Volume 96, Issue 95
Friday, March 28, 2003

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Best friends?

America critiques Canada's loyalty

By Anton Vidgen
Gazette Staff

America's ambassador to Canada has issued a stinging critique of our country's decision to stay out of the war in Iraq, citing increased border security and faltering trade as consequences of the deteriorating political relationship between our two nations.

United States Ambassador Paul Cellucci addressed the Economic Club of Toronto on Tuesday, and spoke of Canada's contribution to the war on terror and economic attempts to strengthen bilateral trade. However, Cellucci questioned the value that the Chrétien government has placed in U.S.-Canadian relations following Canada's recent announcement that they will not participate in any U.S.-led war in Iraq.

"We are disappointed that some of our closest allies, including Canada, have not agreed with us on the urgent need for this military action against Iraq," Cellucci remarked. "[However], our ties are too deep and too long-standing for us not to continue our work together."

When asked if the constant threat to the U.S. could also endanger Canada's safety, Cellucci suggested both nations should be there, militarily and politically, to support one another. "There is no security threat to Canada that the U.S. would not be ready, willing and able to help with."

Western political science professor Donald Abelson said he agreed with Cellucci's commentary, and faulted the Canadian government for allowing the relationship to crumble.

"I think what the U.S. expected was strong political support from Canada," Abelson said, noting the Canadian government did not handle the relationship well by acting vague as to its intentions. "We will pay a price for it, economically and politically."

However, Abelson said he is optimistic when it comes to the future of the two nations' relationship, "Both Canada and the U.S. agree on the objective, which is to promote a long and lasting peace," he said. "I would hope that [the Canadian government's] intentions are to make amends."

Recent anti-American comments by members of Parliament Herb Dhaliwal and Carrolyn Parrish inflamed the situation in the first place, said Doug Long, also a political science professor at Western.

"Unnecessary, gratuitous [and] inconsiderate remarks by individuals have really caused this problem," Long explained. "I'm really, really angry at this thoughtless behaviour."

Long said he believed the Canadian government's approach to the issue has been more haphazard than the actual comments themselves. "The perception of our demeanour, our tone... has caused as much of the trouble as what we had to say."

Much like Abelson, Long said he still envisions a cordial future for relations between the U.S. and Canada. "In the long run, I do expect relations to improve," Long said. "We disagree, but it doesn't mean we're anti-American."

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