Thursday, June 22, 2006

Separated at Birth??

Excerpts from an article in today's VANCOUVER SUN:

Liberals compare PM’s softwood claim to Bush’s ‘mission accomplished’


Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s April declaration that his government has settled the softwood lumber trade dispute is akin to President George W. Bush’s ill-fated “mission accomplished” speech in 2003 celebrating “victory” in the Iraq war, opposition Liberals charged Wednesday.

But International Trade Minister David Emerson insists negotiations haven’t fallen apart, and dismissed a letter obtained by The Vancouver Sun this week that the Liberals have said is further evidence the deal is unravelling.Emerson didn’t directly respond to the challenge from Liberal trade critic Dominic LeBlanc, who suggested Harper’s April 27 declaration is comparable to Bush’s famous 2003 speech aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln where he declared victory in front of a huge “Mission Accomplished” banner. More than 2,500 Americans have died in Iraq, the vast majority since Bush’s announcement of an end to “major combat operations.”

“The softwood lumber discussions are proceeding extremely well. Provinces are very supportive,” Emerson responded Wednesday in the House of Commons. “The so-called letter that is being referred to was an undated, unsigned letter. It has no status whatever in the discussions that are ongoing on softwood lumber.” However, critics have pointed out that the original April 27 term sheet between Canada and the U.S. that prompted Harper to say the lumber war is settled, was also unsigned.

When he rose in the House of Commons April 27 to announce a settlement, Harper made no mention of the need for subsequent negotiations over contentious legal issues that have now raised questions about whether the “framework” accord will survive. “I am . . . pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement which will put an end to this dispute,” Harper said to loud cheers from government MPs.

(We think Mr. Harper may want to re-assess putting too much faith in Mr. Bush's "agreements" . . .)

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