Special Midweek Summertime Edition
Carolina-Canada Connections — Vol. 9, No. 14
A weekly outreach to our friends and colleagues in Canada
Weekly Washington Wrap
Summertime Stalled. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) failed to bring enough of his caucus together to pass the Republicans’ version of Obamacare – the national healthcare mandate passed in 2010 and signed into law by Obama without a single Republican vote. Since that time, millions of Americans have lost their doctors and the cost of healthcare has skyrocketed. Now it appears Republicans do not even have the votes for a straight repeal of Obamacare with a two year window to write a new replacement bill. The President tweeted that he’s not going to “own” Obamacare and to let it “fail” so Democrats are willing to work with Republicans to fix it. McConnell had agreed to work through much of the August recess as Republicans try to reach agreement on their new healthcare plan, as well as a stalled tax bill. McConnell announced he would trim the five-week break by two weeks, letting lawmakers go home the third week of August.
Apology and Payment. The US media is finally paying attention to the apology and $10.5 million (CND) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government granted a former terrorist and killer of a US soldier in Afghanistan. The Wall Street Journal ran an oped from a Canadian conservative MP slamming the deal that insured the dead soldier’s widow and her children would not receive any money the Canadian government awarded to Omar Khadr. Fox News interviewed Layne Morris, the soldier blinded by the grenade Khadr threw at the Americans in a 2002 firefight that killed US Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, a Special Forces medic. Tabitha Speer, the soldier's widow, and Morris, won a $134 million wrongful-death default judgment against Khadr two years ago in Utah. But these victims may never see any of this money despite the fact Khadr is some $8 million (USD) richer, thanks to the Trudeau government that agreed to pay the former Guantanamo prisoner the cash to settle a lawsuit alleging civil rights violations. The settlement also included an apology to Khadr who was 15 years old when Speer’s was killed. Lawyers for the widow and Morris requested an order freezing Khadr’s assets, but a Canadian judge threw out the request, calling it “extraordinary." Morris told Fox News that “it was just crazy that you would give someone like that $8 million because his feelings got hurt. I know he spent time in Guantanamo. That was due to his own actions.”
Mexico Border Miracles. The US Border Patrol is amazed by the downturn in the number of illegal border crossings between the US and Mexico since the start of the Trump Administration. National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said on C-SPAN Monday that the significant drop at the border is “nothing short of miraculous” and reported US Customs and Border Protection had a 53 percent decrease in the number of apprehensions at the southwest border since last year. The number also includes those deemed inadmissible. CBP says the drop in apprehensions is a reflection of a drop in attempted illegal crossings overall. Judd said while the Obama administration prevented agents from doing their jobs, the Trump administration commanded in two executive orders for border agents to fully carry out related laws and now there’s a new “energy” and “vibe” in the Border Patrol that hasn’t been there in two decades.
Made in America. President Donald Trump is highlighting his economic agenda with a series of themed weeks focusing on domestic policy. This week is “Made in America” with President Trump championing companies that build products made in the US. Yesterday, the administration invited firms from all 50 states to show off their products made at home. The White House says the theme will continue throughout the month with events planned to highlight “American Heroes” and the “American Dream.”
Your former US ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, jump started another border busting week in gorgeous Nova Scotia last week where he toured the historic and beautiful port city before heading out to swanky Fox Harb’r – where Former New Brunswick Premier and now TD Financial Vice Chair Frank McKenna was hosting his annual networking shindig.
Carolina-Canada Connections readers know every year the biggest names in the corporate, political, sports and philanthropic worlds gather together at this ultimate golf and seaside destination to take in a big speech and eat fancy food. Fox Harb’r is owned by Ron Joyce, co-founder of Tim Hortons, and it is always wonderful to see him. Wilkins was also delighted to meet NHL great Wayne Gretsky this year. It’s always great to see former Canadian federal ministers Peter MacKay and Jim Peterson, as well as General Rick Hillier. The-cannot-miss, invitation-only event has been attended in years past by the likes of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, former Vice President Al Gore, and many, many, many other luminaries.
Dapper Gents! Retired General Rick Hillier, Ron Joyce, Peter MacKay and David Wilkins.
But there’s only so much time for schmoozing when so much work awaits in Washington, DC…
By last Tuesday, that’s where you could find Wilkins, as well as New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant. The two were getting ready for Wednesday’s big meeting with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Here’s how it was reported in Tuesday’s Telegraph-Journal:
OTTAWA • U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Trump's point-man softwood lumber negotiations and NAFTA talks critical to New Brunswick, will meet with Premier Brian Gallant on Wednesday in Washington, the premier’s office says…
A statement from Gallant’s office on Tuesday said that the meeting between Ross and Gallant “will focus on softwood lumber and the North American Free Trade Agreement.”
