Thursday, March 6, 2008

NAFTA-gate blamed for Obama loss

In the lead up to this weeks primary in Ohio both Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton choose to attack the NAFTA agreement for causing job losses in the largely blue collar state. Both candidates declared they would use an exit clause in the NAFTA agreement as leverage to negotiate for a better deal. The government could have easily dismissed the promisses as simple campaign rhetoric. Instead they took the threat very seriously. They emphasised the benefits the US has from NAFTA. They also acknowledged the growing protectionist factions in the US Government that tend to gain support when the economy is suffering.

Then the leaks happened. The first leak happened during the budget lock-up when it was disclosed that the government had been warned to take the NAFTA threats lightly. As Clinton has already accused Obama of being a lot of talk and wishy washy on follow through, the allegation hit the Obama camp much harder. The second leak involved a memo from an Obama advisor not to take the rhetoric too seriously.

With all the scandals surrounding Parliament Hill it was a perfect time to throw another conspiracy theory into the mix. The Conservatives have been accused of trying to sabotage Obama and giving the upper hand to John McCain, who has taken advantage of the apparent Democrat hypocracy.

Harper announced today, there will be a probe into the second leak. It was information that should not have been available to the public. It is not the government's intention to try to influence the outcome of another countries democratic election.

With such a long campaign this scandal is such a tiny blip on the radar. It is hardly conceivable that come November that for many Americans the deciding vote will be decided on news from Canada. After all some news agencies are crediting Clinton's appearance on Saturday Night Live as the spark for her comeback. Jack Layton has responded to the controversy by writing to both Obama and Clinton to express his support for improving NAFTA. "The Democrats in the U.S. can count New Democrats in Canada as allies in the vital effort to improve upon NAFTA," It seems that the NDP are trying to openly help get a Democrat into the White House.

Someone leaked a memo that should have been kept confidential with some over the top consequences. This situation should be dealt with according to internal government policy for misconduct. There is no reason to turn this into a full blown scandal.

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