Friday, January 27, 2006

That sure didn't last very long.

Just the other day, Conservatives in America were crowing about the election results in Canada, where Canadian Conservative Stephen Harper defeated the Liberal government of Paul Martin. Of course, as I predicted would happen before the Canadian election and observed did happen just after it, Conservatives have completely misread the results, supposing that Canada was suddenly moving to the right rather than cleaning house on a corrupt government that had outlived its welcome.

They will probably begin taking a more realistic view of Canada's government now, however. Mr. Harper's first remarks directed at the United States were rather frosty indeed, as he rebutted the U.S. ambassador for remarks he made about Canadian plans to enforce their claims to Arctic waters-- ironically in the context of what wouldn't even be controversial except for the reality of global warming.

Canadian Prime Minister-elect Stephen Harper has defended plans to send military ice-breakers to the Arctic in defiance of criticism from Washington.

US ambassador David Wilkins said on Wednesday that Washington opposed the plan and, like most other countries, did not recognise Canada's claims.

Mr Harper said his mandate was from the Canadian people, not Mr Wilkins.

Mr Harper's Conservatives have promised to defend Canada's northern waters from claims by the US, Russia and Denmark.

There is much more than just a disagreement about icebreakers here though.

The BBC's Lee Carter in Toronto says Canada has only recently woken up to the fact that, with global warming being blamed for melting ice in the Arctic, the so-far-mythical northwest passage, which could link the Atlantic and the Pacific, may in fact become a reality.

The US and Canada, together with Denmark, Norway and Russia, have competing claims on parts of the Arctic and the economic bounty they may yield, including trade routes, fishing rights, and oil and gas.

The US has challenged Canada's current claims, saying that it considers much of the region to be international waters.

Ambassador Wilkins described the Canadian position as creating a problem that did not exist, prompting an angry reaction from Mr Harper.

In fact, if anyone needs any more proof that global warming exists, just follow the money. A number of corporations have already invested in it, improving port facilities along the Norwegian and Russian Arctic coasts, and the OMNITrax corporation has made a similar investment in improving port facilities and railway access in the small Hudson Bay port of Churchill, Manitoba, in anticipation of a 21st century shipping route opening up between North America and Asia (the fabled, 'northwest passage' which many a mariner died looking for.)

So, not suprisingly, Harper responded with this statement to what he perceived as Mr. Wilkins' interference:

"It is the Canadian people we get our mandate from, not the ambassador of the United States."

I guess the honeymoon is over.

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