Fixing U.S. economy key to helping Canada, ambassador says
Jacobson says Canada has offered to help Americans in wake of Sandy
The single most important thing the U.S. can do for Canada is to get its economic house in order, says U.S. President Barack Obama's representative in Ottawa.
In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio's The House, David Jacobson, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada told host Evan Solomon the one issue that will have the most implications for Canada is the U.S. economy — more than border security, trade, energy or foreign policy. "When we do well, you do well."
Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney "have diametrically opposed views" on domestic policy and more specifically with respect to economic policy, said Jacobson.
But which of the two candidates is better for Canada depends "on which one you think is going to do a better job of getting the U.S. economy in shape quicker."
"They can't both be right," said the ambassador.
New job numbers gave both candidates fodder heading into the last weekend of the campaign before Americans head to the polls in next Tuesday's U.S. presidential election.
The U.S. added 171,000 jobs in October, the U.S. Labour Department reported Friday. Hiring was stronger over the previous two months.
It was the 25th straight month of job gains for the country's economy, with the unemployment rate essentially unchanged from 7.8 per cent to 7.9 per cent.
According to Jacobson, issues related to border security, trade or energy policy — what he calls the "bilateral relationship" between Canada and the U.S. — won't change much under either candidate.
"Canada and the United States are fundamentally very close, the issues that we are talking about are not partisan for the most part."
However, when it comes to foreign policy, Jacobson acknowledged there are differences between the views of the two candidates on that issue.
"I'm not here to argue one side or the other but clearly, Governor Romney has a more aggressive view of foreign policy, probably than the President does," said Jacobson. "And the question is, who is right, and which one of those views is going to make the world that Canadians live in safer?"
Canadians offer to help in wake of Sandy
While Americans struggle to come to grips with the scale of Sandy's destruction, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada told Solomon that Canadians have offered to help with the tragedy.
"I will tell you that I have gotten offers from cities in Canada, from the federal government, from the provinces, to offer help in getting electricity and gas, and other things put back online and that's something we very much appreciate," said Jacobson.
While Canada has not received any formal request for assistance from the U.S., a public safety official told Solomon that Canadian officials continue to be in discussions with U.S. Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials to facilitate any assistance of a local nature that may be requested.
Some cross border hydro work was done, but that would have been with private companies, the public safety official said.
Trade with China
Jacobson said Canada's trading relationship with China is not seen as a threat to the the U.S., even though Obama's decision to veto the controversial Keystone XL pipeline until after the U.S. election may have precipitated Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to "diversify" Canada's energy exports with an eye to China.
"The notion that somehow or another the U.S. views Canada's effort to reach out to China as a threat to the U.S., that is false" said Jacobson. "It's not only not harmful to the the U.S., it's helpful."
While Jacobson recognizes "there are a lot of issues" with China, the fact that Canada is reaching out to China is "good for the U.S."
Just last month, a U.S. Intelligence Committee warned of cyber-espionage from China.
And while Canada struggles to define what foreign investments are of "net benefit" to Canada, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said in June the U.S. should block a $15 billion bid by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) for Calgary's Nexen unless China lives up to its free trade commitments.
On Friday, Ottawa extended its review of CNOOC's bid for Nexen by another 30 days with the next deadline now set to Dec.10, 2012.