December 3, 2004
PRESIDENT BUSH IN CANADA: PUTTING RELATIONS BACK 'ON TRUE COURSE'
** The visit helped warm up formerly "glacial relations" between Ottawa and Washington.
** Bush made clear "nothing will deter him from sticking to his agenda."
** PM Martin was taken aback that Bush "dared to say missile defense out loud."
** Lack of progress on beef, lumber trade disputes was "a big disappointment."
A 'whirlwind visit' to 'mend fences'-- Canadian dailies generally agreed that President Bush's visit had succeeded in warming by "a few degrees" bilateral relations that dived "below zero in the era of Jean Chrétien." Bush "charmed" Canadians with "kind words" about mutual values and those who "opened their hearts and homes to Americans after 9/11." Having put relations on a "healthier track," Bush's trip was "a qualified success," judged the liberal Toronto Star. "It is reassuring to see Canadian and U.S. leaders once again trading warm smiles and handshakes instead of icy stares and barbed insults," said the tabloid Calgary Sun.
'Classical music for a rock 'n roll crowd'-- Yet papers asserted that the visit was mostly important in symbolic terms: "Bush was eminently pleasant," noted the leading Globe and Mail, "but, on substance, he yielded nothing." Writers praised Bush for acknowledging "the value of multilateralism" but also stressed that his "agenda of aggressive foreign policy" remains unchanged and he "isn't about to yield any policy ground to anyone in his war on terror." A number of analysts contended that the Canada visit was a "warm-up foray" before Bush faces "tougher challenges in Europe." Although Bush "will make the effort to get traditional allies" on board, his second-term agenda "looks little different from the first."
'Bushwhacked' on missile defense-- Many papers concluded that Bush put Prime Minister Paul Martin "on the spot" by making "a bold pitch" for missile defense, landing the Liberals "in a political mess." Given the Liberals' "precarious" hold on government, "Ottawa had believed that the Bush administration would not raise missile defense publicly, knowing the issue's political sensitivity" due to opposition in the NDP and Bloc Québécois and among some "wobbly" Liberal MPs. The conservative National Post, on the other hand, joined other outlets in chastising Martin for "procrastination" over an issue that "has been a source of endless debate." The paper stated "it is long past time" for Martin "to make up his mind" about Canadian support for the initiative, which it held would demonstrate Ottawa's "commitment to continental security."
'A missed opportunity' on trade disputes-- Editorialists expressed disappointment over the lack of "concrete" solutions to "crippling" trade disputes, including beef and softwood lumber exports hurt "by protectionism under another name." On trade, a left-of-center daily commented, Bush "offered little more than platitudes." Québec's centrist Le Soleil lamented that "beef and softwood lumber producers must once more be content with vague and frustrating promises of a settlement," while liberal Le Devoir of Montreal charged that "one would have to be deaf not to understand" that Bush "does not feel Canadian demands are just."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 36 reports from 2 countries November 30-December 3, 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
CANADA: "The Bushwhacking Of Paul Martin"
Columnist Jeffrey Simpson commented in the leading Globe and Mail (12/3): "Twenty months ago, while campaigning for the Liberal leadership, Paul Martin favored Canada's joining the U.S. missile-defense program.... Mr. Martin has since dithered over missile defense...presumably fearful of the domestic political fallout. This week, after all the dithering, the Bush administration snapped. It Bushwhacked the prime minister, giving him and, by extension, all Canadians a reminder of how this administration does foreign policy: smile a lot, use nice language when necessary, then hit right between the eyes. Mr. Bush was eminently pleasant...but, on substance, he yielded nothing. Except on missile defense, where he gave Mr. Martin more than he had expected. Ottawa had believed that the Bush administration would not raise missile defense publicly, knowing the issue's political sensitivity and Mr. Martin's minority government status.... What a surprise the Bush administration had designed."
"The Man Who Dared Say Missile Defense Out Loud"
The leading Globe and Mail opined (12/3): "Officials in Ottawa profess to be shocked, simply shocked, that George W. Bush talked about missile defense during his official visit to Canada this week.... According to Ottawa insiders, a cozy little pact had been reached in advance between Mr. Bush's people and Prime Minister Paul Martin's people. The president was not, repeat not, to utter the two deadly words missile defense in any of his public utterances. To do so would complicate things for Mr. Martin, who heads a minority government and has trouble in his own caucus regarding the missile-defense scheme, which many leftish MPs dislike. But something happened on the way to Halifax. Either Mr. Bush never got the message or he decided to ignore it.... Why Ottawa got so worked up about these few, mild words is a bit of a mystery. Canada and the United States are good friends and close allies. Missile defense will affect the security of the continent we share. Whether Ottawa joins the project has been a subject of discussion between the two sides for several years. Why on Earth shouldn't their president and our prime minister discuss it openly, like grown-ups?... Instead of acting surprised and injured by the mild appeals of Mr. Bush, Mr. Martin's government should climb off the border fence and make up its mind."
