SPECIAL FRIDAY EDITION
Carolina-Canada Connections — Vol. 8, No. 47
A weekly outreach to our friends and colleagues in Canada
Weekly Washington Wrap
- It’s official. Last night, to close what can only be described as an unconventional convention in Cleveland, NY business tycoon Donald Trump delivered his acceptance speech and stepped into history as the Republicans’ nominee for the White House. His running mate is Indiana Governor Mike Pence. The Democrats will hold their convention in Philadelphia next week where they are expected to make Hillary Clinton their official nominee.
- A federal judge ruled this week that the State Department can’t escape its obligations to furnish Clinton emails to the GOP as questions remain in the wake of President Obama’s former top diplomat being cleared by the FBI. An investigation found Hillary Clinton and her top aides mishandled classified material on her homebrew server and private email system during her four year stint as secretary of state. The State Department had said it would not comply with the request because doing so would be overly burdensome. But the judge rejected the State Department’s attempt to shut down a Republican National Committee Freedom of Information Act lawsuit looking for the emails of Hillary Clinton’s top aides. In a filing last month, the US Justice Department, headed by Obama appointee Loretta Lynch, asked a judge to excuse the State Department from complying with the GOP request for information because it would take “generations” – some “75 years” by one State estimate – to meet the request. US District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said yesterday she doesn’t plan to grant State’s request though she did rebuke the GOP for its overly broad FOIA. She ordered State to begin producing records to the RNC in the case at a rate of "no less than 500 pages per month." Critics charge the State Department has slowed down the release of any Clinton-related information until after the November election. State rejects that charge and says it has hired new staff and is in the process of getting new people trained and cleared by security.
- Congressman Mark Takai (D-HI) passed away at the age of 49 on Wednesday after battling cancer. Takai, who was in his first term, had announced that he would not be seeking reelection due to health reasons.
Collaborating in Calgary
Team Wilkins’ week kicked off Sunday in cool Calgary – home of the world famous Stampede – as well as this year’s Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) Summit. Reppin’ the team at one of the best bilat conferences going was none other than your former US ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, as well as our own Tom Sullivan and Justin Meyers.
It’s always wonderful to see so many great Canadians and Americans gathered together to take on hefty issues like energy, trade and infrastructure. Wilkins was proud to participate on a panel focused on softwood lumber with former MP and Alberta’s former representative to the US (and always great friend!) Rob Merrifield.
At a PNWER breakfast, Wilkins was honored to be introduced to the crowd by our great pal and Imperial Oil’s Tom Huffaker. He was likewise honored to introduce current US Ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman, and Canada’s Ambassador to the US, David MacNaughton, to the PNWER delegates. (Editor’s note: Wilkins praised the work of both diplomats and noted (with tongue firmly planted in cheek) that Heyman is the “second best” ambassador the US ever sent to Canada.)
David Wilkins chats to the PNWER crowd early this week in Calgary.
It was also great to catch up with friends like Victor Thomas, Randy Pettipas, Jim Phillips, Rick Mantey, Tim McMillan, Tom Palaia, Lynne Platt, Elliott Brown, Matt Morrison and many others!
While in Calgary, Wilkins enjoyed a chat with the Calgary Herald’s Chris Varcoe for Varcoe’s Tuesday story that ran under the headline, NAFTA under fire, but should Canadians worry? Here are some excerpts from that piece:
As the U.S. presidential election shifts into a new phase with Donald Trump becoming the official Republican candidate — and Hillary Clinton set to do the same for the Democrats later this summer — angst is growing about what it will mean for free trade and Canada.
A wave of protectionism is spreading around the world, as was seen in last month’s Brexit vote in Britain. Proponents of free trade are seeing previous agreements come under fresh assault.
Trump has called the North American Free Trade Agreement “the worst trade deal in the history … of this country,” citing a steady loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States.
He’s spoken frequently about renegotiating the deal between Canada, the United States and Mexico, which came into effect in 1994. Clinton, like Trump, has been cool towards the new 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership. She also wants to renegotiate NAFTA.
Should Canadians — and Albertans, who send most of our energy resources south of the border — be worried?
After speaking Monday at the annual Pacific NorthWest Economic Region conference in Calgary, Canada’s ambassador to the United States said the issue must be addressed with facts and logic, but can’t be ignored.
