NAFTA Dance: Canadians On The Mole Hunt!

posted at 8:24 pm on March 5, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged not to rest until his government finds the leaker who exposed Barack Obama’s NAFTA Dance. The Conservative PM calls the leak “unfair to Senator Obama” and denounces the leak of the conversation and the memo:

Hey, now. When Adscam bounced the Liberals out of power in Ottawa, we American conservatives thought that Harper would help his cousins south of the border. How dare Harper get non-partisan now!Of course, Harper has no choice. While Barack Obama’s campaign adviser Austan Goolsbee should not have tried to play both sides of the NAFTA debate, the Canadian consulate had no business leaking the conversation to the press. It puts Canada in the position of attempting to game the American election. In fact, it wasn’t just an attempt: someone succeeded in deflecting Obama’s course in the primaries.

Harper needs to send a clear message to his diplomatic corps to act professionally. Canada may rely on NAFTA, but they need their integrity intact in all of their international dealings. If Obama manages to win this election, they will have to offer him the same friendship and alliance they offer any other American administration — and sneaking diplomatic conversations to the press isn’t a great way of building confidence and trust.


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I am going to find the leaker but not really because I ordered it because NAFTA is too important to us to risk Obama in the Oval Office?

TheBigOldDog on March 5, 2008 at 8:30 PM

Ha!!

This ain’t nothiing more than posturing for America. The PM could probably care less.

madmonkphotog on March 5, 2008 at 8:31 PM

Obama isn’t a diplomat.

profitsbeard on March 5, 2008 at 8:31 PM

It sounds as if you place the blame for this situation on Canada. I say bovine excrement! It was BHO’s fault and nobody else’s. In fact I would say thank you to the leaker for exposing the naivety of a Presidential candidate that isn’t ready for prime time. In fact, I believe what BHO did is illegal.

LCL4 on March 5, 2008 at 8:33 PM

I think Prime Minister Stephen Harper (PMSH) just ought to keep on doing what he’s doing – he’s doing a heck of a job.

BTW, one of his brains is all over Google Video – Tasha Kheiriddin so if you want some passionate, gorgeous conservatism punditry – help yourself. PMTK sounds awfully good right now.

HotAirJosef on March 5, 2008 at 8:38 PM

Put the Mounties on the case, eh?

jgapinoy on March 5, 2008 at 8:39 PM

How dare someone expose a presidential candidate’s lies about his positions. This could hurt The Messiah! Someone should get to the bottom of this.

amerpundit on March 5, 2008 at 8:41 PM

Can you say preterition?

snaggletoothie on March 5, 2008 at 8:44 PM

I’m not blaming Canada for the Obama campaign’s lying about NAFTA. However, Harper can’t have his consulates leaking conversations to the press, especially those with candidates who want to discuss issues with them. If that becomes a habit, they will lose a great deal of their ability to anticipate policy shifts — and influence with the people who run for office.

Ed Morrissey on March 5, 2008 at 8:45 PM

Every time I see the words “NAFTA Dance”, it reminds me of the Safety Dance. That is my cross to bear.

ReubenJCogburn on March 5, 2008 at 8:45 PM

In this particular case, it seems appropriate for BHO’s communication with the Canadians to be leaked like any other political story. He’s a candidate with no current diplomatic authority to speak with Canada.

The only way we’ll avoid electing slimy, lying politicians is if ethical people will speak up and present the evidence needed to expose them. This isn’t a treasonous (sp?) NYT-leak piece.

Perfesser on March 5, 2008 at 8:45 PM

In fact, I believe what BHO did is illegal two-faced.

LCL4 on March 5, 2008 at 8:33 PM

He told the Canadians, something like “Don’t worry, I won’t alter NAFTA. Cary on, as usual”, and the American unions “I will get rid of NAFTA, just for you, Bill Clinton, that leech did you in, bla, bla, bla…”

…and was caught with his pants down…

How anyone in today’s high political stakes believes that anything will be kept a secret is surreal, and naive.

Entelechy on March 5, 2008 at 8:46 PM

I love watching Canadian politics. It’s like watching a little girl play with a Barbie dream house.

malan89 on March 5, 2008 at 8:46 PM

But I thought information yearned to be free?

I’m just glad there has finally been some leaked information that, instead of harming U.S. interests, benefits the American people.

VolMagic on March 5, 2008 at 8:47 PM

Gotta wonder about this one. On one hand, yeah, it is the ‘right’ thing to do. On the other, what a great way to offically document the conversation.

Can’t tell if they are trying to go through the front door or the back.

