Thursday, January 6, 2011

 

A CHARMED OFFENSIVE

"Go north, young man, go north," screams the header in the 'Washington Times' daily newspaper earlier in the week; extolling the virtues of America's neighbour to the north of the 49th parallel.

Granted the conservative leaning "Times" doesn't quite have the cachet of the venerable 'Washington Post'. But in Washington, the world's most influential city, one takes compliments and accolades where one can. I quote: "Now, instead of expanding Canada's welfare state, the Conservative government led by Mr. Harper is intent upon building the nation's global competitiveness...The last time Canadians really caught Americans' eyes was when prime ministers (sic) such as Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, both leaders of the Liberal Party, were proving uncooperative in the realm of foreign policy."

Game, Set, Match: The battle is engaged for the hearts and minds of Canadians for "Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Competitiveness" - The omnibus agreement negotiated between the Obama Administration and the Government of Canada which will be announced when Prime Minister Harper and President Obama meet before month's end.

There was a time (not so long ago) when Canadians prided over the line separating our country from the United States, which stretches 5,500 miles (8,900 Kilometers) as the world's "longest undefended border". Alas, since the attacks of September 11, 2001 our "thickening" border has suffered a decline of goods shipments from Canada to the United States from 87% of our national output, to 73% for the last full year of which figures were compiled: 2009. Exporters have been screaming at successive government's about how much more difficult it's become for people and goods to cross-on over the other side.

Though Mr. Harper's government seems to be purposely keeping opponents in the dark as long as possible about this alleged revised version of the failed Fortress North America perimeter agreement. Opponents believe it could harmonize immigration, customs and national security policies. Essentially making Canada adopt American policies in just about every matter related to continental security in order to expedite the flow of goods, services and travellers across our international border.

Conspiracy theorists will vouch that timing is almost too good to be accidental: Just this week thousands of Canadians lined-up for hours at the Buffalo, New York border crossings to be processed (passports in hand) to attend the World Junior Hockey Championship games, where they made up more than 80% of fans. And; eventually to witness Canada's dream team being humiliated by the Russians in the Gold Medal final. Dirty "Ruskies!" - Digressions aside: Won't that just about justify Harper's purchase of those F-35 stealth fighter airplanes from our American allies?

The stakes for Mr. Harper's political future are close to extreme. If he does not win a majority in the next election which is widely expected before the end of 2011. Then, pretty much everything for him will get worse, and despite his iron-clad grip on the Conservative Party, his caucus will likely opt to have him spend more time with his family and less being a leader; as was observed in the wake of this week's Cabinet "shufflette".

One suspects that it`s easy enough with the right spin to charm both Canadians and Americans. After all, in the United-States Canadian rockers "Arcade Fire," Hip-Hop artist "Drake" and teen heart-throb "Justin Beiber" already are at the very apex of the music charts. And, let`s not forget Canuck doughnut icon Tim Hortons Inc., which is the second fastest growing fast-food restaurant chain in the country. A nation which is so desperate for jobs in the aftermath of its endless recession that cheap restaurants in America have become a haven for the nation's economy battered job seekers. A country recently described by the 'Los Angeles Times' as a nation of hamburger flippers where the rate of poverty has risen to close to 15%; the highest level in more than 50 years...I digress (somewhat).

A couple of years back Mr. Harper`s government paid handsomely for two well connected U.S. media consultants, including former George W.Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, to secure the Prime Minister podiums on Fox News and CNN to shill government and party initiatives. This week`s presumed plant in `The Washington Times` is probably just more of the same...Fox News and CNN interviews will doubtless follow.

As for our Canadian hearts and minds: Toronto media outlets have confirmed that Mr. Harper`s own former spin-doctor, Communications Director Kory Teneycke, is returning from his embarrassingly forced sabbatical to take-over Quebecor`s ``Sun-TV News`` before it launches in early March.

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