Canadian and U.S. ambassadors step outside their comfort zones to talk politics and relationships

BANFF, Alta. – Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. isn’t expecting any major upheaval in international relations once the American presidential election results are known in November.

Gary Doer and his U.S. counterpart David Jacobsen discussed the state of Canada-U.S. relations Thursday evening at the Global Business Forum in Banff.

The two men said they don’t expect any chill in the longtime relationship between the two countries whether President Barack Obama is reelected or if he is unseated by Republican Mitt Romney.

“It’s going to be good no matter who the next guy is,” said Jacobsen.

“To me the relationship is strong because when we have differences we talk about them. We don’t get into fights, we don’t fuss.”

Jacobsen joked that when you look at other relationships the United States has around the world, any differences with Canada pale in comparison.

“To the credit of Canada and Canadians you guys don’t present us with the kinds of problems generally that North Korea does.”

Doer said even though he doesn’t expect any problems, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be a major transition, especially if Romney were to gain power. He said unlike Canada when there is a change of governments in the United States it is akin to an “exchange of prisoners on the border in terms of the thousands of people to leave Washington”.

“We know the voting record of who’s going to be the ranking member if the House changes, the ranking member if the Senate changes. We know some of the people the president is looking at,” said Doer, the longtime premier of Manitoba.

“We know some of the people a change would look at. We have to do our homework.”

Doer was on the ground at both the Democratic and Republican conventions flying the Canadian flag to a barrage of the biggest power brokers in the United States.

He said even with another Obama victory, there will be a new secretary of state and it’s the U.S. State Department that will ultimately decide the fate of TransCanada’s $7.6 billion Keystone XL pipeline, among other vital bilateral business.

“I bet six beer we would get the Keystone project done after the election campaign. I think it will. Getting it through Nebraska is slow but the biggest part of that is majority of the American public want it to go ahead,” he said.

Doer said there is also more support from Congress and the U.S. Senate it it’s in the public interest to work toward getting the pipeline completed.

“My bottom line view is we’re not all love, trust and pixie dust but it is a relationship based on standing together on international situations but all the economic imperatives. The public gets it in the United States and we get it in Canada.”