"PMO Should Have Been Ready For Bush To Drop The Bombshell"
Ottawa Bureau chief Brian Laghi wrote in the leading Globe and Mail (12/3): "[S]omehow this week, the PMO's effort to signal U.S. President George W. Bush's intentions on whether he'd ask for Canadian support on his ballistic missile defense system went awry. The president, they said, had no intention of putting BMD on the agenda for the whirlwind visit, and he would most certainly not ask Canada to support it. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush pointedly mentioned the issue twice during his short stay, putting the prime minister on the hot seat with the public, and even with some of his own supporters.... When the scorecard tallying the results of the bilateral meeting is drawn, the kerfuffle over BMD will undoubtedly be marked as an unneeded distraction, while Canadian ranchers and farmers will say the government promised more than it should have on the possibility of resolving the ban on Canadian beef. On the positive side, both Canada's business community and bureaucracy worked on deals to increase cooperation in areas of common interest.... Although the substance of Mr. Bush's remarks wasn't much different from what has been said before, the PMO's officials had relegated the issue to such a low level that any mention of it became a top story."
"Make Up Your Mind"
The conservative National Post editorialized (12/3): "It came as little surprise when U.S. President George W. Bush took advantage of his Canadian visit this week to press for Canada's participation in the U.S. ballistic missile defense program. So why did the prime minister appear so unnerved when Mr. Bush broached the issue in public on Wednesday?... When it comes to missile defense, Mr. Martin has even less excuse for procrastination than he might with other issues.... It has been a source of endless debate within the Liberal caucus and Cabinet.... Participating in the program would carry little cost--financial or otherwise--while going a long way toward repairing Canada-U.S. relations and demonstrating our commitment to continental security. But whatever side Mr. Martin ultimately takes, it is long past time for him to make up his mind. If he is going to reject participation, he should at least be bold enough to do so now. And if he plans to sign on, as we hope, he must begin making the case."
"Missile Defense Snub May Shoot Down Trade"
Columnist Steve Madley opined in the conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun (12/3): "Is there anyone in Canada who seriously believes the Americans are going to lift the ban on Canadian beef, or the duty on softwood lumber, or keep the border open despite our decriminalizing marijuana, if we don't go along with the ballistic missile defense shield?... The Chrétien snubs after 9/11 and during the Iraq invasion played well for him politically because of the appeal to petulant Canadian nationalism. But Paul Martin knows that another snub, over missile defense, would strain Canadian-American relations to the limit. From cows to cars, the border would shut down tight as a drum, exports would dry up as quickly as American regulators could impose punitive duties or bans. Canadians must ask themselves whether that is a price they are prepared to pay for another fit of anti-Americanism."
"Bush's 'New' Style Proves A Hard Sell"
The liberal Toronto Star opined (12/2): "U.S. President George W. Bush charmed Canadians yesterday with his kind words for people in Atlantic Canada who opened their hearts and homes to Americans after 9/11. At the same time, his whirlwind trip to Ottawa and Halifax has set relations back on a healthier track. On those scores, Bush's first official trip to Canada is a qualified success, even if it produced no breakthrough on the mad cow or lumber disputes.... But Bush's speech in Halifax also re-launches his presidency on the global stage.... Bush used it to appeal forcefully to allies to get behind a second-term agenda that looks little different from the first. That will be a hard sell.... While Prime Minister Paul Martin played the dutiful host, he also discreetly distanced Ottawa from parts of Bush's program.... Given the markers Bush set out in Halifax, Martin's cautious response makes sense. The Canadian-U.S. partnership was strong before the 9/11 attacks, and remains so. But until Bush's second-term agenda takes clear shape, Martin is right to preserve some distance. Other U.S. allies will."
