Five things we learned about ourselves from the latest Wikileaks dump

Five things we learned about ourselves from the latest Wikileaks dump

Julian Assange and David Jacobson 

Wikileaks totally still exists, and is still releasing cables received from U.S. diplomatic computers. Its latest document dump offers some juicy tidbits about Canada, released just in time to influence the election—though there’s almost nothing in there that actually will. Here are five things we learned about U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson’s deep thoughts.

1. Laureen Harper is “mouthy”
Laureen Harper, wife of the prime minister, gets credit from the ambassador for softening Stephen Harper’s more “reserved” image. We might have gone with “wooden,” but that’s probably considered undiplomatic language for a national leader. Apparently, however, it’s totally okay to refer to Mrs. Harper as “the self-confessed mouthy one.”

2. Americans: some of them get paid to pay attention to our politics so the rest don’t have to
Jacobson manages to get in some sly digs at Harper’s expense—or at least that’s how we read this, referring to the Conservatives: “They have used the crime agenda to great effect, making it an essential part of their ‘brand,’ in spite of the fact that they have not actually passed most of their proposed crime and security legislation.” Somewhat amusingly, back in early 2010, Jacobson wrote a cable saying that the Liberals showed “a lack of energy and hands-on leadership,” while in 2008, a different ambassador noted that the NDP could “hold on to its current level of support and even do better, given the persistently weak popularity” of both Liberal and Conservative leadership. Prescient!

3. The U.S. spends a lot of time griping about Canada’s copyright laws
University of Ottawa prof Michael Geist has been all over this, showing how obsessed the U.S. mission has been with getting Canada to update its copyright laws, preferably in the exact ways that U.S. media corporations would like. Probably most revealing is that the Conservatives shelved their 2008 attempt at copyright reform because they were worried about the electoral blowback in the next election—one that Stephen Harper would call later that year.

4. Adam Giambrone wasn’t fooling anyone by the fall of ’09
In a cable back to the U.S. about the opportunities for American companies in the TTC’s expansion plans, the American consul in Toronto noted that Adam Giambrone was “an ambitious city councillor with a Toronto mayoral campaign likely in his future.” If by “campaign” he meant “just over a week,” we suppose.

5. Oil: turns out it’s a big deal
Quite a few of the cables have to do with Albertan oil, which is neither surprising nor terribly newsworthy, though there are some funny bits, like when one U.S. embassy officer had to smooth over some anti-Ottawa, pro-Washington rants—made by Canadian conservatives opposed to the Chrétien government in 2003. Other cables include lots of warm feelings and shared PR strategies over the tar sands.

Highlights from Canada WikiLeaks cables [Macleans]
Laureen Harper characterized as political asset in Wikileaks dump [Toronto Star]
Parties, Laureen Harper focus of WikiLeaks cables [CBC]
Former TTC chair’s name pops up in Wikileaks [Toronto Sun]

(Images: Assange, New Media Days; Jacobson, US Mission Canada)