According to Michael Kergin, outgoing Canadian ambassador to the United States, Canada is important but not prominent in the United States, so attracting national public attention south of the border has been nearly impossible. Mr. Kergin says:
“I could be down here on the corner of Constitution and Pennsylvania and yell the worst implications against the White House and I don’t know that people would care very much or notice. It would have to be pretty awful to get a footnote in the Washington Times (newspaper).”
Mr. Kergin also provided a view of President Bush that contrasted with the typical Canadian view:
“I guess the expectation I had was that he’d let his heavy-duty cabinet players do the talking,” said Mr. Kergin, who started in Washington in October 2000 when Bill Clinton was president.
“But these very powerful personalities around the table spoke only when spoken to. That surprised me a little bit. He was very much in charge. He carried the conversation. He was very well briefed on the issues.”
On how the President would take the decision not to join the missile defence program, Mr. Kergin had this to say:
“I don’t think he’s going to hold it against us, he just doesn’t understand why.
“He may not understand, he may be puzzled by it, he may not agree with it, but he accepts it and respects it,” said Mr. Kergin.
“He certainly wasn’t trying to bully us, but at the same time he made it pretty obvious publicly that this is a program he really personally believes in, which he thinks is right for the United States … and is right for North America.”
As a Canadian who lived in the United States, I can certainly attest to how little attention Canada gets south of the border, even in those states close to the border. While many Americans are aware of what is happening in Canada, these issues don’t make the American news, and they are by no means the high profile issues that Canadians assume them to be.
It is best to remember that Canada has a smaller population and a smaller economy that the state of California. And California has Arnold Schwarzenegger.