"'All Hat, No Cattle' In Bush Visit To Canada"
The conservative Gazette of Montreal opined (12/2): "It's tempting to say that this week's presidential visit was a metaphor for the whole Canada-U.S. relationship: it took place when they were ready; they set the agenda (and changed it, adding missile-defense as a main subject); we were collectively obsessed about the visit; U.S. media and the U.S. public hardly noticed. And the Americans made no concessions. This visit was all hat and no cattle, as they say in Texas. It produced no agreements, no promises, nothing but glib talk about continuing to work jointly on issues of mutual interest. Bush and Prime Minister Paul Martin appeared genuinely cordial, relaxed and cheerful together. The meeting did what the White House intended it to do: in the run-up to talks with European leaders, the idea here was to demonstrate to Americans that Bush is a world statesman, and to Canadians that he has neither horns nor a tail.... In day-to-day terms, we're no better off...than we were.... For a self-professed free trader, Bush has not used his political muscle to reopen the border to Canadian beef cattle, and there was a deeply dishonest ring to the way he blamed bureaucrats for the delay. On softwood lumber, Bush can blame neither civil servants nor Congress; the extraordinary challenge the U.S. filed with the World Trade Organization came from the administration alone. It is without visible merit and...is clear evidence of the political power of big business south of the border. Bush's visit to Canada generated lots of headlines, but changed nothing."
"A Lesson For Harper"
The conservative National Post editorialized (12/2): "Conservative leader Stephen Harper met George W. Bush for the first time Tuesday and came away from their private meeting impressed that the U.S. president is a man who knows 'exactly what he wants.' If Mr. Harper is now willing to follow that lead, this will prove a welcome development. Our opposition leader needs to see in Mr. Bush's convincing re-election last month that electoral success is possible, but only if he clearly delineates himself and his party from his opponents. He also needs to start speaking out more forcefully on subjects of concern to conservative Canadian voters.... Mr. Bush's decisive win last month did not come from aping his opponents' policies.... Mr. Bush took on his rivals, head-to-head, and earned Americans' respect by being true to himself and his values. That he has been infinitely more successful south of the border than Mr. Harper has here speaks volumes."
"Nothing Like A Little Summit Saber-Rattling"
Columnist Lawrence Martin observed in the leading Globe and Mail (12/2): "George W. Bush was triumphant during the first day of his summit in Canada. It was a tough test for him to come here. It had almost become hostile territory. But he charmed his way through the day, won friends and put the relationship back on good footing. Yesterday, in his speech in Halifax, he got meddlesome. In an unwelcome piece of saber-rattling, he told this country to become a belligerent or else face the likely risk of a terrorist attack.... Some hoped Mr. Bush might have learned to ease off the hyperbole since his embarrassment over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Outside of Iraq, where his war has stirred daily terror-type retaliations, and outside of the Middle East, where the bombs have been detonating for decades, the toll from post-9/11 terrorism has been about as high as that from snowmobile accidents. But fear-mongering works. In terms of the power it gives Mr. Bush to bend the world to his wishes, there are still great gains to be made from the political exploitation of the terror threat.... While the president got his select quotes correct, [WWII-era Prime Minister Mackenzie] King was a consensus-builder who would have taken great exception to the Bush brinksmanship and laughed out of the room any comparisons between Hitler's Germany and today's terror pockets."
"Bush Signals U.S. Policy Unchanged"
The left-of-center Saskatoon StarPhoenix observed (12/2): "While Bush's first official visit to Canada was billed as a 'working trip' and a warm-up for a foray to Europe...to repair relations strained over the U.S.-led war in Iraq, he did the unexpected by putting his host on the spot with a bold pitch for Canada to join his ballistic missile defense plan.... It's clear that Bush...isn't about to yield any policy ground to anyone in his war on terror. In essence, he made it clear that, although he will make the effort to get traditional allies on-side, nothing will deter him from sticking to his agenda of spreading democracy from Afghanistan to the Middle East to forestall terrorism.... For Canada, which had hoped that Bush might bring good news...on contentious trade issues...the president offered little more than platitudes.... With the president's reputation for placing a high value on personal relationships when it comes to making tough decisions, the amicability Bush and Martin apparently have struck will stand Canada in good stead in the future.... Canada is better off with a leader with the ability to bend the president's ear on occasion than one who kept twisting that appendage at every opportunity."
"Red, White And Moo"
Neil Waugh opined in the conservative tabloid Edmonton Sun (12/2): "The most obvious battle is over the...[U.S.] ban on live Canadian cattle. Others include: the 27% tariff on softwood lumber, anti-dumping duties against hogs and the Ottawa Liberals' idiotic threat to slap punitive duties against a long list of American goods.... Bush...tried to ease the tension on what has become the prime minister's number 1 worry.... Bush talked about the 'great deal of frustration' the BSE (mad cow) issue has created...but he also acknowledged 'there's a bureaucracy involved.'... Canadians may not understand, but America is a true democracy--not a virtual dictatorship by the prime minister. There are checks and balances.... Opening the border again is not going to be as easy as the president made it sound. But Paul Martin doesn't have time on his hands."
