December 3, 2022

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Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Gino Chouinard and Georges Pothier of Salut Bonjour – United States Department of State

7 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Montreal, Canada

TVA, Montreal

QUESTION:  U.S. Secretary of State is here with us today, Antony Blinken.  You were invited here by Minister Joly.  You were in Ottawa; now you’re in Montreal, and maybe you’ve been here before.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Yes, I’ve been here many times, and I’m delighted to be here.

QUESTION:  We’re very happy that you chose to be here today to talk to our viewers – in French, no less.  Why was it important to be here today?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  It’s important because for us, for the U.S., for Canada, we are partners – essential partners.  We work together amongst ourselves because the lives of our citizens are very much intertwined.  And we work together throughout the world – for the same values, the same interests.  We have a partnership with Ms. Joly.  We meet up throughout the world in order to try and advance on issues that are important for both Canada and the U.S.

QUESTION:  There are many issues on which you’re working that are interesting to us.  We are a few days away from COP27, and we’ll be working with different countries.  The UN said that the measures in place are not sufficient and something needs to be done quickly.  What do you think you’ll be doing quickly with Canada?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Canada and the U.S. have worked on targets to reduce emissions, and to try and convince other countries to do the same.  The U.S. has invested at historical levels with $350 billion in technology.  And what we’re doing today, at home we represent 15 percent of emissions.  We’re number two after China.  Everything we do at home is not enough, because 85 percent of emissions are coming from other places.  And we need to move fast.  If we don’t do anything in the years to come, it will be a problem.  There were several positive steps taken.  We have 65 percent of the world economy that agreed on acting in a way that would maintain the 1.5 degree target, and we will continue working towards this.

QUESTION:  It’s impossible to avoid talking about the conflict in Ukraine and Russia.  Yesterday, Vladimir Putin went above and beyond and said that the world is now entering a phase that is more dangerous than World War II.  He talked about these impressive topics.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, in a way he’s right.  But the danger comes from other – from among other things, this aggression by Russia on Ukraine.  It’s a war we did not want.  We tried to avoid it.  We did everything in our power to avoid it from happening.  But Putin went forward with it.  And what we’re seeing now is a remarkable partnership between many countries, including the U.S. and Canada, in order to support Ukraine, to apply sufficient pressure on Russia to stop the aggression, and also to reinforce our defensive.

QUESTION:  How far will the U.S. go if there is an escalation?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  President Biden has been very clear:  It is not in our interest to have a direct war between the U.S. and Russia.  We want to avoid this war from getting bigger.  We want it to stop.  The Ukrainians, thus, must have the ability to defend against this aggression and to push back.  We need to maintain pressure on Russia so that Russia can come to the negotiating table.

QUESTION:  It seems that Putin is losing the war.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, he’s already lost.  His goal was to remove sovereignty and independence from Ukraine, and he’s already lost that.  Well, and in the eye of the Ukrainians, they showed, with their courage that they will remain independent and sovereign.  So he’s already lost on this front.

However, in the meantime, damage is – great damage is being done.  We talked about the potential use of nuclear weapons.  It’s a huge responsibility for a country that is at the UN Security Council; you should not be talking like this.  And we’re just looking at this as words, but with the current aggression in Ukraine, we still remain – we still have to remain vigilant.

QUESTION:  In the last few years, there’s been a sense of defiance against democracy.  You see it in the U.S.  There’s a lack of confidence towards the authorities.  Do you believe that the exercise of democracy is futile?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, democracies throughout the world are kind of taking a step back, but the point is to give results for the citizens.  If we manage to do this, if we manage to improve the lives of citizens, things will go well.  On the contrary, if we cannot do what is needed to improve the lives of people, and we’re not involved in the lives of citizens, well, we’ll have problems.  But what we need to understand is that the challenges that have a true impact on the lives of Canadians, Americans – whether it be climate, health, including global health issues or the impact of technologies that we have in our pockets with our phones – we cannot face those challenges alone.  We need partnerships.  We need cooperation amongst ourselves to get results.  And we need to gain the trust of people.

QUESTION:  We talked about the war in Ukraine, and there is another country that could threaten another country.  It’s China, that could take over Taiwan – your allies.  So is this something that is worrisome to you?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  It is a worry to us because it’s been a few years.  We’re seeing more repression in China and more aggression on the outside, including on Taiwan.  Taiwan has been a success for 50 years, including between China and the U.S. because everything has been resolved pacifically.

And now China is being more aggressive towards Taiwan.  Maritime trade, in that area, represents 50 percent of trade every day, and the chips that we have in our phones and everything – most of them come from Taiwan.  So if there’s a crisis, it will be bad for the entire world, so we need to maintain security.  We need to resolve issues in a pacific way – peaceful way.

QUESTION:  You talked about a partnership.  You talked to Ms. Joly.  You talked about a very serious crisis.  It seems that Canada and the U.S. don’t have the same vision.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  On the contrary, we have a very strong partnership on Haiti, and I hope this will yield results.  We are on the same wave length on the problem.

QUESTION:  Is it about arming, not arming, the humanitarian issues?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, the problem is security.  The control of the country and the infrastructures by the gangs and the ports – when we try to bring in assistance; say, against cholera because it’s an ongoing crisis, we cannot do so because the gangs are controlling everything.

Canada and the U.S. together for many months have been trying to reinforce the national police force.  We’re also trying to work on sanctions against the gangs, and do we need to reinforce – strengthen the police with an international police force.

QUESTION:  Well, everything has been tried with previous international interventions since the earthquake in the 2010, but you have a few families that are controlling everything.  And it’s hard to remove them.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, hence the sanctions.  We tell these people you’re not able to travel to the U.S. anymore.  You’re not going be able to send your children to our schools anymore.  You won’t be able to come to the U.S.  The sanctions will now target those who are controlling the gangs in order to stem this flow, which will be very important for security in Haiti.

QUESTION:  And we don’t always have the resources to support the arctic region in Canada.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, yes, we talked about this last night, and I believe that there is work to be done together.  We are linked on this for – and have been for a long time – and there’s also in the Indo-Pac Strategy – and I think we will move forward together.

QUESTION:  A little question on immigration.  With this situation where many people from various countries can come in, we’re looking at changes for the – this – the third safe – third country system.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, we’re facing a migration crisis.  It’s around the world.  People cannot live in their own country anymore and they’re forced to move, and this happens even in the Americas.  We have Haitians, Cubans, people from Nicaragua, Venezuela, El Salvador, and other countries – people who are forced to find a way to live elsewhere.  And this is a crisis that affects all, and we need a global responsibility.  This is what we did at the Summit of the Americas.  And for the first time, almost all the countries in the Americas agreed to act together on the migration crisis and issues.

QUESTION:  You’re going to be leaving in the next minutes.  You’re going to Lithion here – Lithion here in Quebec.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  That is the future.  That is the future of energy, and that is the future for the climate.  That is the future of Canada and the U.S. because we’re working on this together with investments coming from General Motors, in this particular case.  And this represents for us a future that binds us together, but that also gives us the ability to do what we need to for the climate.

QUESTION:  You’ll deploy more alliances and strengthen the – well, we wanted to thank you for being here today.  And your French is perfect.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much.

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