Should Harper bask in Gingrich's shout-out?
Published Monday, January 23, 2012 9:48PM EST Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 7:14AM EDT
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper travelled to Washington recently to unveil a long-brewing border deal with the U.S., Canadian media outlets jumped all over the story while their American counterparts all but ignored it.
So there was some fanfare in Canada on Monday when Harper was given a shout-out from GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who recently won his party's South Carolina primary.
Essentially, Gingrich and other Republicans have zeroed in on Obama's energy policies, including a recent decision to scuttle the controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal, which would bring Canadian oil and much-needed jobs to the U.S.
"What Prime Minister Harper -- who, by the way, is conservative and pro-American -- what he has said is he's going to cut a deal with the Chinese and they'll build a pipeline straight across the Rockies to Vancouver," said Gingrich.
"We'll get none of the jobs, none of the energy, none of the opportunity."
Gingrich also pointed out that China stands to benefit if the U.S. won't take action.
"Now, an American president who can create a Chinese-Canadian partnership is truly a danger to this country."
Though navel-gazing Canadians may be impressed that the Great White North is finally getting some attention in the U.S., policy expert Chris Sand says the Harper government will likely keep its distance during the rough-and-tumble battle to select a new GOP candidate.
"Canada has become a hot commodity," Sand told CTV's Power Play from Washington on Monday afternoon.
Sand said that Canada has become connected to energy and jobs, and in many ways, is a symbol for both Obama's short-comings and the potential for future growth.
"Everything's captured in Canada right now, so you're front-and-centre and getting a lot of attention," said Sand, who works with the Hudson Institute think tank.
While Gingrich was firing a shot across Obama's bow with the comments, he also appears to be flexing some foreign policy muscle by name-dropping Harper.
Sand added that Gingrich could be differentiating himself from George W. Bush, who often had problems remembering the names and titles of foreign leaders.
"I think Gingrich is also reminding his audience that he knows a few people, including Stephen Harper."
And while Canada should enjoy its 15 minutes of fame in the U.S., there's also a downside.
"I think you have to take the good with the bad," said Sands.
"Anytime you get caught up in an American election, you know that you're not playing by normal rules, you're playing political rules. You don't want to appear to be in the Republican camp and or the Democratic camp. You've got to work with whoever wins"