When Barry met Steve

Five things that stood out


Thoughts on the two leaders’ press conference:

1) They’ll get along fine. They’re similar in some ways: roughly the same age, both policy wonks, both pretty no-nonsense. I got the sense they respected each other. But they’re also different, especially … culturally. Obama’s a member, not so much of the upper class, as the inner: he’s comfortable with the Harvard/New York Times set, people who consider themselves the elite, never mind what anyone else calls them. That’s especially the case in Canada, given the Liberals’ long dominance here — hence the obvious sympatico between Obama and Ignatieff. Harper’s emphatically not of that crowd: as a Conservative, he’s one of the “outs,” at least in his own mind and certainly in his rhetoric.

2) But good relations can’t paper over policy differences, particularly on

a) Afghanistan. As evidence, Obama’s intervention to the effect that he did not “press” Harper to extend Canada’s troop commitment. If he truly didn’t want something from us, he wouldn’t make such a show of saying that he didn’t. Harper, for his part, ducked the question when it was put to him.

b) NAFTA and Buy America. They really weren’t on the same page here. And Obama has constituencies to deliver for.

3) Thought Harper was very strong on Canada being just as vigilant against terrorist attacks as the US. It’s true that at one point we were appallingly lax (no pun intended) on this, but that hasn’t been true for some years, and Americans, especially the American right, needed to hear it from him.

4) Not sure what this Clean Energy Dialogue means, but it’s wholly in keeping with everything we’ve heard from Harper to date: emphasis on technological solutions, carbon sequestration etc. I actually think the two leaders are quite close on this one. Obama is not going to impose a carbon tax, and US public opinion will not stand for any international agreement on global warming that does not include China and India. Which has been Harper’s position: a “Son of Kyoto” that was less stringent, but broader in application, than Kyoto. Remember that it wasn’t Bush who vetoed Kyoto. It was the US Senate. 95-0.

5) That said, Harper certainly didn’t take long to throw Bush under the bus. To listen to him today, you’d think that his government had been champing at the bit to tackle global warming, but was held back by those laggards to the south: “Canada has had great difficulty developing an effective regulatory regime alone … It’s very hard to have a tough regulatory system here when we are competing with an unregulated economy south of the border…. I’m quite optimistic that we now have a partner on the North American continent that will provide leadership to the world on the climate change issue and I think that’s an important development…”


When Barry met Steve

  1. “if he truly didn’t want something from us, he wouldn’t make such a show of saying that he didn’t.”

    He made such a show in part because Canadian reporters are convinced that the US has this burning desire to extend the Canadian combat mission, in spite of the fact that it’s been made clear to them that the Canadian Army will need an operational pause after 2011.

    Also, it doesn’t necessarily mean he wants an extension of the existing combat mission. Given everything else he’s said, a smaller logistical mission might do, as would a greater Canadian focus on development and governance.

    Canada has lots of wiggle room here.

    • I agree. I also think that Harper and Obama have a lot in common on many issues. Also they are from the same generation. Harper is two years older than Obama and they both have young children.

      I would have to think that 90% of their discussion was related to the economy.

      Ignatieff wants to talk about Kadrh etc… there’s a world economy to save man.

      • Today’s tolerant, progressive right.

    • From CTV news:

      “”I said to him that one of the things that inspires me about him is that he’s trying to get above partisanship and reach across the aisle,” Ignatieff said.

      Bob Rae, Liberal MP for Toronto-Centre and one of Canada’s most well-known politicians, seemed as excited about Obama’s visit as ordinary Canadians were.

      Rae, who attended the meeting, said he was “struck by how down to earth” Obama was and said that president made eye-contact with everyone.”

      I guess it’s nothing new that Ignatieff is inspired by a U.S. president. After all, he’s the guy who refers to Americans as we. But does he have to lick the U.S. President’s boots. And Rae shrieks, I made eye-contact with him! Good Lord, these guys sound like teeny-boppers at a pop concert.

      • Rich.


        • Seriously Ti-guy, I’m not surprised that expat Iggy would want to spend so much time with a fellow American. He loves America and defends America. He spent years there. I’m no America basher but our interests don’t always dovetail with theirs and you want someone who can be hardnosed with these guys, after all the U.S. is used to getting what it wants.

          And let’s not forget, Iggy not only supported the war in Iraq and the war on Terror, he helped defend it by writing intellectual justifications for it. He ran interference for the likes of Guantanamo, now he’s trying to make amends by pretending to fight for Kadhr.

          One thing I’ll give him, whatever position he’s currently taking, for however long it might be, he defends with enthusiasm. His problem seems to be in taking a position at all or having taken one, sticking with it.

          • And let’s not forget, Iggy not only supported the war in Iraq and the war on Terror, he helped defend it by writing intellectual justifications for it.

            And our current Prime Minister stood in our Temple of Democracy and recited a plagiarised speech defending the exact same invasion.

            Do you actually have no memory of what you say from one minute to the next?

        • The difference of course is that Iggy recanted on his position and wrote a bizarre column in the New York Times saying that he was only writing as a detached professor at Harvard and not a politician and now as a politician he was retroactively against the war in Iraq even though he carried water for George Bush at the time it mattered most.

          In other words he helped shape U.S. public opinion and gave cover to the Bush administration. Then he recants by giving a lame and emply excuse for his previous position and saying in effect ” I didn’t make the decision, I was just a commentator.” In other words, refusing to take responsibilty for his decision to back the Iraq war. Two words that comes to mind are cowardy and shameless. He would have been much better to have simply changed the subject.

          I recommend people read Ignatieff’s NY Times piece on his Iraq recantation, but have a barf bag handy.

