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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Is Canada Getting too Cozy with the United States?

Let me start today by saying that I’m not anti-American as a rule and though some people may see it that way, this is not an attempt at U.S. bashing. The fact is I actually like our neighbors to the south for the most part. I don’t always agree with many aspects of the U.S. government’s foreign and domestic policies, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like the American people in general. Having said all of that, I don’t however want to be an American myself and I certainly don’t want to live in a Canada that’s being governed from Washington.

I’m a born and bred, no holds barred, dyed in the wool Newfoundlander, so I have a hard enough time feeling like I even belong in Canada sometimes. Can you just imagine how uncomfortable it makes me feel to think we may now be living in America Lite? Hell, if Newfoundland wanted to be an American state it could have worked toward that in 1949 instead of joining Canada. It didn’t.

How does the shift toward the south our Country has taken lately make you feel, or have you even noticed? If you haven’t, or if you don’t believe me, just take a look around at what’s been happening.

First, George Bush and Stephen Harper travel to Mexico together for talks and the next thing you know news reports are trumpeting the vastly improved relationship between the two countries. This excursion is quickly followed by Foreign Affairs Minister Peter McKay’s visit to Washington and meetings with Secretary of State Rice (the two looked just like old school chums in the news coverage, I believe Condelezza actually almost smiled at one point. Can you imagine?).

Next the throne speech from Ottawa singled out the United States of America and spoke of our close friendship with the Country. Don’t get me wrong, friendship isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but specifically singling out one individual country for mention in the throne speech is certainly not something I would have expected. It makes me wonder if the relationship hasn’t become something more than the average Canadian might want. The character of this new relationship is still unclear, but it was hinted at during a recent visit to Newfoundland when Prime Minister Harper chose sides in a squabble between the Province and U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobile. He supported Exxon.

Since taking power in Ottawa Harper has increased troop commitments and extended timelines indefinitely in Afghanistan. This allows Canada to take over the leadership role in that conflict but it also relieves U.S. forces there freeing them up to help bolster the effort in Iraq.

To add to this Harper has now adopted the White House tactic of controlling media coverage of events. He did this by putting a gag order on Cabinet Ministers, only allowing them to speak with reporters after approval by his office. He followed this move by denying news cameras access to photograph or video tape flag draped coffins returning from Afghanistan (ala George Bush) and then (though they have since been denied) rumors surfaced that Harper was demanding approval of all speeches to be delivered by Canada’s top Military leader, General Rick Hillier.

The latest move by Harper has even gone a step beyond anything the Bush government has ever done, at least to the best of my knowledge. His government has now put into jeopardy the idea of artistic expression in Canada. He has done this by questioning the contents of a movie produced by a private citizen. This citizen is just like you and me in that he is not employed by, or working with, the government of Canada. His two sins are that he is married to the Governor General and that his film may contain scenes that Ottawa believes could be offensive to the U.S. or more specifically, to George Bush.

According to one quote out of Ottawa on the subject:

“…Canada has a profound, deep and committed relationship with the United States of America.”

I have to say, that sounds like a lot more than friendship to me. I know married couples who might have trouble defining their relationship in those terms. It is statements like those that really make me wonder exactly how far into bed we’ve climbed with our neighbor. (Please, no jokes about who is physically bigger or who’s on top)

Listen, I don’t mind Canada’s government working with Washington on issues of common concern. I don’t mind a friendly relationship with our neighbors or any other reasonable Country in the world. I don’t even mind the government reviewing specific policies of other governments in an effort to determine if they might work better than our own. I’m open to all of those things.

I do have a problem with the kind of blind obedience I believe we are seeing in Ottawa these days and I have a big problem with Harper’s Bush style media manipulation. In addition to those two things, I REALLY have a problem with the Harper government blurring the lines between a close relationship to America and what constitutes a very scary relationship to the Bush administration.

Administrations come and go whereas countries tend to last a long, long time. The Bush government is now in its final days of life and to say that they’ve been involved in some less than acceptable activities during their tenure would be the understatement of the century. In that light, I question just how much we as a nation should be aligning ourselves with the current U.S. leadership.

