Who leaked Canadian WikiLeaks cables: Canada's "inherent inferiority complex"" - Macleans.ca

Who leaked Canadian WikiLeaks cables: Canada’s “inherent inferiority complex””


Interesting. The National Post has put up several WikiLeaks diplomatic cables that pertain to Canada. Markings on the copies suggest they were prepared for publication by The New York Times. (See for example the top of the page with the Cellucci memo dates 2004-11-18 that has a “NYT Label: A Briefing on Canada for Bush”.) The NYT has not posted these memos on-line yet, presumably abiding by embargo rules agreed to with the other news organizations that are in possession of the full WikiLeaks cache. (update: they are now up.)

So the question is, how did the NP get NYT-held memos? (The NYT is not releasing them to other news organizations.) The most likely explanation, I think, is that the NYT provided them to the State Dept.  as part of their discussions about whether any of the memos needed to be redacted for security reasons, etc. Presumably then the State Dept. informed their diplomats in Canada of what memos were coming out — and we know that State also briefed the Canadian government. So did the Canadian government give them to the NP? Perhaps Tom Flanagan would like to comment.

Some highlights:

Bush’s ambassador, David Wilkins, (Correction: I’m told that Ambassador Wilkins did not author this memo and may not have seen it. According to State Dept. protocol, the name of the highest officer in the country at the time appears in capitals at the end of the memo. If Condoleezza Rice had been visiting, the end of the memo would say “RICE”.)

The memo critiques the “anti-American melodrama” in several CBC shows.

“While this situation hardly constitutes a public diplomacy crisis per se, the degree of comfort with which Canadian broadcast entities, including those financed by Canadian tax dollars, twist current events to feed long-standing negative images of the U.S. — and the extent to which the Canadian public seems willing to indulge in the feast — is noteworthy as an indication of the kind of insidious negative popular stereotyping we are increasingly up against in Canada.”

He says the shows “demonstrate the important of constant, creative and adequately-funded public-diplomacy engagement with Canadians, at all levels and in virtually all parts of the country.”

— In Sept. 2008, Wilkins [update: embassy officials] provides a briefing on the US in the Canadian federal election. They describe the U.S. is “like the proverbial 900-pound gorilla in the midst of the Canadian federal election: overwhelming but too potentially menacing to acknowledge.”

“This likely reflects an almost inherent inferiority complex of Canadians vis-a-vis their sole neighbor as well as an underlying assumption that the fundamentals of the relationship are strong and unchanging and uncertainty about the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election.”

Wilkins The memo also note that the Harper government claimed that their fiscal and monetary policies insulated Canada from much of the economic problems in the U.S. and then casts doubt on these claims:

“Comment: there is probably more truth in th fact that the Canadian financial sector does not have a large presence in U.S. and other foreign markets, and instead concentrates on the domestic market.”

— Then there are two memos briefing two presidents ahead of visits to Canada, George W. Bush in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2009.

In November 2004, [update: unnamed embassy officials under] Ambassador Paul Cellucci write to Bush that he stress the themes of “partnership and reassurance” and stress that “we value Canada with no strings attached.”

The urges a firm date for completion on a resolution to the BSE crisis, adding that a firm date would “give PM Martin a huge political boost and help beleagured Canadian ranchers get through the winter.”

Later he notes that resolution would “restore public confidence and give the Government of Canada some political room to respond to other U.S. priorities.” The memo also shows that the US embassy was aware of concerns about border delays.

In 2009, a memo [update: approved by] Charge d’Affaires, Terry Breese, to Obama has a different tone.

“Your enormous popularity among Canadians (an 81 pct approval rating) is to Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper both a blessing — because he can for the first time since taking office in 2006 gain politically from public and policy association with the U.S. President — and a curse — because no Canadian politician of any stripe is nearly as popular, respected, or inspiring as you are to Canadian voters…”

Breese goes as far as to say,

“Your trip will help to ensure that the government will survive an early February vote of confidence on the federal budget, in which Canada will post its first deficit in more than a decade as it provides a stimulus package of $30-40 billion.”

