Blame Canada

Which of the Democratic campaigns tried to reassure the Canadian government that anti-NAFTA rhetoric was empty?

By Alex Koppelman
Published March 6, 2008 4:51PM (EST)

The saga of possible contacts between one or both of the Democratic campaigns and the Canadian government is only getting more complicated, and harder to parse. Originally, the story was that Barack Obama's campaign -- and then, just an advisor to his campaign -- had contacted the Canadian government to assure it that the candidate's anti-NAFTA rhetoric was just sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The latest report out of Canada seems to confirm suspicions that the story came from the highest levels of conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government, but it also adds a new layer of mystery. According to this newest story, the whole controversy started when Harper's chief of staff told several reporters that Hillary Clinton's campaign had contacted the Canadian government to reassure it about Clinton's stance on NAFTA. But in the initial reporting, done by CTV's Washington bureau chief, Tom Clark, it was Obama's campaign that had made the contact.

Thus far, there's been no explanation of how the discrepancy -- if indeed there was one -- came about. And it wouldn't be entirely surprising if indeed both campaigns had contacted the Canadians; as Salon's Andrew Leonard observed earlier this week, "Everyone in Ohio and Canada knows that the Clinton and Obama campaigns are bashing NAFTA right now for symbolic reasons."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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