"The 26 Hours Of Bush"
Editorialist Mario Roy opined in the centrist French-language La Presse (12/2): "In the end, the only noticeable change is one of atmosphere between Ottawa and Washington, a relationship in which the degree of cordiality went below zero in the era of Jean Chrétien.... But Canadians, who historically have always expected a lot of Americans, were hoping this time for something concrete. For example: a strict confirmation of the reopening of the border for export goods--beef and softwood lumber--hit by protectionism under another name.... It is clear that the president of the United States came here to voice some messages aimed more at 'Old Europe'...than at Canadians.... Pushed by a certain number of contingencies, of which the bogged-down Iraq is not the least, Bush opened an all-theoretical door to what would be--for him anyway--a new multilateralism, while refusing to cede anything with regards to the main guidelines of the philosophy that governs him.... This opening is conditional on an 'obligation of result' for multilateral action.... This is not exactly new. And it is aimed particularly at the UN which--in Bush's defense--is, in the opinion of almost everyone today, preserved in it own inefficiency."
"Present The Facts"
The centrist Winnipeg Free Press editorialized (12/2): “Prime Minister Paul Martin and Mr. Bush met with an agenda that was open-ended and flexible but which, it was pretty much agreed, would not include the issue of Washington's proposed missile defense system. Nevertheless, Mr. Bush brought the matter up twice, in Ottawa...and in his keynote speech in Halifax.... The Bush administration does not suggest a space-based plan; Canada has made it abundantly clear that it will not participate in the weaponization of space. The concept of Star Wars is a red herring, and as more Canadians come to understand that, public opinion is likely to move even more heavily in favor of signing on to missile defense.”
"Two Countries, Two Views"
The right-of-center Calgary Herald editorialized (12/2): "It was classical music for a rock 'n' roll crowd. U.S. President George W. Bush gave a polished rendition Wednesday in Halifax of his administration's priorities to a country which mostly doesn't dance to the same tune.... Much as [Martin] he might want to accommodate Bush's thinly veiled urgings to get behind [missile defense] for the sake of good relations, fear of domestic disapproval stops him. The Bloc Québécois and NDP are united in their opposition and quite a few of Martin's caucus are wobbly. His minority government could well need Conservative support to pass it. To make such a tactic worthwhile, Martin would need a substantial incentive from Bush. None, apparently, was offered. Instead, there were just promises of a more 'consultative' approach on softwood lumber, and perhaps opening the border to live Canadian beef exports--in six months. Bush's requests for Canada to take a more supportive attitude to the war in Iraq, and his attempts to evoke allied cooperation during the Second World War as a metaphor for a united front in the war on terror today, stalled because many Canadians don't see the world the way he does.... Bush articulated his unbending resolve to establish democracy in the Middle East. He also correctly sketched the all-too plausible nightmare of rogue states giving weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. The connection too many Canadians fail to make is that as a co-occupant of the North American continent, their country cannot separate its ultimate destiny from that of the U.S. The forces that hate America don't love us more: to the Islamist radical, we are all infidels."
"Bush's Visit Successful -- Just Ask George W."
Barbara Yaffe wrote in the left-of-center Vancouver Sun (12/2): "The expectation was that the U.S. president was coming north to mend fences.... [That] he might finally show empathy for Canada's perspective on the war...[and] apologize for neglecting three years ago to thank Canadians for accommodating Americans forced to land at northern airports on 9/11. That he'd avoid the topic of Canada's participation in missile defense. There were even hopes he'd hint at a pending breakthrough in two crippling trade disputes--over Canadian cattle and softwood lumber. None of that happened. The president, fresh from a convincing election win...was cockier than ever.... He reminded Canadians that he's there to serve Americans...[and that] his main agenda item remains fighting terrorism, both at home and abroad.... He signaled...in Halifax that he is not about to buy into multilateralism unless it's on his terms.... And, unexpectedly, he pushed Canada on missile defense.... Canadians were interested in talking about resolving ongoing trade disputes.... But these items were all side issues for the president.... Bush repeatedly emphasized areas where Canada has in the past and can continue in the future to work alongside the U.S. to further America's objectives in the war on terror. It should be acknowledged that the Bush trip to Canada was positive in demonstrating that he and Martin genuinely seem to get along, in contrast to the cold relationship between Bush and Jean Chrétien. But the question arises: what good does the chummy relationship between the two leaders do Canada if Bush is totally inflexible on his priorities?"
