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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Don't discount Sarah Palin's Canadian connections

Whether or not former Alaska governor and 2008 vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin can mount a successful campaign for the Republican Party presidential nomination in 2012, let alone go on to defeat an incumbent Barack Obama in a general election, there's no denying she's become a force to be reckoned with - not just in U.S., but in North American politics.

This was underscored by Ms. Palin's visit to Calgary recently, her first public appearance outside the United States since stepping down as governor of Alaska to speak at Calgary's BMO Centre as part of the Fraser Institute's influential speakers program. Ms. Palin addressed an enthusiastic audience of 1,200 who paid $160 to $220 a head for the opportunity to hear her deliver her message advocating smaller government and fiscal restraint.

Ms. Palin, currently a Fox News commentator, whose memoir, Going Rogue, is a bestseller, actually has a strong pro-Canadian record, although she's granted little credit for it in Obama-besotted Canuck public perception.

As governor of the border state of Alaska, after signing an agreement granting TransCanada pipeline US$500 million to help launch a new 2,700-kilometre pipeline project to carry natural gas from Alaska to Alberta, Ms. Palin affirmed her desire to "grow the relationship we have with Canada," observing that the NAFTA has enhanced job-creation and growth in both countries.

Given the intensity of media drive-by sniping and the ad hominem viciousness of liberal attacks on her and her family, it's noteworthy that Ms. Palin remains popular within the Republican Party, despite receiving mixed reviews (45 per cent favourable v. 44 per cent unfavorable) from the general public in polling last year.

Before getting elected president, one must first secure the party's nomination - a necessity Hillary Clinton famously and disastrously discounted. Nevertheless, Ms. Palin's approval numbers among Republican party members have been impressive - 73 per cent favourable v. just 17 per cent unfavourable ,according to a June 2009 Pew Research Center survey.

In Calgary Ms. Palin, speaking without notes, opened by highlighting commonalities shared by Alaska and Alberta with their respective histories of independent thinking and economies heavily dependent on energy production. She also cited her own Canadian roots, noting that both of her great-grandfathers were Canadian prairie born and bred, one from Manitoba, the other from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan  (continues here)

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