The Politi­cian

Con­quer­ing the chal­lenge of the NAFTA trade ne­go­ti­a­tions

Village Post - - News - BY BOB RAE LAWYER & FOR­MER MP

I can re­mem­ber quite vividly my first meet­ing with Chrys­tia Free­land. I had stepped down as the MP for Toronto Cen­tre, and when she de­cided to run for the nom­i­na­tion we went for cof­fee. We knew each other by rep­u­ta­tion but had never met. What im­pressed me most was her cu­rios­ity. A pro­fes­sional jour­nal­ist, she made a point of jot­ting things down as she pep­pered me with ques­tions. This wasn’t a pro forma ex­er­cise. She wanted to know what it would take to win a nom­i­na­tion, how I bal­anced my life and work, what she could ex­pect when she got to Ot­tawa.

I warned her that her first days in Ot­tawa would be dif­fi­cult be­cause the House of Com­mons has a way of test­ing new­com­ers. She sur­vived the com­ments about her voice be­ing too high and the chal­lenge of han­dling the heck­ling. If she was daunted by it, she never showed it.

The elec­tion of Don­ald Trump and the emer­gence of NAFTA as a key is­sue led to Chrys­tia be­com­ing min­is­ter of for­eign af­fairs. She mas­tered the web of de­tails on that is­sue and reaf­firmed Canada’s com­mit­ment to build­ing a world where rules mat­tered in trade and the rule of law needed to count in our deal­ings with the world. Ar­tic­u­late and un­fazed by the chal­lenge of deal­ing with the un­pre­dictable, Chrys­tia has emerged as a key voice, not just for the gov­ern­ment, but for Canada.

Through it all, she is a wife and mother, down-to-earth, dis­arm­ingly straight­for­ward and di­rect. Work­ing with her on the Ro­hingya file, I saw her show com­pas­sion and a will­ing­ness to go the ex­tra mile for what she be­lieves in. And she still writes stuff down when we chat. Be­cause she’s cu­ri­ous, and she cares.

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