"New Branches For Mr. Bush"
The conservative Halifax Chronicle-Herald editorialized (12/2): "This was a speech pitched at the world, not just at us (though it was very nice on that score, too). The world has been waiting to hear if the second Bush term would bring any change in U.S. foreign policy.... Mr. Bush's speech...made clear that some things will not change. His words, his delivery, his demeanor all said unequivocally that protecting Americans from terrorism is his first priority, and that he will not rely on passive defense at home to do it. But the Bush II foreign policy also budded some new branches in Halifax. To those worried about U.S. unilateralism and isolation, the president had some encouraging words. He said he would like to advance security and freedom through multilateral institutions and 'effective multilateral action.'... Another potential new direction was a renewed focus on advancing peace and democracy, in tandem, in the Middle East.... Mr. Bush's first order of business [was to thank] Canadians warmly for sheltering stranded Americans on 9/11.... Canada, he said, defines friendship for Americans. Well said. And much appreciated, Mr. President."
"Beware Of Smiles"
Editorialist Bernard Descoteaux wrote in the liberal French-language Le Devoir (12/2): "President Bush's visit to Canada...served to strengthen ties between Canada and the United States.... The American president had only one goal: to convince Canadians that Americans love them. To achieve this he spared nothing as long as it was limited to smiling, making jokes or friendly comments to his 'friend Paul.' The man has charm, and that obviously had effect.... On substance divergences remain. We should not expect that litigious issues will be rapidly settled because this president is simply not capable of compromise.... On softwood lumber, one of the oldest injuries in bilateral relations, he refused to commit.... By the same token, on the mad cow file, he refused to intervene in the bureaucratic process. One would have to be deaf not to understand that President Bush does not feel Canadian demands are just. His rhetoric did not change either in the field of international relations, even if the tone was softened. In Halifax, George Bush praised the value of multilateralism as a means of managing international conflicts, knowing full well the importance Canada gives to multilateral action. But he could not stop himself from underlining his doubts about those multilateral organizations where endless debates are the rule.... The rhetoric has remained the same.... The philosophy of George Bush has not evolved. Neither has the man, despite the smiles flashed during this visit."
"Is This A Kinder, Gentler Mr. Bush?"
The conservative Charlottetown (P.E.I.) Guardian commented (12/2): "U.S. President George W. Bush was as charming as he was expected to be...[but] beyond the folksy affability, the determination of the U.S. president to push forward with his agenda of aggressive foreign policy was clear. What remains to be seen is whether his new efforts at building international cooperation in pursuing this agenda will get results. It’s fair to say that Mr. Bush gained approval points among Canadians for simply being here.... There’s been a lingering resentment among some Canadians who feel he ignored Canada in general during his first mandate and offended us specifically when he failed to mention Canada among nations he wished to thank for supporting the U.S. following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Well, Mr. Bush more than made up for those oversights Wednesday in a speech that was generous in its praise for Canada’s response on that fateful day..... Mr. Bush assur[ed] Canadians that although there will be disagreements over such things as P.E.I. potatoes, these can be worked out among friends. But clearly the speech was intended to issue a call for multilateral cooperation in the quest for global security and to make clear Mr. Bush’s unwavering determination to continue his war on terrorism.... Mr. Bush may be trying a new team-building approach, but his message and its tone of military toughness is clearly the same one that caused division in the ranks of traditional allies during his last mandate. The question is, will he be able to repackage and sell it to Canada and other nations during this one?"
"Multiply The Meetings"
Editorialist Jean-Marc Salvet commented in the centrist French-language Le Soleil (12/2): "We suspected the arrival of George W. Bush to Ottawa would not be conducive to any significant progress in the main Canada-U.S. disputes. Beef and softwood lumber producers must once more be content with vague and frustrating promises of a settlement.... It is to be hoped that the two neighbors would agree on the principle of an alternating annual visit.... Some will say that institutionalizing alternate visits between Washington and Ottawa would make official a sort of vassal's role for Canada. To the contrary these meetings would provide opportunities for Canada to have its voice heard better.... For now, it is clearly an exaggeration to talk of a 'new partnership' between Canada and the U.S., as Paul Martin's entourage is labeling it. George W. Bush's stopovers in Ottawa and Halifax are part of vast operation launched by the American administration to reestablish ties with its traditional allies. Canada was a stopover en route to 'Old Europe.'"
