Martin remains defiant in U.S. dispute

Martin remains defiant in U.S. dispute

The rhetoric went into overdrive one day after U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins publicly scolded Martin for putting Canada-U.S. relations in jeopardy by criticizing the Bush administration on the hustings. Far from backing down, Martin defiantly insisted during a visit to a lumber yard he will continue to blast the U.S. on softwood lumber and its environmental policies. "I am not going to be dictated to as to the subjects that I should raise,’’ said the Liberal leader…

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper joined in the fray saying Martin is acting like a cowardly schoolboy while ‘‘grandstanding’’ against the U.S. government. But Harper also denounced Wilkins for publicly condemning Martin’s anti-American rhetoric. Harper scolded Wilkins for taking Martin’s ‘‘grandstanding’’ so seriously… Harper said he’s ‘‘perplexed’’ by Wilkins’ intervention '‘because anyone who’s watched Martin on Canadian-U.S. relations in the past couple of years knows you can’t take anything he says very seriously’…

In Washington, State department spokesman Sean McCormack said Wilkins was speaking on behalf of the U.S. government and not freelancing when he blasted Martin for dragging the Bush administration into the Canadian election. ''He was speaking as a representative of the U.S. Government in Canada… ‘‘It may be smart election-year politics to thump your chest and constantly criticize your friend and your No. 1 trading partner,’’ Wilkins had warned during a speech to the Canadian Club. ''But it is a slippery slope, and all of us should hope that it doesn’t have a long-term impact on our relationship"…

Still, Martin faced reminders Wednesday that when he took power two years ago, he promised to repair the poor state of Canada-U.S. relations. Indeed, he was quite explicit in his promise at the time. He wrote a document, entitled ‘‘Making History’’, in which he declared Canada must have a place of ‘‘influence and pride’’ in the world… Two years later, with this week’s remarkably blunt rebuke from a U.S. ambassador, questions are being raised about Martin’s promise of better bilateral relations.

A CTV poll shows that over 60% of Canadians think Martin should tone his rhetoric down. I can’t navigate CTV this evening, so sorry no link.

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