Volume 92, Issue 48

Friday, November 27, 1998



Talking politics about them damn Yankees

ŠTom Baumgartner/Gazette

By Marcus Staviss
Gazette Writer

Political relations with Canada's neighbour to the south were the focus of a speech held yesterday in the University Community Centre.

John Higginbotham, minister (political) of the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., came to the McKellar Room to speak with students interested in the field of Canadian-American political relations.

Higginbotham addressed a number of issues in his speech, including the topic of trade between Canada and the United States. "The Free Trade Agreement has made it easier for Canada to protect and advance our economic interests. It has also helped to tame latent protectionist forces in the U.S.," he said.

He also spoke of the difficulties in management of relations with Americans. "Management is difficult due to the enormous interaction between Canadians and Americans not directly involved with the federal governments of the two nations. However, there is a broad overlap of political and economic interests," Higginbotham said.

During a question and answer period, Kaveh Memari, a second-year political science student, asked about American protection of international human rights. "How can the U.S. separate human rights issues from trade in the case of China and not in the case of Cuba?"

Higginbotham said there is difficulty in understanding the American logic on this issue.

Johnathan Paquin, a masters political science student, questioned Higginbotham on the American position regarding the possible secession of Quebec from Canada. "The American government believes that it is up to Canadians to decide. However, the Americans say that they want to continue relations with a strong, unified Canada – you can draw some implications about their position on the issue," Higginbotham responded.

He also answered questions regarding issues such as free trade, the prices of Canadian agricultural products in the U.S. and gridlock in the American political system.

While Higginbotham's speech was very well received by the students, some were left with unanswered questions. "While he did address broad and interesting issues, he didn't explain enough about behind-the-scenes processes. That would have been useful for those interested in foreign policy," said Shameza Abdullah, a second-year political science student.

Political science professor Erika Simpson said the speech was important for the students in attendance. "Many students are interested in pursuing a career in international relations – this will help get them more enthusiastic about this exciting field."

Higginbotham also saw his visit as positive. "I greatly enjoyed speaking at Western. It is tremendous to find such a high degree of interest and political sophistication in these students."

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Copyright Š The Gazette 1998