President Bush sought Tuesday to patch up relations with Canada after years of bickering, flying here for tough hemispheric and global talks amid boisterous demonstrations from opponents of the U.S. led-war in Iraq.
Bush's trip here was the first official visit by a U.S. president in nearly 10 years and his meeting with Prime Minister Paul Martin was akin to a political dance; Bush wanted to avoid any missteps that could amplify anti-Americanism north of the U.S. border.
But his unpopularity in some Canadian quarters was unmistakable. Some of the several hundred protesters near the Parliament building were polite. "Please leave," read one sign along Bush's highly secured motorcade route. But others near where Bush and Martin met held placards that branded Bush an "assassin." A truck parked near the motorcade route was emblazoned with the phrase "Bush is a war criminal." Another placard simply commanded, "Go Home ... " and included an expletive. [...] Bush will not make a customary speech at the House of Commons in Ottawa where the sometimes raucous Parliament has been known to heckle speakers.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan shrugged off suggestions that the president feared that sort of scenario, saying Bush had elected to speak "directly to the Canadian people" Wednesday in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he will thank Halifax and other maritime provinces that received tens of thousands of Americans stranded after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
You know, two things strike me about this.
First, that it took four years for him to get around to visiting Canada. I mean, the Canadians can get huffy about him visiting Mexico first if they want, but really, mox nix. Big country directly on our border (just like Canada, yes, we get that), lots lots more people, and he already had a personal relationship with the then-leader of the country. It was kind of to be expected. What wasn't to be expected, however, would be that there would be a lot of back-and-forth visits between the US and Mexico leaders before he ever got around to making one to Canada. In diplomatic terms, a high-level diss, so to speak.
Second: he's not visiting Parliament because he's afraid of being heckled? Seriously, where are this man's cojones? (Oh, I forgot, Cheney and Rumsfeld apparently have one each. Well, never mind, then.) Apparently, he doesn't have the courage to deal with the displeasure of a few legislators -- who, after all, have something invested in not being all that rude to a visiting head of state, at least in public. You'd think he'd have something invested in being seen to rise above it all.
Canadian ranchers are upset about the U.S. ban on live Canadian cattle that was imposed after a lone case of mad cow disease was discovered in Alberta in May 2003. The United States is Canada's biggest beef customer, and the American ban has cost the Canadian cattle industry billions of dollars. [...] Bush will be served Alberta beef at a dinner tonight that Martin is hosting at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
No comment. Whatsoever.Posted by iain at November 30, 2004 01:17 PM