Harper faces tough sell with Obama: SFU study

January 22, 2009

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper will have a tough job convincing U.S. president Barak Obama during his upcoming Ottawa visit not to pursue polices that negatively affect Canada.

That’s according to a recent study written by SFU political science professor Alexander Moens for the conservative Fraser Institute think tank, entitled Canada and Obama: Canada’s Stake in the 2008 U.S. Election.

"On all the key economic and bilateral issues between our two countries, including trade, energy, border management and defence, an Obama administration poses a major challenge to Canada’s immediate interests," says Moens, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. He argues that Harper should move quickly to establish warm relations with the liberal Democratic president. And he advises the prime minister to concentrate on three main issues:
  • Renew efforts to open bilateral, rather than trilateral (with Mexico), discussions on trade and border issues. Canadian steps toward more border staffing and deeper cooperation on homeland security could be a start, as well as joint projects on accelerated infrastructure such as bridges and roads.
  • Reconsider the decision to withdraw Canadian Forces from combat operations in Afghanistan in 2011 and find a common strategy with the U.S. on how to achieve long-term security and stability there, using both military and diplomatic means.
  • If the U.S. launches a cap-and-trade system on carbon emissions, Canada should lobby for a single Canadian-American approach. Such an accord must give special protection for the oil sands industry to give it time to move towards more steam-assisted gravity drainage, the use of nuclear power to generate steam, and carbon sequestering.

Despite Obama’s popularity here, Moens says Canadians remain leery of working closely with the U.S. and that might not change under an Obama administration.

"Canadians are almost evenly split on the operations in Afghanistan and they showed little support for the (2005 Security and Prosperity Partnership) initiative to deepen trade relations.

"Any Canadian government will face a tough challenge explaining why it is in Canada’s national interest to move towards closer trade integration and border efficiency, as well as to bring the integrated energy markets even closer."

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Arne Mooers

This article confused me: Given that well over 50% of Canadians vote(d) for a center-left government, why would a Democratic government in the US now pose "a major challenge to Canada's immediate interests"? I would have thought the contrary.

Perhaps Dr. Moen is equating Canada's interests with those of our current Prime Minister, or those of the Fraser Institute?


Great article.

Martin Warren

Arne Moores, the CPC is in no way a 'centre-left' party, and Obama appears to be working in the Democratic-Socialist tradition of FDR rather than the Clinton model, except with respect to foreign policy.

Speaking of which, I do not for a second believe that Peter MacKay would seriously countenance the specter of negotiations with Iran?

I do not see any CPC proposal to provide tax credits to students in exchange for community service, instead of grave-filling loans.

There is nothing in the CPC program about retrofitting and/or renovating government buildings, thereby creating employment, no. The CPC prefers to sell off their government buildings.

Fiscal policy? You've got to be joking. Obama did not pretend there was no problem with economics issues during his campaign. Harper, by contrast, glossed the whole thing over, and told Canadians about 'buying opportunities'.

Pay Equity? Gay rights? Abortion? Just check the record.

The list goes on and on and on...

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