Didn’t we used to be friends? - Macleans.ca

Didn’t we used to be friends?

Hillary Clinton knows Stephen Harper has trouble getting Barack Obama’s attention

Didn’t we used to be friends?

Sean Kilpatrick / CP

Nobody remembers the act that appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show after Elvis Presley. After the kid with the guitar, nothing else could leave much of an impression.

Similarly, whatever history records about Derek Burney, it will pay scant heed to the speech he gave at the big Liberal thinkers’ conference in Montreal over the weekend. Burney used to run the Prime Minister’s Office for Brian Mulroney. He was Canada’s ambassador to Washington from 1989 to 1993. He led Stephen Harper’s transition to power in 2006. But on Sunday he drew the short straw and spoke after a barnburning speech by Bob Fowler, the retired former ambassador who accused both Harper and the Liberals of selling out the country’s best diplomatic traditions. Coming after that broadside, Burney was all but ignored.

Too bad. Burney had useful things to say about Canada-U.S. relations. He devoted nearly half his remarks to the dangers of passivity and timidity, urging leaders not to “hestitate to lead,” calling for “confidence” over “reticence,” preferring a “vigorous, creative and active approach” over “risk-averse, correct stewardship” in a bilateral relationship that “should be stimulated and led by the prime minister.”

I buttonholed Burney after the speech. Was this a critique of the current government?

He broke into a wide smile. “Don’t put words in my mouth, Paul.” Fair enough. Derek Burney was not talking about Stephen Harper when he warned against hesitation, reticence, risk aversion and lack of leadership. He was speaking in the abstract. You cannot get me to say otherwise.

I, on the other hand, am a free agent, so nothing is stopping me from saying that the Canada-U.S. relationship under Harper has begun to go quietly, seriously, off the rails.

That was obvious during Hillary Clinton’s visit to Ottawa, when the secretary of state filed her request for an extended Canadian deployment in Afghanistan with a succession of television interviewers. Fortunately, Lawrence Cannon was also on Clinton’s distribution list. But our hapless foreign minister has long since blown his claim to exclusive access to news from Washington.

Clinton’s visit also included a meeting in Cannon’s riding of foreign ministers from five countries with significant Arctic waterfronts—Canada, the U.S., Russia, Norway and Denmark. But there’s already a forum for discussing Arctic issues. It’s the Arctic Council, and it includes more countries, and Aboriginal groups as well. Joe Clark thought it up when he was Brian Mulroney’s foreign minister. Mulroney, and then Jean Chrétien, spent years talking the Americans into participating.

Now Harper’s Canada has lost interest in the Arctic Council, which would not be a big deal if we could only refrain from inviting the Americans to more exclusive clubs to which they don’t want to belong. “Significant international discussions on Arctic issues should include those who have legitimate interests in the region,” Clinton said. “And I hope the Arctic will always showcase our ability to work together, not create new divisions.” That’s a dig at Harper’s Arctic sovereignty agenda, which puts an unrealistic emphasis on battles we can’t win, like arguing with the Americans over control of navigation in the Northwest Passage, instead of on useful work we can do with the Americans in the Arctic.

On Afghanistan and Pakistan, it’s now seven months since Richard Holbrooke, Clinton’s envoy to the region, asked Cannon personally to name a Canadian government representative to work in Holbrooke’s office.

Cannon still hasn’t named anyone.

That kind of stewardship helps explain why Clinton shopped her post-2011 Afghanistan request around to the networks. She must have read that Cannon has trouble finding time to read his mail. She must have wanted to make sure somebody in Canada got her message.

I should emphasize that relations between Harper’s government and Obama’s are perfectly cordial. The two leaders run into each other frequently, seem to enjoy each other’s company, and are not engaged in any toxic feuds. But Harper is careful not to trouble Obama with any ideas or projects. If Canadian troops leave Afghanistan in 2011, that will be a manageable disappointment for the Americans. But Harper has no replacement project that would get Obama’s attention or fire his imagination.

Before Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, a Harper staffer told me their first summit would be refreshingly devoid of ideas from the Canadian side. “He’s the new guy, not us,” the adviser said. “We’re going to hear him out.” Other leaders, like Mexican President Felipe Calderón, were less reticent. It’s Calderón, not Harper, who has become the Americans’ most active partner on energy and environmental files.
Of course there was limited room for progress while Obama’s attention was consumed, domestically, with health care reform. But now Obama has passed his health care bill. His presidency has made a new start. Clinton’s visit this week was a chance to reboot the cross-border relationship along with it. And we blew this chance too.

“We will be unable to get the U.S. administration on board unless whoever is in the White House and leading members of Congress value and respect what our Prime Minister brings to the table,” a keen observer of Canada-U.S. relations has said. “Forward movement in Canada-U.S. relations is the best way to ensure that our bilateral relations do not stagnate.”

