Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada
President Bush. It's my honor to welcome our close friend Jean Chretien to the White House again. Thank you for coming.
You know, after this terrible incident on September 11th, one of the first phone calls I received was from the Prime Minister, offering all his support and condolences to the United States and our citizens. It was like getting a phone call from a brother, and I appreciate that so very much.
We've got a great partner in our neighborhood who understands what I know, that we are facing a new type of war. And those of us who love freedom, like the Canadians love freedom, now understand that freedom is under attack. And we've combined together to fight—to fight against a new enemy. And the Prime Minister understands that.
We had a great discussion about a variety of issues. We discussed the need for us to continue to work peacefully along a huge border. Border relations between Canada and Mexico have never been better. And there is no doubt in my mind that the Prime Minister and the Canadian people will work hard to make sure that Canada is secure from any terrorist activity that takes place, just like I can assure the Prime Minister we're doing the same. We both have a mutual responsibility in our hemisphere to find and disrupt terrorist organizations.
An amazing thing came up the other day. Somebody said to me, "Well, you know, in your speech to Congress, there were some that took affront in Canada"—because I didn't mention the name. I didn't necessarily think it was important to praise a brother; after all, we're talking about family. There should be no doubt in anybody's mind about how honored we are to have the support of the Canadians and how strong the Canadian Prime Minister has been, and not only his condolences but his offer of support for the American people.
I guess there's—somebody is playing politics with you, Mr. Prime Minister. But I suggest those who try to play politics with my words and drive wedges between Canada and me understand that at this time, when nations are under attack, now is not the time for politics. Now is the time to develop a strategy to fight and win the war. And Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you for being here to continue those efforts with me.
Prime Minister Chretien. Thank you, Mr. President. And I am happy to be with you. I think that, as you say, we're part of— not America; we're your neighbor, friends, and family. And we have to work together. This problem of terrorism is a problem that concerns all the nations of the world. And we're working together to build a coalition that will defeat that, because it will disrupt the societies around the world. And I think that you know you have the support of Canadians. When you will need us, we will be there.
We had a very good discussion this morning on the element of the solutions, and we will carry on during the lunchtime. I guess that the Canadians were traumatized by what happened 2 weeks ago. And we had the occasion to receive 45,000 Americans on the Canadian soil who had to be diverted to Canada. And we had a great demonstration of support when 100,000 Canadians appeared on the hill to offer support to our neighbor and friends and family, the Americans.
So we will work together. We will have occasion to carry this message that we have to be together, because Canada participates in the meeting of the Commonwealth next—10 days from now, in Australia. And later on, there will be the meeting of the Francophone in Lebanon, where, again, we'll have to talk to all the leaders and tell them that we're all in that fight.
[At this point, Prime Minister Chretien spoke in French, and a translation was not provided.]
President Bush. Thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 12 p.m. in the Colonnade at the White House.
George W. Bush, Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/211548