If Canada becomes too closely aligned with the Bush administration itself, I wonder exactly what the consequences might be. I worry that we will end up living with a situation we would rather not face. I wonder where the relationship will leave us positioned in the world and how other countries will view Canada. Finally, I wonder what it will mean for every Canadian, long after Bush and Harper have retired to their quiet beach front properties someplace warm and cozy. Perhaps too cozy.

It may be my paranoia kicking in, but I can almost hear my name being added to a No Fly list somewhere in Ottawa at this very moment. Come on Steve, I said I like Americans didn't I?

By Myles Higgins (scratch that!!)
By John Doe (that'll slow them down)


Anonymous said...

Typical anti-americanism at best myles, what do you think? Prejudice of all others outside your little click, or not? Judge from the year long anti evrything posts of yours, go ahead teach that hatred, from your area it is deserved, but anywhere else, it is just prejudice, why not? I do not believe anyone will get tired of the whining, do you?

Anonymous said...

Yes Myles, you are being paranoid.

Patriot said...

There is no Myles here. It's John Doe.

By the way, to the other anon, if you think anti-Bush sentiment is the same as anti-american sentiment you are too far gone to help.

Anonymous said...

oops...sorry patriot...got here by way of CFP.

crazy american said...

Steve here ... speaking to John *grin*

Wow, what a ranging posting John.

First, I think you are probably right to question the motivations of governments but in at least 2 of the items you raise about being too cozy, I think you saw the right problem in the wrong way.

Let's take the oil negotiations first. The actions of Ottawa regarding the oil negotiations in Newfoundland seemed to me to weigh far too heavily towards the oil companies. But, isn't the issue more about the government cozying up to a multinational corporation rather than the US government?
Of course Ottawa would have wanted the deal to be done, they get tax revenue from the exports. No exports from the source means no revenue. I don't think it's a matter of trying to get Uncle Sam to be nicer. I think it's more to do with the tax issue than anything else. Personally, I think you'll see Ottawa trying to renege on the Atlantic Accord over the next 10 to 20 months, regardless of the US /Canadian relationship.

As far as the press coverage issue, is it that the Harper government is overreaching its bounds? Of course that's the issue.
When politicians overreach it seems to me to focus more on the actual actions rather than tying it to the US as the cause celebre.

Your posting had a lot of worth in that it points out that ANY government whether Liberal or Conservative, red-white-blue or multicultural mosaic, needs to consider first what it's policy ought to be, and then second how that policy can and should be supported in its foreign relations.

If you think the Harper government is suffering from PDS (policy deficiency syndrome) then that's where the focus should be. If you think it's because the policies are being fed from Washington DC, think again. Politicians as a whole are far too concerned with staying in office to simply take directions, especially from this US Administration. Republicans, democrats, Liberals, Conservative or green all suffer from the Stay in Office disease. And that is certainly not solely a US export.

You may well have a point in that they are taking a queue on handling the press from Washington, but based on the domestic media that I see here in the US, it's a pretty dumb idea overall. I mean be real, can you say that Bush has good media relations? Or are you trying to say that antagonizing a media as a vested interest is not something you'd subscribe to? *look back at some of your postings about the Canadian national press and it's condescending reporting and see if perhaps you wouldn't be tempted to do some of the same.

I think underneath your writings is a sense of exasperation, in that you had hoped for better from a change in Ottawa government. Perhaps I overanalyze, but if there is even a grain of truth in that sensing of frustration, then don't take the easy way out and blame the US. We got enough issues to deal with.

Keep your shots crisp and true.

As far as the no-fly thingee.. don't worry, the list is so hosed up that Teddy Kennedy keeps getting strip searched, and the head of the Irans foreign relations ministry has a green card. You won't have any problem if you tell them your nickname is "Enry Iggins" and bring a pretty girl with you.

*heading back into my cave now to try to think clearly with my US trained world domination focused, isolationist, one world anarchist zenophobic brain and to read my subscription to CHAOS, a publication of the Anarchists United for a Better America 501 non-profit lobbying group*

Anonymous said...

One word....globalization, there's nothing we can do about it. They own us and we conversely also own them :-)

NL-ExPatriate said...

LOL Great post for debate but I fail to see the substantiation.

