Toronto — Outraged Canadian officials must tone down their outbursts if the festering trade dispute over softwood lumber is ever going to be resolved, the new U.S. ambassador to Canada says.
"We all share the responsibility of keeping the rhetoric down," David Wilkins said during an hour-long interview with The Globe and Mail yesterday.
Since being installed as ambassador last month, the long-serving southern politician has visited six provinces. Bracing for the Canadian winter, he plans to see the other provinces by December.
While he has been "out talking to folks" from Windsor to Whitehorse, the ambassador hasn't yet had the opportunity to speak to U.S. President George W. Bush about his travels. But that will probably happen soon.
"I consider it one of the great privileges of my life to be able to call the President of the United States my friend," said Mr. Wilkins, who raised at least $200,000 (U.S.) for each of the President's election campaigns.
Trade and security are the No. 1 issues for the ambassador. Lately, Canada has been imploring him to do something about U.S. handguns heading north, but Mr. Wilkins says Canada has to curtail some of its own illicit goods.
"The marijuana is going south to be traded for the guns coming back north," he said. "So the more that can be done to stop the flow of marijuana the better it will enhance the control of weapons coming into Canada."