Gary Doer visits the Peace Bridge

Tease the day: Canada's ambassador to the U.S. helps defuse a potential border dispute

Joshua Roberts

Gary Doer is about as folksy as they come.

Doer, the Canadian ambassador to the United States, found himself in Buffalo, N.Y., near the foot of the Peace Bridge that connects the rust-belt city to Fort Erie, Ont. He stood beside New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the pair shook hands. So ended the simmering dispute over the bridge that had Canadian and American officials at each other’s throats over millions of dollars in development on the U.S. side of the border.

The Toronto Star sums up the dispute in a few words:

Americans have complained their Canadian counterparts on the 10-member board were deliberately dragging their feet on millions of dollars of modernization projects on the Buffalo side of the bridge in favour of development on the Fort Erie side. Those allegations were met with outrage by the Canadians, who said most of the delays on the U.S. side of the crossing were caused by American regulatory authorities.

The two sides agreed on a series of projects to be undertaken, including a traffic study, another study that looks at developing a plaza on the U.S. side, and a pre-inspection on the Canadian side of trucks headed for the U.S.

Anyway, back to Doer. How could any American stay angry when Doer says things like this? “It’s called the Peace Bridge. It’s not called the Conflict Bridge,” he told the Star. “This is a good deal for hard hats, not lawyers.”

The former NDP premier in Manitoba has served as ambassador in Washington since October 2009. He’s recently been busy trying to sell the Americans on the Keystone XL pipeline—a challenge, to be sure—and has his work cut out for him on that file.

But he’s won praise time and again for his approach to diplomacy. The Canadian Press wrote about Doer’s prairie charm last August.

Doer has indeed become well-known in the U.S. capital for his ability to work a room, win over American strangers and handle the unexpected with aplomb. One U.S. businessman asked a reporter after watching Doer deliver a funny speech: “Why isn’t this guy your prime minister?”

If Keystone is approved, most of the fun will be watching Doer, and all of his new American friends, react to the news.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that extended marriage benefits to same-sex couples. The National Post fronts a series of upsets at Wimbledon. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with Canadian tennis up-and-comer Eugenie Bouchard’s upset win at Wimbledon. The Ottawa Citizen leads with local politicians treading softly after TransCanada announced its intention to build a pipeline that passes through city limits. iPolitics fronts the challenge for Keystone XL supporters after U.S. President Barack Obama announced his climate policy earlier this week. leads with former South African president Nelson Mandela’s failing health. CTV News leads with South African President Jacob Zuma cancelling a trip as Mandela’s condition worsens. National Newswatch showcases a Canadian Press story about tensions rising between Conservative MPs and a group of Tory senators who voted to amend a union disclosure bill.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Peace Bridge. Canadian and American officials came to an agreement about how to undertake millions of dollars in development on the New York side of the Peace Bridge. 2. Corruption. Revenu Quebec laid 928 charges against construction boss Antonio Accurso, a man already facing corruption-related charges, as part of an investigation called Project Touch.
3. Nuclear waste. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has received an application from a U.S.-based company to approve a container that could transport liquid nuclear waste. 4. Extradition. Nathan Jacobson, a businessman who pleaded guilty to money laundering in 2008 but has since been photographed with the prime minister, will now likely serve time in a U.S. prison.
5. Ireland. The Irish government announced it would pay up to 58 million Euros to a group of women as compensation for abuse they faced when they were inmates in the Magdalene Laundries. 6. Space. Three Chinese astronauts landed in Mongolia after spending 15 days at an experimental space station—a stint that included a live physics lesson to Chinese students.