Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Canadian envoy Wilson lauds U.S. trade success

TAMPA — Things aren't going so well on our southern border, what with Mexico's gruesome drug violence spreading into U.S. cities. But at least our neighbor to the north is about as safe, stable and friendly as they come.

That was the message Michael Wilson, Canada's ambassador to the United States, brought to Tampa Bay business leaders last week as he reminded them of the "unique'' relationship between the two countries and the huge amount of cross-border trade, including that with Florida.

"We love your oranges; we love your grapefruit,'' Wilson told the luncheon crowd of 125. "Two-way trade in goods with Florida is at the rate of $1 million every hour. This is a terrific success story.'' (And one reason Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio is leading a trade delegation to Ontario in May.)

Florida also gets 2.5 million Canadian visitors a year, a fairly steady flow despite security hassles at the border that Wilson acknowledged have increased since the Sept. 11 attacks. As of June 1, U.S. citizens will need a passport to enter Canada, and Canadians may face a similar requirement for entering the United States.

"After 9/11, both countries realized there were changes that should be made in security arrangements and immigration systems,'' Wilson said. "We both made changes, but there was no coordination, no long-term planning. It's … important that we find the right balance between security and efficiency.''

Wilson, 71, was in Tampa primarily to visit U.S. Central Command, where a Canadian liaison team helps plan the war in Afghanistan. Operating in notoriously dangerous Helmand Province, center of Afghanistan's heroin poppy trade, Canada has lost 116 solders, proportionately more than any other major NATO partner including the United States.

A former investment banker with the Swiss giant UBS, Wilson stressed that Canada has one of the world's strongest financial systems. Its banks are less leveraged than those elsewhere and "the lending practices were not subject to the excesses that occurred in other countries.''

But Canada has also slipped into recession, largely because its economy is so closely tied to that of the United States, its biggest trade partner. Nonetheless, Wilson praised U.S. bailout efforts.

"The ability of the United States to mobilize vast resources in the face of economic crisis is truly remarkable,'' he said.

Given the strong relations between the two countries, which share the world's longest peaceful border, it's hardly surprising that President Barack Obama made his first foreign trip to Canada, albeit for just six hours. Wilson, ambassador since 2006, noted "good chemistry'' between the new U.S. leader and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a conservative who annoyed many Canadians with his strong support for Obama's predecessor.

"Canadians are very hopeful about the new administration and they want the Obama presidency to succeed,'' Wilson said, as the two countries work on such key issues as clean fuels and North American energy independence. Canada, not the Mideast, already is the United States' largest oil supplier.

Back in Washington, however, Wilson finds that the mood among Americans has changed from an "upbeat'' feeling right after the inauguration to a "sense that bipartisanship doesn't seem to be working.''

Susan Taylor Martin can be contacted at susan@sptimes.com.

Canadian envoy Wilson lauds U.S. trade success 03/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 10:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans

    Blogs

    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?

    Blogs

    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

    Nation

    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies

    News

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.