Thursday, May 18, 2006

Undue credit

Tim Harper credits "Ottawa" (in a headline) and "Canada" (in the article) with two major advances in the fight to keep the U.S. border as open as possible for as long as possible. But there's no indication what the Harper government (which would naturally be the largest beneficiary of giving credit to either "Ottawa" or "Canada") had to do with either of the positive steps.

The first change mentioned is the U.S. Senate's vote to extend the current legislative deadline for a passport scheme. And I'd be more than willing to give credit to the extent that Canada's representatives influenced that vote. But as I pointed out yesterday, there's no indication that Canada's ambassador to the U.S. had a clue what was going on - making it look very likely that the vote was a result of internal U.S. decisions, not any substantial Canadian influence.

Then there's the plan for a major summit to discuss border issues. But who's the driving force behind that?
(The summit) will take place on May 31, at the end of the Western premiers' gathering and will see most of Canada's top political leaders converging on Gimli...

Premier Gary Doer, host of this year's premiers' meeting, has expanded the invitation list, his aides say, because recent controversies over softwood lumber and the passport issue have convinced him that premiers and governors have to be part of Canada-U.S. discussions, too.
Note that Doer's strategy of bringing a wide range of friendly stakeholders to the table is one that Harper deliberately rejected when it came to softwood lumber. As a result, there isn't even a plausible argument to the effect that the summit reflects Harper's general means of solving problems.

In sum, the Star's article seems to have gone out its way to give implicit credit to one of the few parties which hasn't noticeably contributed to any of the good results. And while the larger issue is obviously that of whether or not the progress continues, it surely can't help the cause for the media to be lavishing praise on the Con government for its lack of action.

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