There seems to be some confusion regarding having a backbone (or other relevant body parts) and being abusive.
Standing up to something the US Ambassador says, in a firm but polite manner, is not the same as America-bashing. It is not grinding a Bush-doll under your heel and it is not name-calling. It is not even the pot calling the kettle black, as poor Paul Martin tried to do re Kyoto.
According to a Reuter's report, Globe and Mail columnist John Ibbitson wrote today that,
Mr. Harper went out of his way yesterday to repudiate some utterly innocuous words that Mr Wilkins offered Wednesday ... (he) took these innocent words and contorted them into An Incident...
There can be no conceivable reason for Mr. Harper's attack other than to defuse Liberal accusations during the election campaign that the Conservatives were secretly controlled by American interests, to which they would sell the country out unless stopped.
I don't know about Mr. Ibbison, but to me,
We don't recognize Canada's claims to those waters...
along with the rather pompous
There's no reason to create a problem that doesn't exist.
is not exactly *innocuous*.
Mr. Wilkins apparently said these things in response to a question in a forum at the University of Western Ontario; without any other information, I venture the opinion that Mr. Wilkins chose his words carefully to see what sort of reaction they might provoke.
And I can think of a whole passel of reasons why Harper would say what he did although the reason Mr. Ibbitson thought up isn't actually a bad one in itself. In fact I have to go no further than the same section of the same Globe and Mail newspaper, to an article by Bill Curry.
He quotes UBC professor Michael Byers who says,
The honest answer is, it's a dispute," he said. "With sovereignty, you either use it or you lose it....
The real threat... is that shipping vessels will start using the (Northwest) passage in violation of Canadian environmental laws (emphasis mine) if Canada is unable to patrol the region.
Far from *attacking* poor Mr. Wilkins, as Ibbitson suggested, Harper sent a clear message that his Canada will not be bullied.
Good for him.
Cross posted to the CTV Election Weblog