Derek Burney can’t get in trouble for those quotes. I got them from a speech Stephen Harper delivered in the House of Commons in 2002.


Didn’t we used to be friends?

  1. I long for the good old days when a Canadian PM wouldn’t embarrass this country by showing the world how very far his reach exceeds his grasp. Despite the fact that the majority of Canadians do not support him, it’s Canada that takes a hit every time Harper’s aspirations to be a world leader smacks into the reality of his complete lack of leadership.

    • And your comment contributed to the discussion…How?

    • It's funny how the Parliamentary Press Gallery, including Paul Wells, actually take the American administration's side when the Democrats are in power. If Canada doesn't do the U.S. Democratic Party's bidding, that's a bad thing, when the democrats are in power.

      This passes for serious analysis? Sad.

      • Paul isn't taking Obama's side. He's observing that Canada has basically signed-out on its end of the bilateral relationship. Obama isn't going to chase after us–he has many parties all around the world that are interested in working him.

        • Our PM isnt going to chase Obama, if he did, it would be a repeat of the bush years according to libbies.Harper is strong, we dont need Clinton, her hubby or Obama to make our rules, or determine what we should and shouldnt be doing.! they need us more- although if Iggy was in power,m being the American lover he is.He would clamber to do their bidding.I fully agree with Jarrid.

      • Lefties' "consistency" including media pundits:

        Lib PM and Democrat President – they should be as close as brothers
        Lib PM and Republican President- PM should be blatantly hostile
        Conservative PM and Republican President – any contact means PM is lapdog
        Conservative PM and Democrat President – PM should do President's bidding

        • Actually, the consistency is much simpler than that:

          Does what the American president want us to do make sense for Canada? Yes? Go ahead. No? Don't.

          • minaka

            Face facts please.

            The majority of Canadians are centre-to-centre-left politically. You would have it "lefties" I guess, but in any case not self-identifying as conservative in values or political party. While the current Democrats are considerably further right than that (because of the right-wing skew of US politics) it mainly means that there are very few points of congruence between the policies of any Republican White House and the majority of the citizens of this country.

            So, generally a government that accords with the will of Canadians is going to be able to agree more with a Democratic president.

            It's not the media, and it's not a conspiracy. Just demographics and democracy.

    • I long for the days when Canadians stop being stupid and become conservative.

      • Make up your mind.

        • Burn!

      • I love constructive criticism…

    • Had a friend in high school who was one of these determined nerds who was quietly involved with just about every team and club you could think of. (hockey, chess, debate, science club, junior entrepreneurs, squash etc.) The jocks would pick on him but that didn't seem to phase him at all. A lot of people didn't like him because he was determined but quiet, not a good "people-person". Once I got to know him I began to respect him. He was smart, stubborn and stuck to his principles and did a lot of good for the school. I heard plenty of gossip about him but found it to be false when I actually got to know him. Kind of reminds me of Stephen Harper. The Obama administration may not particularly like him and maybe they find him annoying (although annoying H. Clinton is a plus in some people's books) but they do respect him.

      • Was your friend petty and vindictive? That is maybe where the comparison falls apart; your friend sounds like someone who, despite the picking on, did not hold a grudge, or at least one who was not insecure enough to 'get even' by knocking down others.

        Stephen Harper on the other hand acts like one who spends inordinate amounts of energy on getting even, sticking it to those he thought had it in for him (this is well documented by many who have been close to him). History is strewn with examples of such people who have scaled heights of power, and we have many examples where it ends badly.

      • What principles is Harper sticking to?

      • Principles like not appointing an unelected senator his first term? Oh.. sorry.. Michael Fortier.
        Principles like "You don't negotiate when you've won" on softwood lumber? Oh.. sorry.. a billion dollar giveaway.
        Principles like "The Prime Minister should not be able to call an election just for partisan advantage?" Oh.. sorry… 2008.
        Principles like "We will not raise taxes"? Oh.. sorry.. EI premiums and Air-tax.

        What, pray tell, makes you think they have any respect for Harper?

      • "Faze", not phase.

        Your nerd friend may not have been a liar.

  2. Harper is bad for Canada in so many ways, at so many levels – it's difficult for the average Canadian to understand this unless they're paying attention at least a couple of times a week.

    He's going to really drag us down – unless the Liberals can get him out before the end of the year. Every month he spends in office is more damage to Canada, more cost to Canadians, and more loss of our international status and ability to deal with other countries. Harper is an impostor, who does not care what damage he does – he's living in the 1950s, and to our detriment.

    • Couldn't agree more… As a senior, watching Canada's credibility amongst its G8 partners be diminished by this 'standin' PM continues to astound and I believe a crisis for our good name and democratic values. The only reason I can think that Harper is still PM, has nothing to do with his ability to govern, but a lack of political will by the opposition leader to confront this government, even if it means an election (which in my mind is needed), as well as Canadians who seem complacent and just throw up their hands up in despair, fail to vote, resulting in the poor minority government we now have representing the people of Canada….

