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.

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