Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney era minister of finance, minister of industry, science and technology and minister for international trade, Michael Wilson has been named Ambassador to the US in Washington D.C., ready to improve the relations between Canada and the United States.
After former Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien and later Paul Martin eroded what used to a brotherly friendship with Canada's principal trading partner, Wilson is expected to mend some fences. Wilson stated his first project will be the solving the softwood lumber dispute. There seems to be a question whether it has already been resolved, but has been stalled by either Martin or David Emerson.
Wilson's relationship with Estonians and the Baltics, through the government, goes back a long way. "Valter Pent (an Estonian, Baltic Federation's representative in Ottawa) involved Wilson as the co-sponsor of the Baltic Federation Sponsoring Committee when the Progressive Conservatives were still in opposition," said Professor Ruho Paluoja, a former vice-president of the Baltic Federation.
The week of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) debates in the House of Commons in February 1990, ended with the Estonian Independence Day Diplomatic Reception. Wilson was invited but nobody expected him to come, considering the lambasting he had taken at the House. When he arrived, having flown in from Ottawa, everyone was surprised."He wouldn't miss this for the world," said Wilson's executive assistant, Mary Smiley. She added," All week he has been looking forward to this evening saying 'at least the Estonians won't be impolite.' He said 'Estonians are his kind of people'."
"In August 1991, the Canadian Government re-established diplomatic relations with the Baltic States and Michael Wilson led an entourage of Baltic Federation members and business leaders to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia," said Paluoja who along with Baltic Federation and Estonian Central Council President Laas Leivat represented the Estonian section of the Baltic Federation. "In Estonia we met with Lennart Meri who was then Foreign Minister and Arnold Rüütel who is now President. Michael Wilson signed the agreement to re-establish diplomatic relations."
After the signing there was a celebration at the Harbour Castle Hilton Hotel, to honour Wilson and also then Ontario Premier Bob Rae, who had visited Lithuania, to monitor the election there. Rae subsequently donated considerable money to Estonia.
Wilson is held in high esteem by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the opposition leader Bill Graham, the Bay Street business community and the Americans, but many of his views will be heavily contested. He has said in a past interview that we should be involved in the Iraqi war. He points out, that is his personal view, not what he will say for the government.
Canadian views have moved to the left while American have moved to the right. Wilson will have to straddle that dichotomy.
Wilson was co-chairman of Harper's election campaign, so their proximity is close. This gives Wilson extra clout in dealing with delicate negotiations.
Wilson attended London School of Economics with rock and roll star "Rolling Stone", Mick Jagger. From there they went in separate directions.
When Wilson left politics, in 1993, his 29-year-old son, who was suffering from depression, committed suicide. After that Wilson became heavily involved with mental health organizations.
Even with the almost universal praise for the appointment, as Ambassador Wilson will still have his work cut out to bring the two nations back to their previous state of friendship.
Mike Wilson becomes Ambassador to the US