  2. Harper certainly didn’t take long to throw Bush under the bus.

    Yeah, they were bosom buddies just a while ago, but I guess a politician out of office just isn’t worth much.

    On Afghanistan, I suspect Obama wants plenty. However, it is a bit early, since Obama is waiting for a report.

  3. Pffft. The Canadian elite IS Conservative. Like YOU Andrew.

  4. I got the sense that Obama thought Harper was a very different kind of conservative than the ones he is used to. I got the sense he didn’t know what to make of him.

    I can’t think of a US Republican who Harper would be considered comparable – a mix of tactical opportunism, obvious intellectual heft, and pragmatic conservatism.

    I thought Harper was impressed by Obama as well.

    • Interesting point. But “obvious intellectual theft” is a bit harsh, even with Howardgate.

      • Personally, I don’t know any serious person who argues that Harper knew about the plagiarism when he gave the speech.

        • Personally, I don’t know any serious person who argues that Harper knew about the plagiarism when he gave the speech.

          I admit, it seems improbable. But it’s still embarrassing and cackle-worthy.

          What Harper was conscious of, however, was his support for the illegal/immoral invasion. Let’s not forget that.

        • CR
          Please explain. How could he not know? Oh right it was that speech writer! A major international speech by the leader of the opposition [ his 1st i believe ] and he neither wrote it nor apparently looked it over throughly. It’s amusing that SH gets all huffy if anyone dares suggest he routinely doen’t write his key speeches, just this one. Face it, the man is a serial liar!

          • I’m pretty sure Harper didn’t know at the time. Really, Harper just isn’t that incautious. But I’m sure he found out shortly thereafter.

            Personally, in that whole embarrassing episode, I fault the media.

          • Yep, say what you will about Harper’s ethics or performance, but you have to admit that he has enough intellectual heft not to knowlingly commit intellectual theft in such a public and carefully recorded forum.

          • that he has enough intellectual heft not to knowlingly commit intellectual theft in such a public and carefully recorded forum.

            Although, you have to admit, that the fact that an expert in intellectual property, Owen Lippert, managed to do this adds to the cackle-worthiness of that whole debacle.

          • Oh , but he was an expert in intellectual property for the Fraser Institute ….. the internal contradictions of what I just wrote are inducing tremors. I’ll stop there.

          • The explanation is that their speech writers were both cribbing from the same State Department – Foreign and Commonwealth Office talking points sheet. Pathetic that their speechwriters didn’t even think about changing the words a bit …

          • Oh, intellectual heft, sorry.

          • I would have loved to hear the dialogue between Harper and Lippert. I imagine that Harper deployed some of his finest “blue” material. Christian Bale would pale in comparison.

          • We’re talking about a guy who lied in one court case (riddell) and is on tape defending an alleged bribe of an MP for their vote — which he has so far weaselled out of answering, used the cloak of litigation to avoid it, and now has bought more silence with a no-comment agreement outside court. Toss in all the other serial lies — dispepsic over floorcrossing MPs and appointed senators, he did both in his first 15 minutes as PM, used halloween as cover to rip up one of his most prominent promises, dumped one of the sacred ‘five-priorities’ when it looked like a few national terrorists could be converted to a positive fear factor, and that’s not tracing back to Grewal, which now reeks as a huge tip-off of his ethics and power-covetness… He let everyone believe he wrote that speech, was pleased to let it be published under his name and thought he could sneak past the lazy canadian MsM on it. Harper is a blatant liar and coward, who has thrown every principle out the window and under the bus whenever the mood struck, not necessarily a fatal flaw with politicians, but …
            He’s not blind. Harper sees the good karma that Obama has cultivated and wants some of it. If he could, he’d be planning his walk to the G-G’s house now but there’s that darn thing ‘economic downturn’ that he was so sure would have happened, because it’s a good buying opportunity.

  5. Harper has no shame! [ in fairness probably no poitician does ] Bush was responsible for his not leading on the climate file! Funny i thought Baird did a pretty good job all one his ownsome. He was Georges sock puppet, who knew! Over to you Michael. Yr serve!

    • But Coyne is right, Obama and Harper are close on the global warming issue.

      Was Obama in the Senate when they vetoed Kyoto 95-0? I suppose it doesn’t matter; he agrees with that position.

      • Jarrid
        Don’t take my word for it. Look at Ac’s pt 5. SH’s shamelessly claiming that he couldn’t get anything done due to George. In the real world this commonly known as an “excuse”!

  6. I’m re-watching the press conference between O and PMS, and I find it odd that Harper gushed about the US’s salutary role in globalising the World’s economy. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the US have a role in infecting the World economy with trillions of dollars of worthless financial instruments?

  7. Coyne says…

    “culturally. Obama’s a member, not so much of the upper class, as the inner: he’s comfortable with the Harvard/New York Times set, people who consider themselves the elite, never mind what anyone else calls them.”

    That sounds like you Andrew..

    But you are right andrew..

    My dad was never a bank of canada person just a hard working person so I am not in your circle…

    Can I join your circle if I say Harper sucks and Obama rules…

    Nevermind I am just a college drop out who has to meet payroll. I wish I could be a player like you coyne, and just ryhme off my favorite book passages…

    No offence Andrew I met many people like you in school, sorry you are a “trust fund baby” IMHO..

    PS:Yes Macleans and there lefty posters I am a idiot, a college drop out, blah,blah,blah. But I still make more money then the lot of you…

    • At least you’re not bitter or defensive at all. That’s a credit to your hard-working class upbringing.

    • So you are offended by Andrew Coyne pointing out that there are such things as social classes in Canada? You draw the extension that Andrew Coyne sees himself as being “inner class”, and that he must look down on you because you are not. And then come the personal attacks on his dad. Wow – now that’s some class envy right there.

