Let me say before I start that I was supposed to give a view from the outside. Its not really quite from the outside, because we consider Canada a second home.
Part of what Im going to talk about is U.S.-Canadian relations, part differences between Americans and Canadians and part recommendations from a friend.
Youll have to understand I dont consider myself an expert on Canada, although I know more than most Americans. But you know what that means.
Let me just start out by saying the future of Canada is for Canadians to decide. My job tonight is to try and entertain you a little bit.
I do have as a friend some recommendations, but first I would like to a little bit about U.S.-Canadian relations because one of the things I learned here as Ambassador for three years was that even though we have very talented leaders on both sides of the border almost no one had any idea of how extensive our relations were.
When youre the Ambassador, either the Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. or the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, you really get a feel for the width and breadth of the relationship. It is incredible.
The job of Ambassador to Canada, by the way, was exciting. It was fascination, it was challenging. And this comes from a former member of Congress and a Governor.
The job is a fascinating blend of politics and government and diplomacy. And the reason is you can name almost any issue, anything and the U.S. and Canada are working together on it, almost always co-operatively.
From space stations where were partners, to Haiti where were policing the streets, from Bosnia to NAFTA, from Great lakes water quality to tracking the Russian Mafia we are working very closely together; almost every agency and department and bureau from our federal government and yours, as well as our state and local governments are working round the clock.
Its almost like we dont need an Ambassador because all that goes on anyway. On the other hand, if an Ambassador is worth the certificate on the wall they should be able to help manage that relationship in a way that gets more value out of it.
It is by far the most extensive relationship of any two countries on the face of the earth. And it continues in ways that are very important to all of our people. Its not just that we were allies in World War Two or World War One or Korean, the Persian Gulf, or that we founded NATO right here or the United Nations, or NORAD, or that were partners at G-7, the OAS, or OECD.
This relationship we have sustains millions of jobs on both sides of the border and helps protect the very air we breathe and the water we drink.
If you just take trade. You hear it all the time, but its important to take stock. This is now in U.S. dollars a $360 billion relationship. It is a billion a day in U.S. dollars.
When I was Ambassador it was a billion a day in Canadian dollars.
About 82 per cent of your exports go to the United States; about 22 per cent of ours come here.
The United States has more trade with Canada than we do with all the European nations added up and its growing by leaps and bounds.
Our merchandise trade between the two countries has grown by 69 per cent since NAFTA was adopted. And I might add to a slight advantage to Canada, although if you poll people those on either side of the border think the other side got the better end of the deal.
About 95 per cent of that goes smoothly. And if we have a dispute you usually read about it because its big news; news at least here.
By the way, the War of 1812. Were going to talk about that later, but Ive never lived a country where the use of the war is so frequent in your newspapers, even though this is a peaceful, non-violent country.
Fish war, beer war, salmon war, culture war, trade war. Its not descried that way down south of the border. Interesting.
But theres room for improvement with trade and I dont mean just by trying to solve the lumber war.
For example, Open Skies. We took a focus approach on getting a new agreement. We got it after 20 years of wrangling because a bunch of us worked hard on it. And in the three short years there are more than 3,000,000 new passenger seats per year between the two countries.
Moving away from trade, though, its fascinating to know and most Americans would not know it that Canada is the largest provider of energy to United States; far more than Saudi Arabia or any of the Middle Eastern countries. Obviously its a secure supply and a friendly supply, as well.
Take the environment. It was discussed briefly last night. The United States and Canada have had the longest standing environmental relationship of any two countries on the face of the earth. It isnt just something that was born on Earth Day, or in the 60s or 70s.
An actual treaty was negotiated by Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Teddy Roosevelt at the beginning of the century and finally signed in 1909, creating the boundary waters agreement and the International Joint Commission, which to this very day not only helps manage our boundary waters but looks into the issues of Great Lakes water quality, how we monitor that and clean it up.
