Special Relationships

Unbeknownst to most Americans, Canada is the United States’ largest trading partner (more than five times that of the U.K. and even bigger than China in this respect), its foremost supplier of energy, closest ally and supposedly bestest friend in the whole wide world, so why doesn’t our country get the semi-royal treatment that China, India, Mexico and the U.K. does? Why isn’t Our Glorious Leader treated to the pomp and circumstance of an official state visit?

I suppose it could be argued that Stephen Harper isn’t the head of state – that title going of course to Governor General David Johnston, who has made inexplicable state visits to Quatar, Malaysia, Vietnam and other remote places in the last year – but then, David Cameron isn’t the head of state either. If not mistaken, that would be the Queen of England – just as is the case with our own Prime Minister…



Filed under HARPER Government of Canada

26 responses to “Special Relationships

  1. sassy

    Our Glorious Leader


  2. Alison S

    Who’d want our toxic turd on their soil unless they absolutely had to?

  3. harebell

    If a snotty schoolboy shows up and gives you his lunch money without you even having to ask for it, why put any effort into being nice to him?
    The other line would be, “if you can get the milk for free, why buy the cow?”

  4. Peter

    Perhaps the reason Harper doesn’t get a state visit is that he doesn’t want one.

  5. Thomas Jefferson

    Hi asshole. How ya doing prick?

    Long time no see asshole.

    Have a great day.

  6. ASME

    Unbeknownst…what a horrible ugly word. Isn’t it unknown to most Americans?

  7. ASME: Sorry, it was the first word that came to mind. What can I say? I should probably have said “unbeknown” which come to think of it sounds better than either my choice or your preference.

  8. Peter: I hadn’t actually considered that possibility, but you may have a point there… Or at least you would certainly have when Bush was in power. Odd thing is that NO Canadian PM seems to have received the full-on “state visit” treatment.

  9. Perhaps the reason Harper doesn’t get a state visit is that he doesn’t want one.

    That’s the most likely explanation, particularly as its premise is squarely consistent with Harper’s fundamentally self-effacing nature and his painstaking efforts to be discreet, almost invisible, whenever he travels abroad.

  10. Peter


    It’s also consistent with his trying to avoid giving you an opening to craft yet another splenetic screed on how he intends to hand over the country to them.

  11. “Trying”, is he? And I suppose his abject failure is explained by the regrettable fact that, having nearly exhausted his modest reserves of stamina during his futile decades-long attempt to seem conservative, he has little energy left to expend on an effort to seem Canadian–an ambition for which he has never, in any case, shown much avidity…

  12. Peter

    Heh. Imagine being the Canadian PM and thinking about all the cantankerous Sir Francis’s back home just waiting to pounce as you are feted by one U.S. politican after another on national TV as “America’s best friend and most loyal ally”. No wonder our PMs generally tend to prefer understated working meetings where they can just mumble “Yeah, whatever” in response to compliments.

  13. Peter: As I said previously, you may well be right, but there could also be a countervailing sense of approval at our own “special relationship” with the U.S. being publicly acknowledged in a manner commensurate with its importance. Who knows, it might even help transcend the general impression of us south of the border as being igloo dwellers, mounties and maple syrup junkies.

  14. “America’s best friend and most loyal ally”

    Imagine Sir Francis’ surprise when he learned that the US, or any empire (or any nation), has “friends”. I’ll just assume this is mawkish Hallmark-card continentalist-speak for what we in the reality-based community call “interests”.

  15. Peter


    Could be, but state visits aren’t like invitations to a Christmas Party. They are the subject of much diplomatic discussion long before and they don’t occur unless both sides want them. The State Department is well-aware of Canadian ambivalence about high-profile celebrations of our closeness. They tend to think we’re a little neurotic, but they decided long ago it was in their interest to just go with it.

  16. Peter: Seems plausible enough, I suppose.

  17. The State Department is well-aware of Canadian ambivalence about high-profile celebrations of our closeness…

    …the key empirical inconvenience being, of course, that the most effective signifier of “distance” is the pomp and protocol of a state visit, with the casual, familial, t-shirt-and-jeans nature of Harper’s rote responses to the White House’s tugs on his leash reflecting precisely the domesticated banality upon which Red has observed.

    But qu’importe. Please carry on ducking the painfully obvious. I await your unavoidable resort to the argument that American elites lack the genetic marker that has made the superintendents of virtually every other empire arrogant and supercilious. Smart-arse reference to the “rapacious Yankee trader” in lieu of the elaboration of an argument gets bonus marks, as always.

  18. Given Obama’s first visit to Ottawa I find it hard to believe that The Harper Government’s behind the lack of get togethers. For all their talk, Canadians get giddy when big brother looks their way .

  19. Peter

    Obama’s visit wasn’t a formal state visit. In fact both sides went out of their way to emphasize its informality.

    I dunno, SF, they definitely have the imperial arrogance and superciliousness gene, but how would Darwin explain their ability to sustain a global empire with discount coupons?

  20. Peter: Are you sure about that? I remember watching it on TV and it seemed pretty darned formal to me.

  21. Vancouverois

    A slight correction: the Governor General is not Canada’s head of state. He is merely her representative.

  22. Quite true. I should have been more precise about that.

  23. Peter


    Pretty sure. But he is the President of the United States. An informal working visit doesn’t mean they put him up in the Super8 and order takeout for dinner.

  24. Peter: Well, not to nitpick (although that seems to have become the general theme of this thread for obvious reasons), but I don’t know that “brevity” and “mostly private” translates into your contention that “both sides went out of their way to emphasize its informality.”

    He was greeted by the Governor General on the tarmac (along with that troupe of mounties), then introduced to all of the various archaic officials of parliament in their best finery as well as the Justices of the SCOC and after “private” closed-door meetings, attended a pretty formal looking black-tie dinner with the entire cabinet and other officials.

    It may not have been a “state visit” but it was far from being “informal” in my opinion.

  25. Peter

    He was greeted by the Governor General on the tarmac

    Of course he was, he’s a Head of State. Red, “informal” in this context means not a state visit, the subject of your post. It doesn’t mean dress down Friday. There is a pretty rigid code of protocol for even informal working visits.

  26. Sure doesn’t seem to work the other way whenever Harper goes to Washington.

    And, btw, I’m not suggesting that “informal” equates to “dress down Friday” or bunking at the local Motel 6 or whatever.

    Just out of curiosity, what would have been different had Obama’s visit been of the “state” variety?

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