Tim Harper TheStar.com
Canada is prepared to draw on its long relationship with Cuba to act as a “bridge” between Washington and Havana in the post-Castro era, Michael Wilson says.
Wilson, who is approaching his first anniversary as Canadian ambassador here, said in an interview yesterday he is acting on a mandate from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who wants Ottawa to become more active diplomatically in the Western Hemisphere.
“That’s our neighbourhood,” Wilson said.
He said Canada has developed relations not only with officials in Fidel Castro’s government, but also members of the island’s fragmented opposition groups, and Ottawa has pushed Havana to release political prisoners and open its economy.
Canada can also draw on its business investments and tourism spending in Cuba to curry influence, the former Conservative cabinet minister said.
“We have a dialogue, and that is different from the United States because they have nothing like this type of dialogue,” Wilson said.
“Because of that dialogue, we have an understanding of how Cuba thinks. We also have an understanding of how Washington thinks. Cuba sees us as a North American country with which they can have some sort of dialogue.
“We can build a greater understanding between the two countries.”