Former United States Ambassador to Canada and current chairman of the Clemson University board of trustees David Wilkins has lately said the U.S. runs the risk of losing Canada as a sole supplier of oil and energy if it takes the northern neighbor for granted.

Wilkins spoke to the Red Carpet Breakfast, sponsored by Laurens County Chamber of Commerce and local business partners, at the Higher Education Center. Red Carpet Breakfasts bring in distinguished speakers throughout the year to talk to and meet Laurens County business people.

Wilkins was U.S. Ambassador to Canada during the second Bush administration; he spent 3 years as "America's face" in Ottawa, the capital, and throughout Canada. "I did not know much about Canada. But I did know how to build bridges and make connections," he said. "I traveled the country (10 provinces and 3 territories). I met the Canadians where they live. I saw more of Canada than most Canadians."

Wilkins said he took French lessons, petted a 600 pound Canadian polar bear, ice skated the canal with about 10,000 Ottawa residents, and during Christmas 2007 toured Canadian forces forward bases in Kandihar, Afghanistan.

"Canada has always been there for the United States," said Wilkins, citing Canadians who took in stranded airline passengers when all planes were grounded on 9-11-01, truckloads of supplies transported to the Gulf after Hurricane Katrina, and Canadians fighting side by side with Brits and Americans in World War II.

Despite Canada's image as the U.S.'s "younger brother," Wilkins said the nation demands - and deserves - respect from its southern neighbor. Canada supplies all its oil production to the United States - more oil than the U.S. gets from any other nation. Wilkins said if the U.S. maintains this relationship and enhances its own production, America can stop buying oil from Venezuela.

The energy partnership is in jeopardy, though, Wilkins said, because of no U.S. permitting (after 5 years) for the Keystone pipeline and pressure from China, which wants a Canadian pipeline westward to the Pacific so Canadian oil can be exported to China.

"We don't need that oil going in that direction," Wilkins said. "We need it coming in our direction."

1358 reads | 23.10.2013

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