Canada has to take care of its place in international relations better if it wants to capitalize on its strengths, said Frank McKenna, former premier of New Brunswick.
McKenna, who was the keynote speaker at the Automotive Industries Association of Canada’s Annual Convention in Charlottetown, P.E.I, told automotive aftermarket executives that the political gaff’s that have filled headlines were a serious issue.
"The quicker we get to these [political] changes the better, because we have some big issues facing Canada. We have a lot of good things going for us, but we also have a lot of issues we have to deal with. Issue number one is repairing our relationship with the U.S.
"There is absolutely no doubt that [prime minister] Jean Chretien made a terrible mistake staying on through this long interregnum.
"When he decided to leave, he should have left. We have lame-duck leadership when we need strong leadership."
He said that Canada’s reaction to the World Trade Center tragedy was an example of the trouble Canada’s current political leadership has led the country into.
"When 9/11 happened we were a pound light and a day late." It wasn’t so much that we did anything wrong, he says, we just didn’t do the right things. While the leadership in Canada was mulling over what the appropriate reaction might be, U.K. prime minister Tony Blair was already on a plane to New York
"Instead of acting spontaneously, it’s always a case of wondering how it will play out."
He says that Canada needs to react more spontaneously. Furthermore, he says, while the U.S. has concerned itself with issues of its own security, looking for a more closed border, Canada has been talking about opening up the border to free up trade.
McKenna says that Canada’s lack of recognition of how important the national security issue has become to Americans continues to damage the relationship.
"As long as we are having two different conversations, we are not going to get along."
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