Sunday, May 29, 2005

White House's new man in Ottawa a Bridge Builder

Let's hope that the new Ambassador from the United States to Canada can help smooth things over in Ottawa between the United States and Canadian governments. For too long have the Canadian-American economic interests been swept under the rug in the name of security. Why do I put it this way? Because the only thing the two governments seem to have in common is a general interest in keeping North America safe and talking about the "Star Wars" missile defense system a possibility. Well at least George Bush wants to keep "Star Wars" as a talking point with Canada. Paul Martin on the other hand first says we'll keep investigating the issue with the United States then says no we won't do "Star Wars" because of his minority government. However, Martin has still left the door open. For this I am grateful because who knows what the future might hold.

However, back to the issue at hand. Canadian-American economic relations are slowly going into the dumper. First it was the softwood lumber dispute which the two countries' political heads haven't been able to come to an agreement. This hurts the Canadian logging industry. What both countries need to come up with is common rules for the logging industry in terms of what subsidies can be provided (if any) and what subsidies (if any) are not allowed by both governments. There needs to be compromise on both ends in order to strike an agreement.

Add to the fact the Mad Cow issue popping up every now and then in Canada, it only hurts both countries. Why does it hurt both countries? Consider that the United States beef chain needs to be supplemented with Canadian beef in order to maintain a market price for food consumers. The demand for beef in the United States is still there. Consider that there is almost a McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and beef steakhouse on every corner in the United States (at least from what I have seen) means lots of demand for beef still there. Add to this the reduction in beef because Canadian beef is not welcome in the United States for the most part. (Yes I know there is some Canadian beef allowed into the United States, but the rules are very stringent). What the United States and Canada needs to do is come to an agreement saying all beef coming to the United States from Canada needs to be inspected for Mad Cow disease. This would increase the amount of beef production in Canada and open new beef plants to handle the extra demand. As for live cattle crossing the border, that may take a while longer. Although I do suppose blood testing might be a possibility for all live cattle to detect the disease, but I am guessing this has already been proposed. (NOTE: Is blood testing able to detect mad cow disease? I am unsure, but considering blood testing works for just about everything else why not?). These are just but two possibilities to solve this issue.

What Ottawa-Washington needs is a bridge builder that will start with one issue and start to investigate the commonalities between the two countries and work on a compromise on things that aren't in common. As the Toronto Star points out in their article the new ambassador from the United States to Canada, David Wilkins, seems just to be that person to do the job. Hopefully Wilkins will be quickly acclimatized to life in Ottawa and start devling into the above two and other common economic interests between the two countries in a short amount of time. All Wilkins can do is start the process between the two countries of solving these issues. Consider him the "go between guy" between Prime Minister Martin and the Canadian government and President Bush and the American government. In other words Wilkins will need to be a bridge between the two governments.

Works Cited

Ross, Oakland. “New U.S. ambassador a bridge builder.” Toronto Star. 29 May 2005. Online. Internet. Available:

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