Monday, August 29, 2005

Early Recall

The softwood lumber tariff dispute might bring Parliament back in session early to debate the matter.

Debate the matter, that is, but not actually do anything about it.

Paul Martin needs a campaign issue to rally people round the Liberals once more for its rightful majority, and there's nothing like a little Yankee-bashing to do it.

The Liberals can't re-run the 2004 election strategy of demonizing the unknown Stephen Harper and his equally unknown Conservative Party as the harbingers of a radical right-wing hidden agenda. The moderate centre-right agenda is out in the open and Stephen Harper is now a known quantity, respected, though not loved, by Canadians as a whole.

So they're going to re-run the 1988 election by playing on groundless 200-year old fears of an American takeover because of free trade, and cast the Tories as puppets of Uncle Sam.

But this is not 1988. Both major parties support free trade and NAFTA, at least in principle. Both oppose the Americans' refusal to honour the NAFTA ruling and continue imposing punitive duties on softwood lumber.

However, the basest of anti-American hatred has moved from the periphery to the centre of the Liberal Party and its core constituencies. Softwood lumber will just be one line in the litany of complaints against the United States.

The Liberals are not running against the Conservatives; they're running against the United States.

Source: Globe and Mail

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