Which is why I'm surprised that Stephen Harper has seen fit to respond to Liberal claims that the Tory campaign is getting too much help from the American right by denying them in the Washington Times :
Patrick Basham of the Cato Institute calls me "pro-free trade, pro-Iraq war, anti-Kyoto, and socially conservative" ("Gift from Canada?" Commentary, Dec. 2). While I certainly consider myself to be a friend of the United States, I am afraid this greatly oversimplifies my positions.
For the record: While, unlike the current Liberal government, I have always supported free trade, there is a deep concern in Canada about the commitment of the current U.S. administration and Congress to free trade. The United States is withholding some $5 billion in duties held from Canadian softwood lumber producers, despite the fact that a NAFTA panel has ruled that these duties are illegal.
In a recent speech, I stated that Canada must determine "the willingness of the United States to strengthen the dispute resolution mechanism and to subordinate domestic political pressures to a shared system of rules" and that "if this is not a direction in which the United States wishes to go, then Canada will have to make other long-term choices in its economic infrastructure," including expanded trade relationships with Asian countries such as India, Japan, and China.
On Iraq, while I support the removal of Saddam Hussein and applaud the efforts to establish democracy and freedom in Iraq, I would not commit Canadian troops to that country. I must admit great disappointment at the failure to substantiate pre-war intelligence information regarding Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction.
While I think that the Kyoto Treaty is deeply flawed, I support developing a plan, in coordination with the United States and other countries, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by developing new technologies and energy conservation.
And while I have promised a free vote in Canada's parliament to reconsider the recent change of law to allow same-sex marriages in Canada, and will vote myself for a return to the traditional definition of marriage, I have said any changes must protect the existing status of same-sex couples who have been legally married. As well, a new Conservative government will not initiate or support any effort to pass legislation restricting abortion in Canada.
Despite my differences on many issues with some American conservative politicians, I look forward to a cooperative, constructive relationship with the United States as our principal trading partner and ally under a new Conservative government.
Unfortunately for Mr. Harper, this letter is factually correct, but the optics are all wrong. He should be standing up for Canada in the Canadian press, not in the American papers.