Speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations today, where he made the case for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, the prime minister took a jab at Washington’s economic stewardship:
“We know that for our country to realize its potential, the U.S. has to do better. I am encouraged by growth signs I see in the United States. I am an enormous admirer of this country, despite of the fact that I value the differences we have as Canadians, I am enormous admirer of this country. I have enormous faith in the American people, and particularly the American business community, to always find opportunity, always seize it, and always create a better future. That’s been the history of this country.
I think it requires a hell of a lot of effort by everybody in Washington to make that not true. I just don’t think they can sustain that effort indefinitely. [laughs]”
This seemed to take the moderator, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, by surprise: “Boy, well… that’s uh… That, Prime Minister, is very well said. I hope your bet on their inability to maintain that indefinitely turns out to be right.”
Later in the conversation, talking about foreign policy, Harper softened his tone:
“All joking aside about Washington, I have a really good relationship with the president. I think that within the constraints of the American system, he’s doing what he can do on all kinds of issues. On Syria, I see a lot of criticism about inaction. I look at Syria over the last couple of years and I would urge the president and everybody extraordinary caution on jumping into this situation.”