      • Couldn't agree less

    • I disagree, PM Harper is good for Canada, and is skillfully steering this country out of a global recession, while being ham strung by a minority government and an incompetant oppositin. As for the comment in the article about this government causing our relationship to go off the rails, what utter crap. It was never worse thah under Martin and Chretian. It has begune to improve under the Conservatives diplomacy.

      • I agree! My how the Smug (why I'll never understand) Liberals forget what happened when Gene Cretin and his collection of US haters were in power….Publically calling the Americans Bastards! Yeah, THAT was really good for Canada/US relations! As for Obama? Hmmm…I don't know!

        • They havent forgotten, they rewrite history LOL

      • You're obviously not paying attention. Dion woke everyone up to the fact that Harper was basically operating undercover, and on the sly — a lot of what Harper does is behind our backs, and destructive. If you want to live in a warehouse state for the US, then dream on and keep saying it's wonderful – but it's not my idea of a country.

    • oh, please, you don't even know what are you talking about!

  3. Not complacent. Busy. We've got wall-wall 24hr/day news coverage. Keeping track of what's important vs what's filler has become nearly a full-time job in and of itself. But people are working so hard trying to keep their families afloat and to keep up with the Joneses that we see paraded by this marketing driven culture, they don't have time to actually sit down and watch.. so instead they take the easy messages.

    "Just visiting Ignatieff"
    "Chess playing Harper"
    "Befuddled Dion"
    "Tax-and-spend Liberals"
    "Conservatives safeguard our money"
    "Coalition with separatists will destroy the country"

    All of this crap they take in and they don't have time to look to see that none of it has any connection with reality.

    And Harper knows this. That's why they've got the fleet of blog-talking-pointers that they send out. That's why they've been sending out 10%ers so much. They know that people are too busy to actually get the truth, so as long as they can get their message into people's face often enough, folks will just start to believe it.

    We want good government in this country? Prevent politicians and political parties from contacting constituents except directly and personally. Restrict media coverage to policy alone, nothing that comes out of their mouth can be broadcast except if it's directly on a motion or in policy. In order to fill the void, news agencies would have to dig into policy matters and start presenting facts to people — they'd have to give us the steak, because the sizzle wouldn't be allowed.

  4. Yes there used to be a friendship with Canada.also with the UK, Israel,Japan,Honduras and India. What happened to these was the election of Barack Obama.Sophomoric Marxist acolytes hate western democracies and prize third world dictators.It's their nature

    • You've obviously no idea what Marxist philosophy is, because Barack Obama is the farthest thing from that. Anything left of Republicanism isn't "marxism".

      • But if your vantage point is to the right of Republicanism anything to the left surely seems to stand in the same crowd as Marxism.

        • Nope, Scott's right. People who throw around words like "Marxism" usually have no idea what "Marxism" really means.

          In his younger days, Gilles Duceppe was a card-carrying Marxist. So was Stephane Dion. Both of these gentleman had actually studied Marx in university. Presumably, they read and understood the dialectical and materialist concept of history, the critiques of capitalism, and the call for proletarian revolution.

          South of the border, I am not aware of any Marxists or former Marxists who currently hold elected office in the US. The word "Marxist" has become a meaningless pejorative misused by ignorant tea-partiers, just as "Fascist" has been similarly misused by ignorant leftists.

          • They approached it from all Engels.

          • Full Marx for the Engels joke.

          • I struggle to be atop my class.

          • Punsters of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your change.

          • You're exploiters of the jokes JS and CR; but how comm-u-mist, or did you just diss Phil's point above?

          • Libby Davies was once a card carrying Marxist too.

          • I much prefer my Marxists to be card-carrying. It seems to me to be good practice for if they are ever victorious, what they'll be carrying is a ration-card.

          • OK, I'm game to learn. Does Marxism fit on the standard left-right continuum at all? On what basis is Scott correct in saying that Obama is the farthest thing from Marxism? Especially in relation to Republicanism?

          • On what basis is Scott correct in saying that Obama is the farthest thing from Marxism

            Well, he's not the "furthest thing" – that's obvious hyperbole. But he's still pretty far.

            Does Marxism fit on the standard left-right continuum at all?

            You bet. He fits on it somewhere quite far to the left of Obama.

          • Uhhhh, OK, so Scott, you and I don't actually disagree at all. So I guess that making the <sarcasm/sarcasm> tags visible might have been helpful?

            For a moment there your reply had me wondering if I had some major misunderstanding: apparently not, and I can sleep well. ;-)

          • There used to be an avowed socialist who was mayor of Burlington VT. Not sure if that's still the case; he was famous as being supposedly the only such animal in the USA.

