I have often said there is little more awe-inspiring than a well-educated, erudite and sophisticated American.
Then I add the quip, that’s because there are so few of them.
Well, Tom Huffaker, newly-appointed U.S. Consul-General in Calgary, is a very cultured individual and his wife Claire complements him with her charm and grace.
The Huffakers are veteran foreign service types, with wide insights into world affairs, and while they just arrived here from a stint in Moscow, they are well-acquainted with Canada, having spent 1999-2003, at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.
They were there during 9/11 when they witnessed Canada’s quick response to the terrifying attacks in New York, on the Pentagon, and the bravery of the passengers who brought down a hijacked plane in Pennsylvania, before it could be flown into the White House itself.
One of the first official duties of the Huffakers in Calgary was to host a reception celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. Consulate General in Calgary.
Yes, it seems incredible that within a year of Alberta becoming a province, so many Americans were arriving here Washington felt the need to open up a consulate in the city, which now serves not only Alberta, but Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.
The Huffakers held a sparkling reception—complete with a Stars and Stripes cake—and the likes of Lt.-Gov. Normie Kwong, former premier Peter Lougheed, former federal cabinet minister Harvie Andre and wife Joan, philanthropists Hy and Jenny Belzberg, and veteran war hero Art Smith among the guests.
Calgary is a much sought-after posting within the U.S. foreign service, and if you look at the chaos in the rest of the world, it’s easy to see why.
That we are undoubtedly the most pro-American city in Canada adds to its appeal.
Friends, we live in a dangerous world, and the linchpin of our safety in that world is the U.S. and the resolve of Washington not to capitulate to terrorist movements or rogue states.
Without that U.S. leadership, our world really would fall into chaos—and perhaps western civilization would collapse.
For which other nation or entity could hold it together?
Certainly not the United Nations, which is dominated by Middle East sheikdoms, African dictatorships, and increasing anti-American moves by Latin American countries.
Certainly not the European Union. While Britain is a staunch ally of the U.S., France and Germany play their own games, and with conservative prime ministers Silvio Berlusconi gone from Italy and Jose Maria Aznar from Spain and socialist governments now in place, the EU is a shambles of self-serving states.
Nothing cohesive there.
Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to “wipe Israel” off the map and is working furious to get his hands on nuclear weapons. When this madman gets them, he’ll use them.
Last week French President Jacques Chirac showed his true colours again by betraying President George W. Bush and Washington’s allies in backing away from using economic sanctions as a method to curtail Ahmadinejad’s rush into bringing an apocalypse down on us.
Russia and China likewise are playing a similar game.
In North Korea, another megalomaniac, Kim Jong-Il, claims he already has nuclear bombs and is testing long-range missiles that can carry them as far as the U.S. and Canada.
Japan is scared stiff of North Korea’s military intentions, fearing it may well be on Kim’s hit list.
In the Middle East, Iran sponsors the terrorist group Hezbollah, and Syria the terrorist group Hamas. We all know Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida are still at the core of terrorism.
It’s like the unstable 1930s all over again.
And, as mentioned earlier, the only nation strong enough to lead us through this minefield to security is the U.S.
Tom and Claire, you are surely honoured guests in our city.
We salute both you, and your nation.