National security. We could talk all day about that. I mentioned NORAD and NATO, but just dwelling on NORAD for a moment. As we speak there are 300 Canadians and Americans working inside Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, Colorado, monitoring every movement in the skies of everything that is released. We do that seamlessly and quietly and we have for many decades.
We have our disagreements, of course. They are few and far between, but we have them and thats only normal.
But there are other things that go wrong when things arent managed properly. For example in the United States out of ignorance, or
simply taking the relationship for granted, bad things can happen.
For example, our Congress passed a bill that requires written documentation to go back and forth at the border . Now that will end up getting repealed; its been partially repealed already. But the whole thing was basically out of ignorance.
This relationship is really one you have to work at. A lot of people [who] preceded us worked very hard these past few decades to cultivate good relationships and we should never take that for granted.
Whether its differences in foreign policy or disagreements what I found fascinating was that if you look at the two cultures its interest that we get along so well. There is nothing in the Scriptures, or written in stone, that suggests or guarantees that two countries the size of ours with the border of ours would get along so well.
Usually, historically, two countries wouldnt.
And the differences , as I said, are fascinating because the differences between our two countries are much greater than I think you realize.
And they really do affect what kind of strategy our businesses might have, or our politicians, or our lawyers. And I want to talk a little bit about those differences, because its interesting.
You know some of them. In fact, Canadians strongly believe that they know more about us, than we do about you. And thats true. But its not saying much. Far too much of your information is from Hollywood or TV. The United States is more than Florida and New York.
Ive been surprised how many people in Ontario knew very little about Michigan, my home. Unfortunately, too many people in Michigan dont know about Ontario, though a lot of them do.
But the differences starts with the worst thing you can say to a Canadian is the best thing you can say to an American: youre just like us.
I try to tell my American friends, dont go up there and do that. " Well, theyre just like us arent they?" I say, no.
Youre not just like us, but you do look and sound like us and visa versa, I suppose. You can see why people might think that. But the differences go on and on. And we see them every day when were here.
For example, obviously, our political systems are totally different. Other than the fact the political leaders tend to be nice people who are gregarious and active and mostly honest, but the systems are totally different.
You have the Parliamentary system, we have representative democracy. Your system is supposed to be set up to work, to be efficient, to do the will of the Crown. Our is set up to thwart the consolidation of power. We have not only three branches of government and two houses of one branch and checks and balances. It was set up to thwart the consolidation of power and thwart any future king we might have, even though we didnt want one.
In dealing with our leaders they keep projecting each others system on the other.
In Congress anybody can introduce a bill. When I was in Congress years ago there was something like 13,000 bills in the hopper and only maybe a couple of hundred would ever get a hearing. Now theres got to be nearly 30,000 or 40,000 bills in the hopper and very few ever get a hearing or are taken seriously. Theyre tantamount to a press release, not serious work.
But a bill gets dropped in the hopper down there that affects Canada youll read about it in the paper in Canada. Youll never read about in the Congressman or Congresswomans home town, but youll read about it up here.
When the Congress shut our government down a few years ago, you remember that? It was like crazy. I had a hard time trying to explain to our Embassy employees what was going on. Many of them are Canadian and they want to get paid. It was really stressful. I had Canadians say, Mr. Ambassador, how could you allow it. I said, well we have checks and balances.
In your country if the government shut down youd have an election.
[People would say to me] we cant understand how you could do that. Id say, well we cant understand why you let Quebec vote all the time on leaving the country, either.
We have different systems.
Most especially we look at the world differently. Every country looks at the world differently. I sometimes think we have a hard time understanding that fact. We are from time to time an isolationist nation and we dont appreciate that.
I learned about our country and a lot about the world living here, as did Janet, as do all Americans who come here. Its just that simple. As I said, the view of the War of 1812. I dont know how many people told me Canada had a war with the U.S. Canada didnt have a war with the U.S. that was the British.
