National News

US - Canada relation is enjoying more trust

Kevin_J(November 16, 2010)

Canada – United States of America relations can benefit from the opportunity created by renewed trust between the two countries since the election of US President Barack Obama.

Kevin Johnson, Consul General, US Consulate in Toronto, said in Niagara that “The element of trust that is necessary for international relationship is much higher than before.”

He was speaking at the Perspectives On Niagara – Speakers Series, US – Canada Relations in the 21st Century organized by the St. Catharines Thorold Chamber of Commerce and Brock University.

“Apart from the relationship and love for Obama which can be used as a currency for relationship the issue of multilateral affair and emphasis on Canada is very important as Canada is a middle sized power,” he said.

The Consul General's presentation was mixed with policy explanations of how the relationship has improved since President Obama was elected drawing a laugther from the audience when he joked that Canada could go a step further by considering the American President for the Hockey Hall of Fame, following in the footsteps of Norway that awarded him a Nobel Peace prize.

He said that President Obama ran on the need to change the image of the US around the world noting that this had not been easy. “The brand United States is looked at differently in Canada,” he said.

The two countries, according to the Consul General are going through a “golden moment” which should be seized upon to further their relations.

He noted “Canadians are in a very confident moment right now. Relatively speaking as Canada is coming off a very good year compared to other industrial powers."

He wasn’t too happy at the Crosby goal during the matchup between Canada and the US in the last Winter Olympics Hockey Final, though he admitted the good organization demonstrated by Canada in hosting the game.

Canada did very well in the games and also in the way the game was run though there were logistic issues and the sad event of an athlete dying in the beginning but it did very well .”

Consul General Johnson commended Canada’s banking system that withstood the global economic climate of the last two years. All those in the high rise buildings of Toronto dying to copy what was being done in other parts of the world and were being held back by regulators and Canadian government should be appreciative of the regulations put in place in Canada that prevented a meltdown.

He said “there is that constant fear of American domination more so when you have a country ten times your size. But it is different when your economy is doing better and the World Bank and the IMF are all saying let us ask for Canada’s advice.”

He said that the way the Buy America bill passed by the Congress was dealt with by the White House was a good example of how both countries could talk to each other and deal with concerns rather than screaming at each other on both sides of the border.

Canada’s acceptance to deal with interprovincial protection issues will also be good for Canada. “It is no use negotiating with Ottawa and having the provinces opt out of a trade deal."

He addressed the erroneous and misleading comments of some Americans that the 911 attackers came from Canada. He said Americans should not see Canada as a country that had no clue about terrorism while Canadians should not accuse her American neighbours of being paranoid about terrorism.

Kevin Johnson in an answer to a question from the audience on the last mid term elections said “it is good to remember that we do not have a parliamentary system. It may have been a vote of no confidence that people were not happy about the way things were going. It is not a vote of any confidence that will make the government fall."

“The president is still the president. He will still be president for another two years.”

Asked to comment on the melting pot philosophy of the US and the multiculturalism philosophy of Canada, the Consul General who is married to a native of Colombia said “ immigrants have done well in both countries and migration has a role to play in the economic development of both countries.”

He avoided the question of adoption of one currency between the two countries. He threw his hands in the air and said jokingly “I have no comment.” “We live in a democracy. If you want to start a movement in that good luck.”

The CEO of the St. Catharines Thorold Chamber of Commerce, Walter Sendzik presented the Consul General with a Canadian wine. The Niagara region is noted for wine production.

America has an embassy in Ottawa and 7 consulates in Canada. Toronto is the biggest American consulate in Canada. Chamber members and some Americans who came across the border attended the event.

chambers Consul

Story and photo by Edward Akinwunmi

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Kevin Johnson, Consul General US Consulate in Toronto speaks on U.S - Canada relations in the 21st century