Canada's relationship with the United States is stalled thanks to an "unhealthy" trend in the U.S. toward nationalism and away from deeper economic ties, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a prestigious foreign policy think-tank here yesterday.
He said he was "deeply concerned" that the political discourse in the U.S. had been infected by "populism, protectionism and nationalism in an unhealthy sense."
Regarding the differences between the US and Canada's differing international reputations:
In his speech, Harper emphasized the "shared values" of Canada and the U.S., and seemed taken by surprise when an audience member asked why, despite these common traits, Canada was not hated internationally, as is the U.S.
"It's certainly hated in some circles," Harper said.
"I suspect in the circles where the United States as a nation is genuinely hated, I suspect Canada is equally hated as are all countries that stand for these values. The American administration is, to be frank, more widely unpopular than the United States itself, but that's an issue for American domestic politics."
Unlike the U.S., Harper said, "Canada has no history anywhere in the world of conquest or domination. It's probably hard to perceive of Canada being in that type of a position."
In contrast, Canada is seen in the world as a "positive and non-threatening force," he said. "What my government is trying to do is to use those values to promote positive change in concert with our allies."