      I hate to break this to you, but regardless of the amount of money you earn, there is a kind of class that cannot be bought. Consider Michael DeGroote – he is very wealthy, and successful (he even has a business school named after him) but he lacks the polish of somebody like say, Michael Ignatieff or Adrienne Clarkson. I also suspect he doesn’t buy into the inner class world-view, a fact he shares, incidentally, with Andrew Coyne, who you consider emblematic of the chattering classes.

      Yes the Coyne’s are a very successful family – but they have earned it. James Coyne (the governor of the bank of Canada) was a Rhodes scholar (though I admit I would have sided with Dief over James). Andrew, to his credit is a good writer that doesn’t just recycle somebody else’s views. That, plus his solid academic credentials (I am biased here, as a fellow Trinity grad) show that he is where he is because he is good at what he does.

      You are probably good at what you do, too. Heck, I’d bet you and Andrew probably agree that the chattering classes are inordinately silly, and tend to produce a lot of dumb ideas from groupthink. You probably agree that this might be because you have a lot of intellectuals who are nowhere near experts on public policy (nor even necessarily INTELLIGENT) wading in on say, economic issues.

      • You might have more success in communicating your insight if your comments weren’t always so long.

        People here are expecting conversation, not lectures.

        • I write here more to try to clarify my own thoughts than to communicate. Rather than putting forth a particular view, I am thinking aloud (and sometimes even getting valuable feedback).

          • I write here more to try to clarify my own thoughts than to communicate. Rather than putting forth a particular view, I am thinking aloud (and sometimes even getting valuable feedback).

            Kind of like Coyne’s post. I just watched him on CBC”s “At issues” panel re-state, almost word-for-word, what he wrote here.

            Is that a Trinity College thing? Using the masses to workshop ideas before debuting them on the main stage?

  8. Wow, the classist attacks on Coyne have been flying fast and furious all day. If I say “Conrad Black is in jail!” do I get Slagging Off A Great Canadian Columnist For Irrelevant Reasons Bingo?

    • It’s irrelevant that Conrad Black is in jail for fraud?

      • He isn’t in jail for fraud, he’s in jail for obstruction. They didn’t have enough evidence for fraud. Obstruction is what they get you for when they lack evidence for the real crime.

  9. Thoughts on your thoughts Mr. Coyne:

    1. Hello Gertrude Stein; a photo-op is a photo-op is a photo-op.

    2. And hello William Shakespeare; a photo-op by any other name would smell as sweet.

    3. About this I am curious; “. . . both pretty no-nonsense, especially in private discussions.” The implication is that you sit in on private discussion with them? Then, they would not be ‘private discussions’ would they? Might I enquire where your conclusion comes from?

    4. You scorned the hoi-polloi for making more of this, ahem, photo-op than it is then turn right ’round and ratify the, ahem, photo-op on your own terms.

    5. If this visit was anything beyond a get-acquainted, hi-how-are-ya affair I’m guessing we would also have seen flying pigs doing a wing-over above the Peace Tower.

    6. The only dynamic of this non-event, ahem, photo-op that I could see at work – from this great remove I admit – was Harper’s desire to focus attention upon himself and to put and to keep Ignatieff in the shade. It seems to me Canada was ill served by this government’s attempt to classify a friendly visit as a personal policy conference between Harper and Obama thereby cutting the rest of Canada, including his party and Parliament, entirely out of the loop. Canada at large was not only not invited, it was snubbed. Shame on the Prime Minister.

    7. I’d call it another cynical attempt at manipulating public opinion by Canada’s New Government and it seems entirely in keeping with Harper’s seeming obsession on image over substance. That you would buy in to something so superficial and attempt to validate it as something significant strikes me as passing strange.

    8. Were this a working meeting surely something more than the initiation of a “Clean Energy Dialogue” would have been announced, with great fanfare?

    9. Or, perhaps this is simply another manifestation of Harper playing chess? I grow extremely weary of Harper’s gamesmanship and I’m guessing the rest of Canada, the United States, and the rest of the world would also prefer to get on with solving what are, manifestly, the economic and ecological challenges of today and of the twenty-first century.

    10. If this visit were either an Obama-love-in, everyone invited, or a Harrington Lake no-holds-barred policy wonk cage match, no one invited, I would applaud the Prime Minister unreservedly. Since it is neither I think Harper has orchestrated and achieved what he is best at; the sound of one hand clapping.

  10. You know, in commenting on Coyne’s posts, it’s pointless to bring up any contextual information (such as his background) to suggest bias, illogic or lack of reason. He doesn’t read these comments anymore.

    It’s best to stick to the letter of what he’s written and to highlight the most insightful, least insightful and utterly ridiculous things he’s presented us with. So, in that vein, I’ll say that this…

    “It’s true that at one point we were appallingly lax (no pun intended) on this.”

    …is cretinous.

  11. “Harper’s emphatically not of that crowd: as a Conservative, he’s one of the “outs,” at least in his own mind and certainly in his rhetoric.”

    I wonder if that is so huge a difference, however. Growing up, I always felt being a conservative to be the far more rebellious intellectual position, because my authority figures and colleagues have primarily been on the left. That was particularly true in high school when Mike Harris was premier, but that is hardly the only time I have experienced that.

    In the United States, however, the chattering class has a much better claim to being a rebellious voice. Since 1968, the Republicans have won far more presidential elections than the Democrats – in the case of Carter it required Watergate and the mobilization of evangelicals; for Clinton it required being the most conservative President in decades. Even today with Obama, despite his popularity, he has tended towards the centre, and been careful in challenging the centre-right consensus views of his country.