Limerick on March 5, 2008 at 8:48 PM

Ed,

Senators are NOT supposed to be negotiating with foreign governments.

LCL4 on March 5, 2008 at 8:49 PM

and influence with the people who run for office.

Ed Morrissey on March 5, 2008 at 8:45 PM

The Canadians, and all others should stay out of our elections. They should decline any influence, or perceived influence to the contrary. That’s what would give them the most credibility, and what is expected of them, and of us, if they have an election.

Entelechy on March 5, 2008 at 8:50 PM

LCL4, true ’nuff, although it’s not clear whether Goolsbee just acted on his own accord or got sent by Obama. I don’t think we’ll ever really know that. Obama’s reluctance to toss him overboard makes it look more like the latter.

Entelechy, I think that’s what Harper is saying in that clip. He wants his consulates to stay out of American politics.

Ed Morrissey on March 5, 2008 at 8:55 PM

Ed,

Senators are NOT supposed to be negotiating with foreign governments.

LCL4 on March 5, 2008 at 8:49 PM

Yea leave that job to the House and San Fran Nan.

mred on March 5, 2008 at 8:56 PM

I’m not blaming Canada for the Obama campaign’s lying about NAFTA. However, Harper can’t have his consulates leaking conversations to the press, especially those with candidates who want to discuss issues with them. If that becomes a habit, they will lose a great deal of their ability to anticipate policy shifts — and influence with the people who run for office.

Ed Morrissey on March 5, 2008 at 8:45 PM

Unless he wanted it leaked, which he probably did. It is not in Canada’s national interest to have NAFTA messed with. This is probably a case of nipping a problem in the bud.

TheBigOldDog on March 5, 2008 at 8:56 PM

Entelechy, I think that’s what Harper is saying in that clip. He wants his consulates to stay out of American politics.

Ed Morrissey on March 5, 2008 at 8:55 PM

To be sure Ed, I wasn’t harping against you, in any way.

Entelechy on March 5, 2008 at 8:58 PM

And now it appears that someone was talking about Obama to FARC.

Yes, Foreign Governments AND Citizens are supposed to stay out of each others elections. How much would our elections be affected if the sources of all donations to campaigns, non-profit organizations affliated with Candidates, and the 527 organizations were widely distributed?

Does simpy releasing pertinent information = interference? The answer seems to depend on who’s hurt, and how they’re percieved by the person complainin.

Perfesser on March 5, 2008 at 8:58 PM

How can Canada be required to stay out of our elections on one hand, but we have a presidential candidate’s campaign talking to them about his stances on the other? Either they’re in, or they’re out.

amerpundit on March 5, 2008 at 9:03 PM

I agree with Mr Morrissey. The Canadian gov’t can’t have it diplomatic core leaking conversations. It harms relations between our govenrments. Even though this exposed Obama out to be a paper tiger on nafta it hurts our future relations with our largest trading partner.

Jacob Hammond on March 5, 2008 at 9:07 PM

It was Senator Obama, a US Representative, who stuck his oar into Canadian politics not the other way around.

aengus on March 5, 2008 at 9:11 PM

Jacob Hammond on March 5, 2008 at 9:07 PM

What hurts relations more, unilaterally abrogating NAFTA (or at the very least, trying to renegotiate it to hurt Canada) or leaking a conversation with a two-faced liar?

TheBigOldDog on March 5, 2008 at 9:11 PM

If Obama manages to win, civil war will break out south of the Canadian border and it won’t matter what the Canucks do.

Stepan on March 5, 2008 at 9:16 PM

The Canadian gov’t can’t have it diplomatic core leaking conversations.

The whole point of leaking is plausible deniability meaning that unless you can prove that the highest levels of Canadian government leaked this conversation on purpose then legally they have not interfered in any way.

The quasi-smirk on Harper’s face does not amount to evidence that Canada is subverting the US electoral system.

aengus on March 5, 2008 at 9:18 PM

Ed Morrissey on March 5, 2008 at 8:45 PM

I see your point, but let’s not forget that just because we have a campaign going on that Canada doesn’t have an interest in a topic such as NAFTA. Citizen’s of Canada have a vested interest in that trade deal. Any discussions of renegotiating involve all parties the opportunity to remegotiate..Not just the U.S.

The issue isn’t about Canada trying to involve themselves in our election. As was stated:

How can Canada be required to stay out of our elections on one hand, but we have a presidential candidate’s campaign talking to them about his stances on the other? Either they’re in, or they’re out.

amerpundit on March 5, 2008 at 9:03 PM

As I read on another blog..If Obama managed to tick off a friendly nation like Canada, can you imagine what he would do with a nation like China?

