Ottawa's Backward Anti-Americanism; Canadian Politicians Need to Grow Up

Article excerpt

Byline: Patrick Basham, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Peaceful and picturesque, Canada is proof that God exists. But Canadian politics proves that He also has a sense of humor. How else does one explain a campaign dominated by Paul Martin's calculated insults towards the United States, as simultaneously Stephen Harper seeks absolution for his fondness for America? In power for nearly 13 years, but perhaps five weeks from opposition status, the Liberals have pinned their hopes on nationalistic flag-waving. In a replay of the last election, Liberal fortunes will rest upon the party's ability to exploit anti-Americanism.

This sorry state of affairs is both politically sad and culturally tragic. On a political level, it reflects the Liberals' precarious position. Philosophically spent and ethically challenged, they are left to plummet the political depths with a perverse brand of statesmanship.

The party's only hope is to cast itself as Mother Canada, protecting her vulnerable and insecure children huddled for warmth along the American border. Which makes one wonder what ever happened to Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier's 1904 forecast that, "The 20th century shall be the century of Canada." Laurier must be turning over in his grave. A century later, his countrymen remain so culturally insecure and politically adolescent that they may once again fall prey to such crass politicking. Canadians need to grow up. And they need to do so quickly.

Canadians are perfectly entitled to disagree with President Bush on any issue, as increasing numbers of Americans are want to do. Legitimate complaints, such as those over softwood lumber, are one thing. But incessant finger-in-the-eye poking from Canada's political elite is not only patronizing but also clearly masochistic.

A foreign policy that plays exclusively to domestic ears does considerable, if not yet irreparable, harm to Canada-U.S. relations. The darts directed at Washington are morphing into a political boomerang threatening to damage Canada, herself.

Speaking earlier this year at the Washington-based Canada Institute, Carleton University's Michael Hart underscored the costs associated with America-baiting. According to Mr. Hart, Canada's preference for a multilateralist foreign policy is unrealistic because the urge to differentiate Canadian from American policy leads to policies that are at odds with Canada's national interest. …