      • I was born in USSR and lived there for 30 years. I know what Marxism is in theory and practice. Obama is undoubtedly Marxist. He believes in good government owning and controlling everything to make things fair. Marxism has a lot of different shades. He is very close ideologically to Men'sheviks, who lost to Bolsheviks in USSR and were exterminated in 1920s-1930s. A softer, milder version than what was implemented in USSR or China. Also look up Eurocommunism.

        It always cracks me up when Liberals (in US sense) accuse others of ignorance while themselves can only recite once sentence talking points.

        • "…Obama is undoubtedly Marxist…" Evidence?

        • This level of reasoning ability is why your side lost the cold war.

  5. Harper understands that there is little to be gained for Canada in fawning over this juvenile, petulant, sophomoric American administration. Canada needs to assert its place as the mature North American country.

    • Canada needs to assert its place as the mature North American country.

      I like it. When should we start? What should be first on the agenda?

      • Not attending Dubai II was one of them good starts……

        • Please excuse my ignorance…Dubai II was what?

          • My bad. I meant to say Durban II

          • Ahh yes, Durban II. But I'm not sure that deciding (near the beginning of 2008) to NOT do something will meet ModerateGuy's goal.

    • That's exactly right. While the Obama administration continues to disappoint and even alarm its traditional allies, Canada is increasingly seen as a reliable and trustworthy friend.

      • By who? Which allies are you referring to?

      • Exactly who sees Canada that way? The only international mentions I've seen of Canada are that it is in Afghanistan for another few months and that it was a key obstructionist at Copenhagen.

        • Don't forget the arctic circle fun.

  6. Clinton has been relegated to the position of junior minister and has less access to Obama than our Prime minister.
    Funny how the progressives are eager to jump to the tune of the failed American presidential candidate as long as it contradicts their own leader.
    Obama and his minions have nothing to offer Canada.

    • Perhaps you missed the news reports. He won.

    • Stop obliquely slandering Saskatchewan, it's a lovely place.

      • So – and how's that version of the Deliverance banjo going for you?

        • I wish — banjo's hard. Another reason everyone should forgive Steve Martin for the bad movies.

  7. Every month your Ignatieff allows Harper to remain in power means that Ignatieff is again abandoning Canada. Ignatieff and the opposition have a short window of opportunity to vote no confidence and it must happen within the next two weeks because the G8-20 Summit conference is in June and if there is no change of gov't by then, Parliament will be into Summer recess and off goes Iggy to his villa retreat in the south of France to lounge on the Riviera and think deep thoughts. Upon returning in September, Canadians will not be receptive to another unwanted election. So it's now or never for Iggy and the Liberals.

    • 'and off goes Iggy to his villa retreat in the south of France to lounge on the Riviera and think deep thoughts'

      I'm think' he's there now. MI is MIA.

      • Why do Wilson and Observant think lying about vacations is some kind of point to make?

        • It's one of the talking points in the manual. Yawn.

        • What makes you think Iffy is not out of the country?
          He always pops an article into the media before he leaves….

          • The only exercise some people get is jumping to conclusion – or, flipping through the pages of the PM instructed and approved talking points.

            Besides, what difference does it make where he is on Easter break? Does he have to report in to you?

            Pathetic comment and childish name calling – Iffy is just way overdone.

          • Too bad there isn't some way to find out which one of these persistent Tory bloggers is getting paid by the government.

  8. "But Harper has no replacement project that would get Obama's attention or fire his imagination."

    How can you be so sure of that? It seems to me that Mr. Harper's modus operandi is to bring out his ideas 'in due time' (i.e. the car emmission accord announced yesterday.) No doubt there are ideas for Afghanistan post-2011 in the works… we just haven't heard of them yet.

    • The car emmission standard was his idea?

    • In addition to the car emission standard that Harper has been championing for the last few years, is there another energy efficiency project for which Harper is campaigning to get the US to agree?

  9. The Obama admin caved on abortion in their own country,
    so in trots Mrs Bill to point fingers at our Parliament for voting down an abortion motion too…ain't that a little rich?

    PMSH told Obama and the whole world, we are out of Afghanistan in 2011….mrs Bill got a hearing problem?

    How many times have the American Natives been invited to G8 meetings? none you say….

  10. I agree wholeheartedly with Wilson's points above.

    Also, these exact same five Arctic coastal countries met exclusively already in 2008 in Greenland, so this was Harper's or Cannon's idea. If Clinton really wanted more people at the table, the classy thing would have been to bring that up when she received the invitation.

    • "…so this was NOT Harper's or Cannon's idea.'

      Man, stepped all over my own point there.

  11. "…so this was NOT Harper's or Cannon's idea."

    Totally stepped all over my own point there.

  12. "It's Calderón, not Harper, who has become the Americans' most active partner on energy and environmental files."

    Granted, I wouldn't expect this to be covered in the Canadian media, but I watch & read a lot of American news too, and this is the first I've ever heard of this.

  13. LMFAO….

    Wow, you can tell Paul does not have a sniff at the relationship between PM Harper and President Obama. Best part of the article..

