Thursday, July 9, 2009

NAFTA Leak Was Only Step One in Trying to Promote McCain

The NAFTA leak that came out of the PMO may have stalled things for Barack Obama, but fortunately he was able to recover, despite Harper's best attempts.

Now on to phase two, where McCain attempts to continue the assault by singing the praises of free trade ... to Canadians!??

Does anyone else find it a little odd that the Conservative Party of Canada would invite the Republican candidate to visit, during a presidential campaign?

What was the message here? Were they trying to warn Americans that our government would open the door to McCain if they voted for him, but not the other guy ... who was black ... and a Democrat???

Were they sending a message to the oil companies that they were on board with the right guy to advance their interests?

Who knows? I just find the whole think a little strange.

John McCain's Ottawa Visit Puts Canada In The Middle Of U.S. Election Campaign
June 13, 2008 Staff

Guess who's coming to dinner? Or should that be lunch? It's the man who would be the next president of the United States. John McCain will be in Ottawa next week for an address to the Economic Club of Canada.

And it's a preview of how this country may actually play a part in what happens down south during the long awaited November vote. McCain's main topic is one that's getting a lot of attention on both sides of the border: free trade.

The Republican candidate is a fan of more open borders, a feeling not necessarily shared by his opponent Barak Obama, who wants to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The Democrat thinks it's time to take a second look at provisions surrounding labour and environmental standards, something McCain opposes. "You know what message that sends?" the war veteran-turned-Senator asks. "That no agreement is sacred to him."

It's an issue that may play a role in the race for the White House, a once-every-four-year event in which Canada rarely plays any part. But things may be different this time around. Recent polls in the U.S. suggest some 64 per cent of the voters believe free trade has hurt an already ailing American economy and at least 54 per cent are against negotiating any new agreements with other countries.

But McCain thinks retraining workers to help them adapt to changing employment conditions is the key and that killing NAFTA would only hurt his nation in the long run. "Our exports are one of the only bright spots in our whole economic picture, we all know that," he explains.

Although Obama is on record four years ago as saying that NAFTA was good for his home state of Illinois overall, he now appears to have changed his stance. "I don't think NAFTA has been good for Americans, and I never have," he stated during his campaign against Hillary Clinton.

All of this is raising eyebrows north of the border, with Canadians - already caught up in one of the most competitive U.S. campaigns in decades - suddenly finding themselves right in the middle of an election where they have no say.

It's leaving Liberal MP Bob Rae suspicious of what's behind it all. "It's hard not to wonder what this is all about given the previous history of this story and I'm sure he would not have come unless he was told by the government of the day that it was a good idea," he suggests.

But either way it's going to make an already fascinating race even more interesting here. "It does put Canada in the middle of the campaign," Rae agrees.

Though Harper tried to distance himself, we got the message loud and clear.

John McCain Brings Trouble to Ottawa Over Evangelicals, Oil and NAFTA
By Douglas Todd
June 20, 2008

Republican presidential candidate John McCain visits Ottawa at an awkward time for Canada's Conservatives. McCain's visit and speech could indirectly emphasize Stephen Harper's ties to evangelicals, to an under-fire free-trade deal and to mounting criticism, including by an ecumenical group of leading Christians, of what they're calling Canada's sell-out to the U.S. on oil.

Even though Harper appears to have left town for McCain's visit, the high-profile foray into Ottawa could well remind Canadian voters that Harper, as much as he tries to keep it quiet, is a devout evangelical Christian.

In the last few weeks McCain has had to distance himself from two highly controversial U.S. televangelists whose endorsements he had gratefully accepted a few months earlier. One of them is powerful mega-pastor John Hagee, who has called the Catholic church "the great whore" and said the flooding of New Orleans was God's punishment for the city's acceptance of homosexuals. (Remember Harper's friend, Republican Jim Sensenbrenner voted against aid to Katrina victims)

The other is Rod Parsley, who urges all-out war to destroy Islam. Parsley claims Mohammed was possessed by demons. (Watch Parsley's anti-Muslim preaching).

As well, McCain wants to boast about how he, like Harper and unlike Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama, is thoroughly pro-free trade, especially on NAFTA. But the Republican senator's visit comes within weeks of Kairos, the social justice group that includes leaders of the Anglican, Catholic, Mennonite, Evangelical Lutheran and United Churches, accusing former Conservative Brian Mulroney and Harper of continuing to sell out Canada's oil and gas supplies through NAFTA.

Kairos is helping raise public awareness about what it considers one of the least-covered major news stories of the past decade -- the "proportionality" clause in the NAFTA agreement that forbids Canada from setting oil and gas policies that are different from those in the U.S.

Working with the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta, Kairos says that "despite Canada running out of natural gas, and importing nearly half the oil we consume, NAFTA dictates Canada’s government cannot reduce the percentage of oil and gas we now export to the United States, even in times of domestic shortages."

The Parkland/Kairos report argues the only solution to this and other potential scenarios is for Canada to pull out of NAFTA’s “proportionality” clause.

Go here to read the Parkland/Kairos report, which urges Canada to develop a more sustainable, ecological and independent long-term energy strategy.

Read more on McCain's connection to Hagee and Parsley (and how Obama will probably benefit from religion in the U.S. more than McCain.)

If you're interested in Harper's loyalty to the evangelical church, go here.

Fine kettle of fish you've gotten us into Mr. Harper.

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