"To a world that thought Canada had fallen asleep, we served notice Canada's back," he told the cheering crowd of supporters.
Everytime I hear this bravado, I wonder how exactly Harper reaches the conclusion. Did the other G8 countries think we continually led the pack whilst sleeping? Isn't Harper the first to remind Canadians that it was the Liberals who made the "robust" commitment in Afghanistan? Was the world impressed when the Harper government dodged the international AIDS conference on its own turf? Were our European partners impressed by our embarrassing display at the Kyoto meetings? Were the Japanese impressed with our freelancing in the Korean peninsula? Are the Jordanians, Egyptians and Palestinians impressed with our diplomatic departure that involved some "evenhandedness"? Why is McKay dispatched to Beijing to smooth relationships that were soured as a result of our own bumbling actions?
The fact that Harper actually believes the "Canada's back" thesis is quite revealing. Harper thinks cozying up to the most unpopular American administration in history is evidence of relevance. Instead of acting as an independent nation, with its own set of values and priorities, Harper sees our role as American patsy as a sign of strength. Approval from Bush translates into status. The world doesn't think Canada is back, but more correctly, the neo-cons in America have found an ally. I would agree that, from the American administration perspective, Canada has served notice- the problem is whether this direction is reflective of Canadian opinion, the answer a resounding NO.
Harper is entirely delusional, in his belief that beefing up the military translates into influence. Canada is not a superpower, Canada is barely a middle power. Adding some troops and fancy hardware doesn't impress the neighborhood, it is really nothing more than egocentric masturbation. The Canadian military is making an important contibution, but no one should fool themselves into thinking we are a "force" on the world stage. Canada asserts the most influence on the world stage diplomatically, a fact which Harper doesn't grasp.
I hate to break it to Harper, but I don't think the world phone lines are buzzing with news of a Canadian resurgence. Eliminate Bush from the equation, and most of what I see is people shaking their heads confusingly. The bravado shows no relationship to reality.