Oh, Canada! Oh, delicious!

Stephen Harper, the newly-elected Conservative prime minister of Canada,
is huffing and puffing about Canada asserting its sovereignity over the arctic
waters of the Nortwest Passage. “The United States defends its sovereignty;
the Canadian government will defend our sovereignty,” said Harper at the
end of a news conference, promising to deploy naval icebreakers into the
disputed waters.

The resulting brouhaha is hilarious on so many different levels
it’s hard to know where to start.

But let’s just start by considering all the
wisecracks about the Canadian military to have been made already,
shall we? True, they’re about as intimidating as three troops of Girl
Scouts nowadays, but it’s not really fair to harsh on them; they were
a tough, professional service before po-mo leftism in the Canadian
elite made it national policy that the military could never be more
than a joke.

What’s much funnier is that the U.S. mainstream media sees Harper’s
maneuver as an I’m-not-your-poodle message to George Bush. There’s
some justification for this; Harper is doubtless playing that card to
stroke Canadian Liberal voters, who indeed do tend to hate Bush almost
as intensely and irrationally as the U.S. press does.

But really! Over a bunch of ice floes on the sub-zero ass-end of
nowhere? Harper, an ex-libertarian, isn’t that stupid. Anybody who
can’t hear the wink-wink-nudge-nudge in Harper’s parody of territorial
posturing is tone-deaf.

Harper is doing something much deeper and funnier here. He’s
catching the Left in a trap. If they want to join him in
his anti-Bush polemic, they’re going to have to stand behind the
principles of — national sovereignity?
Patriotism? Rendered idiots by their hatred, many of them
will probably take the bait — not anticipating that their own
rhetoric is going to come back around to hammer them flat sometime
when there’s a serious issue on the table.

Harper is such a clever bastard that he’s setting this trap right
in front of their faces and daring them to notice. Read that quote

“The United States defends its sovereignty; the Canadian government
will defend our sovereignty.”

By invoking Canadian national sovereignity, and justifying it on
the direct analogy with the U.S.’s right to act as a sovereign
, Harper just kicked transnational
in the nuts. But by making it look like an
anti-American, anti-Bush move, he has made it almost impossible for
anyone in the Liberal Party to argue with the anti-tranzi terms in
which he has framed the issue – because arguing would look
like rolling over to the Americans!

It’s beautiful, I tell you. Beautiful. The most adroit political
mindfuck I’ve seen in years. My respect for Harper just shot up about


  1. Oh, don’t discount a bit of strategy with those tactics.
    Such stirring words are the stuff of diplomacy, and fat defense budgets.
    If there is oil in Alaska, why not amidst those islands? Could well be a loony or five lurking thereabouts.
    I agree, though: Otto von Bismarck would’ve applauded.

  2. Maybe this is the first step in Canada once again acting like a nation of North America, instead of like the latter-day Warsaw Pact state they have been for the past few decades.
    But I’ll only really believe it when they repeal a bunch of their stupid gun laws.

  3. When another country (Denmark) starts putting its flag on your land, at what point do you stop them? If even your best friend trespasses to the point where he’s creating a legal right-of-way, don’t you stop him? I agree that the setup plays out politically just as ESR says but Canada also has a real problem that has to get resolved otherwise bits and pieces of its territory will be claimed by others. Once success is obtained, why stop?

  4. It’s a miracle Harper is going to be our PM: his party has no sits from Toronto, and almost none from Vancouver and Montreal, we (who voted for his party) pray he finds a balance so those reds don’t come back soon.
    Speaking of that, U.S. ambassador could be a little bit smarter not framing Harper with that “remember-who-is-your-boss” remark. Americans have a reputation on ignorants here and their official representative just demostrated it very well.

  5. It is best to remember that the Conservatives did not win the the election as much as the Liberals lost it. As long as the social conservatives have a significant voice in the party, they will not be able to make significant gains in the urban regions.
    On the other hand, the Liberals have no qualified candidates for leader so things will probably remain static for a while.
    It some respects this is the best outcome, the consevatives will be forced towards the centre on social issues while remaining somewhat conservative on fiscal issues. This is also my personal position, “red tory” if you will.

    With respect to Mr. Eaton and “when they repeal a bunch of their stupid gun laws.”.
    And which gun laws are those? The only firearm legislation in recent years was the creation of the firearms registry. This is not a control issue as such but a bone headed attempt to make us urban voters feel more secure by solving a problem we don’t have. For Americans who may not beaware of how criminal law works in Canada, the crimanal code in Canada is Federal responsibilty as opposed a State issue in the States. However, for the most part enforcement is left to the provinces. No province up to now has said they will implement it. It was already dead.

    Handguns have been restricted since the 20’s. I can live quite comfortably with current restrictions, we don’t need more and in at least on case I would loosen them. On the other hand, on a per capita basis, there are probably more guns in Canada than in the States. We have lots of guns.

    Canada has not shifted much to the right, we are probably heading straight to the centre.

  6. With respect to Mr. Grunsky, “only a firearms registry” ?
    That registry law made it one whole heck of a lot more difficult for me to go hunting in Canada.
    I also recall that the law deeply angered some Native Canadians. One quote I recall being, “We never said you could make laws for us.”
    It should also be noted that in the context of firearm ownership, registration is an absolute synonym of confiscation. Confiscation is confiscation now, registration is confiscation later.
    In the matter of the reference to the handgun laws dating back to the 1920s… And your point is? Just because a law is old, does not mean that it is either just or even a good idea.
    The general tone of your comment to me mostly just reminds me that Canadians are not, as some would have it, “Americans with health insurance.” At least some Canadians, certainly you as judging from your comment, seems to think that an oppressed condition is something to be proud of.

  7. Well frist off canada better do something in the artic , just about every other country is. They say that there may be as much oil in tha artic as in albeta, not to mention that fact that because of global warming the north is opening up and shipping lanes are open durring longer periods of time. if canada isnt careful we can end up losing what we dont have , we may say that the water ways in the artic are ours but if we cant back it than were just wasting our breath . So if we as canadians dont care about losing thing like oil, gold, diamonds, minerals, unique animal life i say keep doing what were doing and lest let everyone STOMP all over us !

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