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

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

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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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