Bush, Martin all smiles, but more work needed
By Marshall Bellamy
All it took was 75 minutes to get Canadian Prime Minster Paul
Martin and American President George W. Bush to actually agree
on two issues.
The meeting Tuesday at the Summit of the Americas in Monterrey,
Mexico between the two North American leaders yielded agreements
concerning Canada’s access to the contracts for rebuilding
Iraq and the deportation of Canadian nationals from the United
“I don’t think it is a breakthrough, I think it
is a change in climate,” said Western political science
professor John McDougall, noting the agreement was touted as
a major advance in Canadian-American relations.
McDougall pointed out that there are more important issues
at hand, such as the mad cow disease scare, the softwood lumber
issue and border security, however, he concedes that the meeting
could offer an opportunity for more dialogue on these issues.
“They were both careful to ignore references to the
ballistic missile defense program,” McDougall added,
citing the missile defense issue as a potentially divisive
one for Martin who has made it known he desires a closer relationship
with the U.S., but the missile defense issue could anger Canadians
with an election approaching.
Aldona Sendzikas, an assistant professor of history, said
the American media has been hostile towards other countries
because of incidents such as the cancelled flights in France
and the mad cow disease originating in Canada. This attitude,
she noted, could be a stumbling block for meetings in the future. “There’s
certainly a lot of issues between Canada and the U.S. that
are red lights for Americans.”
The meeting, Sendzikas explained, gave both countries a prospect
for sorting out their differences. “I’m surprised
by Bush’s response.”
“It seems like [Martin’s] achieved his main goal
to improve relations to a symbolic status,” stated Adam
Harmes, assistant professor of political science. “It’s
almost like it’s been constructed into something bigger
than it is.”
According to Harmes, though Canada’s refusal to join
the coalition against Iraq did strain relations, the problems
really stemmed from the tone of the Canadian government, such
as un-American comments that came out of Ottawa at that time.
“The odds of any major breakthrough is low, unless we
concede,” he said, adding arguments over softwood lumber
and border security were going on before the war in Iraq.
Harmes noted both leaders have elections this year that they
need to worry about, especially Bush, whose decisions were
driven by culling support for the upcoming election. “After
the election he’ll have more breathing room.”