Kinsman: What regional and/or international challenges are most pressing for the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, respectively?

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21 February, 2014
Former ambassador to the European Union and high commissioner to Britain

It’s becoming a sort of dysfunctional Canadian story.

1) The Government is frustrated and offended that the US Administration is not paying sufficient attention to Canadian interests, notably on the Keystone XL pipeline, but also on other issues. US domestic political interests have priority.

2) The US does pay heed to Mexico, in part because Mexico-US issues play high on the US domestic political agenda because of Hispanic voting clout.

3) For that reason, Canada doesn’t want to get the Canada-US relationship mixed up with Mexico because then “our” issues will play second fiddle. Moreover, we are playing the Canada-Mexico file badly. (I cannot overstate the anger I collect from important Mexican contacts.)

4) And yet, if we developed the large potential of our bilateral relationship with Mexico, it would increase our traction with the US by counting more with a partner that counts big time for them.

5) In any case, the Canada-US-Mexico landscape is our shared home base where we all three must succeed with one another, and where together we can enhance our competitive position in the world economy. This is our most pressing shared challenge. Conference after conference in the last several years, notably the University of California Berkeley-UBC series, and more recently, the trilateral meeting last November at American University under the leadership of the late Bob Pastor, have identified this conclusion to be the authentic “no-brainer” in the mix. It is high time the Canadian Government got it.

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