It was also the war that both sides won.
But, if I had a Loonie for every person who told me that, you burned Toronto, we burned the White House well show you, Id be a rich man; maybe I wouldnt be. I wouldnt have 80 cents, Id have 65 cents anyway.
These days the political community here is much more internationalist and more free trade sensitive. However, these trade deals can be politically sensitive. Its my observation that is a fact today in Canada and thats because more of an internationalist country by necessity, not just by education.
And Canada is a multilateralist; you believe in multilateralism, its a multilateralist country.
We are a unilateral country. We believe in unilateralism.
As I said we tend to be isolationists. We do not, contrary to some belief, we Americans want to be the worlds policeman at all. But when there is trouble we dont mind if the rest of the world wants us to send in the Marines. We dont mind it all; whereas you are the peacekeepers.
And then theres the style. Styles are different here. Canadians love to negotiate. Again youve been negotiating the status of your country for a long time, a little longer than we would. Were deal makers. We like to cut deals, even if we break a few of them later. You like to negotiate. Your slow and deliberate and that can be good with important things. Were fast and abrupt.
Were noisy. Youre quiet. We like change. Youre into orderliness. Your negotiators, were litigators.
If somebody has a grievance here you have a national inquiry and then you negotiate and pretty soon everybody will be feeling sorry and somebody will pay him off. And your taxes are over 50 per cent. In our country, if you have a wrong you sue, even if its an act of God, you sue.
For example, on any given day General Motors in the United States will have 4,000 product liability lawsuits pending. In Canada, it will be, maybe 12. And in Europe it will be six or seven.
Of course, I said our cultures are different.
I think you can make a strong case your more civilized and were more violent. However, I would say if you get to small town America, or where I grew up or where we live now, theres relatively no crime and never was.
Its serious. Pick up the paper as I did the other day in Michigan and you read about a drive-by shooting. Theres not as many as there were, but you read about drive-by shootings in big cities all the time.
The first year we were in Ottawa they had their first drive-by shooting in the history of the city and it was a shocker. A young man who worked for Bell Northern Research, now Nortel, was tragically shot and killed in downtown Ottawa by a couple of teen-agers.
And that so rocked the community, especially because he was new to the country. He was from Britain; the family didnt know if they were going to come over.
The whole town turned out for this poor guy. Their hearts poured out for him. There were 2,000 people at the church and another 2,000 in the streets outside. This could never have happened in a big city in America, much less the capital city of America.
It did for a couple of capital policemen, yes, and that was tragic, but this was a brand new resident of Canada walking down the street. Hed only been there a couple of months and maybe only knew 12 people.
I said in one of my speeches in Ottawa, you Canadians ought to get down and kiss the very ground beneath you because you have a country like that; that cares and feels and also considers that kind of violence so extraordinary that it needs to be understood and the family needs to be loved.
Thats one of those great Canadian assets.
I could go on and on, I need to get to my recommendations and then we can get to questions.
Again, things move a little slower here. I like that. Things move faster in the United States. In fact we joke in Ottawa, even though its a political town and sometimes political towns can be power obsessed, people always seem to have time for each other.
We travelled the width and breadth of the country, as was mentioned. We took a train from St. Johns, Newfoundland, all the way to Victoria, B.C. Ive been to the magnetic north pole, Pond Inlet, Heads Smashed in Buffalo Jump. People have time for each other here. Sometimes they fuss a little too much with each other, but they have time for each other.
I describe Washington as a town of drive-by friendships. And you know I get a bigger laugh in Washington, than I just did here. People mean well though, they all want to get along but theyre all in a hurry. Its a real merry-go-round.
I [recall when ] all of Cabinet, the President and the Vice President came to visit us and they loved sitting by the fire in our home having a few hours to think or read, listen to the fire or talk and not hear sirens and have the phones ringing off the hook and people running in and out with paper; something urgent that might not be all so urgent.
