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?