New U.S. ambassador is a 'listener' looking for a NAFTA 'win-win-win'
Published Wednesday, September 27, 2017 8:36PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 27, 2017 11:30PM EDT
In her first interview with Canadian media since being named the United States’ ambassador to Canada, Kelly Craft said that while she’ll adopt a gentler approach than her combative boss, she’s also committed to furthering his agenda.
“My personality is to follow the agenda of the president,” Craft said in an exclusive interview with CTV’s Richard Madan.
“We all have different tones,” she added, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump’s team, “but we all are seeking the same result -- and that’s what I’m focused on.”
Craft, a businesswoman, philanthropist and major Republican donor, was sworn in as ambassador on Tuesday. Her husband, coal baron Joe Craft, will be joining her in Ottawa when she assumes her post in late October. Together, the couple contributed millions of dollars to Republican-affiliated organizations and candidates in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. election.
Craft’s appointment comes at a time when Canada -- the United States’ second largest trading partner after China -- is being forced to renegotiate NAFTA amid threats that Trump is considering scrapping the 23-year-old trade agreement.
Craft, nevertheless, says that she can be an asset at the negotiating table.
“I think I’m going to bring a level of being a great listener and the fact that I do have a personal relationship with Senator [Mitch] McConnell and several other people that only want the best for Mexico, Canada and the United States so we can promote a win-win-win for everyone,” she said.
She demurred, however, when asked if Trump’s NAFTA threats are genuine.
“I am representing the president of the United States and his agenda,” she said. “And he represents the people and he also knows what is really best for the American people and for our economy and our security.”
The new ambassador to Canada even says that she’s struck up a friendship with Canada’s unofficial ambassador to the world, Toronto-born hip-hop star Drake
“He came down for one of the basketball games,” the native Kentuckian said. “He’s a great role model for the boys, for the young athletes, and so we just became friends with our mutual interest of promoting athletes.”
Talking about basketball led to a conversation about the NFL, where numerous athletes have been kneeling during the playing of the U.S. national anthem, much to the outrage of Trump.
“This is a country that promotes freedom of speech,” Craft said, showcasing the calmness she hopes to bring to Canada-U.S. relations. “And I want to promote our constitution and the [President’s] agenda. And you know, for me to put my opinion is not fair. Even though I may differ, I still respect the opinion of everyone else.”