Also weekends and families. We talk about family values in the U.S. politically and its important to everybody. The truth is looks to me that families are stronger in Canada than the U.S., which has something to do with the lower crime rate.
In the U.S. weekends [are] when people get babysitters and go out and do things without their children. Here it would appear in most places weekends are for the family and your children, which is totally the opposite.
Then, theres the bureaucrats. This is a much more bureaucratic country than the United States. The United States is much more entrepreneurial. Its changing somewhat, but bureaucrats are detested in the United States. Maybe theyre not all so popular here, but on the other hand bureaucrats are more respected, particularly in government. I even see the papers once in awhile use the word mandarin. Youd never see that in the United States.
Nor, would you ever see these poor politicians like Minister Alan Rock, being blamed for the work of bureaucrats long before he even arrived in his portfolio.
Here the political community is expected to clean up the mess of the bureaucrats. In the United States, we expect the bureaucrats to clean up the mess of the politicians. Think about it.
Then, theres the attitudes.
Americans are optimists. Everything is the best, the best; were the greatest. Youve seen it, even if its totally untrue and ridiculous.
Canadians are pessimists. I dont know whether its the weather or the Scottish I have some Scottish in me.
I dont know what it is, but you can take the UN rating [Canada as] the best country in the world to live in and say, oh, this is terrible. The UN doesnt know what theyre doing!
Two others things. One serious and one not so serious.
In Canada, theres a greater sense of community than in the U.S. In smaller towns in the U.S. wed have that and we had that where I grew up and where Janet grew up. Theres a greater sense of community here, of caring, of trying to include everyone and worry about everybody.
Thats a very admirable quality. We can re-learn that, or learn that from you.
In the U.S., we have a stronger sense of nationhood. And Im not suggesting you wave the flags like we do, because I know you find that offensive.
Finally, this is a good one and its true. You Canadians are the worlds greatest nitpickers. You nitpick everything, including yourselves all the time. Americans are not nitpickers, but we are the worlds biggest bullshitters. You know what I mean. We are different, not better or worse, but different and we can learn a lot from each other.
But, let me tell you what I learned here and this gets to my recommendations.
I dont have to tell you this, but its important you find ways to celebrate it. This land of yours is a truly great nation; I mentioned earlier it would be great whether you lived next to us or not. It is a great nation with great traditions and values.
And I truly believe Paul Martins vision which he outlined last night, however optimistic which I liked for the year 2026, I believe that will come true if you keep in mind what a great country you have; keep your eye on the ball and not nitpick yourselves too much.
And remember youre also a young country. I know that Cartier and Cabot and all these people arrived before Plymouth Rock and Champlain planted the flag in Quebec City about 12 years before Plymouth Rock. But the reality is the formation of the Dominion of Canada was almost a hundred years after the formation of our country. And you are a young nation; your still nation-building.
Remember this, too. You have cities that work everywhere. Youve got wholesome values. Youve got strong families. Youre a compassionate society; as they say, a kinder, gentler society. Youve got enormous natural resources; a low crime rate, growing entrepreneurial spirit and youre the envy of the world.
Even Americans who come up here say, God, I wish our cities were like that. You really have it all. I say that as a proud American because I think Im a better American for having lived here.
I think you need to underscore and celebrate your great country more often, which brings me to my recommendations.
I want to call these recommendations from a friend.
The future of Canada is for Canadians to decide, but since youve invited me here Ive got to say something about what is I think you ought to do and I will, bearing in mind I do not hold myself as the great expert on Canada, and bearing in mind all this is prefaced on my belief that you are a truly great nation.
Canadians must decide how important their nation is to them. Do you want a stronger sense of nationhood, or do you want to simply drift into a collection of very attractive provinces. You have to deal with that one.
A devolution of power will always be appealing to the local politicians, and to provincial politicians. Theyll always be appealing and there will be an insatiable demand for it.
