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Canada wonders as U.S. chooses new best friend (September 06, 2001)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. President George W. Bush's welcome of Mexican President Vincente Fox has created Canadian...

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. President George W. Bush’s welcome of Mexican President Vincente Fox has created Canadian doubts about where we fit-in in with the U.S.

“This is a recognition that the United States has no more important relationship in the world than the one we have with Mexico,” says Bush.

Conservative Leader Joe Clark, also in Washington, says the remarks showed Canada’s waning influence with the U.S.

“We have an independent, warm, close relationship with the United States,” says Duncan Fulton, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office in Ottawa. “We’re not going to play the media game of who’s the best friend?”

Although Canada was not mentioned in Bush’s remarks, U.S. presidents have, for years, paid lip service to the paramount importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship.

With US$1.5 billion in trade moving across the border daily, U.S. economic ties with Canada dwarfs that of any other country by far. Also, U.S. and Canadian armed forces work together in the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) and in areas of conflict around the world.

Clark says Canada’s influence in Washington has been on the down-slope in the past decade. And he adds, “Unless Canada becomes more aggressive, there is a danger that Canada will fade.”

Clark rejected the notion the 30 million Latinos in the U.S. compel Bush to court Fox for their votes in the 2004 election.

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