    Paul Wells says..

    "Mexican President Felipe Calderón, were less reticent. It's Calderón, not Harper, who has become the Americans' most active partner on energy and environmental files."

    Um ya, where was Felipe Calderón when the US and Canada harmonized tail emission standards? And when it came to the bailout if the auto sector where was Felipe Calderón? Oh sorry those are complex deals that don't fit with you narrative Paul. FOH..


    Yes hillary giving PM Harper a chance to tell the Americans to go pound salt, it must just upset him. I am just glad Hillary made it out without any imaginary sniper fire. But reading this crap I am sure Paul could defend it..lol..

    • Realistically, Canada adopted American standards. This was a politer way to tell Quebec to get real.

    • Um ya, and you became an investigative journalist, when?

  14. What's actually left of our open public debate besides an exchange of claptraps?

    Who does US Secr. of State Clinton thinks she is?

    Before offering insights on US-Canadian relations, why does Paul Wells not ask the LPC to explain it's defeated motion regarding contraceptive aid and abortion to third world countries before reporting on Ms.Clinton's poisoned political statement?

    Is it easier, Paul, to avoid the hard stuff and simply move onto the next best thing untill it too becomes too difficult to decyfer and off you will go…….to the next best thing………………………….Hop – scotch – Hop – scotch!

    • Some people have a hard time understanding just how much power the US has. How about the fact that they can now arrest people with their coast guard, in our waters? Just for starters.
      You're like little kids who think their parents can't actually make them go to their rooms.

  15. Since Obama and the Democrat dominated Congress are either Communists bent on destroying the USA and it's constitution or are the most incompetent fools to ever hold power in their grasping little hands and ignorant of the fact they work against the American will of the people.
    I am thankful we are at odds with the USA right now and I am a big USA supporter or was until they elected a whacked out congress of champagne socialists and a Marxist mystery man with no past as President.
    Now I prefer we keep our distance.
    We lead or are second in the G8 nations in economic growth, Economic stability, currency stability, debt to pop ratio and so on, it's not us that is insane, contrary to our recent past, it's the EU and America that are nuts.

    • No offense, Canada has no place leading the G8 nations unfortunately. Despite the positives you put forth, you need to remember 80% of Canadian exports go to the USA. Canada is economically dependent on the USA, Canada does well when the USA does well.

      That being said, it is not the Americans who need to woo the Canadians in any form. Not only this but Canada had better not "keep its distance" because until Canada decides to rely on other international partners to stimulate its economy it has no choice but to keep close contact with the USA.

      I won't even touch on your Obama-Communism comment because it has no place here and I am tired of ignorance.

      • That exporting street goes both ways……we also have what they NEED, oil.
        Oil from a safe reliable source. Our economies are very integrated, and the US would also be advised to keep relations good.
        Canada is not a beggar.

        • Then why does Harper crawl to the Americans?

    • "Marxist mystery man with no past as President"? Good grief, it's his first term. All presidents have a first term with no past as president.

      There's no mystery about Obama – his whole life has been written and written about – don't you know how to read?

      It's really hard to believe the crap that comes out of people sometimes. Where do they get this junk?


      • He means "no past, and serving as President". Birther. One of these types who thinks Obama is a secret Muslim, not an American, trained in a jihad camp, wears special contacts to hide the red glowing eyes, etc…

        It'd be funny if there weren't so damned many of them.

    • " ignorant of the fact they work against the American will of the people." They won the election, the people spoke, stop thinking that the noisy minority of Hannity and Glen Beck is the will of the people…

      • And stop reading the polls showing that Americans are fed up with Obama, fed up with Congress, fed up with the Fed. The people get to speak in elections every couple of years. After that they can just shut up because the political-legal-media complex is in charge.

      • Luckily the people get to keep speaking. Listen to the people speak in November of this year with Congressional elections. The Dems won't know what hit them and there will be copious bile spilled among Paul Wells' lefty readership. They will suddenly lose their appetite for the people speaking when their idol Obama (motto: bigger government is the solution to every problem) is shackled.

  16. "…so this was NOT Harper's or Cannon's idea."

    Totally stepped all over my own point there.

  17. "It's Calderón, not Harper, who has become the Americans' most active partner on energy and environmental files."

    Granted, I wouldn't expect this to be covered in the Canadian media, but I watch & read a lot of American news too, and this is the first I've ever heard of this.

  18. "It's Calderón, not Harper, who has become the Americans' most active partner on energy and environmental files."

    Granted, I wouldn't expect this to be covered in the Canadian media, but I watch & read a lot of American news too, and this is the first I've ever heard of this.

  19. Hillary's candour and intelligent exposition of her positions was a breathe of fresh air around here. I disagree that we should stay in Afghanistan, but respected the way she made her request.