The real question is do you really want to shift more power to the provinces, or do you want to shift them, as Mr. Martin suggested last night, to the people directly?
Why just shift it to another layer of government. You can empower people in communities without sending power to another set of politicians or layer of government.
The third point. If nationhood or your culture is important to you, then I think the teaching of Canadian history and literature and the arts has to be strengthened.
I get mixed answers from young people I talk to about how much history they get, but I can tell you students get about three years of American history before youre into grade 12. You get a lot of it, you get world history, you get all those things, but there are a lot of places in Canada not just in Quebec where its a minor little section of one year. You need to deal with that.
The idea of simply trying to keep Sports Illustrated out is really not all becoming. You can argue that one every which way. I think you have to have your own magazines and newspapers and TV and radio and you really do need all that.
You need your own theatre and movies, absolutely.
But there also has to be some context in which it was created and has developed and survived and thrived. Thats whether its in your authors, or your paintings, certainly your history.
And I think it should be more than just trying to defend your existence culturally.
For example, you ought to be a little more aggressive on telling the Canadian story. My suggestion would be and I think it could be done is that CBC should be carried on all U.S. cable. Weve got all these cable channels down there. I dont think it would be difficult to put on several of the Canadian stations on U.S. cable. And people, whether they wanted to or not, theyd watch it. Theyd start to see your government and different things. I think it would be very educational and I think it should be done.
What we dont need is another old movie channel in Detroit. I will say in Detroit we do get CBC. I grew up watching it. It gave me a leg up in coming to Canada. I remember the night Diefenbaker became Prime Minister. I watch Canadian football. I knew who Paul Martin was and when I came up here to be Ambassador somebody said Paul Martin is the leading Liberal and may well be the next in the Cabinet.
I said, God, is he still around!
Of course, it was his father. Thats kind of a joke, I actually knew Paul Martin senior.
Unrelated to all those recommendations is something I will say that I know you all agree with but I want to explain that I am concerned and that is that Canadas health system must be saved.
I dont think its in as good shape as it was when we arrived in 1993. There are a lot of reasons for that. One is the runaway cost of health.
First of all, all of our polling shows the system is very popular in Canada. Most Americans dont understand thats its popular and well received and its for the average person under the average situation. Its a good system.
In the United States if you have a heart problem you dont wait two or three weeks for a bypass. You get it that day.
But U.S. hospitals are increasingly full of Canadians getting their care in the U.S. It doesnt have to be. Youve got hospitals and specialists that are just as good. Anda lot of you people go down there and work.
I think theres got to be a cost-effective way to strengthen that, and yet maintain the integrity of your system.
I think also its not a bad idea to have border arrangements with us as you might think, particularly in our border cities.
And you need some of that technology without having to order it for every hospital.
A few years ago a hospital right across the river in Detroit was doing about 100 bypasses a month for Ontario. Then there was some complaining and it stopped. I hate to think anybody who has to wait for that could go right across the border and it was good for both sides.
I know this is a sensitive subject. I think the United States can learn a lot from Canada on health care, but I hate to see us which I think we will move toward your system at a time when your system is not as strong as it used to be regardless of its political popularity.
Next I want to talk about attitudes.
I think that as you talk about the future you should quit trying to measure yourself by comparing yourself to the U.S. Its a different enough country, with different enough circumstances. Theres no use doing that.
And you should really discourage your politicians from shadow boxing with us. Its very unbecoming and it doesnt help your influence and it makes it harder from time to time for us to work together and we work well.
On foreign policy what are my observations? One is something you know, but its never said, which is bilingualism is a great asset for Canada. It really is. All over the world its a real asset and we just dont have that. We may develop it in Spanish at some point, but we dont. And its a great help to you all over the world and it brings you respect and prestige and leverage and friendship that I think is very useful.
