Stephen Harper has rounded out into quite a... (drumroll please) John Howard.
Not the famous prison reformer for whom the John Howard Society is named, although Harp's law-and-order agenda here at home promises to radically turn the clock back on the penal system, too.
I'm talking John Winston Howard, the former Aussie PM and one-time mentor of Harper's when the latter was awkwardly still finding his way on the world stage.
As U.S. suck-ups go, Howard was right up there with the UK's Tony Blair, winning the U.S.'s highest civilian honour, the Medal of Freedom, for his country's unwavering support of the Bush agenda - first in Afghanistan post 9/11, and then Iraq in that weapons of mass destruction lie.
There's a Democrat in the White House now, one Barack Obama. But Harp, post-Bush, has staked his claim to meanest motherfucker - or is that just biggest oddball? - on the face of the planet, out conservative-ing even the staunchest conservatives who came before him.
His performance at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia last week just the latest example of how out of step Harper has become with the rest of the world.
Harper didn't have to deal with a sex scandal of his security detail carousing, allegedly, with the local talent who toil in the world's oldest profession. The alleged tomfoolery of the U.S. president Obama's not-so-Secret Service threatened to overshadow the talks.
But on the substantive issues, like the war on drugs, and Cuba's non-attendance at the summit, there was much sucking and blowing from our PM. Canada was alone in defending the U.S. hegemony in the region, putting the lie to the suggestion from some conservative pundits in the Great White North that differences between Ottawa and Washington over the Keystone pipeline, for example, mark a chilling of relations between the longtime trading partners.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The permutations of Canada-U.S. relations and recent difficulties are more a consequence of domestic pressures being felt by the Obama administration than any U.S. antipathy towards Canada. But back to the summit.
While Latin American countries, who've been feeling the brunt of the no-win war on drugs, are realizing the folly of fighting the illegal trade with more guns and openly discussing legalization, Harper is advocating turning back the clock. Just say no?
His solution: $25 million more for cops to fight the cartels, despite admitting to reporters covering the summit that the current law-and-order approach to fighting drugs and resulting violence in the region is not working. No kidding. If there was ever a recipe for more bloodshed...
It's the instability caused in the region by the drug trade - to supply markets in North America, it should be noted - that has contributed most to political and economic upheaval in Latin America.
Conversely, it's that instability that has been a boon to foreign corporate interests who have been quick to capitalize on the impoverished region's resource wealth.
What's Harper afraid of? That Latin American countries will get their act together, finally start realizing the region's economic potential and nationalizing key industries - thereby upping the ante for foreign investment? It's already happening.
A rival Latin American group has emerged to challenge the supremacy of the Washington-centric Organization of American States. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which held its inaugural meeting in the weeks before the Colombia summit, has formed. One of the architects is none other than Venezuela president Hugo Chavez, a perceived "enemy" of the West.
In 20 years from now, Mexico and Brazil will become among the world's top economic markets, with Colombia following close behind.
If the PM is keen on protecting Canuck investment interests in Latin America - he jetted off to Chile to do just that post-summit - he might give some consideration to charting a more moderate course for Canadian foreign policy.
For example, Canada's backing of another key U.S. position at the summit, that on Cuba's exclusion from future meetings, is incomprehensible.
Cuba is the largest economy in the Caribbean. Canuck businesses have substantial investments there. The country is Canada's fourth largest export destination in Latin America. Some $1 billion in trade is conducted every year between our countries. The Cuba of today is not the same one of even a few years ago. Private ownership has been allowed to flourish there.
The Obama administration's hardline on Cuba is clearly about the upcoming U.S. elections and the Cuban-American vote in Florida, a key electoral battleground. That voting bloc is not one Obama can ignore. When it comes to Cuba, things can get screwy in Florida. A few weeks back, the manager of the baseball team Miami Marlins was suspended for five days by management for daring to say a few complimentary words to a curious reporter about Cuba's aging leader Fidel Castro.
The PM says he does not support the U.S.embargo of Cuba. But he doesn't support the country's right to attend future summits, either, saying only democratically elected governments should be allowed to participate. What then of our ties with China?
Used to be Canada's strength was as a middle power, as proxy to the U.S. for smaller nations without the benefit of Canada's shared history with the Yanks, trade relations or proximity, to affect change.
Even Harper's staunches conservative predecessors were guided by more than just anti-communism and a strict adherence to free trade capitalism in relations abroad.
Reagan pursued peace with sworn enemy Russia. Thatcher followed suit. Closer to home, Mulroney played a key role in fighting apartheid. Stephen Harper, meanwhile, is still fighting the Cold War.