Pre­miers wrap up Wash­ing­ton trip; some call it a new era in Canada-U.S. re­la­tions

Cape Breton Post - - OBITUARIES/NEWS -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — Seven Cana­dian pre­miers wrapped up a three-day visit to the U.S. cap­i­tal Sun­day, some of them herald­ing a new era in Canada-U.S. re­la­tions fol­low­ing their mo­ment in the spot­light at an in­flu­en­tial con­fer­ence of Amer­i­can gov­er­nors.

The pre­miers of On­tario, Que­bec, Man­i­toba, Saskatchewan, Nova Sco­tia, New Brunswick and Prince Ed­ward Is­land were warmly wel­comed by U.S. power bro­kers through­out their time in D.C., in­clud­ing by three top-level fig­ures in Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

But the high­light of their trip was their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the win­ter meet­ing of the Na­tional Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion, with about 20 U.S. gov­er­nors, mostly from bor­der states, join­ing them for a round ta­ble en­ti­tled “ Com­mon Bor­der, Com­mon Ground.”

The good will was in such abun­dance that Penn­syl­va­nia’s Ed­ward Ren­dell was eas­ily nudged to war­ble a cho­rus of “O Canada” af­ter he was over­heard boast­ing to his Michi­gan col­league, Jen­nifer Gran­holm, that he knew the words.

“I’ve turned what I think are the best lyrics into one verse. I can’t sing; I sound like a sick squir­rel, but I will try my best,” Ren­dell said be­fore raspily launch­ing into an al­most-ac­cu­rate ren­di­tion as Cana­dian re­porters cheered him on.

Mis­sis­sippi Gov. Ha­ley Bar­bour raved about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two coun­tries.

“ The Cana­di­ans are not just our clos­est neigh­bours, they’re our best friends,” he said. “ There’s hardly any place in the world where you could have an open bor­der of this dis­tance. It’s breath­tak­ing; what a won­der­ful re­la­tion­ship.”

Of­fi­cial busi­ness ended Sun­day as the pre­miers sat down with Obama’s agri­cul­ture sec­re­tary, the third high-level ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial to meet with them in as many days.

On Fri­day, they met at the White House with his eco­nomics czar, Larry Sum­mers, and Lisa Jack­son, the head of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency. They raised con­cerns with Jack­son that Cana­dian man­u­fac­tur­ers might be sub­ject to puni­tive U.S. mea­sures now that the EPA has warned it will start reg­u­lat­ing car­bon emis­sions.

The EPA made the threat in the ab­sence of green­house gas laws from Congress. That leg­is­la­tion is stalled due to the Democrats’ re­cent loss of their fil­i­buster­proof ma­jor­ity in the Se­nate with the elec­tion of a Repub­li­can to the late Ted Kennedy’s Mas­sachusetts seat.

De­spite all the good will on dis­play to­ward Canada dur­ing the pre­miers’ visit, there are fears that Cana­dian man­u­fac­tur­ers and en­ergy providers who pro­duce car­bon-in­ten­sive goods will suf­fer un­der tough EPA reg­u­la­tions, some­thing that is shap­ing up to be a hot spot in Canada-U.S. trade re­la­tions.

Amer­ica’s con­tro­ver­sial coun­try-of-ori­gin la­belling by the U.S. was the dom­i­nant topic of dis­cus­sion be­tween Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Tom Vil­sack and the pre­miers dur­ing the meet­ing on a bril­liantly sunny morn­ing in the U.S. cap­i­tal. Canada and Mex­ico have com­plained to the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion about the mea­sures, say­ing they vi­o­late NAFTA.

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