22 and 44


The thing I dislike the most about Stephen Harper is that he seems...inauthentic. Well, that and disingenuous. Also, opportunistic in a way that would make even most hardened politicians blush. But at the end of the day, it's "inauthentic" that stands out for me. I've been known to yell at headlines, the television or anyone who will listen "He's from Leaside. LEASIDE!!!" For those of you not in the know, Leaside is an upper-middle class neighbourhood in Toronto which is home to tree lined streets, beautiful single family homes and some wonderful shopping and dining. It's also where the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada was born and raised. So no, he's not a cowboy. He just panders to them.

But you weren't fooled were you?

Never let it be said though, that Harper doesn't learn from his mistakes. He looks a lot better two year after "Leathervestgate"

Kind of like he did today when he threw his old compadre George W Bush under the bus.

Harper and W have had a lot in common as heads of state. They're both ultra-conservative populists who allow their religious views to influence public policy. They have both gone to great lengths to alienate large portions of the citizenry. Things got so bad there for a while, last year when Harper appointed Preston Manning, a creationist and member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, to his scientific advisory board I thought to myself, "hey, at least we still have a scientific advisory board". Harper took tactics directly out of the Rove play book over and over and shamelessly sucked up to Bush publicly (and no doubt, privately). But today, at the joint press conference, he shot him in the back.

“Canada has had great difficulty developing an effective regulatory regime alone … It’s very hard to have a tough regulatory system here when we are competing with an unregulated economy south of the border…. I’m quite optimistic that we now have a partner on the North American continent that will provide leadership to the world on the climate change issue and I think that’s an important development…”

Riiiiiight. Because you, Stephen Harper, are a champion for the environment. You've just been waiting for some support. Someone to work on this with you. Of course!

What is going on here?! Is our Prime Minister ZELIG?

We really shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth though. If Harper is going to continue to do his best to ingratiate himself to the new POTUS and compromise on policy matters at home in order to keep his tattered minority government in power it can only mean good things for Canada. A weakened Harper equals a stronger country. It's that simple.

On a superficial level it gave me a little thrill to see the footage of Barack in Ottawa, talking about our relationship and how much he likes it here. I feel a little foolish too, like the unpopular girl at school who gets a quick hello from the captain of the football team. But I'm holding on to that thrill. I get the feeling Barack is the kind of person who can see past Stephen Harper's flaws and his awkwardness and that maybe they will have a good working relationship. He's the kind of guy who makes everyone around him better.

I'm relieved too that he got a little culture while he was here (yes, I consider Beaver Tails to be part of our culture) and that he ended up with a full thirty minute meeting with Michael Ignatieff, leader of the opposition, as per tradition. The jury might still be out on how Ignatieff will do in the court of public opinion, if he has the stuff to run and win a campaign and if that would even be what is right for our country but you cannot argue that he's a smart guy. I love the idea of the two Harvard men exchanges economic ideas, listening to and learning from each other. And when Barack told Ignatieff that he's read a couple of his books, well, I bet Ignatieff felt kind of like that nerdy girl in the hallway too.

Is the 44th President of the United States twice the man that the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada is? I hate to make that kind of judgement call, and I'd love for Stephen Harper to prove my gut instinct wrong on this one. At least until his government topples.

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