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Canadian Leader writes George Bush - Why Canadian values must Guide our Choices PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Monday, 29 November 2004 11:46
Canadian Leader writes George Bush - Why Canadian Values must  Guide our Choices

From Jack Layton , leader of Canada's NDP (New Democratic Party) to President George W. Bush

Dear President Bush,

Official visits can provide opportunities for greater understanding of
common concerns and diversity of thought.  It is these exchanges that
make such visits potentially beneficial and productive, particularly if
elected representatives and citizens hear each other's point of view.
On your first official visit to Canada, it is unfortunate arrangements
do not include an address to Parliament, and include o­nly meetings with
party leaders who more closely share your views. Sadly, my requests to
meet with you were denied.

During Mexican President Vicente Fox's recent visit, he met with
leaders of all parties in our minority Parliament.  We enjoyed
civilized, respectful dialogue.  It is unfortunate such a dialogue will
not occur now, resulting in you receiving a skewed view of Canada's
values and concerns.

I share those concerns, and believe it crucial you be aware of them. 
Ideally, I hope your administration heeds the world's concerns and
rejoins multilateral efforts o­n common problems.  I continue to hope
this is possible, but in the event it is not, hope Canada will
respectfully disagree with those policies that are at odds with our
values, while maintaining the valuable friendship between our

Your visit to Halifax is emblematic of that friendship.  In the wake of
the attacks o­n September 11, Canadians mourned with our American
friends and opened their homes to passengers diverted by the tragedy. 
Friends, however, sometimes agree and sometimes do not, as the rich
history of Canada-U.S. relations indicates.

Unfortunately, arrangements mean you will be shielded from much of
Canadians' angst.  I had hoped our dialogue would provide a clearer
understanding of those concerns.  Such a meeting will not occur, and so
I am obliged to present many concerns to you in writing instead.

I was proud to be part of the peace movement that helped convince
former Prime Minister Chr?tien to keep Canada out of the war o­n Iraq. 
More than 100,000 people have since died, and yet despite the
correctness of global opposition to the invasion, your administration
shows few signs of working with the world o­n meaningful efforts to make
us all safer.

Were a dialogue scheduled with you, I would have outlined a few.

First, we must collectively fight the looming catastrophe of climate
change and the underlying dependence o­n oil.  Unless we move swiftly
towards renewable energy and energy efficiency, growing demand and
dwindling supply of fossil fuels will increase conflict - and
exacerbate the human tragedy and upheaval climate change creates.

This is an imminent threat, and o­n environmental policy your
administration and ours must change course.  Canada, it should be
noted, is in no position to lecture o­n this issue since our record o­n
climate-changing pollution is actually worse than your own.

We can work together for sustainability and economic growth.  My party
supports working with American states, including Gov. Schwarzenegger?s
California, to create larger markets for more fuel efficient and green
cars.  The technology is available today for us to create a cleaner
tomorrow, and I hope you and Prime Minister Martin abandon your
opposition to these good ideas so our countries may work together o­n

Second, new generations of nuclear and space weapons make our world
unsafe.  This month, Russia announced new nuclear weapons in response
to missile defence; China is inevitably next.  Weapons of mass
destruction are dangerous in anyone's hands, and the world would be
safer if your administration abandoned new nuclear weapon development
and Star Wars, which leading scientists say will never work.

Your administration sends the wrong message by abandoning arms control
treaties while demanding other countries adhere to them.  I also
believe with the growing scourge of global poverty, nations with
resources should invest in alleviating that poverty and encouraging
sustainable development.  We should not spend a trillion dollars o­n
Star Wars when we could invest in fighting the poverty and desperation
that provides fertile ground for terrorists.

Here, you need to be aware Mr. Martin does not speak for Canadians. 
His support for missile defence runs counter to our tradition of
multilateral peacekeeping, and it is incompatible with Canadian values
for us to join a weapons system that could o­nly be pursued if arms
control treaties were abandoned.

I urge you to outline to Mr. Martin the full scope of missile defence,
which your administration's documents and officials clearly say
weaponizes space.  For two years, he has incredibly refused to look at
the facts, and your meeting with him provides a crucial opportunity for
his voluntary ignorance to end.

Lastly, it is important Congress moves to embrace fairness for Canada's
softwood and beef industries.  The tariffs and border closures do not
reflect fair trade principles or science, and harm economies o­n both
sides of our border.

Had we met, I would have underlined America?s dependence o­n Canadian
energy exports and noted it is incongruous to welcome oil while
refusing lumber and beef.  For this reason, as a last resort, I support
the linkage of these exports since fairness must apply across the

In closing, I am disappointed we could not enjoy a respectful exchange
of views.  In my trips to Washington to meet with members of Congress,
I have met many Americans who, like me, are concerned about the
direction of your administration.

Most Canadians are concerned, too.  I fully respect the right of
American citizens to elect a president who shares their values, but
would have welcomed the opportunity to explain why Canadian values must
guide our choices.


Jack Layton, MP

Leader of the NDP
Last Updated on Monday, 29 November 2004 11:46

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