A quick guide to Canada for new u.s. ambassador
to: Kelly Knight Craft, united states ambassador to Canada. dear ambassador Craft: Congratulations on your confirmation as ambassador of the united states to Canada. you are your country’s 31st representative in ottawa and the first woman, which is something to celebrate. Mercifully, you are not sarah Palin. the office is a reward for partisans and donors. so, with great respect to your innovative philanthropy and public service, particularly at the united nations, you’re here largely because you were an early ally of donald trump.
It should enhance your access to the White house. as a friend of the president, for example, you can call him when you have a problem. no need to go through the state department. our ambassador to the u.s., david Mcnaughton, enjoys that kind of easy relationship with Prime Minister Justin trudeau.
the difference between us, though, is that Canada isn’t important in Washington. ours is an asymmetrical relationship, which means you matter more to us than we to you. as trump told the president of Mexico, “We do not even think about them (Canada).”
that’s bad for you, Madame ambassador, because when you call the president he will always have more critical matters on his agenda. For us, though, being ignored is good. the less the united states thinks about Canada — such as our trade surplus or our perceived advantages under naFta — the less we worry about border taxes or “Buy america.”
While relations remain good between governments, your country and your president are increasingly unpopular among Canadians.
the Pew research Center in Washington found recently that 84 per cent of Canadians oppose the wall with Mexico, 79 per cent oppose withdrawing from the Paris agreement, 78 per cent oppose ending trade agreements, 64 per cent disapprove of the ban on Muslims.
What you will find is that Canada is a moderate, progressive society that straddles the ideological centre. guns, religion and money are not part of our politics.
Canada supports measures against climate change, embraces universal health care, believes in collective security (nato) and multilateralism (un), and welcomes syrian refugees. We long ago reached consensus on abortion, capital punishment and gay marriage. We’re cool to coal, which I hope you and your husband won’t take personally.
a decade or so ago, as america began abolishing the death penalty, embraced universal health care, adopted gay marriage and signed the Paris agreement, it seemed that Canadians and americans were moving closer together. that’s no longer so.
historically, when Canadians sour on a president they sour on the country, touching a chord of juvenile anti-americanism in our national psyche. this is sad. expect demonstrations and denunciations. But worry not. you will be treated with respect and politeness. ask your successors. they loved the job.
do try to understand our country, which some ambassadors never really do. read our literature and history. Visit. don’t assume, as target did, that Canadians and americans are the same. respect our belief in government, social welfare and the separation of church and state. tolerate our smugness and contentment.
Pick an issue — the advancement of women, cross-border educational exchanges — where you can use your position to make a difference. Buy yourself a parka and a pair of skates. open your mind — and your heart.
yours, andrew Cohen.