Skip to comments.Bush cancels visit to Canada
Posted on 04/12/2003 4:20:20 AM PDT by Lorenb420
OTTAWA - George W. Bush has cancelled a planned visit to Canada on May 5 because of unhappiness over Ottawa's stance on the war in Iraq and anti-American comments by members of the Chrétien government, sources say.
The Prime Minister's Office has been informed by Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. President's National Security Advisor, that Mr. Bush will postpone his first official visit to Ottawa, where he was to address Parliament and hold high-level meetings on several issues, including energy policy.
One source said the final straw for the White House was the Prime Minister's order to the Canadian commander in charge of a multilateral naval task force in the Persian Gulf that fugitive members of the Iraqi regime must not be turned over to U.S. forces.
"People of good faith can disagree on this [war] but the [Chrétien] government tries to split it so well that the [Americans] see them as just muddling along. Why have an interdiction force in the Persian Gulf if Canada is not going to pick up people? What's the point of being there?" the source said. "They are just trying to please everybody."
Mr. Chrétien raised the possibility on Thursday that the President's visit might be postponed because of Mr. Bush's busy agenda.
"I don't know what will happen .... So far it is on, but it is coming at an awkward time perhaps for him. He is still invited but if he were not able to come, I will invite him to come later," Mr. Chrétien told reporters.
A U.S. embassy spokesman said there has been no announcement that the visit has been postponed due to the President's schedule.
In Washington, Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, was guarded whether Mr. Chrétien's refusal to join the war and the spate of anti-American remarks by Liberal MPs would affect the President's visit.
"Well, the President visits countries and has relations with countries not depending on just their reactions involving Iraq," Mr. Fleischer said. "We have many broader relationships and broader issues that also unite us, and common values and common friendship. And that's the context of any visits the President would take to any nation, whether they are with us or not."
However, a senior source said Claude Laverdure, the Prime Minister's foreign policy advisor, has spoken with Ms. Rice several times, "trying to work out a joint announcement [on postponing the visit] and they haven't worked it out yet."
Although relations between the President and Mr. Chrétien were never close, the source said they are now "very strained."
The two leaders have not spoken since February, and Mr. Chrétien did not phone Mr. Bush to inform him that Canada would not support the U.S.-led war. It is not known whether Mr. Bush will wait until after Mr. Chrétien leaves office in February to come to Canada. The Bush administration has indicated it is looking forward to improved relations if either Paul Martin, the former finance minister, or John Manley, the Finance Minister, succeeds Mr. Chrétien. Sheila Copps, the Heritage Minister, is also running for the Liberal leadership but on a strongly Canadian nationalist platform.
The strains in Canada-U.S. relations broke into the open after the United States invaded Iraq.
Paul Cellucci, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, rebuked the Chrétien government for not supporting the invasion and for failing to denounce MPs who had made anti-American remarks.
They include Carolyn Parrish, the Liberal backbencher who said she hated American "bastards," and Herb Dhaliwal, the Natural Resources Minister, who said Mr. Bush had failed as an international statesman.
On Wednesday, Mr. Cellucci again criticized Canada's position, calling Mr. Chrétien's refusal to turn over fugitive Iraqis to U.S. forces "incomprehensible."
Yesterday, Mr. Chrétien said Canada is willing to help in the reconstruction of Iraq and is prepared to send RCMP officers to help keep the peace, as it did in Haiti and Kosovo. "We've sent RCMP officers to Haiti and elsewhere. If it is a contribution that we can make, we will do it. If they want us to do something else, we will do something else."
Mr. Manley, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, said municipal police officers have also been involved in establishing and training police forces. "This is something that we have some experience and expertise in and it's something that if the world community judges that that's where we can best help, then Canadians should be prepared to do it."
A U.S. embassy official said the administration was waiting for a concrete Canadian proposal on reconstruction.
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It is in the breaking news sidebar!
Go pound sand up your A**!
Most Canadians are sick and tired of them.
And we all know how well that "democratization" worked out. Stay out of the way, Canada.
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