“Gallant will be asking Ross to exclude New Brunswick from countervailing duties on softwood from Canada to the United States,” it adds.
It was Ross who announced last month that New Brunswick's lumber producers were to be left out of a preliminary decision by the U.S. government that exempted the three other Atlantic provinces from costly tariffs that are part of the softwood border fight. The result could mean that the province's lumber producers will continue to face sizable duties that neighbouring provinces soon won't, unless the U.S. can be convinced otherwise or until a softwood lumber agreement is reached. The Atlantic provinces previously enjoyed an exemption as a whole. New Brunswick has also continually called for a region-wide exemption from softwood lumber tariffs at the border. Ross also announced in June an additional 6.87 per cent in preliminary average anti-dumping tariffs on the industry, leaving the Canadian softwood producers facing average duties of about 27 per cent for the next few months.
The Gallant government recently hired former U.S. ambassador to Canada David Wilkins as New Brunswick's special envoy to arrange meetings like this one, all in efforts to combat the rising protectionist sentiment in the White House and in the American corridors of power…
Countdown at Clemson
Wilkins finished up his week at his beloved Clemson University where the Board of Trustees was meeting. No doubt important school policy was rigorously hashed out (read: lots and lots and lots of talk was had about the Tigers defending their national football championship status in the much-anticipated season now less than two months away!) Also, championship rings were received. Check this out!
Wilkins’ championship ring – a forever (large!) reminder of Clemson football’s championship win over Alabama earlier this year.
By the way, last week, former Clemson superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson was named the Best Male College Athlete at the annual ESPY awards show in Los Angeles. Watson led the Tigers to that national victory. Also this year, Watson received his degree from Clemson, was a first-round NFL draft pick, and is now a rookie with the Houston Texans.
PNWER in Portland
Team Wilkins is headed to beautiful Portland, Oregon for the annual Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) conference next week. It is truly one of the best, most informed, and well-attended conferences going, and we can’t wait to see Matt Morrison and the rest of the PNWER staff as well as friends and colleagues from both sides of the border. Stay tuned for all the deets and pics here in your next CCC edition!
They Said What?
- “I think in Obama's case he would have been heralded. 'Look at the modern president using modern tools!' Because it is Trump, they are not going to say that about him. And also because of the nature of some of his tweets. You do get news. You get the leading edge of information -- mixed in with some weird stuff. So, that's how he uses it,” -- Former CBS investigative reporter and author Sharyl Attkisson, in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation, regarding President Trump and his use of Twitter.
- "A candidate has the right to get information from whatever source the information comes. If the material was obtained unlawfully, you prosecute, if you can, the people who obtain the material. But there is a First Amendment right of a candidate to use information.” – Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz on Fox News in defense of Donald Trump, Jr. who has been accused of “treason” by Democrats and the media over a 2016 meeting with an alleged Russian government attorney.
- “You cannot deny he is a force of nature. He may be unorthodox, he may get himself in a pinch with his words, but he certainly reminds you that he is always coming from a position of strength,” – Canadian Ann Bowen in an interview with the New York Post outside her cottage at Buckhorn, Ontario on why she supports the policies of President Trump.
- “We have countries that charge us 100% tax on our product, and when that product is sold by them to us, we brilliantly charge them nothing. People say that's free trade. No, that's stupid trade. That's really stupid trade,” – President Donald Trump at a 'Made In America Showcase' at the White House Monday afternoon.
- “Scarborough’s departure from the GOP the same week Kid Rock threw his trucker cap into the ring nicely illustrates the current political fault lines. The 2016 election was about who rules in America. Will it be an aloof, self-interested class of patrician mandarins who attend the same schools, have the same accents, and repeat the same noxious pieties? Or will the American people rule themselves? Those were the stakes. Those continue to be the stakes. Scarborough is a fitting avatar for the striving, elite careerist eager to demonstrate his moral and cultural superiority over average Americans while Kid Rock revels in redneck cool. The contrast between the two is striking. Scarborough is at home in Washington. Kid Rock lives in Detroit,” – Chris Buskirk writing in American Greatness on MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough announcement that he’s leaving the GOP and music legend Kid Rock's announcement that he will seek the GOP nod for a Michigan US Senate seat.
If you are interested in the possibility of having Ambassador Wilkins speak at an event, please contact Christy Cox at Christy.Cox@nelsonmullins.com or call 803.255.9470.
The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.