Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Elephant in the Room

Over at Americablog:

Hope to see you soon in Iraq. The weather is warm. Wish you were here. And if you elect a conservative pro-Bush government next month, you very likely will be.

Signed, George
See title. The biggest understated fear that Canadians have is that the Conservatives will, in the interests of good relations with the United States, send Canadian troops to Iraq (or Iran, or wherever else the United States goes next.) Canadians are very aware that they came very close to being involved in the last war. They're aware Canada stayed out due to stridently anti-war public opinion- along with Chretien's willingness to support that opinion in the face of pressure by Americans, Canadian pro-Bush conservatives and those Canadian elites that don't give a damn about anything but access to the American market.

They have good reason to believe this. Conservative leader Stephen Harper (along with former leader Stockwell Day) are not only stridently pro-American, but went to the extent of criticizing Chretien's decision in the Wall Street Journal and claiming that Chretien's views were not in line with Canadian views on Fox News. Whether this may have been true at the time (it wasn't), it certainly doesn't cut him any slack now.

And therein lies the problem: for better or worse, the Conservatives are seen as Republicans without the drawl. Canadians who would have voted for Republicans would vote for the Conservatives, but those who would never vote for Republicans and dislike (or actively loathe) George W. Bush are going to be a tough sell, even with the Liberal party so transparently vulnerable.

The only way that Harper will be able to break through this is if he has his own "Sistah Soulja" moment with Bush. He needs to hammer George W. Bush hard, and disassociate himself with the Republicans as drastically as possible in both words and deeds. Yes, that will probably tick off Republicans and probably Republican-sympathetic voters, but he's got their vote anyway, and Harper must ensure that Canadians don't associate him with George and his ruinous war.

Absent that, no matter how weak the Liberals are, there is no possibility that Harper will govern Canada.

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