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of Canadian Trade with America
The Politics of Economy & Trade
Diplomacy, parliament, and the state of the relationship
In March 2003, US Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci delivered a message of disappointment
from the White House, responding to Canada’s lack of support for the US-led invasion
of Iraq. He pointedly remarked, “security will trump trade, there is no doubt about
that,” going on to say that there would be “short term” strains in the relationship.
Shortly after, President Bush cancelled his first state visit to Canada in favour of
meeting with Australia’s Prime Minister, John Howard (a member of the so-called ‘coalition
of the willing’ – states supporting the US invasion).
Many Canadians, especially those with business interests in the US, are worried that
Canada’s foreign policy stance will:
- At worst invoke retaliation or a tightening of border controls.
- At least harden the United States’ stance on negotiations over trade issues such
as the softwood lumber dispute.
There is growing pressure on the Canadian government to restore its favourable relationship
with the United States. A number of high-level insults directed at the US and its President,
as well as the generally cool relationship between Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
and US President George W. Bush, have left room for rapprochement.
- Prime Minister’s Communications Director, Françoise Ducros, calls George
Bush “a moron.”
- Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal says that Bush is “not being a statesman.”
- Member of Parliament (MP) for Mississauga, Carolyn Parrish makes supposedly off-the-record
remarks stating, “damn Americans, I hate those bastards.”
There is already a push to repair the damage, to the extent that the government’s once
hostile position on the US National Missile Defence (NMD) program has shifted. It is
suddenly up for consideration, and Paul Martin – likely the next leader of the Liberal
Party – has already indicated his support for Canada’s involvement in NMD.
Canadian Political Party Snapshots
- While outgoing Prime Minister Chrétien may not get along with George W.
Bush, the Liberal Party firmly supports close trade relations with the United States.
The so-called ‘leader in waiting,’ Paul Martin, looks set to build closer links to
the government in Washington.
New Democratic Party (NDP):
- With significant support from trade unions, the NDP does not favour NAFTA and fights
against overbearing US influence in Canada. The NDP pushes for a diversification of
Canadian trade relations.
Canadian Alliance Party:
- The Canadian Alliance argues for closer economic ties with the United States and
reproached the government for staying out of the invasion of Iraq.
Progressive Conservatives (PC):
- The Conservatives also support close ties with the United States and argue that
the Liberal government has damaged relations.
Bloc Québecois (BQ):
- The fiercest opposition to the US-led war was in Québec. The BQ, NDP, and
the Liberal Party gave a rare standing ovation to the Canadian Prime Minister after
he announced that Canada would not support the war. As sovereigntists, the BQ fights
against Canadian and American dominance, but also recognizes the necessity of a healthy