Column Submitted by David H. Wilkins | Written: June 10, 2019
David Wilkins, former U.S. ambassador to Canada will be speaking during the Monday Breakfast featuring former U.S.-Canada Ambassadors.
Recently I read an opinion column in one of my state’s prominent newspapers. It was penned by a longtime editor who has covered our South Carolina General Assembly for more than two decades.
The column was extraordinary, I think, because the writer offered a rare compliment to state lawmakers. She praised them for what has become a rarity in nearly all political arenas – the lawmakers, she observed, actually get along. She detailed many examples of cross-aisle friendships, where the most conservative and liberal legislators – vastly opposed in their politics – still managed time and again to work together on issues vital to the state. One freshman Senator she cited expressed “surprise” that colleagues he presumed “one-dimensional ideologues” turned out to be smart, easy to work with, and most telling, people worth knowing.
As I write this, the leaders of the free world are gathered in France to mark the 75
anniversary of D-DAY. At least for a few hours, these leaders are putting aside their many disagreements – not to mention politics – to pursue a shared goal of paying proper tribute to the heroes of Normandy.
They’re focusing on what was most important and found in the doing a shared purpose.
In an age where great value, rightly so, is placed on diversity, I fear the hot spotlight on what makes us all unique and different is making it harder to appreciate and applaud the ties that bind.
That’s why I so value events like PNWER that encourage us to engage one another face to face. Like my state’s legislature, and the leaders at Normandy, for a time we focus on issues we all want to fix – even if we disagree on the best route to achieving them.
Toxic social media and Internet anonymity makes it easy – and “like” worthy – to make almost anyone a villain based on their political views. But our real “Facetime” for a few days in Saskatoon is sure to enhance this cross-border relationship in which we are all invested.
So let’s have hard talks about trade and the environment and energy. Let’s even agree to disagree.
But let us do so united by the truth that thanks to PNWER, we gather as friends and colleagues who share a rich history, common concerns, and the deep desire to impact the future together.
This togetherness may not be Twitter worthy, but it sure makes for productive talks.
David Wilkins served as U.S. ambassador to Canada from 2005-2009. He is a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP and
chairs the Public Policy and International Law practice group, which focuses primarily on representing businesses on both sides of the US-Canadian border.
is a PNWER sponsor.