Tory governments can never manage to legislate "ah-ah-ah, no-no" clauses in these things to keep their big business buddies from making windfall profits on the backs of changes in tax strategies? Well, I think I just answered my own question.

But I'll say this for Harper... he did surprise me by telling the Prez that Canada's still not interested in getting on board Star Wars II. I was just waiting to hear the sucking sound and watching the red ink start flowing again. I don't know who or what brought Harper to his senses on this one, but at least he's finally admitted it's a bad idea... unless you have a few million personally invested in Northrup or Allied Defense or something.

Lone Primate said...

Why are you so defensive about it? No one here likes Harper. (Since RobfromAlberta stopped posting, anyway.)

Yeaaah, I miss him too. Guess it's no fun for him now that bitching about the government in power means he's taking it in the chops. :)

L-girl said...

I don't know who or what brought Harper to his senses on this one, but at least he's finally admitted it's a bad idea...

Maybe the realization that the voters don't want it. Elections are funny things that way.

L-girl said...

Yeaaah, I miss him too

I thought that might be why you've been so mellow in comments lately - lack of concerted opposition. Careful now, you don't want to lose your edge! ;-)