- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Gift of gunpowder

Canadian Ambassador Frank McKenna cited an obscure historical fact to illustrate the deep ties between Americans and their northern neighbors even in the most difficult times.

The citizens of Calais, Maine, faced the agonizing choice of canceling their Fourth of July celebration in the opening months of the War of 1812 or using their scarce supply of gunpowder for fireworks.

However, their Canadian friends across the St. Croix River in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, solved their dilemma by giving them enough explosives for their Independence Day festivities.

“Now, what an example of such a trusting, respectful relationship is that, and that to me characterizes what the [U.S.-Canadian] relationship is all about,” Mr. McKenna, a former premier of New Brunswick, said in a recent speech to the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

“We share so much in common. We share the same commitment to democracy. We share the same commitment to values. We share the same commitments to freedom.

“We share the same commitments to peace, not only in our communities, but around the world, and I think that these two countries represent — at a time when the world is going through such violence and volatility — such a wonderful example to the world: two of the largest nations, two of the wealthiest nations, two of the most complex nations on the planet; that we could have over 6,000 miles of border between us and have this wonderful, respectful relationship where at the end of the day, we can call each other friend.”

Mr. McKenna noted that maintaining a secure yet open border is a major priority for the United States and Canada, which have the largest bilateral trading partnership in the world. The United States and Canada trade $1.8 billion in goods and services daily.

“A million dollars a minute is transacted in business between our two countries,” he said. “A truck crosses the border every 2 seconds. On average, half a million people cross the border every single day.”

The trade supports about 5 million jobs in the United States and 2 million in Canada, he said.

“Canada is your number one source of energy in oil, crude oil, gas, uranium, electricity — not Saudi Arabia, not Iraq, not Venezuela, but Canada, and you can count on Canada as being a secure, safe, reliable provider of your energy future,” he said.

Mr. McKenna also reminded his audience about the surprising number of Canadian-born celebrities who are household names in the United States. He listed singers Shania Twain, Sarah McLachlan, Bryan Adams and Celine Dion, comedians Rich Little and the late John Candy, actor Donald Sutherland, talk show host Alex Trebek and ABC news anchor Peter Jennings. He also added pop singer Britney Spears.

“OK, I lied about Britney Spears. … I was just checking to see if you were listening,” he said. “All of the rest of them are Canadians, and I bet you didn’t know that.”

Money for Poland

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has assured Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld that the United States will allocate $100 million to help Poland pay for its fight against terrorism.

Congress has not yet approved the Bush administration’s request for the money, but Miss Rice this week told Mr. Rotfeld: “I think Poland can count on funding support for what has been, we know, an expensive — but we really do believe very well worth it — effort in support of the war on terrorism.”

Speaking at the State Department on Tuesday, she called Poland “one of our strongest friends in the world.”

Mr. Rotfeld said, “We did not have in our history such good relations with the United States as now.”

Poland is removing its troops from Iraq after a two-year deployment.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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