    Harper and Obama are both outsiders to the dominant political discourse of their respective countries, and are (were, rather) outsiders in other ways as well. Obama because of his racial background, and Harper because he was a nerdy kid. I think they are actually similar in those kinds of respects – where they differ is in the lessons they learned in growing up. Obama, whatever his ideas, has a history of consensus-seeking. Harper seems to have learned the opposite lesson – that at the end of the day you have nobody to rely upon but yourself.

    • because my authority figures and colleagues have primarily been on the left. That was particularly true in high school when Mike Harris was premier,

      Oh, you’re young.

      Anyway, you seem to really be obsessed/discombobulated with class issues. Seeing as how you come from an overwhelmingly middle-class country like Canada and are now living in the most class-stratified society in the Western World (which never allows frank discussions about class) I can see why.

      • Canada is very egalitarian in income, but as some of these debates have shown (eg. the umbrage of Chuck towards Coyne), there is a sharp class divide nonetheless. It just isn’t necessarily a matter of rich poor.

        I tend to see class as existing along two dimensions – income (material possession) is one, and perhaps something like social capital is another (who you know – what sort of circles do you fly in – “inner vs. outer” was the term Coyne used). Somebody who works in an art gallery and isn’t well-paid, but travels in literati circles has a rather different conception of their interests than most garbage-men.

        In the United States class has more to do with income than social standing. That has advantages – the US is ultimately very meritocratic. You will be respected for entrepreneurship and fighting your way to the top. It also means there is a wider gap between rich and poor and that this is likely to remain.

        In Canada, class has more to do with social capital and who you know. We are less meritocratic as a result, and more aristocratic. This has advantages – Canadians are less crass and materialistic than Americans as a result, and also more egalitarian. Our upper class has a long-standing sense of noblesse oblige that extends from the chateau clique/family compact, to red Toryism, to the champagne socialism of the present.

        The US and Canada both have class divisions. Ours are inner vs. outer (to use Andrew Coyne’s apt phrasing), theirs are upper vs. lower.

        • I tend to see class as existing along two dimensions..

          Did Trinity College teach you to understand concepts in relation to how you see them personally?


        • inner/outer wp/wkowp

  12. “Is that a Trinity College thing? Using the masses to workshop ideas before debuting them on the main stage?”

    Egads no! What could we ever learn from the plebs? No, we write here in the hopes of edifying the unwashed masses. He are playing Henry Higgins, here.

    • What could we ever learn from the plebs?

      Plenty. How to pander to them, for one.

      Why do you think Coyne bothers with this whole…*erg*…blog thing?

      • I’d say H to H is out-wording you, maybe 2 or 3 : 1

        • I’d say H to H is out-wording you, maybe 2 or 3 : 1

          Stop blinding me with science.

  13. Totally agree with point 5, I almost fell on the floor laughing at that one during the press conference. I think you called it “rewriting history” on the National tonight, I agree.

    Point 2(a), also totally agree. We have already been asked to do something extra to help the U.S. with their new Afghanistan strategy, which is apparently still under study for the next 60 days according to Obama, but which I suspect is already formed and just waiting for the necessary diplomatic ducks to be lined up in a row before announcement. Harper was very careful not to exclude anything today as well as put it down to whatever Parliament may eventually decide.

    Point 3, would love to know how you define “appallingly lax” and what evidence you have for this. Or even how we are suddenly no longer appallingly lax.

  14. Thanks, Mr. Coyne. You cover most of it well, as usual.

    I disagree on the NAFTA issue, though. The collapse of the economy puts it on the back burner. The front burners are on fire and we’ll be putting them out for a while. Moreover, isn’t it a mistaken belief that Canada sucked away any American manufacturing jobs? Most went to Mexico or overseas, n’est-ce pas?

  15. 5) That said, Harper certainly didn’t take long to throw Bush under the bus.

    Let’s look at the Harperian logic on this one. Harper’s case depends on the following assumptions:

    1. There is a trade-off between GHG reduction and the economy. Significant GHG reduction will require significant economic pain.

    2. If Canada attempted in any significant way to reduce GHG emissions and the US did nothing, Canadian industries would have significant competitive disadvantages with regards to US competitors.

    3. There was no chance in hell that GWB was going to do anything about climate change.

    Putting these assumptions together: If Stephen Harper had made any significant attempts at CO2 reduction while GWB was in office, Canada would have experienced significant competitive disadvantages in addition to significant economic pain.

    Sure, we all know it’s just an excuse and Harper is full of deceitful, self-serving excuses on this issue. But that doesn’t change the fundamental logic that Canada needs to co-operate with the US on this issue. We can’t do it alone. Our economies are too integrated.

    • 2. Firstly yr assumption that the US was doing nothing under Bush is incorrect ; or only partially. Numerous US cities, states, govenors did attempt to do something. And George fought them all they way. Did Harper make any attmpt at all to shift Bush? Nada!
      You assume that a concerted attempt to shift our economy into the green age would have no payoff vis a vi the US – risky yes! It isn’t an all or nothing issue. Harper’s style of leading from the rear has not been to his credit at all.

      • The US did nothing significant during the GWB administration. Nothing that actually prevented net GHG emissions from increasing.

        Harper’s style of leading from the rear has not been to his credit at all.

        I completely agree with you.

        • I’m not really qualified to argue this one with you. One thing’s for sure, W was a disaster for this planet in just about every way you care to look at it.

    • critical reasoning, it is all about critical reasoning.

      Indeed, if Harper would have jumped on the green bandwagon blindly, this country would not have been served well. Logic trumps all else but it seems that logic is not always allowed ‘inside’.

