So.. the visit is over. President Bush made his final speech quite awhile ago now and the reaction/analysis is in full swing.
First. You’ll probably want to here what President Bush had to say.
Use RealAudio to listen to his speech from Pier 21 in Halifax
You can also listen to Paul Martins full speech afterwards.
I listened to most of Bush’s speech. It was well done and I appreciate the words of thankyou he gave to the many Canadians who sheltered stranded passengers on Sept 11. It was a thank you long overdue.
The two main points that I’d like to comment on in his address was his challenge for Canada to “take the fight” to Terrorism, and his expression that the UN was in need of reform. On the first, he used a famous quote from Mackenzie King before WWII:
We cannot defend our country and save our homes and families by waiting for our enemies to attack us. To remain on the defensive is the surest way to bring the war to Canada.
While circumstances were very different in Mackenzie Kings’ time the quote does have a measure of truth. In fact, given the very nature of Islamic terrorism/extremism and the tactics these groups imply, Mckenzie Kings assertion is even more probable today than it was back then.
It is obvious that Bush was pushing for Canada to be a much more vocal advocate and supporter (ala the UK) of his Administrations fight in the GWoT but I don’t think much will change in this avenue.
While I believe Mr. Martin has made it clear that we support the US in Afghanistan and overseas in the operations that we already participate in, and we see the value of increasing safe guards against an attack at home, Canada will not simply fall in line. Rather we will assess each new request and circumstance individually to be sure that it follows the values and wishes of the Canadian people.
That is why I don’t think you will ever see Canadian soldiers in Iraq under a US flag. But you will likely see us participating, I hope, in helping with the elections there, and continue to help train police in Jordan.
President Bush said all the right things about the Canadian/American relationship… there was a measure of sincerity there that I appreciate and that I hope turns into real progress in some of the trade disputes that simmer on between our countries.
As for Bushs’ second major point… UN Reform. It’s not surprising that he would say such thing. Being stonewalled by the likes of France would do that… but he does acknowledge the work Martin is doing to press for UN Reform that will things like the stalemate before the Iraq War.
I’m gathering more on that for an upcoming topic.
As for the protests:
The CBC had another blog on the street today.
The local reporters’ account was that the protests were “huge” by Halifax standards (~2000 people). Which is good to hear. There were also a number of reports of people out there supporting Bush with placards and the like.
All was peaceful and in good humour and wrapped up pretty much as soon as Bush left the area.
The protests in Ottawa were largely peaceful, though there were some confrontations with police. Only a few people were arrested. I saw and heard many different numbers… generally a low of 2000 and a high of 4000 was given by CBC, CBC Radio, CKNW and the National Post. There were other protests across the country, I haven’t heard any numbers, but the one in Victoria was fairly humourus. It included a mock “war tribunal” on the steps of the Victoria City Hall with “President Bush” as the war criminal.
I think overall the visit was a success for all involved, Bush, Martin, the protesters, and the Canadian public in general.
Bush and Martin showed that they are working on things constructively… the Protesters made their views known peacefully… and the Canadian public finally got to hear directly from their Big Brother down south.
that’s all for now.