I've been watching the media coverage yesterday and today of Stephen Harper's Captain Canada routine over Arctic sovereignty and while it rang false immediately, I think I've finally got it completely figured out.
The final piece actually came into place today over a finger-licking good KFC lunch, reading the Mop & Pail's fact check on the issue. Read its the last three paragraphs and you'll see what I mean.
I think it likely began with President Bush's congratulatory call to Harper, which probably went something like this:
GWB: Hey way to go Harpie! I'm smiling, eh! Ha Ha Ha. But why the minority, H-Dog?
SH: Well sir, it was looking good for us. Canadians really do want change. I think however they still had some---
GWB: Those nasty Liberal ads sayin' u was my crony freaked them, huh?
SH: I'm afraid so sir. I think we're going to have to walk a delicate line—
GWB: When you comin' down to the ranchero H-dog?
SH: Actually sir, I think it would be helpful it we could do something that would let me show my independence, show that I'm my own man, but not something that would upset you too much of course.
GWB: I think I see what you're sayin' dog. Talk to my man Wilkie Wilkerson and work something out.
So, here's how it went down. Ambassador Wilkins, who has managed to keep quiet since the early days of the campaign, suddenly opines on one of Harper's pet issues, saying the U.S. does not recognize Canada's Arctic claim. Nothing new, but a
red blue flag for Harper since it was one of his campaign issues.
And the timing is perfect for Harper to lay the smack down on Wilkins during his inaugural press conference as PM-in-waiting. When the media don’t bring up Wilkins' comments during the Q&A Harper brings it up himself:
"We believe we have the mandate for those from the Canadian people and we hope to have it as well from the House of Commons, but it is the Canadian people we get our mandate from, not the ambassador from the United States."
It sounds eerily similar to Paul Martin's comments when Wilkins rebuked Liberal environmental policy in December, doesn't it?
Why it's a win for Harper: Two reasons. The first, on day one he gets to show he's not Dubaya's man or a lackey of the U.S., but a strong defender of Canada. Second, it increases support for his Arctic sovereignty policy. Armed icebreakers at the North Pole sounds a bit loony, but standing up to the U.S.? Now we're talking. Remember, most Canadians are leery of the Bush Administration. So, if it pisses off Bush it can't be that bad an idea, right?
Why it's a win for the U.S.: At first I thought the win was just helping out their buddy H-Dog, and maybe a quid pro pro down the road. But the G&M fact check put the final piece in place. The U.S. wants to negotiate here; their primary concern is security. They just want the area secured. They'll do it if we won't, but if we do it that's even better as I hear their military is stretched a bit thin these days. So, by increasing support for Harper's Arctic sovereignty policy the long-term security goals of the U.S. are advanced.
So, there you go. It's a win for everyone. And smart politics.
And not to worry. Dubaya is still smiling, eh?