"Tread Lightly with Bush, Observers Warn," by Paul Koring - The Globe and Mail (Toronto), 25 Jan 2006.
WASHINGTON -- Don't expect a rush to the Prairie Chapel ranch so Stephen Harper can join George W. Bush chainsawing the tangled underbrush fouling the Canada-U.S. relationship.
With only a fragile minority, the prime-minister-designate can't risk appearing too cozy with a U.S. president unpopular in Canada, according to analysts who watch the vexed cross-border relationship.
"My greatest surprise would be if there was a repeat of the Hyannisport or Quebec City love-ins," said Joseph Jockel, director of the Canadian Studies Program at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., referring to widely publicized meetings of American and Canadian leaders, one at John Kennedy's family summer home with Lester Pearson in 1963 and the other between Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney in 1985. At both, the leaders sought to proclaim an end to the nastiness that bedevilled their predecessors.
Even if there is no repeat of the Mulroney-Reagan When Irish Eyes Are Smiling duet or Mr. Pearson and Mr. Kennedy swapping baseball stories, the election of a right-of-centre government in Ottawa may end much of the snarling and snubbing that marked relations between successive Liberal governments and the Bush administration.
But there are risks of too much coziness, even for ideological fellow travellers. "Harper can't afford to be too chummy with Bush," said Christopher Sands, who directs the Canada Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "He knows he may face another election before Bush is gone" with the President's term ending in January of 2009 -- perhaps well beyond the life of Mr. Harper's minority government.
While official reaction in Washington was muted (State Department spokesman Sean McCormack was momentarily lost when asked whether there were parting words for Prime Minister Paul Martin), Canada watchers at U.S. think tanks and universities suggested they expected Mr. Harper to cautiously manage perceptions of his relationship with Mr. Bush.
"The Conservative government needs to be careful so it can stay in office," said David Biette, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. Still, he expects a marked improvement in Washington-Ottawa relations. "The tone is going to be way better," he said. Mr. Harper should be able to end the mistrust that has embittered relations. "But he is not going to be Bush's toady...He's capable of being firm with a no."...
For another, elections-related story, see:
"McKenna's Liberal Ties Make Job 'Virtually Impossible,'" by Alan Freeman - the Globe and Mail (Toronto), 26 Jan 2006. Other news reports lead with the assumption that Amb. McKenna is resigning his diplomatic post to seek the leadership of Canada's Liberal Party.
WASHINGTON -- Frank McKenna resigned as Canada's ambassador to the U.S. yesterday after only 11 months on the job, saying he feared his Liberal ties would hinder his effectiveness representing the new Conservative government.
"While I would have no difficulty working with you or your government, it would be virtually impossible to establish the appearance of total confidence and support in a jurisdiction where political ambassadorial appointees traditionally resign after an election," he wrote in a letter to prime-minister-designate Stephen Harper, dated on Tuesday.
The 58-year-old, who has yet to announce whether he will seek to replace Paul Martin as Liberal Leader, said he believes there is "enormous value" in having a political appointee serve as Washington ambassador because of "the ability to work intimately with the Canadian government."
"It is this perception of closeness that provides a strong platform for the Canadian ambassador to advance Canada's interest," he said.
He said he was submitting his resignation "in the best interest of our nation" and that he was willing to "serve until such time as a replacement is named, or I could depart more expeditiously if it is your wish."
The resignation was unusual in several ways, coming less than two days after the federal election.
First, Mr. McKenna addressed the missive to Mr. Stephen Harper, "prime-minister-elect," care of the Conservative Party of Canada's headquarters on Albert Street in Ottawa, rather than to the House of Commons where Mr. Harper serves as an MP.
And although the letter was dated Jan. 24 (Tuesday), the opening line refers to Mr. Harper's success in "today's election," leaving open the possibility that Mr. McKenna composed the letter on Monday evening as election results pointing to a Tory win were streaming in on TV.
Mr. McKenna goes on to laud Mr. Harper for receiving "a very significant vote of confidence from the Canadian people," when in fact the Tory win was a pretty slim affair....
Mr. McKenna has been a popular figure at the embassy, combining a deft political hand with a lawyer's quick grasp of issues. Unlike previous ambassadors who often suffered from lack of access to decision-makers in Ottawa, Mr. McKenna could easily pick up the phone and call Mr. Martin....
For an interesting previous news story involving Amb. McKenna and Canada's public diplomacy, see Canada's US Ambassador Rallies Fellow Citizens Against Fox News.
For background on US-Canadian relations, see Canadians Want a PM Who Can Handle Washington and US-Canadian Tensions Reflected in Public Attitudes.
Added the evening of 26 Jan 2006:
"New Canadian PM Rebuffs US Envoy" - BBC News, 26 Jan 2006
Canadian Prime Minister-elect Stephen Harper has defended plans to send military ice-breakers to the Arctic in defiance of criticism from Washington.
US ambassador David Wilkins said on Wednesday that Washington opposed the plan and, like most other countries, did not recognise Canada's claims.
Mr Harper said his mandate was from the Canadian people, not Mr Wilkins.
Mr Harper's Conservatives have promised to defend Canada's northern waters from claims by the US, Russia and Denmark....
The BBC's Lee Carter in Toronto says Canada has only recently woken up to the fact that, with global warming being blamed for melting ice in the Arctic, the so-far-mythical northwest passage, which could link the Atlantic and the Pacific, may in fact become a reality.
But the US has challenged Canada's claims, saying that it considers much of the region to be international waters.
Ambassador Wilkins described the Canadian position as creating a problem that did not exist, prompting an angry reaction from Mr Harper.
"The United States defends its sovereignty, the Canadian government will defend our sovereignty," he said.
"It is the Canadian people we get our mandate from, not the ambassador of the United States."
Mr Harper had criticised election opponents for attacking the US in a bid to win votes.
Added 27 Jan 2006 -- imagine how Americans would respond to similar comments from a foreign political activist about US elections and domestic political issues:
"Canadians Too 'Hedonistic' to Change Politics Overnight: US Commentator" - the Canadian Press (Toronto), 27 Jan 2006
Canadians are far too "liberal and hedonistic" to change their politics overnight despite their election of Stephen Harper's Tory government, says a far-right-wing American commentator.
Paul Weyrich examines the result of Monday's election in an essay posted to the website of the Free Congress Foundation, the Washinton-based think tank that he heads. "The people of Canada have become so liberal and hedonistic that the public ethic in the country immediately could not reversed," Weyrich writes.
But shift is possible.
"It will take time. But with leadership it well may be possible to change the public ethic."
Weyrich popped up in Canadian media reports last week for supporting an e-mail to U.S. conservatives advising them not to talk to journalists for fear of scaring Canadian voters and hurting Harper's chances.
Weyrich's essay quotes someone he calls a Canadian Conservative who had worked hard to win.
"My pessimistic friend said that inasmuch as Harper's is a minority government, Harper could do almost nothing to encourage the country to adopt a more reasonable view of the United States and to correct some premises of cultural Marxism, which Canadians have espoused, such as same-sex marriage and abortion-on-demand," Weyrich writes.
He says Harper may have a chance of repealing legal same-sex marriage in Canada's current political climate, but he would have to bide his time to build support to ban abortion.
Weyrich says one route to a small-c conservative victory on such issues would be to slowly appoint more conservative members to Canada's courts.
"As has been the case in the United States, cultural Marxism largely has been foisted upon Canada by the courts," he writes. "If judges who respect the Constitution were to be appointed, they would confirm that such rights are not to be found in that document."