|Wikileaks:||View 03OTTAWA1014 at Wikileaks.org|
|Redacted:||This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 001014 SIPDIS NOFORN C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (TAGS ADDED) C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (PARA 1 AND 5 CHANGED MONTH TO APRIL) E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/08/2013 TAGS: PREL, MOPS, IZ, MOPS, IZ, CA, CA PREL, Iraq SUBJECT: CANADA-IRAQ: PUBLIC OPINION MORE FAVORABLE; GOVERNMENT TRYING TO REPAIR DAMAGE REF: OTTAWA 917 Classified by Charge Stephen R. Kelly. Reason: 1.5 (b) and (d). 1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In his first comprehensive statement on Canada's Iraq policy, and an effort to make amends with the U.S., Prime Minister Chretien urged the House of Commons April 8 to vote for a resolution supporting "our friends in battle" and hoping "for a quick victory with minimum casualties." The PM prefaced his statement by noting that he strongly disagreed with statements made by Members of his Caucus, "which we all wish had not been said." He also commended President Bush for his continued dedication to poverty eradication, combating AIDS and improving trade and development in Africa. END SUMMARY. A wake-up call for ordinary Canadians ------------------------------------- 2. (U) In the 10 days since Ambassador Cellucci voiced U.S. disappointment with Canada's posture on Iraq (reftel), the business community and Canada's "silent majority" have taken to the streets and sought opportunities to demonstrate solidarity with America. New poll results indicate that a majority (54 percent) of Anglophone Canadians currently "approves" of military action in Iraq, with a conservative poll specifically indicating that 72 percent believe Canada "should have" supported the U.S. at the start of the war. The weekend following the Ambassador's speech, a gathering of nearly 4,000 - the largest of any group to demonstrate in Ottawa since the start of military action - assembled at Parliament Hill in a show of support for the U.S. and for coalition forces. Similar events have taken place in other Canadian metropolises. 3. (U) Fears of an economic backlash against Canadian business interests prompted Liberal backbench MP Dennis Mills to invite U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue to meet with a group of 200 Canadian business leaders. Donahue reportedly proved effective in delivering reassurances that business relations would continue to remain on track. At the same time, however, he did not shrink from conveying the message that "many Americans ... found personal attacks on President Bush ... offensive and hurtful," and reiterating that "the U.S. agenda was profoundly reshaped by 9/11." In a separate interview with journalists, Mr. Donahue debunked the widely held notion that the U.S. is in Iraq for the oil, noting that the major supplier of energy to the U.S. is Canada. The Government tries to make amends ----------------------------------- 4. (SBU) Meanwhile, in the House of Commons the government has had its back against the wall, consistently drawing fire from the entire spectrum of opposition parties for its waffling position on various aspects of the war in Iraq. Ministerial testiness has become increasingly apparent in the daily Question Period, as embattled Cabinet Members have parried NDP (left-leaning) and Bloc Quebecois criticism of Canadian soldiers being "embedded" with U.S. and U.K. troops in Iraq under routine exchange programs, while the Canadian Alliance (right) has nailed the government for failing to adequately support such personnel. 5. (SBU) The Liberals moved swiftly to counter a Canadian Alliance motion calling on the House to regret and apologize for "offensive and inappropriate statements" against the U.S. by Members of the House, and wishing the U.S. success in removing Saddam Hussein from power. In a special session on April 8, Prime Minister Chretien urged the House to support a government counter-motion calling for the coalition to "be successful" in its mission in Iraq, and pledging the government's readiness to participate "as soon as possible" in the reconstruction of Iraq. He said the government cared "about the outcome even if we are not participants in the war. This means that we should not say things that could give comfort to Saddam Hussein and this means that we should not do things that would create real difficulties for the coalition." Turning to the longer-term requirements of peace and security throughout the troubled regions of the world, the PM went on to praise President Bush's leadership in and commitment to combating aids in Africa and his recognition of the importance of poverty, trade and development, even in the face of the terrorist threat. ...But Can Go Only So Far ------------------------- E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/08/2013 TAGS: PREL, MOPS, IZ, CA SUBJECT: CANADA-IRAQ: PUBLIC OPINION MORE FAVORABLE; GOVERNMENT TRYING TO REPAIR DAMAGE 6. (SBU) In his speech, the PM criticized the Canadian Alliance's call for a House apology as an assault on Members' rights of free speech, noting that it would "cast a chill" on the rights and privileges of MPs that are fundamental to Canada's democracy. He defended the government's "decision of principle" not to support the coalition, stressing the consistency of its position from the beginning, and invoking his oft-repeated phrase that "close friends can disagree at times and can still remain close friends." By way of example, Chretien alluded to how Canada's opposition to the war in Vietnam did not damage its friendship with America and he recalled with pride the heroic role, 23 years ago, of Canada's Ambassador to Iran in rescuing U.S. Embassy personnel in Tehran. He went on to commend Canada's show of solidarity with the U.S. in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. 7. (C) COMMENT: The Prime Minister's remarks reflect the Liberal Party's awareness of the damage to its image inflicted by the government's haphazard and clumsy approach to policy on Iraq. The fact that Chretien read a prepared text - rather than speaking extemporaneously as is his habit - was no accident. As a close adviser of the PM confided to Charge, the message was painstakingly choreographed to mend fences with the U.S., while trying to balancing the broadly divergent views within the Liberal Caucus. END COMMENT.
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