“I don’t think there’s any question that we should be concerned about it. It isn’t confined to one presidential candidate or one party,” David MacNaughton said in an interview…
“This is an issue that’s not just a November (U.S. election) issue. This is an issue that we have to deal with on a longer-term basis, which is why we need to be able to make the case for a stronger Canada-U.S. trade relationship, not a weaker one.
“And we can’t simply sit back and take it for granted.”
Feelings of unease over NAFTA aren’t only resonating south of the border.
Last month, an Angus Reid Institute poll found only one-quarter of Canadians believe the continental trade deal has benefited the country, while a similar number say it has hurt Canada.
The poll found 24 per cent would like to see the agreement strengthened and expanded, while another 11 per cent believe it should be left alone.
However, fully 34 per cent say NAFTA should be renegotiated and nine per cent want it ripped up.
U.S officials at the regional economic conference, which includes Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, as well as Canada’s western provinces and territories, say anti-free trade feelings south of the border are generally tied into broader concerns about the economy…
As the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline by the Obama administration illustrates, these issues aren’t simply philosophical debates with no real-world impact on this country. (On Monday, the Republicans adopted a campaign platform that said their party would “reverse the current administration’s blocking” of the cross-border pipeline that would move Alberta oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast.)
David Wilkins, former U.S. ambassador to Canada, dismisses much of the anti-NAFTA campaign talk as political rhetoric, noting Barack Obama spoke about amending the agreement in 2008 but took no action.
“There’s a protectionist trend in the U.S. probably today that is stronger than it has been in a while, but I still think campaign rhetoric on the trail does not equate into action by a president,” says Wilkins.
“I don’t think Canadians should panic,” adds Christopher Sands, director of the Centre of Canadian Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington.
“But it needs to hold the U.S. to its commitments.”…
From Calgary to Cleveland
From talking policy in Calgary it was onto mega politics in Cleveland when Wilkins headed on down to the Republican National Convention Tuesday afternoon.
Faithful CCC readers know we’re all about dropping names in this space but at a convention where just about everyone is someone, that seems like a bridge too far – even for us!
So we’ll just share some of these cool snaps instead:
Always a fan fav, Governor Nikki Haley spoke to the GOP convention’s SC breakfast that was sponsored by Nelson Mullins, and emceed by your former US ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins.
Wilkins hands the breakfast stage over to South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster — one of the earliest supporters of Donald Trump who seconded Trump’s nomination Tuesday night.
It was great to catch up with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in Cleveland.
Wilkins was also delighted to spend some time with South Carolina’s First Gentleman Michael Haley, Nelson Mullins’ own James Burns, Congressmen Joe Wilson and Mark Sanford, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, former US Senator Rick Santorum, and a bevy of charming South Carolina delegates!
As always it was also fun to see and chat with our friends in the US and Canadian press. Wilkins enjoyed connecting with CTV, BNN and CFRA as well as the local SC press corps.
Thanks to Team Wilkins’ own Ashley Martin Aldebol for capturing some of the media madness in Cleveland for our devoted CCC readers!
Wilkins talks convention politics to the folks back home.
Talking convention politics to folks in Canada.
A view from behind.
The view from outside the hall.
They Said What?
- “America is a nation of believers, dreamers, and strivers that is being led by a group of censors, critics, and cynics. Remember: all of the people telling you that you can’t have the country you want, are the same people telling you that I wouldn’t be standing here tonight. No longer can we rely on those elites in media, and politics, who will say anything to keep a rigged system in place,” – GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump in his acceptance speech at the RNC last night.
- "It went over like a fart in church,” – MSNBC’s Craig Melvin to former Ted Cruz campaign spokesman Rick Tyler, regarding Cruz’s Wednesday night RNC speech where Cruz failed to endorse Donald Trump.
- “The president has blood on his hands and it will not be able to come washed off...How the hell did we ever become the bad guys in this country? I cannot imagine how we got here. It is the irresponsible reporting of the media and irresponsible statements from people who are credible - like the president, like celebrities,” – Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, in the wake of yet another multi-officer shooting, this time in Baton Rouge.
- “Thank you for your courageous service. We have your backs,” – President Barack Obama in an open letter praising law enforcement posted to the White House website Tuesday, pushing back against criticism that he has stirred anti-police sentiment during his tenure.
- “When they come to save your life, they don't ask if you're black or white! They just come to save you!” – former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani in a rousing speech defending police officers at the Republican National Convention Monday night.
If you are interested in the possibility of having Ambassador Wilkins speak at an event, please contact Christy Cox at Christy.Cox@nelsonmullins.com or call 803.255.9470.
The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.