Reagan concern with US issues nags Canada
Ottawa — Canada is worried that Washington will forget about lingering US-Canada problems despite the euphoric presidential foray here last March 10-11. The Reagan administration, it's thought, is preoccupied with domestic economic policy as well as events in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America.
Whatever, none of the many outstanding economic and environmental problems between the two neighboring countries were resolved during the President's Canadian visit.
They include an east coast fisheries treaty (canceled by the President himself on the eve of his Canadian visit), a controversial water diversion scheme in North Dakota which the Canadians don't want, massive acid rain from the coal-fired factories of the American Midwest slowly killing Canada's lakes, and a lagging auto pact.
If Canada were an ideological enemy of the United States on its northern flank instead of its best neighbor, Washington would have its hands full trying to solve mutual American-Canadian problems.
As it was, even the presidential cancellations of the fisheries treaty already signed by both countries in March 1979 but stonewalled by a small group of opposing New England senators, did not blight the Reagan-Trudeau powwow.
Why did Mr. Reagan cancel it, thereby placing his muchtouted common accord of Canada-Mexico-United States in jeopardy scarcely before it had a chance to begin?
The Trudeau Cabinet did not press the President on his decision because it had been briefed that his decision related entirely to bad White House-Senate relations during the Carter administration and had nothing to do with Canada.
Since he is counting on the Senate to move quickly his major economic reform package, Mr. Reagan did not wish to inherit the residue of Mr. Carter's "sloppy dealings" with that treaty-approving institution.
Nevertheless, the day after the President flew home, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau sternly promised the House of Commons that no future treaties with the US would be signed by Canada until Senate approval of them was first assured.
But if Canada's simmering over the lost fisheries treaty was sufficient, the President's announcement of $4 millions in extra funding for the Garrison's Dam water diversion project was another irritant. For several years, the Canadians had been lobbying to have it terminated altogether as an environmental hazard for western Canadian farmlands.
The auto pact first signed in 1965 and the only example so far of a common market agreement between Canadian and American industry, (albeit dominated in both countries by US car companies), has worked less and less in Canada's favor.
A record multibillion-dollar deficit has built up on the Canadian side, a reflection in part of the chronic slump in sales of North American-made cars during the last years of the 1970s.
How will all these and other crises be resolved by the Canadians who in the past did not like to use frontal assaults on Washington administrations? The Reagan visit to Canada might have changed all this.
Witness the Canadian prime minister's stern House of Commons promise on future treaty negotiations with the United States.
Then add the equally stern admonishment of Canadian External Affairs Minister Mark MacGuigan at his invitational breakfast for US journalists accompanying the President on his Canadian visit.
"Obviously we are not prepared in the long run for settlement of issues on the basis of goodwill," he told them.
Tough future action out of Ottawa may come as a surprise to the Reaganites as they deal with Canadian issues of the 1980s.
But if President Reagan truly wishes his common accord between Canada, Mexico , and the US, Canadians want him to help solve these longstanding and growing common prob lems, first.