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harper_obama-300x222Canada and the United States share the world’s longest undefended border and the biggest trade between any two nations on Earth, but although both belong to NAFTA, issues of unfair trade practices occasionally arise.  Disputes have occurred in recent years over protectionism and charges of illegal subsidies in critical industries.  Although both countries benefit from close economic ties, a potential new rift is brewing over a growing deficit between the long-time allies, and President Barack Obama’s visit to Ottawa today only served to highlight the serious gap in political charisma between the two nations.  “I haven’t seen this kind of an imbalance since the days of John F. Kennedy,” one grizzled CBC veteran confided, “and even then, at least Diefenbaker had that wild hair and crazy look in his eyes… he was like some ornery granddad who might pick any occasion to spout off on how things were better in the good old days, and tell you to get off his goddamn lawn.  Lord, I miss the 60s.”  The charisma deficit is so wide that Canada, which once held its own against the US with leaders like Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien proving eminently quotable and unpredictable, had to beg Obama to make his first foreign trip as President a short visit to Canada in order to inject an emergency stimulus of star power into the disengaged nation.  “I never would have used the word ‘charismatic’ to describe Paul Martin,” one political observer mused, “but somehow, Stephen Harper has even less magnetism… he’s like a black hole of charisma: not even light can escape.”

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