Remember Wikileaks and their treasure trove of United States Department of State documents? The mainstream media seems to have become rather bored with the daily releases and pays them little heed. Every so often, I check the latest releases and, in light of the recent election in Canada, I found this interesting one. Notice that it's classification is "CONFIDENTIAL/NOFORN" meaning that it is not to be seen by non-American eyes. The cable was created on January 4th, 2010 and was entitled "Canada; Top Five Policy Priorities in 2010".
Here are a few of the high points:
1.) Stephen Harper's main goal for 2010 was to remain in power, preferably without an election however, if need be, "...to force the weak opposition parties to bring on another election and bear the political consequences...". Then comes the fun part quoted here:
"The Conservatives will need to demonstrate slow by steady progress on the economy and to claim credit even when it is not necessarily due to them." (my bold)
I laughed out loud when I read that one! It is particularly humorous when taken in context with Canada's recent federal election where Mr. Harper continuously reminded Canadians that electing anyone but him (most particularly the dreaded "separatist coalition") would lead to financial catastrophe and fiscal ruin. Even the Americans seem to have our Prime Minister's tactics figured out.
2.) The Government’s carefully babysitting of Canada’s economy was a high point. Here are more quotes from the cable on that subject:
“The Conservatives have touted their careful pre- and post-recession stewardship of the economy as the main reason Canada was less battered by the global recession than their G-8 partners as well as other key economies. The jury is still somewhat out on whether long-standing monetary and fiscal policies were the main factors, or whether Canada's huge resource base and openness to international trade were not at least as much factors; our view is that both elements were part of the serendipitous mix. The Conservatives have in any event pretty much succeeded in convincing the public that they are more trustworthy on this issue than the Liberals would be (no one even bothers to contemplate what the NDP or Bloc might have done) - but they know they need to do more in 2010.” (my bold)
Yup, we're a pretty gullible lot when it comes to believing what our politicians tell us!
3.) Stephen Harper’s “somewhat grudging” appearance at the United Nations Summit on Climate Change at Copehagen did not go unnoticed by the Americans as noted here:
“PM Harper somewhat grudgingly went to Copenhagen for the UN Summit on climate change, but only after President Obama announced that he would attend. PM Harper's participation was virtually invisible to the Canadian public, and there was considerable negative coverage of his failure to play a more prominent role - or even to sit in on the President's key meetings with world leaders. Environment Minister Jim Prentice was sent out to do the media scrums and to insist that Canada was a helpful participant and would work closely with the U.S. on a continental strategy on climate change. Now he must come up with some proposals that make Canada not seem merely to be going slavishly along with whatever its American "big brother" decides to do - which will not be easy. At the same time, a substantial proportion of the Canadian public and industry (as in many resource-rich industrialized countries) are opposed to Harper taking a leading role and are even opposed to him following any likely leads set by the Obama Administration. In that respect, given Canada's role as a major petroleum and natural gas producer, he will have an even more difficult political balancing act than will the U.S. or the Europeans. No big, sexy initiatives are likely from the Conservatives, however. Luckily for the government, the Liberals also do not have any great ideas up their sleeves, having especially been burned in previous Liberal leader Stephane Dion's "carbon tax" campaign platform in 2008.” (my bold)
I like that - "no big sexy initiatives are likely from the Conservatives". How about rephrasing that to say that no climate change strategy initiatives are likely period?
4.) Lastly, the cable looks at Canada’s proposed pull-out from Afghanistan in 2011. Here’s the section:
“PM Harper has insisted over and over that, in according with the bipartisan March 2008 House of Commons motion extending Canada's military presence in Afghanistan only through 2011, the Canadian Forces will indeed pull out NLT December 2011, and planning is underway on how to do so. Diminishing public support for the mission, a sense that Canada had done more than its share, and unspoken relief that the U.S. surge will let Canada off the hook all argue against any Canadian political leader rethinking Canada's strategy, at least for now. Absent a federal election in which the Conservatives win an actual majority, a significant and positive change in the conditions on the ground in Afghanistan, and/or a formal U.S./NATO request for Canada to remain post-2011 in some military capacity, the likelihood at present is that Canada will withdraw on schedule, as gracefully as possible. The government has been deliberately vague on post-2011 plans, apart from pledging -- without specifics -- a robust "civilian, developmental, and humanitarian" role, and will have to come up with an ambitious plan sometime in 2010. Some Conservatives as well as defense officials and media commentaries have already begun to express concern that the Canadian military pullout will diminish whatever special attention and consideration Canada has received from the U.S. and NATO as a result of its sacrifices in Kandahar.” (my bold)
That sounds rather threatening to me. Canada pulls out and loses all of the good karma it has created for itself over the past 10 years just like that. Gone and forgotten.
Further to the section referring to a Canadian election:
“Winning a Parliamentary majority in a new federal election and/or significant changes on the ground in Afghanistan could arguably enable the Conservatives to change course.” (my bold)
Now that Stephen Harper has his majority, the Afghanistan file will be an interesting one to watch. Will he change his mind yet again?
I realize that most of this cable isn’t particularly newsy, but I always find it interesting to see how our neighbours to the south of the forty-ninth parallel regard Canada, particularly when they work for the United States Department of State.