      India and China will be dealt with, one way or another. On that particular issue Harper has been waaaay ahead of the crowds. Harper’s logic is not that complicated, it’s actually quite basic. The problem is to get the Canadian elites to be able to absorb that nasty strain of basic logic. For all goods and purposes: try it out – it works!

      • Francien, don’t try and rewrite history. Upon taking office SH didn’t even acknowledge CC. Subsequent pollls and Dion’s rise sure changed his mind. Nothing SH says can be taken at face value, it’s all politcs with him.

        • And kc, you think that Obama will go blindly into climate change proposals? Get real ! If clean-up of global warming will effect the US negatively, they will not jump at the chance of doing so. I think that Obama is much closer to Harper than most people realize right now.

          I am not rewriting history. The problem with you, kc, is that you do not include all of history,. you just catch what skips over the surface, or the way the light reflects. But the deeper layers are where it’s at and it ain’t to be found while jumping on bandwagons.

          BTW, it was Ignatieff who was first AGAINST the Green shift, than FOR it when the Liberal campaign seemed capable of its last breath, and then once again he didn’t care for the Green shift after all. Talk about face value!! You want to debate history, let’s debate history.

          I would say that politics played a very large role when Dion’s rise seemed renewed (PM of a coalition goverment nonetheless) and Ignatieff’s bloodless coup did away with that notion. Internal politics count too, no?

          • Francien, please answer to the pt. SH did not have any plan for climate change upon becoming PM. That is a fact, and you are n denial. Harper is a reactionary pol in the main, a tactician and very little else.

    • Except that your #1 is an assumption that investigation and evidence shows is not necessarily, nor even likely, to be true.

      • Thank you, T Thwim. I agree with you that Assumption #1 is certainly open to debate. Technological breakthroughs may change the game – for example, technological improvements may one day enable the solar power industry to be profitable. However, I think that it is possible to say that Assumption #1 is valid given current technology.

  16. They have a lot in common because of age and kids? Please, what nonsense. Most politicians have kids – big deal.

    Will the Canadian press get a grip here – Obama was here to try to repair the US image that was destroyed by Bush – plain and simple.

    Do you not think Obama knows Harper’s view on environment, etc? Give your heads a shake. US news – talked about how much Canadians like Obama and his little pit stop.

  17. I thought Obama seemed to be going through the motions at the Press Conference. There were no signs of warmth or friendship as far as I could see. Like he was in the early primary debates.

    Obama knows Harper does not believe in government or stimulous packages, doesn’t believe in global warming, doesn’t believe in carbon taxes, and will say anything to anybody anywhere to gain a political advantage.

    He has that memo in his pocket. Obama just wants to come out looking great with no commitments made. And he did. Harper the great strategist met his match.

    By the way, by giving Iggy the last shot he ended up looking pretty good and a guy who’s at ease with power brokers. Harper looked stiff and uncomfortable.

    Simpson, am I saying this?, and NYT are pretty good on yesterday’s events. Not drinking the PMO kool aid.

  18. Even though they only took 4 questions, the press conference was rather long. Obama is interesting because he talks slowly, and for a long time, and I wonder if that influenced Harper yesterday in his untypical, expansive answers. I read somewhere comparisons of Obama and past presidents in how many questions they answered in set time period. Obama answered about half the questions other presidents answered but Obama’s responses are much fuller, more enlightening.

  19. “That’s especially the case in Canada, given the Liberals’ long dominance here — hence the obvious sympatico between Obama and Ignatieff. Harper’s emphatically not of that crowd: as a Conservative, he’s one of the “outs,” at least in his own mind and certainly in his rhetoric.”

    More of that Harper-is-a-populist bullcrap…

  20. Harper is a populist, insofar as he uses populist policies to garner votes.

    • Harper is NOT a populist. There is absolutely NOTHING about him that is remotely populist.

      This whole “average Canadian” vs “liberal elitist” nonsense was concocted by the GOP tacticians across the border and imported here by Harper et al.

      • You’re right. There’s absolutely nothing elitist about a party that considers itself to be “Canada’s Natural Governing Party”.

  21. I have watched quite few visits from USA Presidents (since Dief) and without a doubt this one ranks right up there for fascination and consequences. Let’s face it folks this was played by Harper brilliantly no doubt it. Even a fair portion of the usual gang of harper haters can’t seem to think of anything original or even very clever to rant about excpet the same tired old refrains. I think what all of us witnessed is a classic play with act 1 curtain rises and Harper and Obama enter from stage left – now the play begins – intermission wil becoming up this fall and I have no doubt that we are going to see a raft of deals, legislation and bills that will have the Obama seal of approval on them and I feel sorry for Iggy who is probably still sitting in Hangar 11 … wondering what the heck just happened. Yes indeed interesting times in canada poltically and no doubt about it.

    • Harper’s playing Shakespeare while the rest of you are playing Neil Simon!

  22. Even Hebert, on At Issue, was quick to make the point that Harper’s position on the environment in fact has not changed at all. Harper has never been willing to effectively trash Canada’s economy, which is so completely integrated with the US, by invoking ground rules on this side of the border that would hamstring industry and enterprise relative to their competition south of the border.

    And thank God for his good common sense!!!

    Now we see that Obama is of the same mind as Harper: Anything that’s going to be effective has to include China and India, or we’re all pretty much spitting into the wind.

    Must grind more than a few Liberal butts that it turns out Obama and Harper are pretty much on the same pragmatic page on just about everything that matters.

    • No doubt about Liberal butts being grinded as it were (well said) yes indeed you summarized it spot on!

