By Goodwin Ginger
While Harper’s bellicose stand with regard to the present crisis in the middle east is perhaps the most extreme foreign policy position taken by a Canadian government in the modern era it would be hard to characterize it as anything but pro-American. Put in its proper context of a general right-ward shift in the Anglo-American world, Harper’s foreign policy maneuvers while sour to the palette are really not that radical given the current conjuncture.
More curious and more alarming in some respects however is the position Harper has taken with respect to the softwood lumber dispute with the US. Harper’s insistence that his government is unwilling to change the agreement in light of the iron clad ruling handed down on the illegality of US tariffs on our softwood is not only perplexing but put in strong relief can only be characterized as an act of commercial treason. And this leads us to ask the question is Harper simply pro American or more ominously is he actively anti-Canadian?
One line of analysis suggests that Harper was so desperate to be seen to show that his administration was capable of getting more with honey than the Liberals were with vinegar that he cooked a bad deal. Indeed, following this logic the case could be made that Harper discovered that he had placed himself in a tight corner by arguing that the Americans were straight shooters and that the blame for the failure to reach an agreement on softwood could be placed firmly at the posturing feet of the Liberals. Once committed to this logic Harper had no choice but to get a deal no matter how crooked. For not to do so would have meant a tacit acknowledgment by Harper that it was not the Liberals who had been dragging their feet but rather good old fashioned protectionism south of the border. This would indeed be a bitter pill for a free trading, Liberal hating economist of the text book variety to swallow.
The other line of analysis suggests that Harper actually has a deeply ingrained national self-hatred. This analysis builds on previous speeches Harper has made south of the border in which he has baldly engaged in Canada bashing with his southern cousins. According to this logic Harper actually believes that a process of the Americanization of Canada would be a good thing. But to believe this is to actually believe there is something inferior about Canada—unworthy in a word. The give-away that is the softwood agreement is the act of a Canadian prime minister who would in fact prefer to be a US senator.
Whichever line of analysis you take Harper is a poor choice of leader because in either case his motivations are not of a man who is capable of acting in the national interest.