Duck and cover


During his brief stint as a serious candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, John Manley used to say that one thing he’d like to see in foreign affairs was a “grown-up relationship between Canada and the United States.” It made me want to weep with gratitude every time he talked like that. As a rule, Canada’s end of Canada-U.S. relations has been characterized by an endless fight between obsequious suckups and rote anti-Americans, essentially between the editorial board of the National Post and Michael Byers. It would be really swell if a visit from a prominent American politician was seen as an interesting event, not a management headache for all concerned.

Aaron Wherry ably chronicles the absurdity surrounding John McCain’s visit to Ottawa tomorrow, in which the Prime Minister of Canada ensures there will be no embarrassing scenes like this by doing to a prominent advocate of the Iraq war what Harper has long since done to his own former support for the Iraq war: cut and run.

Look: for all you know, John McCain might be the next President of the United States of America. I don’t think it’s a horrible idea for anyone who plans to be the Prime Minister of Canada when that happens to meet the man, if he is so eccentric as to want to devote some attention to our two countries’ bilateral relationship. That goes for Harper and for Stéphane Dion, and it would hold if Barack Obama showed up here too. Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, Ségolène Royal, Gordon Brown — all were courted by neighbouring heads of government before assuming power or, in Royal’s case, falling short. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s kind of amazing to have to say so.


Duck and cover

  1. I give Dion a break on this one – he has other things to deal with – Green plan.

    It amazes me that this man called a “leader” conveniently disappears whenever there’s anything remotely contraversial going on….he’s beomce the run and hide PM.


  2. Couldn’t agree more. Excellent post

  3. Yup, you nailed that one.

  4. What amazes me is that McCain is coming at all. What does he hope to get out of it, image-wise or otherwise? (Not a loaded question.)

  5. There’s a debate in both US parties about the wisdom of free trade, Jack. McCain wants to brand himself clearly as a free trader. Both to contrast with Obama and to identify the kind of Republican he wants to be.

  6. What I miss about John Manley is the whole “ministers should be competent” bit. His work in industry and foreign affairs in particular was a good example of what a cabinet minister should be. Not the Harper cabinet, where ministers appear to have little-to-no autonomy (possibly with reason) or the Martin cabinet, where guys like Dion (far more effective as a minister than as a leader to date) were forced outside in favour of dubious allies like Lapierre.

  7. I’m willing to bet that if the NAFTA leak thing had never happened then he would have met him. Any meeting after that little incident would just stoke the fire of perceived preferential (or wishful) thinking. It’s all pretty unfortunate really.

  8. Will McCain next take his ‘Free Trade Warrior’ tour to a Mexico border town? Maybe the optics wouldn’t be quite as pleasant to Joe and Josephine American voter…

  9. I read over on Susan Delacourt’s blog that Dion will be attended the Democratic National Convention.

    I wonder if an opposition leader has ever attended a U.S. national party convention before?

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