'A Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term' (I)

Doug Saunders reports from Europe.

For three years, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has had his diplomats and ministers sell the idea of a “new, muscular Canada” to Europe – a forward-leaning image of a wealthy, militarily strong, export-oriented country that is more than just another middle power.

This spring, in a dizzying series of transatlantic visits, summits, trips, meetings and forums, Canada was set to build a new and powerful set of eastward-looking relationships to shift weight away from our U.S. ties and establish us as an important power on par with Europe’s best…

After all the planning and diplomacy, Europeans and their leaders were left with two images of Canada: a man clubbing a seal, and a prime minister missing a photo opportunity because, the European media kept reporting, he was on the toilet. Absolutely nothing else registered: In the public eye and in many official circles, Canada failed to arrive.

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