Obama Jilting Canada, Plunging Relations to New Low, Says U.S. Policy Journal

By Blanchfield, Mike | The Canadian Press, June 25, 2012 | Go to article overview

Obama Jilting Canada, Plunging Relations to New Low, Says U.S. Policy Journal


Blanchfield, Mike, The Canadian Press


Obama jilting Canada, says U.S. journal

--

OTTAWA - Is Barack Obama squandering Canada's love?

The answer is a resounding yes, according to an essay in a leading U.S. foreign policy journal.

"How Obama Lost Canada," is the headline in the online edition of Foreign Affairs, published by the influential Washington think tank, The Council On Foreign Relations.

The article cites a litany of wrongs that its authors pin on the current U.S. president, including the delay in the Keystone XL pipeline, protectionist Buy American provisions, even disrespect for Canadian military contributions in Libya and Afghanistan.

As a result, the U.S. has jilted Canada, leaving relations at "their lowest point in decades."

The article is by Derek Burney, a former Canadian diplomatic heavyweight and one-time ambassador to the U.S., and Fen Hampson, a Carleton University foreign policy expert.

Theirs is not the first analysis to note this pattern. But its publication in a respected U.S. policy journal months before the presidential election offers a ready-made slogan for further Republican attacks on Obama's leadership during an economic downturn. Canada and the U.S. are each other's top trading partners.

Obama's decision to delay the Keystone decision until 2013 -- after the election and following intense lobbying by environmentalists -- was a point of attack for Republicans during their protracted primaries.

But Burney and Hampson cite that as only the latest in long series of blunders, not all of them economic.

The article offers a sobering counterpoint to the polls that consistently show Obama to be more popular in Canada than his own country, not to mention his outburst of "I love this country" when he first visited Ottawa a month after his 2009 inauguration.

"Whether on trade, the environment, or Canada's shared contribution in places such as Afghanistan, time and again the United States has jilted its northern neighbour," the essay says.

"If the pattern of neglect continues, Ottawa will get less interested in co-operating with Washington."

The article notes how Prime Minister Stephen Harper has declared it an economic imperative to bolster trade with China, India, South Korea and other Asian countries. It highlights Harper's pledge -- while in China -- to "sell our energy to people who want to buy our energy."

Harper spoke after the delay of the Keystone pipeline project, which would have carried crude from the Alberta oilsands to U.S. refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

Two-way trade between Canada and the U.S. totalled $681 billion last year, and supports eight million U.S. jobs.

"Yet the Obama administration has recently jeopardized this relationship," the essay says, through the Buy American provision in its stimulus bill that prevented Canadian companies from bidding on infrastructure projects in the U. …

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