Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party defeated the long entrenched Liberal Party in Canadian elections on Monday. A Conservative victory is a striking turn in the country's politics and is likely to improve Canada's strained relations with the Bush administration....I suppose I'm one of those Americans who don't spend much time thinking about Canada. I know it's up there, disapproving of us, like a sanctimonious older sibling. But I like the idea of this change, with new leadership that is closer to ours, friendlier to our goals. It will be interesting, perhaps, to see how things unfold.
Mr. Harper, 46, is a free-market economist who expressed strong support for Washington at the time of the American-led invasion of Iraq and shares the Bush administration's skepticism of the Kyoto climate control protocol, which Canada has signed and ratified. His party was formed three years ago as a coalition of two conservative parties.
Such positions are in sharp contrast with those of Prime Minister Martin, who rejected cooperation with President Bush's missile defense program, ratcheted up criticism of American trade policies and caustically criticized Washington during the campaign for not supporting the Kyoto protocol.
Mr. Harper did not emphasize his closeness to the Bush administration during the campaign, and there was no indication that Canadians had suddenly embraced American foreign policy. Mr. Harper pointedly promised not to send Canadian troops to Iraq, and said he would be a tough bargainer in trade talks with the United States.
But he did promise $5 billion in new military spending, which would go to forming a new airborne battalion and buying large transport aircraft to airlift troops and supplies during world crises.
January 24, 2006
Said Janice Stein, director of the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, according to the NYT: