February 3, 2009

U.S. Ambassadors to Canada New and Old

When then U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins' visited Mount Allison in October I figured going to class would be a better use of time than hearing the outgoing Ambassador toe the line. From all accounts his speech and answers in defense of Bush's policies were nothing new, and his remarks on his online journal about Mount Allison do not lend itself to the idea that he had much new to say.
Mount Allison University in Sackville was founded in 1839, and along with maintaining its deep historic roots, its focus firmly is in the future - it was one of the first Universities in the country to have a completely wireless campus. I was welcomed warmly by the President of Mount Allison, Dr. Robert Campbell and his wife Christl, and had lunch with them and students, faculty and administrators of the University. I then addressed a large gathering of the Mount Allison community and spoke of my time in Canada as Ambassador and the wonderful relationship that exists between our two countries. I think the deep historic ties that unite our two wonderful countries are nowhere more evident than in the Atlantic Provinces.

And then his photos his entire visit to New Brunswick visits were a couple pictures at the Moosehead Brewery and one with Premier
Shawn Graham.

If you didn't know...the last few U.S. Ambassadors haven't been very well liked in Canada:

Rumored US Ambassador Bad News For Canada

April 7 2005
Robert Furs

Paul Cellucci’s departure from his position as U.S. ambassador to Canada was a joyful day for most self-respecting Canadians. Now that Cellucci, loved by the U.S. administration for his line-toeing and hated by Canadians for his bullying attitude, has moved from telling Canadians what to do, to writing a tell-all book that only self-loathing Canadians (and Canada-hating Americans) will read.

The decision has not yet been made, but reports are surfacing that a replacement for Cellucci is ready to be named. By the time you read this, George W. Bush’s administration may have already appointed Bush buddy David Wilkins as U.S. ambassador to Canada.

Wilkins, a Republican and Speaker of the South Carolina legislature, is even less suited for the job than anyone’s lowest expectations could hope. While Cellucci, being a former governor of liberal Massachusetts, was at least close in proximity to Canada, Wilkins hails from South Carolina, a hell of a distance from the 49th parallel.

The Globe and Mail notes that Wilkins knows “relatively little about his neighbour to the north”, and “has little international or trade experience”. Superb qualifications for the job, no?

Adding even more negativity to the mix: Wilkins will no doubt be a perfect fit for Canada’s progressive socialist paradise. I can’t wait for the first time this religious conservative tells our country that gay marriage is bad, mmkay, marijuana is bad, mmkay, and all us atheists are going to hell.

The National Post reported that Wilkins is also a protectionist, who denounced Canadian softwood producers as having “unfair trade practices” – he was Speaker when South Carolina “passed a bipartisan motion in 2001 calling on the President and the U.S. Congress to uphold trade sanctions” on Canada. This bodes well for what is to come, surely, if Mr. Wilkins is indeed appointed.

Nonetheless, ambassadorships are a plum role more often than not given to loyal allies of the person in charge of doing the hiring – in this case, George W. Bush. Of course, Wilkins has been nothing but a great friend to the president.

He’s raised thousands of dollars for George W.’s two presidential runs, and played a big role in Bush’s wins in South Carolina (the 2000 primary, the 2000 presidential election, as well as the 2004 election as Bush-Cheney ‘04 state campaign chairman). In 2003, Wilkins was a "Ranger" – which meant he raised over $200,000 for Bush.

And as such things go in politics, he must get compensated for his help. These things don’t come free. So, is it safe to say that Bush will be naming Wilkins as ambassador simply because of his steady loyalty and hard work for the Bush family? If only it were so – if only it were so.

The disturbing thing about Wilkins, a tax-cutting, corporate, religious, protectionist conservative being America’s face to Canada, is the fact that, well, he’s got about the worst resume Bush could’ve chosen for someone to be America’s face to Canada.

As a tax-cutting, religious, protectionist conservative, you can bet that Canada will be facing more bullying, more talking down to, and more righteous indignation from Wilkins than we ever received from Paul Cellucci.

It all fits in with Bush’s new face of, rather than working with the world community, choosing to propel the fist of America-first power into foreigner’s faces. It began with choosing Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State, then anti-U.N’er John R. Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, neo-conservative ideologue Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank – and now, apparently, David Wilkins as U.S. ambassador to Canada. There’s definitely a pattern here.

If Mr. Wilkins is indeed appointed, as is expected, the upcoming feuds, controversies and outrages should at least prove entertaining, and make everything coming from Massachusetts moderate Paul Cellucci’s mouth pale in comparison.
But the next may be a step forward. From the Detriot Free Press:

January 20, 2009

Granholm good choice for ambassador to Canada, eh?


It’s Inauguration Day here, but in Ottawa, they’re speculating who might be the next U.S. ambassador to Canada.

One name getting mentioned — at least by the Ottawa Sun’s Greg Weston — is none other than Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. (Although, as Weston also puts it: “Truth is … no one seems to have any idea who will be president-elect Barack Obama's new rep in Canuckistan.”

The columnist opines that most insiders and observers seem to think that “if Canada gets lucky” the choice will be Granholm, herself a native Canadian. As Michigan governor, of course, she is well versed in the issues facing the auto industry — an important one for Canada too — and the Great Lakes.

Granholm, meanwhile, has maintained she is interested in remaining governor, though she is term limited and must leave office in 2011.

If Granholm were to get the Canada posting, she wouldn’t be the first Michigander in the office. Former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard served as U.S. Ambassador to Canada from 1993-96.

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