"The Chill Is Off"
The conservative tabloid Calgary Sun remarked (12/2): "Glacial relations between Canada and the U.S warmed a few degrees yesterday as U.S. President George W. Bush put his human side on display.... Bush's speech in Halifax offered heartfelt thanks to Canadians who helped Americans on 9/11, a belated message warmly received.... More importantly, the U.S. president talked about forging a new era of the nations of the world working together. He called for a more proactive UN with an objective of collective security, rather than endless debate.... It is reassuring to see Canadian and U.S. leaders once again trading warm smiles and handshakes instead of icy stares and barbed insults. Prime Minister Paul Martin deserves credit for helping steer the relationship back on its true course. We just wish Martin had been able to summon up some courage when Bush asked for Canada's help on missile defense.... Canada has everything to gain and little to lose by signing on to this North American security initiative. The Bush visit paves the way to smoother relations now [that]...Jean Chrétien is out to pasture. It was Chrétien who started the chill.... We look forward to a new era of cooperation between our great nations, where we can also respectfully 'agree to disagree' on important issues."
"Incoming, Mr. Martin"
The conservative Halifax Chronicle-Herald observed (12/2): "Minutes after U.S. President George W. Bush had departed Pier 21 in Halifax...Prime Minister Paul Martin was shielding his government's policy on ballistic missile defense from a barrage of reporters' questions.... Mr. Martin's problem is that he knows Canada's interests very much involve remaining a close partner of the United States to defend continental security, but cannot appear too supportive of missile defense while in a precarious minority situation in Ottawa. Thus he must dance a fine line, keeping all options open while likely hoping a return to the polls will bring a majority before Mr. Bush's RSVP is due. Though anyone expecting more movement on some of the other contentious files, such as softwood lumber or beef, would have been disappointed, Mr. Martin did well to tell Mr. Bush, directly, that these issues matter to Canadians, a lot. The president has promised his officials will work harder to resolve these disputes. We'll take him at his word and wait to see what progress, if any, can be achieved."
"Bush Did His Homework And Won The Day With Charm, Wit"
Alan Kellogg wrote in the left-of-center Edmonton Journal (12/2): "[Under] Jean Chrétien...relations had deteriorated to historic lows, and not simply on matters of principle, but of hubris and ineptitude as well, on both sides.... At first blush, it seems as if Martin did what he had to do, at least publicly, by...extending a hand without genuflecting.... Bush, like it or not, was nothing short of masterful onstage. Funny and self-deprecating...confident without the trademarked smirking swagger, he got in his dubious dibs--support for ballistic missile defense, slagging the UN, offering 'partnership' to anyone who agrees with him--with charm and some grace."
"Missile Defense: A Ticking Time Bomb"
Columnist John Ibbitson commented in the leading Globe and Mail (12/2): "George Bush threw a political stink bomb into Paul Martin's lap.... On Canadian soil, with the prime minister on the same stage, the U.S. president asked the Liberal government to please sign on to missile defense, a program that has riven the Liberal caucus, not to mention the rest of the country. In doing so, Mr. Bush has landed the Liberals in a political mess. When they invited Mr. Bush to visit, this was not what this government had in mind.... At least for the Liberals, Mr. Bush's direct request has placed on the front burner an issue that the government had hoped to keep off the stove indefinitely.... Despite this rather major hitch, the president's visit has been largely successful, sparking progress on a number of fronts. If trade tensions can be diffused, the border kept secure, the Canadian military strengthened, and fresh irritants avoided, Canada might, just might, be able to take a pass on missile defense without permanently damaging relations with the United States. But refusing the Bush administration on an issue it clearly sees to be of pivotal importance will consume enormous capital, leaving none for other issues and other days. At the least, we can say this: George Bush's visit to Canada was not supposed to end this way."
"A Familiar Tone To Bush's Doctrine"
The centrist Times Colonist of Victoria has this to say (12/2): "It would have looked good in the history books had President George W. Bush outlined a new direction in U.S. foreign policy when he spoke in Halifax on Wednesday.... We, and the world, were led to believe there could be a new, conciliatory attitude in the White House in the next four years. That speech...was meant to reveal it. It didn't. It was a stubborn defense of the same old post 9/11 Bush doctrine.... If that's the kind of message he intends to take to places like France and Germany, Bush might as well stay home. For Canada, the Bush trip did nothing but embarrass Prime Minister Paul Martin for not being able to make up his mind whether being part of U.S. missile defense would be a good thing, or a bad thing. It looks as if Canadian officials were surprised that the issue ended up at the top of the American agenda for our bilateral relations."