Pam on March 5, 2008 at 9:18 PM

Jacob Hammond on March 5, 2008 at 9:07 PM

It didn’t harm our relationship, it harmed Obama’s relationship.

Pam on March 5, 2008 at 9:20 PM

I don’t think this incident will hurt Harper if Obama wins the presidency. To American liberals Canada is the afterlife (“I’m moving to Canada!”)

aengus on March 5, 2008 at 9:22 PM

I like Stephen Harper better than any of our current candidates for US President.

As far as the Obama issue goes, the ability to keep some communication secret actually leads to better models according to economic models of government. This should not be confused with keeping secret the outcome and voting on much legislation which should be made public. For instance, the legislator responsible for any penny of spending should be known.

thuja on March 5, 2008 at 9:22 PM

Look it is simple, BHO never intended for his rep to meet with an official of the Canadian government.

He told his U of C rep to meet with the the president of Canada and his rep got confused.

No government interference was ever intended.

F15Mech on March 5, 2008 at 9:25 PM

“As I read on another blog..If Obama managed to tick off a friendly nation like Canada, can you imagine what he would do with a nation like China? – Pam on March 5, 2008 at 9:18 PM”

Good question, how about Mexico?

“In the NAFTA era, a staggering 87 percent of Mexico’s imports go to the United States, while Mexicans living in the United States send home more than $8 billion annually.”

Mr. Obama?

Seven Percent Solution on March 5, 2008 at 9:26 PM

I don’t think this incident will hurt Harper if Obama wins the presidency. To American liberals Canada is the afterlife (”I’m moving to Canada!”)

aengus on March 5, 2008 at 9:22 PM

ROFLMAO!

TheBigOldDog on March 5, 2008 at 9:26 PM

I think Canada is just playing the smart hand. Condemning the leak is common sense, and they have no real place to off judgment on Obama (not yet at least).

Not the case with us though. Obama was caught being a politician in name and in deed. GASP! I hope we continue to hammer him until the convention for this…hopefully after that we won’t have to worry about him.

Go Hillary! The lesser more beatable of two evils!

blankminde on March 5, 2008 at 9:27 PM

Speaking of Adscam, thanks to Capt. Ed for covering the proceedings while they were going on. You know, since the CDN media was forbidden to do their jobs…

landshark on March 5, 2008 at 9:28 PM

Ha, I believe the Obama campaign when they says Goolsbee met with Canadians on a personal, university related appraisal of the American political situation. So what’s the big deal here? /s

On a more serious note, transparency is a good thing for the public to have, no? It is for our politics (and whether it in all cases or not our system leaks like a sieve). It has for the media, they are now known for their dishonesty which is the first step in their reform.

So, why isn’t it for our normal day-to-day foreign relations, which is all that this event was? If Obama doesn’t want to embarrass the Canadian government, then maybe he shouldn’t let his advisers inform them that he is lying to the American people, which additionally burdens the Canucks with preventing it from being leaked to their own media.

I can understand Harper’s action, but the blame — the embarrassment, the damage to the campaign, the foreign influence on US politics — should be placed right where it belongs: On Barack Obama.

Ed, you say the Canadian government should act professionally. I say if Obama had acted in a statesmanlike manner, none of this would have happened.

Dusty on March 5, 2008 at 9:39 PM

Ed, you say the Canadian government should act professionally. I say if Obama had acted in a statesmanlike manner, none of this would have happened.

Dusty on March 5, 2008 at 9:39 PM

Good point. Obama, imo, overplayed his hand. He is buying into his hype. Election or not, he, nor any of his minions, have the right to be trying to make or influence policy with our allies or enemies..

Pam on March 5, 2008 at 10:03 PM

OMG..

Obama gonna create an International Embarrassment Disaster(IED) upon the United States.. Someone Save US ALL!

Chakra Hammer on March 5, 2008 at 10:05 PM

>:D

Chakra Hammer on March 5, 2008 at 10:07 PM

That’s cute Ed,

You are acting like diplomats have ethics. Heh.

Cordially,

Uncle J

Uncle Jimbo on March 5, 2008 at 10:08 PM

I’m not blaming Canada for the Obama campaign’s lying about NAFTA. However, Harper can’t have his consulates leaking conversations to the press…

Ed Morrissey on March 5, 2008 at 8:45 PM

Poppycock, Ed. We may not know international diplomacy, but we know what we like. And right now we like the Canucks jamming something sharp up Obama’s stinker.

