Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday that his government would find out who leaked a confidential memo suggesting that Barack Obama's call for renegogiating the North American Free Trade Agreement was just political posturing. Harper said the leak was "blatantly unfair" to Obama's presidential campaign, and may have been illegal. (The Canadian Press via Google)
What the commentators said
If the prime minister is serious about getting to the bottom of this, said Campbell Clark in the Toronto Globe and Mail, this will be the shortest mole hunt in history. The first person to tell journalists about the alleged "confidential" assurances given by an Obama adviser to Canadian diplomats was Harper's own chief of staff, Ian Brodie, who launched "NAFTA-gate" with a "terse, almost throwaway remark" to Canadian TV reporters. The prime minister's critics say he's "hiding behind artful denials—ignoring the verbal leak, while denying" his aide leaked the actual memo.
There's no mystery here, said Michael Blanchfield in The New Republic Online. Harper's conservative government was "trying to do a favor for the GOP by tossing a piece of political dynamite in front of Obama's train as it was barreling down on Ohio." Harper is trying to "distance himself" from the deed with an investigation, but his "meddling" will not be forgotten by the next U.S. president, especially if it's Obama.
"No matter who whispered what to whom," said James Travers in the Toronto Star, "it's held as truth south of the border today that Harper's inner circle meddled in the bellwether Ohio race, wounding America's phenom and Boy Wonder." So there will be many "sleepless nights ahead and perhaps nightmares" for the prime minister "and, far more importantly, for the country." If Harper wasn't rooting for Hillary Clinton before, he must be now.
"Harper needs to send a clear message to his diplomatic corps to act professionally," said Ed Morrissey in the blog Hot Air. "Canada may rely on NAFTA, but they need their integrity intact in all of their international dealings. If Obama manages to win this election, they will have to offer him the same friendship and alliance they offer any other American administration—and sneaking diplomatic conversations to the press isn't a great way of building confidence and trust."