  23. Well, there is pandering to the masses, re tax cuts with no consequences, evangelicals hanging around spouting off on social issues, attacking scientific regulators, those people who attend galas, galas!, denying global warning, building firewalls and on and on.
    I wonder if Obama repeated the most memorable phrase from the Inaugural: “We will restore science to its rightful place.”
    There’s difference between populism and pandering to what Obama might call the opposite of our “better angels.”

  24. Andrew, President Obama’s name is Barack, not Barry. As to the media’s coverage, we really do not need you telling us what was said because we, I at least, watched and heard it all thanks to CPAC and the CBC. That adds the human dimension of body language. In fact Harper scored points having dropped his robotic pose and acted like a normal person for once, devoid of the blatant partisanship and hatred that been his image since he entered office.

    I also noted that the ‘press corps’ was made up of a bunch of scruffy looking wannabes who I would not give heed to in person, much less through the bias of the MSM.

    A human being came as President of The United States and extended the warm and genuine hand of friendship and respect. The media seems unable to recognize such traits anymore and only seek to find more FUD issues to attract the masses to their endless diatribe in order to sell more papers, Talking Head shows, etc.

    Being a truly Free Man I think for myself.

    If there is one lesson in yesterday’s events it is this ‘Steve, try talking to the people regularly like you did yesterday. You will find far more support than in hiding in your office and squelching your PMO.’ If Harper learns to trust the people and be candid then perhaps the people will trust him? That is President Obama’s real secret. People relate to him because he is one of the people.

    As to Ignatieff’s press conference. It was most interesting to hear his take on President Obama as ‘a good listener, and a genuine man, who really answers the question with depth and forethought’ than all the possible political rhetoric that people want to forecast. Ignatieff’s most striking comment was that ‘I have met many famous people and most turn out to be much smaller in real life than they are presented. President Obama is just as Big in real life as his image is presented.’ or as close as I can recall his statement.

    People like and admire Barack Obama because he is REAL! He is not another phoney moron clothed in a title. He has Street Cred that few have ever had. He rolls up his sleeves and does the G.E.D. ‘Git ‘Er DONE’, not for a photo-op, but the real thing. he has been in the trenches, yet rose above those trenches and became educated, wise, and savvy about this world we all live in. he is NOT an ideologue, but a thinking human being trying to bring together a bunch of fellow hukan beings to solve problems that were ignored for way too long.

    The same goes for our Governor General. Seeing genuine smiles tells a lot about the person. Too many are overly impressed with themselves and unable to be human nowadays, especially those in the media.

    We need to recapture our humanity and stop playing at being Royalty. Even the GG and Queen have discovered that. Like it or not, we are all in this together so we might as well start acting like mutual participants in our present and future. The alternative is anarchy and more pain.

    Oh, and the Talking Heads over-analyze everything. You are neither Sages, Oracles, or Seers, you are just someone with a word processor or mic. Try to get over yourselves and join us in making things better. Max Headroom died a long time ago! Do a little Aretha and show some R-E-S-P-E-C-T! That has even made progress in Iraq.

    • it continues to amaze me that Obama can get such respect and admiration on the basis doing absolutely nothing except get elected. Can anyone point me to any concrete achievement? All the Presidents in my lifetime came to high office with a long list of achievements (both positive and negative). Even the much-maligned GW Bush had served as Governor of Texas.

      When I see observations about his “street cred” or that he is “REAL” and so, it is clear that all critical reasoning has been suspended.

      ‘Git ‘Er DONE? What has he done?

      • Bill, how about reading Obama’s bio before making such ridiculous statements?

        • I am happy to give him the level of respect appropriate to a local community organizer, state politician and newbie senator, but he was not a standout in any of the positions (except in his ability to deliver a great speech), prompted no new policy initiatives and sponsored no interesting legislation. The latest stimulus bill owes nothing to Obama (expect his support as President).

          So I ask again, what has he done to deserve this level of adulation?

    • “In fact Harper scored points having dropped his robotic pose and acted like a normal person for once, devoid of the blatant partisanship and hatred that been his image since he entered office.”

      True only just about everyone who watched him do the pageant-like waving and smiling to the crowd gathered on the Hill knows that this as unnatural/normal as it gets for Harper.

      As if Harper would EVER behave like this if Obama hadn’t been there…

      It was actually painful to watch.

      • I never listen to the rants of a Junkie. Sorry!

    • I miss Max Headroom.

  25. Has anyone noticed how the usual gang of harper haters just can’t stand this. ROFL LMAO – I think they have been stunned into severe shock because as is plainly evident Harper did us proud yesterday with Obama as well as set the stage for more and more of the same in the future. I like Obama’s last words = coming back soon when warmer ROFL LMAO – who knows maybe when the weather get’s nice he will come back and speechify in the HOC (might happen). I wonder if Iggy is buying some preparation H right now as I hear those seats in hangar 11 were not the most comfortable.

    • He’s not coming back any time soon, he’s got too much on his plate. Get over it.

  26. Barry & Steve
    This was just a show.
    Now what?

  27. It is such a relief that Canada can once again be a proud American ally. After years of American bashing we can once again normalize our US relationship. The American policies on security, trade and its place in the world have not drastically changed with Obama.

    Had Harper made the same statement that – an attack on America is an attack on Canada – during the Bush administration (true as it is) it would have caused a severe backlash and might well have cost him an election. Now it likely represents the views of a vast majority of Canadians. The concept is as Canadian as having your buddy’s back in a hockey fight.

    While PM Chretien did many ignoble things that will reflect poorly in history his lecturing our American neighbour after 9/11 in their moment of greatest need will be one of the blackest marks on his legacy. George W Bush’s address to the nation/world where Jean Chretien’s Canada was left from the list of great American allies in their time of need was a “frozen in time” moment. Bush’s speech, like Henderson’s Goal, JFK’s assassination and the 9/11 destruction of the World trade centre is frozen in time and I will always remember my personal circumstances when I learned of them.

