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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

When the new year dawns

I know that January will just be another month in the Canada's permanent minority government, but down here, a new President will be sworn in. Here's what he'll face.

As an aside, I am curious to see how things go between our capitals. There really isn't much history on how Conservative PMs and Democratic Presidents get along. Mulroney was gone less than a year after Clinton's inauguration, and I doubt Jimmy Carter even had enough time to notice Joe Clark.  FDR was fixated on the economy in the two years he shared with R.B. Bennett. If anyone has data or accounts of the relationship between Woodrow Wilson and Robert Borden; I'd love to know about them.

In fact, the only recent interaction between Democrats and Tories was the Diefenbaker/Kennedy era, and even that has trouble translating into the present (Dief was at least partially to the Grits' left, especially on foreign affairs; if memory serves, the Tories didn't plant themselves firmly to the Liberals' right until the 1980s). I'd vastly prefer John McCain, but an Obama victory would start a genuinely new era in U.S.-Canada relations. I just have no idea what that era would entail.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on July 22, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink


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It's easy to assume that, since the Canadian Liberals identify completely with the Democrats, therefore the Conservatives identify with the Republicans. But it's quite wrong. Conservatives are much more likely to recognize that they aren't actually Americans at all, still less Americans with a stake in the American party system. I think Stephen Harper realizes that more clearly than most.

So on this side, you won't see any appreciable change. And the choice of president might not make that much difference. I don't think it's at all a bad thing that Bush and Harper get along well personally, but the loss of that rapport may not be a serious loss. Harper's a very likeable guy. He could easily be on good terms with McCain. There's a chance that Obama would be either too arrogant or too intimidated to be willing to open up to Harper, but the mere fact that Harper is a foreigner will make him want to make a show of friendship. (Harper is personally the mildest of men, but he's a genuine intellectual and all too obviously shows up Obama as the pseud that he is, so it wouldn't be surprising if Obama got scared of him. He'd be like a black Dion in that regard.)

The big problem would be with Congress, which is likely to stay Democrat and would be axiomatically hostile to Canadian interests. We'd be much better off with a president who is our ally against them than with one who is committed to them.

Posted by: ebt | 2008-07-22 11:14:31 AM

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