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Are Canadians falling into the Obama trap?

Justin Webb | 20:56 UK time, Thursday, 4 December 2008

Like most of you, I begin each day with an assessment of the situation in Canada and troubling it is to those who follow constitutional issues north of the border.

(For anyone who has not been concentrating, the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, battling to stay in power, has persuaded the country's acting head of state to suspend Parliament so he can avoid being ousted by opposition parties next week. There is talk of coups and separatist plots.)

Although the Canadian detail is fascinating almost to the point of ecstasy, the thing that caught my eye was the last line of this piece, which gives an indication of the trap that awaits all western democratic leaders and electors in the coming years.

It is the Obama trap - the approach that looks at the panting, sated Americans and says, "boy I'd like some of what they've had!"

Barack Obama is unique and uniquely American - those British MPs I was talking to the other day understood that, but electorates might not.

One of the effects of the Obama phenomenon might be a reduction in respect for the institutions (for instance parliaments and parliamentary government) and for the dullness that is perfectly respectable in political life in the free world.


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