I also think your friendship and closeness to the U.S. is a great asset, because a lot of countries know Canadas independent but know you can kind of influence us, so it gives you some leverage you might not otherwise have. I say use that wisely, as well. Please dont nitpick us. You can use that wisely and enhance your own stature and independence and influence.
I saw with Space Station, Bosnia in terms of ending the genocide, or Haiti, or now in trade with Latin American. By being bilingual, independent but close to us, gives you extra power and I think its important to keep in mind.
Then we can talk about soft power. Lloyd Axworthy likes that term. Its a good term and I think to some degree hes absolutely, as they say in Canada, bang on with the idea and the concept of soft power; that is influencing the world or helping bring about peace or helping create greater understanding or helping solve world crises through respect, the proper values, hard work, understanding, determination, caring, multi-lateral discussions.
I think thats true and I think its increasingly important, particularly since the United States is the last full service superpower. And were not always ready to get involved around the world.
One of my colleagues at the law firm who, along with Jean de Chastelain, negotiated the incredible peace agreement in Northern Ireland, gave a speech at the Aspen Institute and he talked about values.
And he said remember we may be the worlds most important military power, but we brought peace in Northern Ireland without firing one bullet; it was through our influence and it was through our ideals and it was through bringing people together.
So, soft power is important. And Canadas role in the world is important as you emphasize that path. But its also true if your going to have the kind of UN peacekeeping role youve enjoyed and envision in the future and youre going to play a partnership role in NATO you need some level of military commitment. You need to make sure your military receives the support and respect that it deserves and needs to do the job.
You cant be a peacekeeper with a vanishing army, or Boy Scouts in short pants. You have to have a serious, credible fighting force to do it. It doesnt have to be huge. Im not suggesting you imitate us. But you do have to have that. And anyone who studies Canadas military structure will agree with what Im saying.
On the environment. We, the two countries, have to figure how to synchronize our environmental regulations and protections; not in a way that dumbs them down, but in a way that strengthens and enhances them.
We dont have any choice. Weve got all this common space. Were going to be dealing with a lot of global challenges. Our economies are very much integrated, more than people let on, or even want, perhaps. Harmonization is going to be important, but we need to kind of synchronize that. Its important to the world. Its important to our health not just to have good looking parks or nice places to sail, its a matter of human health, air and water and soil.
Finally, on national unity. You cant have a speech in Canada without talking about it.
Ill be really careful on this one. I think your diplomatic corps and your government needs in firm, but [its] important to let world leaders, especially, know that Canada will remain united.
Often times your diplomats are afraid to talk about that overseas. You view it as a domestic issue; dont want to talk about it. Because youre not talking about it, everybody says, oh, my God, it must really be bad.
You dont need that.
I remember in the middle of the Quebec referendum we were talking [with] Andre Ouellette and the Prime Minister and everybody was working very hard on the referendum. But a few levels down at foreign affairs they were talking to us. We were having a meeting of Andre Ouellette and Warren Christopher and three levels down at foreign affairs they were talking about the Arctic Council...like thats all they cared about.
And we were saying isnt there something you want us to do?
This denial thing is not good when youre dealing with the world.
The leaders of the world need to know that the last referendum was a vaguely-worded question that never used the word independence or separation.
The leaders of the world need to know that the great city of Montreal that people identify in Canada voted overwhelmingly no. That usually comes as a shock to everybody in the United States, including Western Canada.
And your friends around the world need to know that Canadas going to argue about the status of Quebec for many decades to come, but youre going to remain united. Its just that simple.
It may sound a little strange but other countries will be very relieved and pleased to hear you say that, because they dont know whats going on. They dont know what the ballot question was, what the dynamics are, what the regional considerations are. They dont at all. Theyll be pleased. They dont want ethnic tribalism to break out anywhere, not just in North America.
And Canada stands as a model in the world of a country with people of diverse backgrounds coming together and creating a model society, which brings me to my final statement.
As a friend, keep in mind that Canadas best days are ahead.