    I was in Calgary Sport’s bar with 100 or so noisy people having supper. When GWB speech came on the whole bar was silent and listening intently. Even the idiots who like to burp or otherwise “break the tension” understood the gravity of the situation and were quiet. When GWB listed Australia, Britain, Holland etc and left Canada off the list of great friends of America it was a kick in the gut.

    The downward spiral of the Liberal party started right after that.

    Perhaps Harper’s emotionally rejoining us into the anglo-american alliance will be a moment to remember as well. Various commentators have made notice of this, but I believe that a lot of Tim Horton type Canadians are able stand a little taller and prouder after Harper set the record straight.

    • Well said Voice : 100% agree and I too right along with you hope that the next steps that both Harper and Obama take lead to more of these memorable moments as we have more in common than the differences. Whenever canada and the States really work together towards something amazing things can happen history has quite a few examples.

      • Hopefully not a NAU or an Amero, or anything related to global warming.

        Amendments to NAFTA? Yes sir.

  28. Andrew, you said, “5. That said, Harper certainly didn’t take long to throw Bush under the bus. To listen to him today, you’d think that his government had been champing at the bit to tackle global warming, but was held back by those laggards to the south: “Canada has had great difficulty developing an effective regulatory regime alone … It’s very hard to have a tough regulatory system here when we are competing with an unregulated economy south of the border…. I’m quite optimistic that we now have a partner on the North American continent that will provide leadership to the world on the climate change issue and I think that’s an important development…”

    Yeterday, when I read the above, your 5th point, I didn’t like it, as I don’t think Harper would want to throw anyone ‘under the bus’. Did you see Mr. Harper’s interview with Tom Clark this afternoon? He spoke to this issue, and what he mentioned during this interview discredited what you had assumed. He had been, after all, answering questions off the cuff at a news conference, and I’m sure it happens that things don’t come out exactly as one intends. His statement this afternoon shows that he hadn’t meant to throw Mr. Bush ‘under the bus.’

    Two other points: It has been reported that Condolezza Rice said that meeting with Canadian officials was like a meeting of a condominium association. During the news conference, Prime Minister Harper said he wanted to emphasize that he and President Obama talked about big picture items. So, it wasn’t about the picky little things, i.e. not like a condo meeting. This, in contrast to Mr. Ignatieff who brought up the Kadhr case.

    When Tom Clark asked the Prime Minister what he had talked about with the President, Mr. Harper said that it was a private meeting, and therefore he wouldn’t divulge details. He is proving himself to be trustworthy. This is quite in contrast with Mr. Ignatieff who wanted to tell all.

  29. Just a show? Maybe or maybe not depends how you read the story

  30. point 5 was indeed taken out of context by Andrew:

    It was well understood during the last election that Harper had presented guidelines for future emission standards, and that the proclamation of such targets was lukewarm, because, as he so explained to Ms.May and others who were really willing to listen in on the debates: ” environmental protection must be handled in relation to the economy ” Our ecomomy is directly related to the US economy and any environmental target setting could not be done in isolation from the US. Within a framework of basic logic, that is self explanatory.

    It’s funny how so much of what is logical needs to be emphasised these days. It seems that if Harper does not point out all the dots in connecting he is not to be followed.

    Yes, Harper is even less than lukewarm on co2 emmission target setting because a lot of that target setting is pure bogus, (not all of it, but a lot).

    But let’s consider the mindset of the voter. It is alleged,. over and over again, that the CC is of supreme importance, yet when the Liberal party came out with a detailed plan (the Green shift) the collective vote did not come out in favour of that detailed plan. Now why was that? Is the collective concern over CC bogus or was the Green shift bogus?

    I would say both: the Green shift was bogus (it in fact ran the chance of causing greater pollution – imports from China and India becoming cheaper in comparison) and the supreme concern about CC is bogus also (if the concern were real, the cheap imports from China and India would not be consumed, but they are…….) The voter could not quite come to terms with what dangled out in front of them because the details within the Green shift pointed to directly at the concerns of the voter and those concerns were not environmental in nature…….

    To add to this mixture the bizarre stand of the Liberal party itself and by Ignatieff in particular, when first dismissing the Green shift, to embrace it toward the end of the campaign, to let it sink like a brick when all was said and done. Who here is claiming the Liberals have an environmental policy???

    But go ahead, come down on Harper because doing so will hide all that which the Liberals don’t have a clue about.

  31. He doesn’t like to be called “Steve”.

  32. i wonder sometimes…

    1) Obama can get along with anyone including those who tried to derail his bid to become President; those who by doing so cast aspersions on his race and Hillary’s gender in the NAFTA scandal (intended or not); after all, neigher could be trusted solely by virtue of their superficial characteristics and not the contents of their character. it’s like Nelson Mandela having to shake hands with ppl who up until his release were quite content to have him rot in jail. hypocrite much?

    This “is” a show. attempts i’ve heard from the media to justify PM’s lack of emotion as him being all business are totally lame; i know a lot of gruff business types who still have hearts and a sense of compassion; some even have a very dry/wry sense of humour; they are actually funny and not mean or bullying. President Obama is an honourary Gen X/Y/Z as far as i and others are concerned; the other one is not and is too “me first” for even most “me firsts” i know.

    and President Obama is a man who got his hands “dirty”: first by being “needy” himself and then choosing to help the “unwashed masses” instead of taking cushy job positions first; so i think he has some street cred and demonstrates he has the capacity for understanding others and has the “for real” mature caring faith that Christians are supposed to have, express, and represent to the rest of us (which i for one expect of them); or didn’t you know that “Jesus” was a socialist?

    now, having had a chance to watch President Obama in action, i understand the need to bring him down at any cost; Obama is a threat to all those truly elite types who think it’s ok to benefit from the hard work and misery of the many so they can “rule” (gag) and use whatever means, including governments like toilet paper to rake 16% income from the very productive, hard-working poor and middle class as has happened here in Canada. pure shame.