"Anti-U.S. Sentiment Not All Due To Iraq War"
Michael Campbell opined in the left-of-center Vancouver Sun (12/2): "The view now being peddled by many in the media that recent anti-Americanism in Canada is simply a result of disagreements over the Iraq war misses an incredibly important dynamic in the relationship between Canada and the United States.... A significant portion of the anti-American sentiment on display in Europe, Canada and even the U.S. itself is fueled by an anti-capitalist ideology.... The anti-war movement has also drawn on a huge contingent of anti-globalization protesters.... For many Canadians, the words 'business' and 'profits' carry a negative connotation that comes directly out of Marxist ideology.... While...[not] all those that oppose the war in Iraq are anti-American, it is not a stretch...to accept that all those who are anti-capitalist and anti-private sector are. And it doesn't worry them a bit that our million-dollar-a-minute trade relationship with the U.S. could be jeopardized by their actions."
"We're More American Than We Care To Admit"
Scott Haskins remarked in the conservative tabloid Edmonton Sun (12/2): "It's us versus U.S. Big Brother versus little twerp.... We are the tiny, insignificant mouse living next door to the king of the human jungle. At least that's what they think. Especially the insignificant part.... George Bush comes to town for 36 hours and suddenly we are reveling in the attention. He says a couple of nice things about our cattle ranchers and our hockey players and he's 'a good guy.' Solve the BSE crisis and the softwood lumber crisis, or else. Or else what? We can stick our lip out and stomp our feet, but that's as far as it goes."
"There Is Little For Canadians To Admire"
Columnist Jeffrey Simpson wrote in the leading Globe and Mail (12/1): "Mr. Bush sets teeth on edge for a majority of rather moderate Canadians...especially inside the Liberal Party [which] constrains what the Martin government can do with the Bush administration.... U.S. unpopularity counts for little at home...but it can limit the ability of the administration to find partners abroad--which is why, presumably, Mr. Bush wanted to visit Canada before facing his tougher challenges in Europe early in 2005. The Bush administration wanted to be seen to be working well with some country, and the Martin government has no choice but to try to work well with Washington, given the importance of the U.S. to this country.... The visit, therefore, was more about atmospherics.... Substantively, there wasn't much to say, even though much was said."
"Bush, Martin Talks Set A Positive Tone"
The liberal Toronto Star opined (12/1): "After a season of strain, U.S. President George Bush had kind words yesterday for Canada. They set a positive tone for relations with Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority government during Bush's second term. But those who hoped Bush might water down his 'war on terror' rhetoric as he launched his diplomatic round of meetings with Canada, Mexico and Europe will be disappointed.... While the vast majority of Canadians are America-friendly, the 5,000 protesters who marched on Parliament Hill served as a reminder that friends need not be sycophants.... It's a pity that Bush and Martin made no great progress on economic issues like mad cow or lumber. In that sense the rushed summit was a missed opportunity.... Still, Bush made it clear that Canada is back in Washington's good books, and on its radar screen.... If all this means Canada's profile and economic interests get more positive attention as Washington reaches out again to long-time allies, something good will have come from a whirlwind visit."
"Move Past The Hoopla To More Productive Work"
The leading Globe and Mail editorialized (12/1): "It was billed as the summit that would renew a relationship strained by years of economic bickering and discord over the war in Iraq. Some had even surmised that U.S. President George W. Bush would use the occasion in Ottawa to trumpet an end to import restrictions on Canadian beef. How better to signal a thaw in Canadian-U.S. relations? On this front, big disappointment.... Symbolism was all. Perhaps with this in mind, Mr. Martin has avoided using this summit to announce a Canadian role in U.S. missile defense. But this deference to symbolism is overdone. It's time the Canadian-U.S. summit relationship moved beyond the headlines to something more routine and businesslike. Regular annual meetings between the president and the prime minister, geared toward policy rather than politics, are the place to start."
"Shame On Them"
The nationalist Ottawa Citizen commented (12/1): "It was an ugly display of hypocrisy: scores of demonstrators spilled onto Ottawa streets bearing signs calling for an end to conflict--only to pull out their sticks and gas masks before picking fights with police. Granted, the troublemakers were a minority among the thousands of people who turned out to demonstrate during U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to Ottawa, but they are the ones whose boorish tactics were beamed around the world by all-news networks.... In their effort to hijack the presidential visit, they damaged the interests of working Canadians who depend on the beef and lumber industries and who desperately wanted the Bush visit to focus on resolving U.S.-Canada trade disputes. They damaged the reputation of Ottawans, who pride themselves on a friendly city. And they damaged the interests of legitimate critics of U.S. policies whose voices were drowned out by the shouting."
