- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Canada’s new envoy

Canada’s next ambassador to the United States is expected to be a former Conservative finance minister who was a college classmate of granddaddy rocker Mick Jagger.

Michael Wilson, who served in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in the 1980s, emerged yesterday as the leading candidate to replace Ambassador Frank McKenna, who submitted his resignation after the Liberal Party lost the parliamentary elections last month.

The Toronto Star and the Canadian television network CTV cited diplomatic sources as identifying Mr. Wilson as the man who has been selected by the new Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The announcement has not been made public.

The Star described Mr. Wilson as one of the “old-guard Conservatives” who is well-known in Washington from his days as finance minister when he helped negotiate a U.S.-Canadian free-trade agreement. Mr. Wilson also has friends from the administration of President Bush’s father.

Mr. Wilson, 68, was an investment banker in Toronto when he entered politics in 1979. He tried to present a hip image by attending Rolling Stones concerts, where he met Mr. Jagger, now 62 with two grandchildren, the Star reported. The two were classmates at the London School of Economics.

Venezuela talks

The United States and Venezuela are trying to quell their latest dispute, which resulted in the expulsion of diplomats from both countries’ capitals earlier this month, said the U.S. ambassador in Caracas.

Ambassador William Brownfield told Venezuela’s Globovision television yesterday that Thomas Shannon, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, met Tuesday in Washington with Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez Herrera.

“Without a doubt, we have established a dialogue,” Mr. Brownfield said. “The idea is not to have a competition to see who can have the most meetings but to resolve problems and talk about collaboration.”

The meeting followed Venezuela accusing Cmdr. John Correa, the naval attache at the U.S. Embassy, of spying and ordering him to leave the country. The United States retaliated by expelling Jenny Figueredo Frias, Mr. Alvarez’s chief of staff.

The tit-for-tat expulsion is the latest row between the two countries since socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez began accusing the Bush administration of trying to overthrow him.

Last week, Mr. Alvarez assured the Bush administration that Venezuela, the world’s fifth-largest oil producer, will continue supplying oil to the United States despite a threat from Mr. Chavez to close Venezuela’s U.S.-based refineries.

Mission to Haiti

The Organization of American States yesterday dispatched Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza to the troubled nation of Haiti, embroiled in more political violence after a disputed presidential election.

“We plan to cooperate with the national authorities and with the international community to seek peaceful and democratic solutions to the situation that has developed in these last few days,” Mr. Insulza said in Washington before flying to the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

He will meet with Juan Gabriel Valdes, the U.N. special representative in Haiti, as well as officials of the interim government and leaders from political parties and civic groups.

The OAS counted heavily on last week’s elections as an opportunity for the country to try to dig itself out of years of political upheaval.

Mr. Insulza and OAS Assistant Secretary-General Albert Ramdin were among the international observers who declared the vote free and fair.

The OAS Permanent Council declared the elections “a first step toward strengthening democracy and the rule of law and promoting economic development in Haiti.”

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

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