Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Pledge Security Cooperation
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2004 President Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin vowed today to continue working together to protect their homelands and ensure that their borders remain closed to terrorists but open to general travel and trade.
Speaking to reporters on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, Martin said he and Bush agreed they must be "vigilant" in combating terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Bush said the United States and Canada have shared common values throughout their histories: "a commitment to freedom and a willingness to defend it in times of peril."
"The United States and Canada fought side by side in two world wars, in Korea, in the Persian Gulf and throughout the Cold War," the president said. "Today we are standing together against the forces of terror."
Bush said the two countries are taking concrete steps to protect Canadians and Americans while ensuring that they can continue to benefit from the free movement of people and commerce across the world's longest unfortified border.
In addition, the president said the two countries are examining the future of the North American Aerospace Defense Command in protecting the continent from ballistic missile attacks, as well as ways to secure ports against terrorists, criminals and deadly weapons.
Bush also praised Canada for its contributions outside its borders, particularly in Haiti and Afghanistan, where Bush said peacekeepers provided important leadership in the security and stabilization mission.
The president also credited Canada for its commitment of more than $200 million for humanitarian aid and reconstruction in Iraq, as well as forgiveness of $450 million in Iraqi debt.
"Both of our nations have a vital interest in helping the Iraqi people secure their country and build a free and democratic society," Bush said. "A free and democratic Iraq is rising in the heart of the Middle East. The success of liberty there will be a decisive blow to the ideology of terror and a model to reformers and democrats throughout the region."
Bush acknowledged that the United States and Canada have not always seen eye to eye all issues, including the U.S. decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power after the U.N. process had run its course. Canada did not send troops to Iraq as part of the coalition.
But the president did not back down from his decision. "I'm the kind of fellow who does what I think is right and will continue to do what I think is right," Bush continued. "I'll consult with our friends and neighbors, but if I think it's right to remove Saddam Hussein for the security of the United States, that's the course of action I'll take."
Being free to vocalize disagreement to that decision is one of the benefits of democracy, he said. "People can express themselves freely," the president noted.
Bush is expected to wrap up his visit to Canada in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Dec. 1. There, he will thank Canadians who helped stranded U.S. travelers when their flights were diverted to Canada following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.