I think Steve may have been closer to the mark.

If you look at the east coasts traditional trading partners back before confederation that is we were more aligned with the eastern sea board than central Canada. Read up on some of the Atlantica proposals and tell me you don't think the East shouldn't have closer ties with the Eastern US sea board. There isn't even one 4 lane divided highway in Canada connecting the Atlantic provinces to the Eastern Sea Board of the US, and the Railway links are all piece meal?

Personally I think we should be like the EU and have a common currency. Then we wouldn't have all of the problems with fluctuating dollars and the problems associated with it.

All will be revealed budget day!

Anonymous said...

I am concerned about Harper's 'love of the US', not because I'm anti-US, but because that is another country, its a foreign country. Canada has its own needs, wants and concerns. and while we do have to have a relationship and get along with our neighbour, sharing huge economies and borders and many families to boot, we can make our own way when "WE" please.

Anonymous said...

I understand that 100% of Newfoundland and Labrador's oil production is pledged to the United States for its consumption. The people of the United States are paying a little less than $3.00 per gallon for their retail gas, while the people of this province are paying more than $4.00 for theirs. I do not understand a country such as Canada pledging 100% of a province's oil, and leaving that province to have to import from another area of the world. Can someone explain that conundrum for me?

The United States has a great advantage over all other countries in that its dollar reigns King. It is the dollar by which all other currencies have to be deonominated in order to buy goods.

Recently I read a financial newsletter that gave the benefits to the United States for having its dollar reign as King.

The article stated that the United States could print dollars indiscriminately, run up foreign deficits and not have to worry.

The article also stated that the United States were buying all the goods produced in China and the rest of Asia and in turn China and Asia were financing the American deficits/debt.

That same article stated that the United States could wage wars indiscriminately because of the fact it could print dollars that gave it the financial ability to do so, and in fact, the article stated that in 2003 the United States invaded IRAQ because IRAQ started to denominate it oil starting in the year 2000.

IRAQ's defiance made the US angry and edgy as it thought the rest of the OPEC nations and other oil producing nations would denominate their oil in EUROs as well.

Can somebody refute this? Or is the information contained in the Financial Newsletter I received true?

Anonymous said...

AHHH! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!!

Next thing you will say is the Mulrooney/Bush relationship destroyed Canada as we knew it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
AHHH! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!!

Next thing you will say is the Mulrooney/Bush relationship destroyed Canada as we knew it.

May 05, 2006 4:44 PM




Anonymous said...

If you look into it NL's oil like any country's is sold on the open market, no pledge.

Anonymous said...

Thanks anonymous, I am quite aware that Newfoundland and Labrador's oil is sold on the open market, but, I am musing about why the government of Newfoundland and Labrador did not negotiate a better arrangement or more control over its oil resource; or in other words why did it not wrestle more control over the oil resource out of the hands of Ottawa and place it in the hands of the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, where most of the power should have belonged, just like the power the province of Alberta has over the control of its oil resource? Maybe my original question was not as plain as it should have been. Sorry

MY OTHER QUESTION in my original commentary was: Why did the United States, according to a financial newsletter that I received, invade IRAQ in 2003, on the basis that IRAQ IN 2000 starting denominating its oil in Euro Currency? According to the newsletter the United States wanted to send a message to all the oil produing nations that used the American dollar as its standard, especially the OPEC Nations, that this could not be. The American Dollar should reign King, as it had since the 1940s when the Bretton Woods Conference established that precedent, and should do so forever, as it would cause too much havoc to the United States if things changed in the currency department. Of course back in the 1940s when this ruling was made the United States was the main producer of oil, so it made sence.

Is what is writen in this financial newsletter, of which I speak, true? Can somebody please comment to the affirmative or is it a fallacy?

Anonymous said...

AB does not have more control over its oil then NL.

AB is just into a higher production volume, ie. same % of a larger volume is more revenue.

If you look at the details NL has a better deal then AB. If the situation was reversed you would see AB with much greater revenues.

No, the US did not invade Iraq because it wanted to sell its oil in EU rather then USD, throw out that newsletter and don't send $20,000 to rescue the queen of ElNarnia.