Vive Le Canada

Martin blasts U.S. stand on free trade
Date: Thursday, September 22 2005

Martin blasts U.S. stand on free trade
PM outlines Liberal agenda for coming years in speech to senior civil servants

CanWest News Service

September 21, 2005

Prime Minister Paul Martin leaves the stage following his speech to about 250 senior civil servants in Gatineau yesterday.

Prime Minister Paul Martin delivered a Throne Speech-style address yesterday, outlining the broad strokes of his government's agenda for the coming years, and issued a stinging rebuke to U.S. President George W. Bush's administration for flouting free-trade rules when it serves its interests.

The hour-long speech to about 250 senior civil servants, just a week before the fall parliamentary session resumes, also acknowledged the morale problems that have plagued the federal bureaucracy in the wake of the Gomery inquiry into the $250-million sponsorship scandal. But the prime minister made clear he believes the vast majority of public servants are honest.

Martin appeared relaxed and confident as he laid out his view of Canada's domestic situation and international role, and tried to link his government's initiatives since coming to power in December 2003 under the umbrella of one comprehensive plan.

"NAFTA is not something to be ignored when it suits narrow domestic interests," Martin said, referring to the Bush government decision to ignore a recent NAFTA ruling that there is no basis to impose tariffs on Canadian softwood.

"Free and fair trade depends on a dispute settlement procedure that is respected by all parties." He said U.S. intransigence "mocks that basic principle."

Martin warned that, in light of continuing trade disputes with the U.S., Canada intends to focus more on trading opportunities in the burgeoning Asian market, specifically India and China.

He also spoke of Canada's changing demographics. In the next 10 years, there will be significantly fewer workers supporting an aging population, due to a declining birth rate and the fact baby boomers are nearing retirement age, he said.

He said this calls for immediate government action and outlined programs in the areas of health care, education, immigration, the economy, environment, child care, defence, international relations, aboriginals, and cities and communities that are designed to meet these challenges.

Martin acknowledged Canada has not been pulling its weight in the world in recent years, but said his government has promised to inject $13 billion into the Defence Department and to increase international aid.

This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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