    And as for the maternal health issue, she was bang on. It's a great loss to the world that she couldn't have been the first woman president if you ask me, but she just keeps going and talking common sense, and it's so liberating to hear the truth being told without all those layers of spin we've been subjected to up here for the last 6 years or so.

    • Good post.

    • I agree – it struck me that the opposition could take some lessons in forceful and forthright speech from Hillary.

  20. When Obama came to visit he could hardly be bothered to get off the plane. To Obama and Hillary we are nothings and nobodies. Our presence in Afghanistan is just to provide political cover and to legitimize the American presence there. What Americans understand is the language of national interest. We need to be forthright: tell them unequivocally it is not in Canada's national interest to extend the Afghan mission past 2011. That's it. Full stop. No elaboration needed. They will understand.

    • I have read some stupid things in this magazine before and you have won by far, what a stupid thing to say!

      • I'm stupid and confused so please do elaborate. I'd like to know where I'm wrong. Do you think Obama and Hillary really give the slightest damn what we think? Given their own national agenda ie national security / health care / the financial crisis, do you think they devote more than about 90 seconds per year thinking about Canada? As the world's greatest practitioners of defending national interest, do you think the Americans don't understand the concept? With so few troops there do you think Canada's contribution is so militarily vital? With such a huge military do you think the US couldn't make up for our absence in the blink of an eye? Do tell, I'm really interested in what you have to say.

  21. Watch out for flying monkeys, now infesting the comments here.

  22. I am an American that has moved up to Canada to work last year so, please hear me out. Your PM is smart not to give in to the American politicians. As for you liberals who are upset with your PM is it that he wants to pull the troops out of Af-Pak or is it that he won't kow-tow to the Americans. To be blunt, there is nothing more that we like than our friends to the north to obey our every command and if the Canadians liberals want it well then so be it, I guess?

    • Actually, it's the Harper Conservatives who tend to cave in to the Americans, though some of the rightwing Liberals are just as bad, wanting to drag us into a closer union with the US. When the comedian Coulter talked in Calgary about making Canada the 51st state, it was her rightwing extremist fans who cheered and clapped (maybe a bunch of Americans among them, I don't know).

      • Sure you're an American. Sorry – but you don't sound like one, but nice try.

        • Margaret, Now you are saying you are privy to the opinions of 300 million Americans and can identify an ex-pat by what he writes on a blog! Amazing! Yes, Margaret we understand that you are a liberal and that you do accept that it is the divine right of the liberal party of Canada to rule this country. Now you just have to get a decent leader for the party and get the voters out to the polls…or in the alternative…get your coalition party together before the election and run as a coalition party of the NDP, Liberals and Bloc rather than trying to take over parliament after the fact.

        • Well, at least Margaret sounds exactly like what she is, a smug liberal anti-American bigot.

  23. The median level of comment here leads me to regret that Paul did not implement his recently stated intention to close his blogs to comment, an action that I usually would not appreciate.

    • The old economic maxim "bad money drives out good" seems to have some sort of application on the internetz, as well!

  24. Take Paul Well's analysis, transpose it to the situation where the Republicans are in power in the U.S. and the Liberals in Canada.

    Would Paul Wells, or any other member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery be bemoaning the fact that the administrations did not get along, and would they be concerned that Canada was out of sync with the U.S. on various policy iniatives.

    No they wouldn't . They'd be cheerleading the Liberals to demarcate themselves from U.S. policy. Remember when Paul Martin lectured the U.S. on its environmental policy and CO2 emissions?

    Why the dichotomy? Why the difference in analysis? It's only a bad thing to disagree with the Americans when the policy you're disagreeing with is left of centre. Otherwise it's a good thing.

    The PPG, where left of centre analytical assumptions rule the day.

    • Actually, Jarrid, Paul probably would be bemoaning. Not so many others, mind, but Paul: yup.

      It would not surprise me to learn that Paul somewhere sometime slapped Martin for the very unclothed-emperor posturing you cite.

  25. What is Harper doing?

    Why isn't he listening to Hillary Clinton and continuing to send troops to Afghanistan after 2011?

    We should be in lockstep with the U.S. on every policy matter, including domestic policy. Why? because the U.S. is presently led by an administration which the PPG can identify ideologically with, that's why. The PPG, showing its ideological assumptions and in so doing, showing its increasing irrelevance.

    It's a good thing Harper could care less whether he has the PPG's approval.

  26. Paul Wells wants Canada to become the U.S. administration's toady.

    My those Ottawa journalists are a fickle.

    • … bunch.

      • Libbies havent caught up yet.They are still trying for a Bush /Harper connection.That horse left the corral over a year ago, shame the left live in the past.

    • For toadying up to the U.S., hard to top Harper's performance when Bush was President.

      • If Harper and Bush both happen to agree on something, that doesn't mean that one is just copyingt the other. Please provide examples of when Harper abandoned his own prionciples to fall in line with Bush.

        • Who said anything about Harper abandoning his principles. He and Bush were soul mates.