    2) a) Afghanistan: PM didn’t duck on Afghanistan; to paraphrase he basically suggested it wasn’t his fault, that his hands are tied; LAME.
    b) NAFTA; not an issue PM would like to revisit because it means a better chance for fairness for labour concerns and probably greater focus on the environment.

    3) Security: define lax. you’d think that all of a sudden CSIS and the RCMP disappeared. i guess by getting tough you mean it’s ok to let a 15 year old boy (child soldier even) be abused into a confession based on questionable evidence and skewed testimony? i wonder what the child soldiers from other countries must be thinking about the lack of response to Khadr? and i question the lack of response; and the treachery of “outsourcing” (kidnapping really) ppl like Maher Arar, voiding their human rights–not accounting for their rights as citizens of our country–or their innocence for that matter. Peace, Order, Good Govt. and a Charter of Rights.

    i believe Americans just showed how unimportant the Republican/conservative ideology really is by electing President Obama with a majority of support. and Canadians will soon join Americans in what we decide to do with the posers we have right now. regardless, i hope we always have minority governments. shame we lost the PROGRESSIVE Conservatives who caved like idiots to Reform.

    4) KYOTO. so poor Bush huh? “Sympathy For the…” who? PM campaigned against it even in 2008; conservatives here have 0 credibility to actually do something reflective of Canadian’s wishes today about the environment; sure they got plans for 50 years time when they’re dead and gone; there’d have to be an election if they do an about face. remember, Canada got the fossil award in Bali, hello? and the blood of Dion’s career is on their hands (re: MacBeth; karma’s somethin’ aint it?). they’re waiting for someone else somewhere else to solve everything so they can continue to follow and pretend to be doing something. you know, import the idea like the conservative opposition’s smash-n-grab of Australian President Howard’s ‘support for the “wrong war” in Iraq’ speech. embarrassing

    nice try attempting to use other countries as an excuse not to act when the Western World “led” them economically into abusing the environment. because of its influence the US will probably bring China and India onside. i’m seeing US mayors on CNN talking positively about Kyoto; Americans are openly discussing “Green Shift” too and related jobs down there–all the ideas that Dion presented; even Exxon in the US advocated a carbon tax on CNN; so, whatever.

    Canada will be penalized (can you say imposed carbon tax?) for having “dirty oil” by the rest of the world. Dion’s idea was to shift the tax responsibility to consumption–a dirty word for ppl who like to shirk responsibility. and his idea was for us to do it ourselves; not have it imposed on us; and so that our children could have a better future than we currently enjoy.

    anyways, Canada will soon find itself in the tarsands of history; because history has already passed the conservatives in North America buy (spelling intentional). for the Republicans in the States to rely on the US government to fail or other stupid pet tricks to try to be relevant and to be oh so RIGHT is PATHETIC.

    5) PM likes to lecture; especially someone he sees as inferior i notice. from the get-go he aped President Obama so bad it was pitiful–wore red (i guess he understands the Liberals are in control of him then?).

    the gens behind the baby boomers have to deal with the cost of the “stimulus” deficit that those in gens ahead of us have left for us to deal with (or lose things of national pride like the CN Tower perhaps–more Avrow Arrows by conservative need to be right); so who’s gonna want to or will be able to care for the “me firsts” when they’re old and grey if they couldn’t be bothered to invest in our future?

    also i noted the PM alluded to some kind of “synchronized global recession” during the press conference with President Obama. very interesting Freudian slip–yeah i know Freud’s ideas are dated–kinda like conservative governments. no one i know is truly inspired to help make Canadian conservatives look good (that’s the whole point of their schtick). it’s even more costly than the consequences of the $64B deficit we’ll have to deal with.

    • You have done an excellent job of defining the realities. Here is my contribution as an addition.

      Perhaps this explains reality better than all the diatribe going on? I think it does, at least for those who have the Big Picture!

      Sun setting on old political ideologies

      On Nov. 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down, leading to the end of the Soviet empire. We thought it was the victory of democracy over dictatorship, capitalism over socialism.

      After 20 years, I still believe it was a triumph of democracy over dictatorship, but I would be cautious in proclaiming the victory of capitalism over socialism. In fact, I believe that capitalism is now resorting to socialism to survive the present economic turmoil.

      Obviously the seed of capitalism has been planted in places where once it was considered a crime. But, while the area is expanding, its “thickness” is shrinking, and risks suffering the same fate as the Roman Empire, which collapsed at the time of its maximum expansion.


      And here we see two REAL Problems of Stephen Harper:

      Iran’s ideology ‘evil,’ Harper tells U.S. paper

      Using the same wornout, dissing rhetoric of Reagan and Bush Steve just doesn’t understand, because he is simply willfully ignorant and blinded by ideology, that these are NOT the marks of a democratic leader, and not a statement a Canadian would make in our multi-cultural society!:

      1. ‘Iran is evil’ is a biased, ill-informed slight against an entire people who have been around civilization for millenia. Same old FUD as usual!

      2. And when he says “My government is a very strong supporter of the state of Israel and considers the Iranian threats to be absolutely unacceptable and beyond the pale.”

      ‘My government!’? Stalin would be so proud!

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