The Ottawa Citizen
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Under bright, blue skies and lots of sun, U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins hosted his last Independence Day shindig in Canada with at least two messages for Canadians: Afghanistan is a marathon, not a sprint, and even a Democratic president, if elected, will see the benefits of NAFTA and won’t attempt to renegotiate it.
During a media scrum, Mr. Wilkins spoke about the U.S. and Canada having “the best relationship in the world” and characterized the two countries as a “force for good.”
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He referred to his Christmas trip to Afghanistan with Canada’s Gen. Rick Hillier, where he saw first-hand the “difference” Canadians are making there. While Mr. Wilkins wouldn’t speculate on how long foreign troops will have to stay, he said: “It’s a marathon, but it’s a race we must win.”
The envoy also tried to allay Canadian concerns that a Democratic president will want to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying “they’ll realize NAFTA is too beneficial and will continue to support it.” He added that he doesn’t think a change at the White House will affect the Canada-U.S. relationship.