Political differences put aside during time of remembrance
Premier would like to see NAFTA agreement reached
As North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations resumed Tuesday, Sept. 11, Americans and Canadians in Appleton put potential differences aside to reflect on the 17th anniversary of 9-11.
“Forget what you read about NAFTA, and the negotiations, and Twitter wars, that’s not who we are,” U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft told those in attendance at the 9-11 ceremony in Appleton. “Sure, it’s business and it’s important, but Gander is the place that, in a snapshot, illustrates the Canada, U.S. relationship.”
The agreement allows free trade between Canada, the United States and Mexico. It was designed to improve access to goods between the three countries. In 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to renegotiate NAFTA and would later impose tariffs on Canadian products entering the U.S. – a 25 per cent tariff was placed on steel and a 10 per cent tariff was placed on aluminum.
Canada would respond with retaliatory tariffs of its own.
While NAFTA has proven to be a bone of contention on a political level, there was no sign of a strained relationship between its citizens.
Craft attended the service to show her appreciation to the people of central Newfoundland, who cared for nearly 7,000 stranded passengers when North American airspace was closed following the 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.
She further demonstrated a strong relationship between the two countries by highlighting a recent visit to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). During the trip, a Canadian general was responsible for American airspace.
“Let that sink in. A foreign military official in charge of keeping us secure. That can only happen with total trust and mutual respect of the closest of allies,” Craft said. “That’s the U.S. and Canada, we have each other’s back, every, single, day.”
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball reiterated Craft’s message. Having the opportunity to spend two days speaking with the ambassador, he doesn’t feel NAFTA is straining relations. Ball said he used his time to further the province’s relationship with the U.S., while discussing tariffs.
“(Craft) is a very genuine person, she understands how important this relationship is,” said Ball. “… It’s a surreal feeling, that you leave an event like this, where we saw both countries and the province come together in a very profound way, then go back to work.”
But at the end of the day, he would like to see an agreement reached.
“We want to see trade between the U.S. and Canada… it’s important to every single industry in Canada, and of course in Newfoundland and Labrador if it’s oil, energy or forestry, we are connected as well,” he said. “We want to see some certainty, it makes it easier to attract business, attract investment into jurisdictions where that certainly exist.”