North American Leaders Must Not Surrender to Nativism

6/10/2016 Real Clear World

By Amb. Earl Anthony Wayne, Amb. Arturo Sarukhan, & Amb. Michael Kergin

This piece was created in collaboration with the Woodrow Wilson Center. Michael Kergin is former Canadian Ambassador to the United States, and is currently a senior advisor at Bennett Jones. Arturo Sarukhan is former Mexican Ambassador to the United States and is a board member at the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute. Earl Anthony Wayne is former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, and is now a public policy fellow at the Wilson Center. The views in this article are solely those of the authors.

Relations among North America’s three big neighbors are much more important to their citizens’ self-interest than the great majority of those citizens realize. The U.S. media’s focus on Mexico is too often negative, while Canada frequently gets neglected. The political campaign season in the United States has magnified negative statements about North American ties by candidates building on stereotypes and false premises. How can we push back and get our publics to see and support the enormous benefits of cooperation across North America?


The June 29 North American Leaders Summit (NALS) in Ottawa provides a valuable opportunity for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Presidents Barack Obama and Enrique Pena Nieto to make the case. They have the opportunity to present a clear vision about the North American partnership at a time in when it is sorely needed, and to offer initiatives that help show the tremendous value of that collaboration for our economies, our security, and our environment. What takes place at this summit and during the follow-up has the potential and power to significantly augment the economic well-being and security of North America.  Successfully challenging the distorted and erroneous public rhetoric that reigns is not just the work of the three governments, however. They need the active support of those who benefit from North America’s partnership.

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