Jaibones on March 5, 2008 at 10:26 PM

At bottom, it’s a gift to the American right from the Canadian right. Harper is going to go over it all publicly again to get to the truth and clear the air.

BL@KBIRD on March 5, 2008 at 11:35 PM

Does anyone else remember the Downing Street Memos? “Was this unfair to Bush?” or “We’re looking for the mole to punish” were words that were simply never uttered.

MayBee on March 6, 2008 at 12:25 AM

Wrong.

That Harper needs to apologize for this.

Right.

Todays answers from Harper fail to satisfy.

Harper?

This isn’t Harper’s fault so he has no need to apologize but I’m glad that some members of the Canadian Diplomatic Corp managed to leak this memo. Unprofessional? Yes. Needed to be done? Indeed. You may blame Canada today but you will thank us tomorrow.

We only wish you’d done the same for us with Trudeau.

bongo on March 6, 2008 at 12:32 AM

PM’s chief of staff was Obama leak

Connie on March 6, 2008 at 12:56 AM

It doesn’t go far enough. The Canadian and Mexican government need to make it clear that they will stop oil & gas exports if the US government tries to renegotiate NAFTA. You can go protectionist, but you’ll walk to work to do it!

libertarianuberalles on March 6, 2008 at 1:53 AM

BTW Canada represents 94% of US gas imports (i.e. heating, cooking, and power plants) while each company is about 20% of oil imports. Chavez is a clown and can’t do much, but losing 40% of your imports would be hard to match (especially given how much comes in via pipeline). You simply can’t replace gas pipeline imports.

libertarianuberalles on March 6, 2008 at 1:55 AM

country rather than company of course

libertarianuberalles on March 6, 2008 at 1:56 AM

Personally I think it was in Canada’s best interests to leak this information- Obama’s campaign was telling the American voter one thing and their government another. Someone was being lied to about an important policy issue. It could have been Canada who was being fooled- among all the denials from the Obama camp we still haven’t seen a clear and unambiguous statement about what he will do about NAFTA if he’s elected as far as I can see.

You’d think that someone in the press would be pushing to get Obama on the record about his real stance on this issue. “Mr. Obama, were you lying to voters or to Canada?” There, pretty simple question, really. Maybe someone in Canada wanted to know who he was lying to and assumed a leak of this nature would clear the matter up?

And I’ve got to agree with the commenters above- Obama brought this on himself. And I think, Ed, you’d be a bit more concerned about his efforts at diplomacy if Canada wasn’t such a friendly nation- and you’d want to know if his people were in contact with any other foreign powers when he has no place in engaging in such talks at this stage. Doesn’t the authority to engage foreign nations like this lie with the President?

We should be thanking Canada for this, not castigating them.

Jay Mac on March 6, 2008 at 4:01 AM

Every time I see the words “NAFTA Dance”, it reminds me of the Safety Dance. That is my cross to bear.

ReubenJCogburn on March 5, 2008 at 8:45 PM

NAFTA Dance, by the group ‘Suits Without Men.’

James on March 6, 2008 at 7:45 AM

I agree with PROfITSBEARD, Obama is not a diplomat. The Canadians owe him no diplomatic courtesies nor does he deserve them. If he does win the election, then they can extend him diplomatic status. Canada did the right thing by reporting Obama’s duplicity.

conservative educator on March 6, 2008 at 8:21 AM

Sheesh!! Just let Obama live with the fall out from his naivete(sp). Both Obamas talk too much and say too little and have no idea what they are talking about.

jeanie on March 6, 2008 at 9:03 AM

Missing from all the above comment – unless I missed something – is that Mr. Harper wants the law to be respected and enforced. I agree the leak serves the public interest of both countries, if not the deceitful farce that is the Obama campaign, but it is also in the Canadian interest for confidential documents to be treated in confidence.

Flea on March 6, 2008 at 10:41 AM

Hilarious.
For those of you who don’t know much about Harper, the level of contempt for this entire steaming pile of garbage is plainly evident. The smirk was great.
And this might be my naive Canadian perspective, but I didn’t think Senators were authorized to negotiate trade agreements.

kkaneff79 on March 6, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Hilarious.
For those of you who don’t know much about Harper, the level of contempt for this entire steaming pile of garbage is plainly evident. The smirk was great.
And this might be my naive Canadian perspective, but I didn’t think Senators were authorized to negotiate trade agreements.

kkaneff79 on March 6, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Hmmm. A liberal Canadian. How rare.

Syd B. on March 6, 2008 at 11:40 AM