Monday, July 24, 2006

Is Canada Better Off?

Conservatives continually argue that we need to tighten our relationship with the Americans. Harper has repeatedly stressed that a closer relationship with our neighbours is too everyone's mutual benefit. There is no question that this government is more closely aligned with the Bush administration than the previous Liberal governments. This reality begs the question, what exactly has "closeness" brought Canada, that it didn't already enjoy?

Trade is a function of the market, the relationship between governments is largely irrelevant in the face of basic economic needs. Despite the "distant" relationship between the Liberals and the Bush administration, trade between our two countries thrived and expanded exponentially. Proximity and need dictates strong ties, irregardless of who is at the helm. Does anyone believe the Americans would be any less interested in the tar sands if Martin was around? I would love to hear a Conservative substantatively show how Harper's "cozy" stance benefits us economically. Pure folly to think that the Martin government couldn't have negotiated this flawed deal on softwood- easy to reach a consensus when the other side is rewarded for illegal activity.

Sacrificing our independence, surely must be offset by benefits, otherwise why bother. I don't see any tangible results that would suggest Harper's approach has helped Canada. In fact, on the foreign policy front, Canada has clearly lost some prestige. Whether it be the farce of Kyoto or Lebanon, Canada gives the impression that it takes its cues from elsewhere. I am willing to bet, if you took a poll of foreign diplomats and asked them if Canada is more or less respected since Harper took control you would find the answer a resounding LESS. In a global sense, there is a cost attached to puppeting the Americans. If this real cost isn't balanced by a net benefit in other areas, then the policy has no legitimate purpose.

The simple fact of the matter, our relationship with the Americans was largely fine prior to this government. Yes, there were hiccups, but it didn't stop us from working together on a host of issues that are easily argued. Troops weren't arming the borders, diplomats weren't being recalled and trade didn't cease. What did happen, the Americans couldn't take our support for granted, it had to be earned. Was this reality so terrible?

15 comments:

scottie said...

I just wish Harper would not get too involved with the Zionist movement within the government down there, aligned with the government of Israel,
These same Zionists support the Izraeli government with money and arms and are known as ethnic cleansers Orthodox Jews in the U.S. recognize this and do not like the Zionists ruling Israel, are for an independent Palestine, and want the Zionists to leave Lebanon.

dalestreet said...

For over two decades, by both Liberal and Conservative Governments, Canada has been pushed toward integration with the United States, culturally, economically and militarily

I think that the new Conservatives are just continuing this agenda, in the area of foreign policy. They just happen to be more obviously sycophantic than their predecessors.

Steve V said...

dale

I don't think you can lump the Conservatives and Liberals together on this score, simply as a matter of degree. You would never hear Bush say "Jean" or "Big Paul" :)

Susan said...

Well put. The answer to the question is obviously a resounding, no. We have lost face and prestige in the world. We have lost leverage in NAFTA. Our softwood industry is going to lose out and the oil industry is next. The word sycophant is a good one, lapdog, joe boy, lots come to mind to describe Harper's and therefore Canada's, new relationship to Bush and the US. Even Blair is more horrified by Israel's actions than Harper. And now we will have our fundamental privacy invaded when we use bio-identity techniques on our passports to please some parenoid morons to the south (and Mr. Day). We need to try as hard as we can to ensure another party wins the next election.

Steve V said...

susan

Agreed!

"the oil industry is next."

If you look at the frenetic pace of investment, Harper's bragging about "resource superpower" and Klein's endorsement of anything American, it makes you wonder if we aren't voluntarily losing control. I really think people may look back twenty years from now and see this period as a key loss for Canadian sovereignty. You don't get to jump off the train after it starts rolling. Where are the checks?

sheilabee said...

with types like harper and Klein where will our soverienty cost...Let's just keep on giving it away. harper does not have a hidden agenda...it is all above board that is what is scary. Not only to our relationship to the U.S. but what he has in mind for Canada...which he is determined to change from a strong central govt. to a weakened one. Read the signs. Already it was apparent in their first budget and just watch if they should get a majority. However, since Canadians are cautious about this Govt. they have not put them over the 40% for a majority even though the Liberals are without a leader so that is saying that Canadians are not willing to give them carte blanche. they are not further ahead from the days they were elected...still in the mid 30's. So there is hope for Canada.

Steve V said...

sheila

"harper does not have a hidden agenda...it is all above board that is what is scary."

It's all out in the open isn't it. We haven't reached critical mass yet, but all the signs show a clear path. The only side that remains largely shrouded is the social agenda, which needs a majority before it crawls out.

dalestreet said...

Yes Steve, you are correct. Chretien was more distant from Bush than he was to say... Bill Clinton and Bush and Harper are more ideologically similar.

Personal relationships aside, Canada's integration into the United States, has undeniably proceeded under the stewardship of both our main parties. The main differences have been in the optics. Our Liberal Governments have tended to grumble and gripe (for the domestic media) down the road to integration, while their counterparts have a tendency to smile and sing Irish ditties along the way.

In either case, integration appears to be the destination. What is needed now is someone who can objectively evaluate whether or not this is a journey Canada should continue to be making.

Sadly, perhaps the reality is that we are too afraid to be anything other than a client state. When Britannia cut the apron string to which we clung, it didn't really take us long to secure a firm grip on the trouser leg of Uncle Sam.

Steve V said...

dale

On the culturally front, Canada will always be vulnerable for obvious reasons. However, take the CBC as an example, the Liberals tend to support Canadian production, while the Tories clearly have little time for public broadcasting. The Liberals have adopted alot of programs to augment Canadian culture so on that score they have some credibility. On economic matters, the two parties seem to have the same approach, without dealing with consequence.

dalestreet said...

Steve

True the Liberals did increased parliamentary appropriations to the CBC from 2000 onwards. However, even with those increases over five years, the CBC's funding still hasn't recovered from the cuts the Liberals made in the late 90s, and is still below 1996 levels. I found the data below on the CBC website in their financial statements (1996-2005).

CBC Revenue - Gov't Funding - Parliamentary Appropriations

1996 - 963,229,000
1997 - 854,449,000
1998 - 759,654,000
1999 - 759,481,000
2000 - 764,715,000
2001 - 794,058,000
2002 - 840,404,000
2003 - 877,000,000
2004 - 873,000,000
2005 - 877,000,000

If this example is indicative, the Liberal track record of supporting Canadian culture may not be as great as they advertise.

Steve V said...

dale

Point taken. I wonder what the funding levels were for "cultural" enhancement, things like videofact, etc.

dalestreet said...

Steve

Yes I wonder as well. I believe that the feds tend to treat arts funding in a similar manner as they do amateur sport, with minimal, stable, year-after-year funding, suplemented by one-off short term injections of cash when elections loom. I suppose these one-off efforts must have some positive impact, but I would think that the stability of long-term funding would have a greater impact in developing and promoting Canadian culture at home and abroad.

BTW, VideoFACT and PromoFACT were set up by Moses Znaimer and are funded entirely by MuchMusic, MuchMoreMusic & MusiquePlus.

Steve V said...

"BTW, VideoFACT and PromoFACT were set up by Moses Znaimer and are funded entirely by MuchMusic, MuchMoreMusic & MusiquePlus."

I stand corrected :) Doesn't the government fund indie bands in some ways?

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