He tells Obama that there is “virtually zero willingness” in Canada to extend forces in Afghanistan beyond 2011, but that,

“Canada could offer up significant new funding to strengthen the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. Much will depend upon convincing Canada that its continued contributions to the Afghanistan effort are a critical component of your strategy for success in Afghanistan.”

Update: The memo to Obama also mentions “Canada’s habitual inferiority complex vis-a-vis the US…]

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Who leaked Canadian WikiLeaks cables: Canada’s “inherent inferiority complex””

  1. The most remarkable thing about most of these leaked memos is how mundane they are. That 2009 memo, in particular, is nothing more than apple-polishing (to put it politely).

  2. If our govt would stop bending over for the Americans we wouldn't get this kind of nonsense.

    • What does that even mean? All nations make these kinds of observations about other nations all the time as a matter of routine. This isn't nonsense, its the normal course of events.

      Really I don't understand why you are always so bitter.

  3. What I read into these excerpts is a subtext: "Look at me! I'm an ambassador! Don't forget me! Canada is important and I'm your ambassador to it! Stop ignoring me!"

    • The Obama one made me laugh… " a word of caution, Mr. President, please take care that your monumental levels of awesomeness do not overwhelm these simple people and cause death by stampede."

      • Nicely paraphrased.

        You laughed. I gagged. PoTAYto, poTAHto…

        • IgNATieff, IgNAYtieff

      • Mr. Breese has mastered the art of sucking a*s to the T, no pun intended. I wonder where the Canadian Obama cheer leaders are now. For 81% Canadian popularity rating, why suddenly so quiet?

  4. It's too bad Bush was being told to sell bad policy more, rather than adopt better policy.

  5. 'Bush's ambassador, David Wilkins, critiques the “anti-American melodrama” he sees in several CBC shows'

    I'm confused. Just who's supposed to be the one with the inferiority complex?

    • Didn't Wilkins make a guest appearance on one of those CBC shows? It was either Rick Mercer or 22 Minutes.

    • Good point!

    • Now we know who's watching those shows.

      • They US Embassy people get paid to.

        • The shows are subsidised by one government, and the viewers by another.

          Who says government can't work?

    • Ah, he's a South Carolina good ol' boy. Probably helped George put the boot
      into The Maverick in the 2000 primary. Hence his days of meager glory in Ottawa.
      He was prolly twirling around the dial looking for a Roots rerun.

  6. I didn't know that our 2008 election was all about the US. Do I get to change my vote, now that I know?

  7. It all sounds about right to me. Bravo to US Embassy staff for getting us right.

    • Speak for yourself.

  8. thanks to wikileaks for exposing the bull, lies, and deception that is government's stock currency.

    The vile reaction to the exposure of truth from these quarters is perfectly aligned with the character of the critics.

    Flanagan's prayer for black ops is par for the course.

    Ironically, the disclosures about Canada are in sync with our power and influence: nothing about nothing.

  9. Let's get meta!

    Here's an American comment on the Canadian Wik-leaks documents which is sure to reinforce the message of the Wikileaks documents…

    Wikileaks Cables Reveal That Canada is Boring.

    • 'one media commentator concluded, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that "apparently, our immigration department's real enemies aren't terrorists or smugglers — they're Americans." '

      Somewhat tongue-in-cheek??!!

      I'm beginning to think all this would make a great CBC comedy.

  10. You gotta give WikiLeaks credit for one heckuva marketing coup. They've become a household name, and the defacto website by which to leak documents (at least for now).

  11. Fer gawd's sake don't follow the WikiDickie stuff through the American media filter.
    It's reflective of the pure political madness that has overwhelmed that fine land and
    is a profit-seeking enabler of all the sickness.

  12. OBVIOUSLY THE COVER UP CONTINUES!!!! If these were INDEED real diplomatic cables they would most certainly mention the ongoing 50 year effort by the Americans to kill the most advanced flying object every devised by the human brain…the Avro Arrow!!! In fact, many believe that the U.S. is really just a criminal enterprise that was created to keep the Avro Arrow from being built and thus keep Canada from ruling all the known galaxies. GOD…I HATE THOSE AMERICAN BASTARDS!