          • "Toadying" implies being nothing but a Yes Man, which doesn't really apply if you sincerely agree with someone.

          • All these folks saying Harper & Bush were soulmates, that Harper was just following Bush’s lead, blah blah blah. From what evidence? Because they’re both “right-wing”? I for one just don’t see it.

          • They think it does damage- so far I still see Iggy dropping in every poll.maybe they need to move on.

    • Because to the followers of Harper, you have to be either a toady or a bully. No other kind of behaviour is thinkable.

      • I thought it was called "pitching" or "catching"..

  27. It's always fun to go into Liberal havens like the Macleans message boards and purposely insult Liberals. Ya always see the usual Liberal comments that look for nothing but approval from other Liberals (like saying Harper's bad for Canada because an American disagrees with him).

    I can find many reasons to vote for Harper, but possibly chief among them is the way that he pisses off liberals (small "L" intentionally) just makes life that much better.

    • Nice to see that your vision of a successful Canada is based on "pissing off" over half the population.

      You've just explained why I find it so hard to agree with Harper supporters.

    • Ryan, you are talking good sense. it just wams one's heart to read a reminder that baiting liberals is an honourable way to amuse oneself on a sunny sleepy weekend.

      • No problem. It annoys me to always see liberal comments on these boards with +'s while conservative comments with -'s. There isn't really any balance here and I'd rather liberals have no safe havens anywhere, where they can congregate and pat each others on the back with their wrong logic.

        • Perhaps it's the quality of the responses.

          Crying Liberal bias and playing the victim card is a sign of weakness and inability to have discussion or reasonable view.

          Grow up

          • Why would a conservative minority expect to get a majority of votes? Not so good with numbers, these conservatives.

          • There's always a liberal bias in these comment sections, you'd have to be a fool to miss it. Most commenters here are liberal. But go ahead and say I'm whining and that I'm weak if it makes you feel better.

            If you want to talk about media biased towards the left, I would probably point you to macleans at some point, but it would certainly have to beat out The Star and Globe & Mail first (and please, don't point out that the G&M picked Harper last election, that argument won't get anywhere).

          • Okay, here we go. The Star, left. Globe and Mail "used" to be centred, but is leaning right, as admitted some time ago by Jeffrey Simpson.

            CanWest, G&M, National Post, Sun Media are all conservative. CanWest (in the west) and Sun (in the east) have bought up most of the small town local papers.

            You do the math there Ryan.

            Macleans, mostly right with some token left.

    • How mature of you Ryan.

    • It is fun, I get a huge kick out of it.As if Iggy would be any better.He might be their – the USA, lap dog, that would be the only diffrence.

  28. If we are entering the world of close USA allies that the USA is doing its darnedest to annoy, we will be in excellent (and crowded) company.

  29. Does Maclean's have copy editors? The headline should read "Didn't We Use to be Friends?" When it is paired with the auxiliary "did" the base form of the verb (i.e., "use") is correct: "did use" not "did used." Of course, given the level of literacy represented by most of the comments that appear, this should be of little concern to most readers.

    • Unless you're trying to be punny, I think you're wrong.

      You could say "Didn't we use to be friends", if what you mean is "Didn't we use (your car, your house, your army) to be friends", meaning, didn't using form a basis for our friendship.

      However, "Didn't we used to be friends" is fine – it's colloquial, but there's nothing wrong with it, and "use" would be a misunderstanding of the expression "used to be". It is not "use to be".

  30. who cares? Obama is a one-term President, and Harper will be PM for another decade. If they want our oil, perhaps they should tone it down a bit.

    • I agree. Drill baby drill is now Obama's new tag line, not Palin's. Clinton was upset at who and who was not at a meeting, and we care why?

  31. It should read……….Didn't we use to be friends.

    Typo alert!!!!!!

  32. Perhaps if we develop nuclear weapons, brutally crush political dissidence, and start threatening our neighbours a la Iran or North Korea we'll receive friendlier treatment from the Obama Administration.

    Unfortunately being longtime non-threatening allies a la UK or Israel doesn't get one very far.

    On the positive side, when a boorishly amoral Administration treats us rudely, it probably means we're not doing things half badly. If they were treating us well I'd be worried about the direction of our country.

  33. It amuses me, that the only PM to bring up the Arctic sovereignty ,is PM Harper. The others had no concern, now, every country and the left lays some sort of claim.

  34. Harper has a problem to the degree the Conservatives have historically since Mulroney perceived themselves to be the party of having close relations with the United States but is now stuck between a US democratic administration and his socially conservative prarie populist base. I also think Lawrence Cannon is becoming pretty close to being useless as a foreign minister because of this and numerous other screwups. The problem for Harper will become more apparent if the Democrats continue to control the house and senate post November.

    • No danger of that.

