Friday, January 27, 2006

Stephen Harper, The Gunboat Diplomat

Within seven days of becoming Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper has had a spat with the US Ambassador to Ottawa over Canadian claims to sovereignty over Arctic waters.
One cannot argue with either the sentiment behind or the validity of Harper's comments that,
"The United States defends its sovereignty, the Canadian government will defend our sovereignty," or indeed with with his comment that "it is the Canadian people we get our mandate from, not the ambassador of the United States."
However, for him to take the contentious step of sending military ice-breakers to the Arctic, a move which he knew or ought to have known would attract incoming from the Americans, and particularly when he has domestic alliances to forge in order to strengthen his new government, does rather smack of crass triangulation; the use of foreign policy as a tool for the gaining of domestic advantage.
If he keeps this up, official US-Canadian relations may well continue to sleep with the walruses.


Blogger Canadi-anna said...

Actually, the comment was made in response to the American Ambassador saying that the US doesn't recognise Canada's claims to the Arctic. The Ambassador was answering a question by a university student at some seminar.
Far from being antagonistic, I think Harper's response was an opening by Washington to show Canadians he won't let Bush dictate his agenda.
My guess is that this is not a big issue between the two countries, but rather a chance to set the tone.
I think Americans understand that there is rampant anti-Americanism in Canada, and that Harper's statement is not a shot at them, but an attempt to mollify a jittery electorate. As such,
it won't be a damper on Canada/US relations.

27 January, 2006 15:19  
Blogger Martin said...


I hope so.

27 January, 2006 20:16  
Blogger The Bagged Bear said...

I agree with Canadi-anna. During the election the liberals ran attack ads against Harper - one in particular practically accused Harper of being a raging neo-con (not that there's necessarily anything wrong in that of course), and generally painted him as being in the pocket of Washington - there was an even worse ad claiming that he was going to put troops in all Canadian cities, but that's another story.

I guess this is one of those 'new leader showing his "You're not the boss of me" credentials' to his public.

28 January, 2006 06:35  
Blogger Martin said...


Ditto, as above.

28 January, 2006 09:13  

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