Relationship Needs Work, MacKay Says

Posted on Tuesday, October 04 at 13:50 by jensonj
MacKay said he's "thrilled and delighted" to share the stage with the former president. Clinton "fostered good relations" between Canada and the U.S., said MacKay. But that's not what the Canadian government has been doing lately, he said. Instead of acting as America's best friend and most important trading partner, Ottawa has sent mixed messages sprinkled with a dash of insults, said MacKay. The lows were reached when former prime minister Jean Chretien's communications director publicly called U.S. President George W. Bush a "moron" and when then-Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish stomped on a Bush doll in a TV satire, he said. Such antics showed a lack of diplomacy and low regard for the importance of Canadian-U.S. relations, said MacKay. "We have to rise above the (anti-U.S.) rhetoric." MacKay he found some tensions around trade issues and security during a recent visit to Washington. "The government has to set a better tone," he said. "We don't always have to agree, but if we disagree, we should do so in a respectful manner." U.S. officials are concerned by the Canadian government's response to security issues, said MacKay. "Americans took a direct hit (during the 9/11 terrorist attacks) and they expect a full commitment" on North American security, said the MP, adding, "I don't think our government has given our common security a high enough priority." MacKay said the Canadian government confused and disappointed the Americans on the issue of continental missile defence, with mixed messages of yes, no and maybe. Although government-to-goverment relations aren't what they should or could be, Canadians have maintained goodwill toward the U.S. with an "extraordinary relief effort" in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, said MacKay.


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