Nfld. & Labrador

U.S. Ambassador expected at Appleton 9/11 memorial

Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, is expected to meet with Premier Dwight Ball and attend a 9/11 memorial service in Appleton next week.

Premier will talk NAFTA, U.S.-Canada relationship

United States ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft is expected to attend a 9/11 ceremony in Newfoundland and Labrador next week. (CBC)

The United States ambassador to Canada, Kelly Craft, is set to tour communities in central Newfoundland and attend a 9/11 memorial service next week.

Premier Dwight Ball said he will meet with Craft on Tuesday, and attend a service in Appleton, for what he believes to be her first visit to the province since she started her job last year.

"She's taken a keen interest in Newfoundland and Labrador, and she's taken a keen interest in learning more about our province," Ball said on Thursday.

In 2012, Appleton received a piece of steel that was once inside the World Trade Center. Appleton has held a memorial service for the victims of the terrorist attacks each year. (CBC)

Craft, U.S. Consul General Kevin Skillin, and a representative of the New York Tribute Center for First Responders are expected at the memorial service, which starts at 11 a.m. on Sept. 11 at the Derm Flynn Riverfront Peace Park.

Appleton has held memorial services every year since the terrorist attacks. The town was one of those in central Newfoundland that hosted stranded passengers in the days following 9/11, when 39 planes were forced to land at Gander Airport.

Flights also landed in St. John's, Deer Lake, Stephenville and Goose Bay.

"Many of the people that led the response back 17 years ago are still around," Ball said. "So [Craft] personally wants to reach out once again to thank them for the great work that they've done."

"She will get a firsthand experience … to get a sense what it is like, drive around the very communities that those stranded passengers did."

Honour for the town

Derm Flynn, who was mayor at the time, was asked to continue to organize Appleton's memorial. He said it has been frequently attended by United States officials in the past, including former U.S. ambassador David Jacobson.

"It's a real honour for central Newfoundland and for our town," he said.

Tom McKeon (left) became stranded in Appleton, Newfoundland and Labrador, after travelling from Ireland to the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. He stayed in Appleton Mayor Derm Flynn's basement. (Darryl Murphy/CBC)

Flynn says the service is a memorial for the victims of the terrorist attack, and a commendation for the volunteers who stepped up in the aftermath.

"Our service is to recognize the volunteer effort that went on then, which was huge, but goes on to this day in communities all across our province."

Shared commitment to trade: Ball

The Premier said he will also get a chance to talk politics with the ambassador.

"We always talk about NAFTA," he said, adding he and the ambassador "both want to see a positive outcome."

Ball explained that, to him, a positive outcome is one that adds "confidence" to the relationship between the two countries.

"That would be what I would consider, just getting this continued, getting the confidence back in that trading system, that would be the positive outcome that I would define the outcome from the NAFTA negotiations to be," he said.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball says the invitation to U.S. President Donald Trump remains open. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

The premier said this meeting — and other conversations he's had with Craft — can influence the formal NAFTA negotiations.

"I know people that are at the table negotiating for Canada, she would know people that would be at the negotiating table for the United States," he said.

"And as I share our story, with our negotiators, she then informs herself about provinces like Newfoundland and Labrador, we both take that experience back to those that are doing the official negotiations for us. That's the influence that we can have."

Trump invite still on the table

Ball said his summer invite to U.S. President Trump to see Come From Away was picked up by Craft, who helped organize a reception and sent "quite the crowd" of business people and American officials to watch the musical in Toronto.

Neither Trump nor Craft attended personally, but Ball says the invite is still on the table.

Ball said he believes in open dialogue with the U.S. administration.

"Right now, yeah, we will have some people, some populist movements that will want to see anger. But yet, all of us, collectively, as a larger group, we're stronger than that," he said.

"I've got confidence in people. In groups of people, and teams of people. So it's not about a person, it's not about an individual."

About the Author

Garrett Barry

Journalist

Garrett Barry is a CBC reporter based in Gander.