Harper needs etiquette lessons

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America is a proud nation that, unlike Canada, has no qualm in praising its rise to independence, its strides towards liberty and the men and women who made sacrifices for the sake of a fledgling nation that would go on to become one of the world's wealthiest and mightiest countries.
In contrast, Canada remains humble about its not-so-clean break from the monarchy and few Canadians can talk about the work of John A. MacDonald and D'Arcy McGee with the same zeal as our U.S. cousins could about George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.
It was no surprise then when Prime Minister Stephen Harper received a lukewarm response from the U.S. business community when he promoted his "Don't blame Canada" message in New York last week.
Paraphrasing one of billionaire Warren Buffet's analogies, Harper pointed out America was clearly swimming naked when the tide went out and the economic recession came in. Canada, Harper said, was not only "no skinny dipper, but also the strongest swimmer."
"None of the roots of the recession are to be found in Canada," he said.
Clearly, this bragging was not the best sales pitch to persuade U.S. congressional leaders and lobbyist to scrap the Buy American provision that will keep Canadian companies from bidding on $800-billion in U.S. stimulus spending.
Rather than tout a message of cooperation and how dropping the Buy American provisions is in the interests of both nations, Harper's pride prevented him from seeing America's own and the need for a nation to rebuild after being caught without a life preserver.
At a time when 1.9 million jobs were lost in the U.S. between August and December of 2008, Harper waltzed in with a message that Canada is doing great, continues to do great and wants south-of-the border stimulus money to keep that ball rolling. It's a tough sell when Business X in America is suffering while the PM boasts Business Y in Canada is doing okay.
Without a doubt the Buy American provisions harm our bilateral relations but the PM would have done well to remind America that our nation has always been there with a towel rather than boast who is better at treading water.

Organizations: Business X, Business Y

Geographic location: America, Canada, New York

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