December 14, 2005

Don’t dictate to me, Canada’s PM tells US

RICHMOND, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canadian Prime
Minister Paul Martin escalated the war of words with the United
States on Wednesday, telling Washington not to dictate to him
what topics he could raise in the run-up to the January 23

U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins warned Martin and other
Canadian politicians on Tuesday not to bash the United States
as part of their campaigning.

But Martin -- who has regularly attacked the U.S. stance on
a bilateral trade dispute over softwood lumber and also
criticized Washington's approach to climate change -- said he
was not paying attention.

"When it comes to defending Canadian values, when it comes
to standing up for Canadian interests, I'm going to call it
like I see it," he told reporters in a lumber yard in Richmond,
British Columbia.

"I am not going to be dictated to as to the subjects I
should raise."

The United States has imposed a series of tariffs on
Canadian softwood lumber shipments, saying they are unfairly
subsidized. Ottawa is fighting the case through various trade
panels and complains Washington is not respecting its
obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"This dispute with the United States demands leadership at
the national level in Canada, even if that leadership happens
to rankle some in the U.S.," said Martin, whose government lost
power last month over a corruption scandal.

Martin may feel he is on safe ground politically, since
polls show most Canadians dislike U.S. President George W.
Bush. But Wilkins said the continued attacks could start
undermining the close relationship between the two countries.