The prime minister is talking about being "held hostage" by U.S. interests. Radio ads blare, "Stand up to this foreign bully." A Twitter account tells of a "secret plan to target Canada: exposed!"
Could this be Canada? The cheerful northern neighbor: supplier of troops to unpleasant U.S.-led foreign conflicts, reliable trade partner, ally in holding terrorism back from North America's shores, not to mention the No. 1 supplier of America's oil?
Canada's recent push for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the nation's West Coast, where it would be sent to China, has been marked by uncharacteristic defiance. And it first flared in the brouhaha over the bananas.
Responding to urgings from U.S. environmentalists, Ohio-based Chiquita Brands International Inc. announced in November that it would join a growing number of companies trying to avoid fuel derived from Canada's tar sands, whose production is blamed for accelerating climate change and leveling boreal forests.
Then in January, President Obama abruptly vetoed a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, Canada's $7-billion project to deliver oil across the U.S. Midwest to the Texas Gulf Coast , which environmentalists have long opposed.
Mix in a touch of nationalism, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's view that Canada needs to hedge its oil bets by diversifying its export markets, and the fight was on — not only with the neighbor to the south, but also among Canadians.
"Canada is not what it used to be," said Todd Paglia, executive director ForestEthics, an environmental group that has been calling for the international boycotts on tar sands oil. "It's hard to believe, but it's tilting toward becoming more of an authoritarian petro state, positioning itself as a resource colony for China."