Ian Brodie was probably exhausted. “Budget day” was winding down and prime minister Stephen Harper’s chief staffer had spent weeks negotiating a deal that would stave off an election challenge from the Liberal opposition. Now he was standing around chatting with reporters from CTV who were enjoying a rare bit of face time with the normally inaccessible Mr. Brodie. These were the circumstances in which an off the cuff remark would create an international crisis.
One of the reporters asked Brodie about the anti-NAFTA rhetoric emanating from the Democratic primary campaign. Naturally this was of great interest to Canadians as the US is their single biggest trading partner. This, according to the Canadian Press, is how one of the reporters present described Mr. Brodie’s response:
“He said someone from Clinton’s campaign is telling the embassy to take it with a grain of salt … That someone called us and told us not to worry.”
It was a devastating blunder. When it got out that Hillary Clinton was telling Ohio voters one thing, and the Canadian embassy something else, it would be politically damaging for her campaign. But the fact that this information emerged from the Canadian embassy, albeit indirectly, violated the most fundamental canons of diplomatic confidentiality.
It’s an interesting piece, with twisting and turning ends that could only be the result of international diplomacy. This opening leads into a story that involves Harper and co. using this gaffe to their advantage, covering up the slip-up by turning the story head-over-heels right smack into Obama’s trail. As some Diggers are commenting, it’s this kind of story that makes the general population steer clear of political news.
Still, the story has some merit, and certainly makes for a juicy conspiracy theory for both countries, since it directly affects the election campaigns, and involves a Prime Minister who beat down his opposition over the fact that they were corrupt. To find any actual evidence that the PM and his men were directly trying to harm Obama’s campaign would be huge, albeit nigh impossible, the way Harper keeps his posse’s mouths shut.
I find it endlessly amusing that the whole story is based on the premise that it’s benefitial to Canada to have NAFTA still in place, though. It may be and probably is a sound assumption on the part of the author that Harper wants NAFTA to remain, but in that case it’s a misstep by Harper, by me. NAFTA has restricted us in trading with other countries, like China, and the US endlessly throws around their weight to convince Canadians that they should be compensating for losses to US industries, without compensating in the same manner themselves. To sell our resourced to the higher bidder may be less moral — probably along the lines of what Harper is thinking — but it would make more economic sense.
Still, if we accept that Harper wishes ties to the US to remain close, we can figure NAFTA is key to this, and he would want Clinton to win. It’ll probably be in vain, since Obama’s holding strong, but we’ll see if this factors in later on!