Thousands gathered as United States Ambassador David Jacobson hosted a Fourth of July Celebration at his house in Ottawa.
Credits: CHRIS ROUSSAKIS/QMI AGENCY
A crowd of a few hundred A-list diplomats, politicians and journalists drank American beer, ate some cake, and, it must be said, talked an awful lot about a recent broadside aimed at Jacobson's boss by a former Canadian ambassador to the US.
That former ambassador is Derek Burney who, along with Carleton University professor Fen Hampson, penned an article for the influential Washington-based journal Foreign Affairs in which they claim US-Canada relations are "at their lowest point in decades" and that this is all Obama's fault. The article's title is "How Obama Lost Canada".
In it, Burney and Hampson run through a laundry list of files they say Obama has botched, from failing to approve the Keystone XL pipeline to any number of other economic or international security issues.
"Although relations have been civil, they have rarely been productive. Whether on trade, the environment, or Canada's shared contribution in places such as Afghanistan, time and again the United States has jilted its northern neighbour," Burney and Hampson wrote.
After the 4th of July party tents came down, it was Jacobson's turn to respond.
In the embassy's monthly newsletter, which was distributed Thursday, Jacobson used the occasion of the American national holiday to assess his country's relationship with Canada and pronounces: "I believe the relationship between the United States and Canada has never been stronger."
Take that Burney and Hampson!
As an example of the health of the relationship, Jacobson pointed to an agreement to build a second bridge between Windsor and Detroit, the busiest border crossing between our two countries and vital piece of infrastructure for the economies of both countries.
It's true that was good news but, as Chris Sands, a Canada-US expert at the Hudson Institute in Washington told me this week, it was really the State of Michigan and not the Obama administration that pushed the project. And, as Sands and others have noted, Canada is responsible for most of the upfront money to build the thing.
Jacobson does give a nod to the criticism voiced by some Canadians that Obama has placed his need to get re-elected above improved or stabilized relations with Canada.
"None of this is to say that everything is perfect or that we do not - on occasion - have some bumps in the road," Jacobson wrote. "The economic challenges we face, particularly in my country, have, at times, caused strains."
Burney and Hampson said those strains include Obama's dopey "Buy American" provisions which blocked Canadian firms from winning some American public sector contracts as well as the Keystone decision.
Still, in Jacobson's view, these issues shouldn't overshadow our massive and mutually beneficial trading relationship.
Canadian exports to the US were up $41 billion last year, or 13%. That's more than 10 times the increase in Canadian exports to China. And, of course, there's all that electricity, natural gas, and oil we send south.
And that's one reason why Jacobson was able to close his column this way: "I can say, on behalf of President Obama and the American people, that we are very lucky to have Canada as our neighbour."