The latest commercials targeting Stephen Harper seem to be playing on the anti-American sentiment that has swept across a good deal of our country in the last few years. I must admit, I am still a little mystified as to why so many hate our biggest trading partner and closest physical neighbour. Then again, maybe most do not. Perhaps the representation of such feelings is simply being overstated by a disproportionate number in a certain place, that being Parliament.
While we have heard over and over again that the current U.S. administration is not living up to its NAFTA obligations, we have to also ask if part of the reason that things are not moving is our own current administration. There is never a really good reason to not live up to your word, but when problems arise they are either ironed out or they become political footballs. The really sad part about the current posturing by both sides is that it is hurting Canadian companies and workers; real people with real families and real bills.
So far this week, I have heard Stephen Harper portrayed as George W. Bush’s “poster boy for his ideal foreign leader”, I have heard that he is “Bush’s new best friend”, that he has “American friends”, and that he is popular with “right wingers in the U.S.” Now for the most part, I don’t see any of these as a negative. To simply get along and see some commonalities with your biggest trading partner, your closest friend and a centuries long ally should be quite the normal day to day routine. It is only during the last dozen years of Liberal rule that getting along with our neighbour has been a bad thing.
I also strongly believe that we should have a national leader that will stand up to any nation that wishes to try and bully us, and a leader that will put our nation’s interests first. It goes without saying though, that this hardly demands that we be rude or outright hostile.
I would choose to defend my own family against any one of my neighbours. I would stand for our interests over anyone else’s. In fact, I do that now, but I hardly need to be beligerent or confrontational to achieve that. There is an old saying that you attract more flies with honey than you do with that other commodity, and it is true.
Perhaps if we had responsible and reasonable representation in our highest office, our softwood lumber dilemma would be solved. I am not saying that I know this for sure, but being amiable has never hurt.
One former U.S. diplomat was quoted this week as saying, “if Bush and Harper strike a great relationship, that can matter. That makes it easier to solve trade agreements…” This isn’t an indication that Stephen Harper is weak on U.S.-Canada relations. In fact, you could substitute Harper’s name for anyone’s. What that says to me is that the Martin government is one of the reasons that this issue is to this day unresolved.
As for Canada’s conservatives having similar values to American conservatives, I say no kidding. We aren’t that different, you know. We even speak the same language. As for those values, they are conservatism, a strong sense of family, and a belief in smaller, more responsible government.
As I recall, ex-president Bill Clinton showed up in Montreal to lend Paul Martin an encouraging word during the recent environmental / global warming conference.. I guess that that means Canadian liberals have a lot in common with American democrats.