Canada is a unique country on the world stage. On one hand, we represent one of the largest, most diverse geographic areas under a national government on the planet. On the other hand, we're also very sparsely populated, with only a little over 30 million people.
In the past, Canada has been perceived as 'punching above its weight' on the world stage. Punching is perhaps the wrong term. We had enjoyed a very long period of influence that exceeded our population and overall economic strength.
Since 2006, the HarperCon$ have been prancing about the world stage trying to make Canada appear to be a major power. Whether that is some of the ridiculous defense purchasing commitments they have been making, or Harper trying to bully other world leaders (e.g. China) doesn't matter. What we have is a leadership which is trying to make Canada play a role as schoolyard bully.
Unfortunately, this is rooted in a profound misunderstanding of Canada's real power on the world stage. Our prominence on the world stage isn't rooted in our ability to force others to bend to our will, and is unlikely to ever be. No, Canada's real influence lies in our ability to persuade others to 'do the right thing'.
This is not that different from how women accomplish things in society. In terms of pure physical strength, a women generally can't overpower men. Yet, women have a great deal of influence over people in general. Why? Because they can persuade others to do the right thing. Women don't achieve persuasion by physical force, but through other more subtle means.
Canada's power lies in its ability to act as a broker between America and the rest of the world. Our strength lies in being seen to stand up against America when it is doing something foolishly wrong-headed, and yet being seen standing with the American government when it is appropriate. The ability to be an 'honest broker' with Washington is important, and it buys us credibility with other powers in various regions of the world.
Canada strutting about the world stage like some puffed up dandy as Harper has been doing really looks quite ridiculous. Even if we were to focus ourselves on becoming as big a military power as possible, we simply aren't a big enough country as a whole to be able to put forward an army big enough to impress any but the third tier powers in the world.
If they ever realize that Canada needs to conduct itself on the world stage in a more feminine manner in order to be effective, the more macho elements of the CPoC are going to be truly appalled.