    • Man, are you delusional or just brain-dead and ignorant as hell? Yeah, it's all a cover up, and theis documented information came out of thin air. Do you even know what the WikiLeaks are??? Your last statement in your post confirms my notion that you are indeed ignorant, narrowminded and probably one of those Canadians who feel the need to spout off crap towards the US for no other reason than you're living in a country which lacks it's own identity and is a trickle-down of what the US does, yet you hate to admit it, or are too ignorant to realize it in the first place. Pretty sad.

  13. Has anyone here watched the US TV show "How I Met you Mother"?
    It's a comedy that takes place in New York, and one main character, Robin Scherbatsky, is originally from Canada.
    Making fun of Robin's Canadiana is one of the long running gags of the series.
    I can't help but wonder if Canada's Ambassador to the United States – Gary Doer – is jotting his thoughts down on this show.
    Cause yeah – that is important stuff….

    • Remember South Park? Blame Canada?

      • Or the West Wing when the border got moved for an episode and one of the staff became Canadian?

  14. This is interesting, apparently National Post has access to more, since they know which ones are upcoming.

    • So ya figuring out how national post got them, whether from gov, or what not, would be worthwhile.

    • Wow! Now that is something worthy of some genuine outrage…

      We really ought to send our American diplomats a new 60" plasma for watching Little Mosque on the Prairie rather than trying to stick their noses into our justice system.

      The are just watching TV here in Canada… right?

    • Sheesh. Just when I thought behaviour of the U.S. in the El-Masri case couldn't get more despicable.

      They seemed to have been attempting to subvert justice in both Spain and Germany in order to thwart the search for truth of an innocent victim of extraordinary rendition.

      And what was the staffer saying about "insidious negative popular stereotyping"? Maybe they should pay more attention to their real world activities, and pay less attention to low-rated cbc fare.

  15. Canadians are simply jealous of the US because the US has an identity. Canada isn't known for much, other than …a country who's government is so backwards, infrustructure is so backwards, etc., that Canadians have to turn a blind eye to it all and slam the US simply because they are lacking a true identity. WE ARE CANADIAN! Those words scream "Look at me ..please..someone..we are desparate to be noticed as a unique identity" we are different than the US.

    Why the need to be so different than the US in the first place??? That is a question all Canadians need to ask themselves first before spouting off crap about the US's government, their ways of dealing with things, etc. And that's just a start..

    • Little bit of national self hatred going on there?

      • No, actually, I am originally from the US, but have lived here in Canada for 18 years now, so I see and hear the way MOST Canadians are…and the way I explained it above is to a "T". Canadians are jealous of the US in many ways. Think about it…Canada is known for it's oil, weed, and a few other things that don't have much appeal to the US. The US on the other hand is well known for many things, including being a world super power, being on the brink of technology, trends, etc. Canada gets the same technology/trends..but about a year or so later. For some reason this, and other things about the US really bother Canadians, so they act out trying to slam the US any chance they get to TRY AND ACT like Canada is superior in order to TRY and make themselves feel better. Their lack of identity and insecurities is the root of their slams, yet instead of worrying about WHY they are so insecure and lack identity and try to change that in a practical way, they have to try and find something (anything) to proclaim themselves as "unique" or different than the US.

    • The issue isn't that Canada doesn't have an identity, it is that we have several and as such it is just easier to define ourselves by what we are not.

      • In other words the entire country is bi-polar…excellent! The problem is there is no direction…Canada is a melting pot consisting of a crap government (even though they slam the US government when they should be taking a look in the mirror first), a shoddy building industry that throws up crap housing that's way overpriced, and backwards people who live in and run the country with no clue as to what's practical/logical.

        And as far as it being easier to define Canadians as what they are not….um the only thing you've defined (more like embarrased yourselves over) is attempting to put down the US out of jealousy…you say you are not like the US, but really deep down, you wish you actually were…that's what is being seen here and let out to the rest of the world…because it's obvious as hell!

  16. Canadians are dillusional. They think their country is more multicultural than the US. They think their healthcare is free, when it’s paid through their taxes. They think basketball was invented in their country. They think they won the 1812 war, when the US actually did and Canada didn’t even exsist at that time. They think their more polite. They think Canada is mire safe. They think that America is plotting against them when most Americans only remember them when stories like this come out. Canada come back to reality.