Canada ‘Robin’ to U.S. ‘Batman’: diplomatic cable

Updated: Wed Dec. 01 2010 17:53:30

CTV.ca News Staff

Canadians have an inferiority complex because they feel their country is condemned to always play ‘Robin’ to the United States’ ‘Batman,’ an American diplomat wrote in a leaked diplomatic cable.

A 2008 cable also complained of an “onslaught” of Canadian television shows with “nefarious American officials carrying out equally nefarious deeds in Canada.”

Cables released by the online whistleblower WikiLeaks have been mildly embarrassing to Canada and U.S. relations, revealing a former chief of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service slamming the Canadian courts and Prime Minister Stephen Harper getting an invite to France out of empathy for his “political troubles.”

A 2004 cable briefing for then-president George W. Bush, before a visit to Ottawa, wrote that Canada was a country “soul-searching” about its “decline from ‘middle power'” status.

The same cable also said Canadian officials expressed worry that Canada was being shut out of the intelligence loop as punishment for not joining the invasion of Iraq.

In 2009, when U.S. President Barack Obama visited Canada for the first time, U.S. diplomats said that Canadian officials expressed annoyance that the U.S. president was far more popular than they were.

“No Canadian politician of any stripe is nearly as popular, respected or inspiring as you are to Canadian voters, a genuine factor in the historically low turnout in the October 2008 Canadian federal election,” the memo to Obama said.

The leaked cables are providing a glimpse into U.S.-Canadian relations normally noted only decades later by historians.

But the current U.S. ambassador to Canada says the cables — WikiLeaks has more than 250,000 — won’t affect the relationship between world’s largest trading partners.

“You’re going to find an errant line when you go over tens of thousands of pages of documents that are quotable, that are juicy,” David Jacobson told CTV’s Power Play on Wednesday. “No relationship is closer in the world than the U.S. and Canada’s, and the documents as a whole underscore that.”

Jacobson said he spent the last week reading thousands of cables written by the U.S. embassy in Ottawa and says he has no idea what WikiLeaks might release next.

He said his country wants to shut down WikiLeaks – but declined to say why the superpower has not yet done so.

“We really want to and we haven’t. You can infer from that whatever you want,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson said the U.S has already made steps to ensure such a leak does not occur again, and more steps will have to be taken. However, he said a crime was committed and the most effective action the U.S can take is to prosecute the individuals involved.

“Clearly, there was treason, there was horrendous misconduct by somebody,” he said.

Jacobson said some of the leaks — not the Canadian documents — have “severely impacted” the strategic interests of the U.S. and its allies, and have put lives at risk.

Revealing cables

Harper’s “political troubles” prompted the French government to extend to him a last-minute invitation to attend the D-Day commemoration last year, according to a diplomatic cable.

The revealing cable is authored by an American diplomat writing about a conversation he had in Paris with Jean-David Levitte, the chief diplomatic aide to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Levitte told the diplomat that the June 6, 2009, D-Day commemoration was originally supposed to be a Franco-American event, but Sarkozy ended up inviting Harper and then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for political reasons.

Harper and Brown were invited because they were each “in such political trouble at home that the survival of their governments was at stake,” according to the cable that was prepared on June 8, 2009.

Levitte said Sarkozy had originally intended to invite German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the commemoration.

But the French president was advised that if he invited Merkel, he would have to invite other European leaders “who would have to be given an opportunity to speak as well, which would lengthen an already long ceremony,” according to the diplomatic cable.

Because of the “exceptional” circumstances in the United Kingdom and Canada, Brown and Harper were invited to attend.

WikiLeaks intends to publish more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables on its website against the wishes of Washington.

It began uploading its massive cache of diplomatic secrets on Monday and the Harper-Sarkozy details was included in one of the early cables to be released on the Web.

The French government has said the WikiLeaks releases mark the “height of irresponsibility” and French official Francois Baroin has indicated that France will now change the way it send its diplomatic messages back to Paris.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is fielding calls from governments around the world about the content of the diplomatic messages that are gaining headlines every day.

While attending a meeting in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the continuing revelations from the WikiLeaks issue will not hurt American diplomacy.

Clinton also said that “there will be a lot of questions that people have every right and reason to ask, and we stand ready to discuss them at any time with our counterparts around the world.”

Police around the world are currently on the watch for any sign of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who is wanted on a warrant in Sweden.

Swedish authorities are currently in the midst of a rape investigation and they have indicated Assange is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion, in the case of encounters with two women in Sweden this past August.

Assange has said the allegations are untrue.

With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press

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