Wednesday, December 14, 2005

PMPM's tacky war of words with Ambassador Wilkins

In the past week, PM Paul Martin has offered some extraordinarily nasty slams against the United States government, and by inference against the American people. Quite aside from the political grandstanding involved, Mr. Martin is showing a cavalier lack of courtesy and professionalism in expressing his opinions.

Rather than list a detailed recitation of Mr. Martin's remarks (particularly his sloppily-conceived attacks on the U.S. regarding greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution), I am expressing my concerns about Mr. Martin's toxic rhetoric and why I think he needs to re-evaluate the long-term impact of his rhetorical outbursts and claims.

As most of the few-and-far-between readers to this blog realize (many of my readers probably being CSIS, RCMP, and Canadian and American diplomatic personnel), there are VERY FEW U.S. citizens who care about Canada. The amount of knowledge about Canada's unique society, people, government and institutions among Yanks is generally very low.

More importantly, tens of millions of adult American citizens live their daily lives unaware of their neighbor to the north. Of course, for those of us in Seattle, almost half of Canada's population actually lives SOUTH of here - and for those in Alaska, almost ALL of Canada's population lives to the south of them.

Mr. Martin's over-the-top accusations against the U.S. President, U.S. Congress, and other governmental institutions regarding environemental protection are not regarded as acceptable by most Americans, and are not regarded by this writer as acceptable. Mr. Martin is pathetically unaware of just how comprehensive U.S. environmental protection laws are, and how much more rigorously they are enforced against businesses and individuals than is the case in Canada.

Mr. Martin: Canada really has VERY FEW FRIENDS in the United States of America to begin with. It is extremely unwise for you to repeatedly make derogatory public comments about American government unless you are prepared to take some constructive criticism in kind. Dismissing responses from those who disagree with you with the blow-off remark

" I am not going to be dictated to, as to the subjects that I should raise,"

This writer agrees with the sentiments expressed by Ambassador Wilkins, who has demonstrated himself to be far more of a gentleman and a diplomat than his rather abusive predecessor from Massachusetts.

"It may be smart election-year politics to thump your chest and criticise your friend and your number one trading partner constantly," Wilkins said in a speech to the Canadian Club. "But it is a slippery slope, and all of us should hope that it doesn't have a long-term impact on the relationship."

Mr. Martin, this American DOES agree with much of your criticism, and that of other Canadian political leaders, regarding the U.S. government's obtuse policy regarding Softwood Lumber Imports and BSE Cattle/Beef Imports. I think the Byrd Amendment to NAFTA creates a terrible contradiction in terms - "free trade" but with a lot of legalistic "asterisks" which can be imposed by special interest groups with an axe to grind against foreign importers.

The people of Canada NEED friends in the U.S.A. who are willing to speak up on many of the shared issues which are countries struggle with. You, Mr. Martin, should NOT be going out of your way to insult those few of us who fundamentally believe in a stronger cross-border relationship - and who truly LOVE Canada and Canadians - just to score some cheap shots and gain some brownie points among some Yankee-hating bigots like the then-Liberal MP who crushed a doll of President Bush on This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

And one more thing, Mr. Martin: we understand full well that the Canada Elections Act seeks to avoid meddling by non-Canadians in your election process - but Americans certainly will remember the enormous amount of unwanted meddling by Canadians (including some who actually worked on American political campaigns in 2004). DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT trash the reputation of your nation as a free, open and democratic society by defaming persons who want to hold YOU accountable for YOUR abuse of public speech. Unless, of course, you really don't believe in "walking the talk" of a free, open, and democratic society....