US ambassador to Canada, David H. Wilkins apparently had a big impact with his recent speech in Ottawa.  Perhaps more than he bargained for.

NYT link

“Just think about this,” Mr. Wilkins, a former Republican legislator in South Carolina who is new to diplomacy, told his Ottawa audience. “What if one of your best friends criticized you directly and indirectly almost relentlessly? What if that friend’s agenda was to highlight your perceived flaws while avoiding mentioning your successes?  What if that friend demanded respect but offered little in return?

He warned of a “slippery slope” in relations if the criticisms continued leading up to the Jan. 23 vote.

Of course this is part of the ongoing saga that are the deteriorating relations between the US and Canada.  This has been highlighted by Canada’s decision against the North American missile defense system, the opting out of the Kyoto accords by the US and the American refusal to recognize the decision on a lumber tariff in favor of Canada.  Some viewed the speech as intervention in Canada’s internal affairs.

Accordingly, Prime Minister Paul Martin has made efforts to keep the feud visible in view of upcoming elections.

The American ambassador’s comments came shortly after Mr.Martin admonished the United States for ignoring the “global conscience” on global warming at a United Nations climate change conference in Montreal earlier this month and staged a photo opportunity with former President Bill Clinton, who is still popular in Canada and has taken Canada’s side in a number of issues. …

The day after Mr. Wilkins’s remarks, Mr. Martin made an appearance at a lumberyard in British Columbia for a handy backdrop to escalate the ruckus.

I am not going to be dictated to as to the subjects that I should raise,” the normally subdued prime minister said. “I will make sure that Canada speaks with an independent voice now, tomorrow and always.”

And both the Prime Minister and his party have benefitted from these activities.

But a recent poll published in The Globe and Mail showed that 61 percent of Canadians agreed that Mr. Martin had a responsibility to criticize the American government even during a political campaign.

But still many disagree.  Some would even go so far as to utilize comparisons to what was once called must-see TV.


Richard Gwyn, a Toronto Star columnist, wrote that Mr.Martin’s strategy of using the United States as an issue “has given shape and purpose to a Liberal campaign that until now has been like a ‘Seinfeld’ episode – a campaign about nothing.”


Festivus, anyone?

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