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The U.S.-Canada Relationship In 'The Art Of Diplomacy'


Presidents of both parties nominate friends and major donors to be ambassadors. There are occasional embarrassments, of course. But most countries welcome the chance to have a friend of the president at the embassy. Bruce Heyman, a Goldman Sachs vice president in Chicago, and his wife, Vicki Heyman, were early supporters of Barack Obama's political career locally and nationally.

Bruce Heyman was named U.S. ambassador to Canada in 2014. And the Heymans viewed the post as a partnership. They have a memoir of their time at the top rung of diplomatic service, "The Art Of Diplomacy: Strengthening The Canada-U.S. Relationship In Times Of Uncertainty." And we join them in Chicago. Thanks so much for being with us.

VICKI HEYMAN: Thank you.

BRUCE HEYMAN: Good to be here.

SIMON: Forgive me. It sounds like you had your choice of posts. Why not someplace warm...

V HEYMAN: Oh, my.

SIMON: ...With a - you know, or more exotic at any rate - not that Ottawa isn't exotic in any ways?

V HEYMAN: Oh, well, when we were discussing where we would go, Bruce and I knew in our heart we wanted Canada. In Canada, spouses are oftentimes called partners, not husband and wives. We wanted to tackle our job as a team and a partnership. We knew that would be well accepted. And the connection with nature. I knew Canada would be a place where there'd be untold places to explore and to connect with. And we certainly found that there.

SIMON: You mentioned your regard for the environment. In the United States, liberal environmental groups and President Obama opposed the Keystone pipeline. You, in fact, Ambassador Heyman, had to deliver that message to Prime Minister Harper.

President Trump supports the Keystone pipeline. Help us understand in America why a Liberal, with a capital L, a Canadian government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that considers itself a leader in environmental policy supports this pipeline that so many environmentalists oppose.

B HEYMAN: I think the prime minister is actually thinking about this in the right way. He has a country that has untold natural resources in oil and supplies a large part of that to the United States. The U.S. buys more oil from Canada than the next five countries combined. Yet, at the same time, they have such unbounded natural resources. And they're very passionate about climate change. And the country is warming at twice the rate of any other country. So how do you find that balance?

You find that balance by promoting economic growth and understanding where you are today, but also understanding the need for the future. People in the world look at things, a lot of times, politically in black-and-white terms. And in this, the reality in governing - it's all about that in-between space, that gray space. And you have to bring these constituencies together. That's the art of diplomacy.

And in President Trump's world, he thinks of things in terms of I win, you lose. In the world of diplomacy, it's I win, you win. Let's find paths that we can find compromise and outcomes together.

SIMON: I admire the diplomacy in your answer. Can it be shortened to say, because Canada could use the money that the Keystone pipeline represents?

B HEYMAN: They can use the money in supplying something that we are demanding and need in our country. They have it. We need it. And we'll use it. And it's that balance of Canada using a carbon tax, at the same time, promoting...

V HEYMAN: Price resolution.

B HEYMAN: ...You know, oil development. How do you reconcile that? You reconcile that with understanding the long-term needs of our environment and the short-term needs economically of your neighbor next door and the need for our oil.

SIMON: Vicki Heyman, in this book, the two of you say you think the U.S.-Canada relationship's being tested now.

V HEYMAN: I think it's being tested in the interaction, really, in the way - the rhetoric and the way in which Mr. Trump has oftentimes, in a very harsh and demeaning fashion, spoken to the prime minister. I think tactically, it's been challenged in negotiations for the new - old NAFTA, the new USMCA. I think the Canadians came out pretty good in that process, but I think it was a tough road. I think that the Canadian people generally - you know, they've lost some trust and some confidence in their southern neighbor.

SIMON: But let me point out President Trump supports this government on the Keystone pipeline, which is a major issue. I mean, I'm sure a lot of people in the Trudeau government would trade what they consider to be rhetorical slights for the actual, concrete support of the Keystone pipeline.

B HEYMAN: I think how you treat your friends is more important than maybe one transaction.

V HEYMAN: Right.

B HEYMAN: The Canadians are our best friends. It was the Canadians who've been there for Hurricane Sandy and putting the wires back up, or the forest fires, or the families that I sat with whose family members had been lost in Afghanistan when they fought for America.

And when you wake up one day and the Sunday morning talk shows and a representative of the president is saying that there's a special place in hell for the prime minister of Canada, you have to be hurt. And polls across Canada are now suggesting that the view of America today is at the lowest level in the history of our two countries of polling.

SIMON: Bruce Heyman and Vicki Heyman - their book "The Art Of Diplomacy: Strengthening The Canada-U.S. Relationship In Times Of Uncertainty" - thanks so much for being with us.

V HEYMAN: Thank you so much.

B HEYMAN: Thank you so much.