Prime Minister Harper keeps snub streak alive

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has cancelled the North American Leaders Summit, which was set to take place sometime in the middle of February.

The decision was made at a time when relations between Canada and both of its North American neighbours are at a low point, leading some to question the timing of the cancellation.

It also continues a recent streak by the PM, who in the past three months has shunned both foreign and domestic dignitaries at an alarming rate.

PM at odds with other leaders

Officials from the US and Mexico said that the cancellation was a surprise to them. Although the date was not official, members of both the US and Mexican governments have said that everyone was expecting to meet in the middle of February.

By contrast Canadian officials would only say that a solid date had not been agreed upon.

The Mexican government has been upset for some time because of what it sees as a discriminatory VISA policy on the part of Canada. Currently Canada restricts the travel of those with Mexican citizenship more than those with a US or European passport.

The US and Canada are at odds over the Keystone Pipeline project. Barack Obama, who has publicly stated he is opposed the project until more environmental assessments are complete, while Harper wants to push the pipeline ahead.

Instead, now the wounds of both issues will continue to fester until the Prime Minister can meet his contemporaries on another date.

A string of snubs

The shunning of the US and Mexican Presidents continues what some see as a trend of the Prime Minister of avoiding conflict and shunning government officials.

Just before the New Year began Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said that she had been trying to meet with the Prime Minister for nearly a year, but that she was unable to get a meeting.

The two met on Jan. 6 and although Wynne was happy to finally get a meeting with the PM, she told the Toronto Star that they did not discuss what they needed to discuss.

A month earlier in November, the PM told Russian President Vladimir Putin to his face that he needed to get out of Ukraine.

The US and Mexican presidents will be the third and fourth foreign or domestic government officials that Harper has either insulted or shunned in the past three months.

“Unprecedented” move

Paul Angelini, professor of political science at Sheridan College, believes Harper’s latest series of snubs has to do with the upcoming federal election in October.

“He has already started to prepare for the election, so everything he does now has something to do with the election,” Angelini said.

Angelini also said that this is an unprecedented move for a PM.

“Generally speaking Prime Ministers have always met with US Presidents regardless of tensions at the time.”

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