I don't usually get caught up in the bashing of various news sources. The Toronto Star gets its share of grief from folks with a variety of levels with incoherent thought - leaving the brighter stuttering when they see the error of their ways. But this column/article/piece, for me, is worth a bit of finger pointery:
He brings to Canada his message that Barack Obama's desire to unilaterally renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement damages relations between steadfast allies and he will highlight the benefits of the trilateral deal in his speech Friday at an Ottawa hotel. The Conservative government in Ottawa and the Canadian Embassy in Washington are seeking as much cover as possible from the McCain visit, but the optics hurt Prime Minister Stephen Harper and everyone around him. Having the man most Canadians would see as the embodiment of the third George W. Bush term extolling your policies is no favour for the Conservative government.Most Canadians?!? First, I would think most Canadians really have no opinion on McCain and his position on Canadian policy. Most Canadians think BBQ is a chicken wiener on a hibachi. We like to talk up how much we know about the US but most Canadians are fairly ignorant generally of our neighbour's governance and specifically who John McCain is. Second, Canadians will gush because US breakfast TV shows may be broadcasting from Canada. Nothing excites Canucks as much as being noticed by US media. Canada could be on fire from coast-to-coast but, as long as there were US camera crews up here, there would be a silver lining. Third, Canada has done very well under trade agreements - as long as we didn't have an artificially inflated dollar primed by speculators pumping up the cost of a barrel of oil to the benefit of the few.
So why do the optics hurt - why would Harper hide? - well, you know other than he seems to always hide as a first tactic. Sure his policies are a bit anti-trade, ensuring the short term gains for commodity vendors are undermining the solid economic gains made for twenty years in the 80 cent dollar world. Even if you aren't conservative don't you like your conservatives standing up for themselves proudly?
Or maybe it's because McCain was an activist for funding reform and bipartisan cooperation. Maybe it's because McCain is the sort of politician who Canadians want - engaging and fiscally conservative but a bit of a red Tory in some areas social and libertarian in others. Maybe it's because McCain knows how to smile. Maybe because side-by-side Harper does not look as good to Canadians as his putative US right-wing counterpart.