What gifts will Harper bring Bush this time?

By MAUDE BARLOW, TheStar.com, July 6, 2006

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On President George Bush's 60th birthday, he will be visited by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Having watched our government go to great lengths to please Bush, Canadians can't help but wonder what treats Harper has planned for the president this time.

If the Liberal government maintained a marginal distance from the U.S. by signing onto the Kyoto Protocol, refusing to participate in the Iraq war etc., Harper made it a point early on to show the Bush administration a much friendlier Canada. In his throne speech, Harper said he considered the U.S. to be "Canada's best friend." Then he went on to prove his friendship.

The Harper government promptly scrapped Kyoto and pledged its support to the war on terror by extending Canada's mission in Afghanistan....

On trade, Harper has allowed the U.S. to disregard the NAFTA ruling on softwood lumber in Canada's favour to work out a deal that better suits the U.S....

For the Bush administration, working to spread its neo-con agenda throughout the continent, the Security and Prosperity Partnership is the icing on the cake. It was the Liberal government which first signed onto the deal to harmonize Canadian policies with those of the U.S. in order to facilitate trade. But Harper has eagerly taken the neo-conservative plan one step further. Along with his American and Mexican counterparts, he launched the North American Competitiveness Council to formalize the powers of the business elite.

This latest development clearly puts business leaders in the driver's seat and gives them the green light to press forward for a North American model for business security and prosperity. While Mexico and Canada have 10 representatives at the NACC each, the U.S. has 15.

In Harper, Bush has a best friend willing to promote a Republican-style agenda in Canada and eager to blindly support U.S. foreign policy objectives abroad. What more could the Bush administration ask for?

There actually is more. The U.S. would like even greater access to our energy despite evidence that resources are depleting. American corporations would like access to our vast water resources and U.S. health management organizations are licking their chops in the hope that a health-care privatization scheme will finally give them access to the Canadian market. The Bush gift registry goes on....

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