"Out Come The Hooligans"
The conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun remarked (12/1): "This was just the image we didn't want to see--protesters throwing sticks, placards, paint and other projectiles at police as they demonstrated against the visit to Ottawa by U.S. President George W. Bush.... Unfortunately, for millions of people seeing the television broadcasts in Canada and across the United States of yesterday's protests, the enduring image will be of the foolish few who for some reason felt it was okay to assault police officers."
"Martin And Bush Cold-Shoulder Kyoto"
Columnist Jeffrey Simpson wrote in the leading Globe and Mail (11/30): "Smooth talk in Ottawa and Halifax, and a nice trip to Europe early in 2005, won't change the fact that the Bush administration is a serial refusenik on international agreements.... The pity and the alarm of the U.S. and Canadian refusals to take serious action in this area was recently underscored with the release of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, a detailed study of global warming in the Far North of Europe, Russia and North America.... The Bush administration, in the pocket of big energy and the car companies, isn't going to jeopardize Americans' quasi-religious belief in their right to drive large, gas-guzzling cars--a belief many Canadians share."
"Welcome, George Bush"
The conservative National Post opined (11/30): "The main purpose of Mr. Bush's trip, for both countries, has to be repairing our once strong bilateral ties--which have been strained of late by disagreement over the war in Iraq and by petulant anti-American insults hurled by several Canadian lawmakers, mostly Liberals.... What is important is not where Mr. Bush will be speaking, but the mere fact that he is here. The president never did manage to find time for a visit during former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's tenure, and relations between the two countries were left to chill. That Mr. Bush's first official trip following his re-election will be northward is a sign that they are finally starting to warm. It is to Paul Martin's credit that since he took over, the government's tone when referring to the United States--[MP] Carolyn Parrish's outbursts while in the Liberal caucus notwithstanding--has improved considerably. That's paved the way for the two leaders to work toward solutions on trade matters that are crippling several of our industries--notably beef and live cattle exports and softwood lumber. And in turn, it should facilitate a more constructive approach to continental security."
"Memo to Bush: Canada Is Important"
Columnist Don Martin observed in the conservative National Post (11/30): "It's a given George W. Bush will not meet an average Canadian.... That's to be expected. But what must be hammered home to the man by those who have his selective hearing, is that Canada is important, dammit, and should be taken more seriously by his administration.... Outside the bubble, today will feature a billion dollars in trade, three-quarters of a billion dollars in new U.S. investment in Canada and another half a million people flying or driving across the 8,891-kilometer border between the two countries. That's the real Canada to the United States--hardly a bush-league neighbor (sorry boss)."
"Welcome, Mr. Bush"
The nationalist Ottawa Citizen opined (11/30): "While it's true that many on this side of the 49th parallel do not support some elements of U.S. foreign policy, the great majority recognize that Mr. Bush is the duly-elected leader of the world's most important democracy. It is, or ought to be, our privilege to host him. We use the word 'privilege' not out of unique affection for Mr. Bush, but out of respect for the office he holds and out of respect for the 300 million people he represents.... It's a tired truism that the U.S. is Canada's best friend, but it's a truism nonetheless.... In any long-term relationship, there are moments of tension, and sadly the Canada-U.S. relationship is in one of them now. The blame is shared.... It's time to abandon the pettiness."
GERMANY: "George W. Bush, The New Internationalist"
Holger Schmale noted in an editorial in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (12/3): "President George W. Bush has discovered a new term: multilateralism. During his first trip abroad, he created the impression during a speech in Canada that he planned to begin his second term by turning to his allies and the international community. His upcoming trip to Europe also speaks for his effort to dedicate some time to the cultivation of strained relations. But this is by no means a real change of course. The U.S. leadership knows that it is dependent on cooperation with its allies and international organizations to resolve the most urgent foreign policy problems.... Military options cannot be carried out in Iran and Korea at least as long as the situation in Iraq can only be kept under control with the massive support of the military. Evidence of this is also the decision of the Pentagon, to send re-enforcements to Iraq. Then the number of U.S. forces will be higher than the number of forces during the hottest stage of the war. That is why it is appropriate that the president makes sure that he gets the support of partners. But then they have to function. The president said: 'The goal of the UN and other institutions must be collective security, not endless debates'--to emphasize who has the command."
|Office of Research||Issue Focus||Foreign Media Reaction|