Sen. John McCain's trip to Canada next week will be a small boon for the American, but it might embarass his would-be Canadian counterpart.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government still faces questions about who leaked a memo about Obama adviser Austan Goolsbee's NAFTA climb-downs to the Associated Press.

Given all that, next week's visit couldn't possibly come at a worse moment for the Harper government, which will likely be on the defensive before McCain's plane even touches down on Canadian ground. As for the speech itself, McCain won't have to worry about the turnout - the event sold out within minutes of being announced - but it's unlikely that many senior PMO or ministerial staffers will be in attendance, as their presence would set off a fresh flurry of speculation on cosiness between the Conservatives and the McCain campaign. Even though this is by no means an official visit, his mere presence in Ottawa will be seen, rightly or wrongly, as evidence that the PM is doing whatever he can to help out his Republican buddies.

All in all, the best thing that could happen right now, as far as the PM is concerned, would be for McCain to re-check his datebook, and discover that he has inadvertently double-booked, and has a prior engagement somewhere far from Ottawa that he simply can't miss.

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