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Obamamania hits Canada?

Having already infected our southern neighbours in its hope-filled grip – and reduced stadiums of tearful supporters to something akin to hordes of screaming pre-pubescent girls – Obamamania appears to have finally crossed the border, as evidenced by the recent launch of Barack Obama for Prime Minister .

“Show your willingness to embrace change,” reads the satirical site’s slogan. “Support Barack Obama as our new hope on Parliament Hill.”

The Conservative Party must have taken those words to heart, for a quick scroll down the site reveals a smirking – albeit photoshopped – Stephen Harper clad in a white “Obama for Prime Minister” t-shirt.

Hanging out beside him is New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton, all smiles, and pointing his finger into the most progressive national future this side of Sweden. “Go Obama!”

Despite the fact that the site appears to be little more than an inventive way to sell novelty t-shirts, it poses an interesting question: Are Canadians more interested in Obama than their own federal politicians?

After all, it’s not like the current crop of Prime Ministerial hopefuls is a very inspiring bunch. Just ask Globe and Mail writer Lawrence Martin, who poignantly described the upcoming federal campaign as “a battle of low-watt personalities.”

Michael Meneer, a spokesperson for the Vancouver chapter of Democrats Abroad, says Obama’s campaign attracts wide-ranging interest north of the 49th because the close relationship between Canada and the U.S. means a Democrat administration could have positive spinoffs.

“People want to see change,” he says. “They look at Obama as a new path forward.”

But with the Canadian election set to wrap up nearly a month before the American one, Meneer says he doesn’t think that Obama – and all his associated mania – will put a damper on the federal campaign.

“I view this all as really good for democracy,” he says. “This is just forcing people to think seriously about what kind of future they want.”

Geoff Dembicki is a staff reporter for The Hook.

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