  35. Harper's diplomatic failures the past couple of weeks were not just related to Canada's relationship with the USA. ALL of the foreign ministers walked out of the press conference after the latest artic meeting and all had the same compaint; Hillary Clinton just led the way. Harper's ideological approach to maternal health that belies known facts recieved criticism from Clinto that was immediately repeated by all the other G8 countries. Harper has refused to cooperate with the USA over Canadian citizens held in Guantanamo, whereas all other G8 countries have helped Obama with this issue. This is not simply a case of Hillary Clinton being hot under the collar, this is a case of the entire international diplomatic community finally realising that they are being treated with the same arrogance and disrespect with which Harper treats the House of Commons in Canada. This guy is seriously damaging this country.

  36. Hillary Clinton blast Canada? Yes, and it was needed!

    Is it possible that when the U.S. secretary of state lectured the Harper government on its wrong way to see maternal health, she was right?

    When she attacks Canada on its approaches to family planning, she said aloud what numerous Canadian thinks without expressing it. If you are concerned about family planning, then women should have their word. This direct attack on Canadian policy was long needed. Last Tuesday, the best man was a woman!

  37. Paul, I am really sick of articles like yours that are full of half truths, suppositions, asumptions and your opinion based on your interpretation of what people have said. Who cares what Hilary Clinton says. She said nothing that was a slight to our Government or Prime Minister. She expressed her own personal opinion on abortion and claimed they were having a difficult time getting people to accept it in the US. What Liberal out there is ready to do a better job? The media should be trying to be more positive . This is not a GOTCHA game.

  38. Canada has a serious lack of leadership right now. Mr. Harper is playing the role of the ultimate middle-manager, focusing on his tasks, getting through the day without drawing unnecessary attention to himself, without offering any vision for himself or the country, let alone for the world we live in. What does Canada bring to the world table besides nods and grunts to the vision of others?

    • Why does any government anywhere need to provide some sort of "vision?" My vision of governance is boring, do-little, cost-little, and just manage as a government is supposed to do. Don't take my taxes to gamble on crazy social programs. Just do your part to lower taxes if possible, and keep the money I earn in my hands and not in the hands of those who would like to gamble it away.

      Just cautious, steady as-she-goes governance. What's wrong with that?

  39. On the contrary, Obama is mending foreign fences that Bush stumbled through and trampled on. It's too bad, though, that he is not working faster to end the wars Bush got the US and allies involved in.

    Clinton's straightforwardness is admirable compared to Harper's usual lies and equivocations. Not that we should accede to the USA's imperialistic desires, we should get our troops out of Afghanistan right now. But why wouldn't Clinton want to embarrass Harper the Republican-Likudnik-Reformatory?

    • You really need to read the news more often. Among other gaffes, Obama has stuck his finger in Britain's eye regarding the Falkland Islands and pulled the rug out from under Poland's feet by cancelling a missile defense system deployment that Poland's government had taken considerable risks for. His attempts to extend an olive branch to his country's rivals has gotten him a more belligerent Russian foreign policy, scorn from China, and has emboldened Iran. If anything, it's become obvious that Bush had a more accurate assessment of foreign policy than Obama.

      Also, if you think that Harper is as far right as the Republican Party or Likud, you should probably regard Hillary Clinton as being on the extremist right fringe of politics.

  40. It's useful to stop and ask a couple of points: 1) Can Canada maintain a committment in Afghanistan after 2011? 2) Why would any diplomat with minimal competency embarrass a government publicly like that? To answer point 1), it's doubtful that Canada could remain in Afghanistan. The Conservatives are a minority government, and the other parties in Parliament oppose a continued military operation. Lest we forget, it was the opposition parties who forced the government to commit to a pull-out date. On a practical level, Canada's military has been severely strained by its extended combat operations and needs a few years to rest and re-equip. I doubt that's much of a consideration compared to the political issues, but it's a fact. Point 2) is consistent with the Obama administration's clumsy foreign policy, which has tended to undermine friends and embolden rivals.

  41. From NAFTAgate to retaining the services of Ari Fleischer and being snookered in on FOX News and dining with key US conservatives actively involved in defeating Obama in 2012, the governement of Canada has openly meddled in US internal politics, mostly because it befits Harper's partisan and antagonistic personality. Canadians pay for this in real money, and will continue to pay for this in other ways, no matter who wins in 2012.

  42. Interesting Article Thanks


  43. Jean Chrétien freely expressed his views and opinions. However, Chrétien did not meddle in US internal politics the way Harper has. IMO, Harper'd meddling is a far worse diplomatic faux-pas.

  44. It's too bad that we can't have better coordination to work closely on the objectives that both countries agree on.

  45. Am perturbed by the title of this article (not to mention the vile title of the latest publication)…Instead of reading: "Didn't We Use to be Friends?", it says "Didn't we Used to be Friends?". Apart from the offending cover title, I thought a respectable publication like Maclean's would have editors who pay close attention to grammar. I couldn't be bothered to buy a copy…