A weekly outreach to our friends and colleagues in Canada

Weekly Washington Wrap

  • The House and Senate have been working on education bills this week.  Last night, the House passed the "Student Success Act," an overhaul of previous legislation known as "No Child Left Behind."  The bill passed the House on a 218-213 vote, with 27 Republicans joining all 186 Democrats who voted in voting against the bill.  The Senate is still working through amendments on its version of the bill, the "Every Child Achieves Act."  Once the Senate passes its bill, the House and Senate will have to reconcile the differences in their bills. 
  • Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz are in Vienna this week for negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal.  Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) said this week that President Obama pegged the chances of a nuclear deal at “less than 50-50.”  If Congress is presented with a deal by Obama after today, the length of time Congress has to review the deal doubles from 30 to 60 days under legislation enacted earlier this year. 

Back With Bush

Your former US ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, has been invited to chair a new team at the George W. Bush Presidential Center that will be focusing its attention on vital issues important to North America. 

The new North America Working Group will study various issues including energy and infrastructure and key governmental, business and industry leaders in the group will seek to develop relevant policy frameworks for addressing them. 

Former President George W. Bush is expected to greet the group which will hold its first meeting in early September. 

The Bush Center is located in Dallas, Texas.

Leading the Pack

Speaking of energy, for six years now, David Wilkins has been pouring a great amount of his into chairing the board of his beloved Clemson University.

Wilkins is prepping to lead his board meeting next week and to pass the leadership torch on as the board gets ready to elect a new chair on Friday.  Two days later he will officially hand over the chairmanship gavel, though he will remain an active member of the Clemson Board.

Tiger Illustrated, Clemson's most widely read blog, posted a lengthy piece this week looking back on Wilkins' six-year term as chair. 

Here are a few key excerpts from the Tiger Illustrated interview with Wilkins: 

Wilkins begins the interview by expressing a strong desire for the sit-down not to come across as him taking credit for the progress that’s occurred in recent years.

“I’m part of a huge team, a small part of it,” he said. “I think I’ve had some positive impact on the situation, but it’s a team effort. It was the board doing it, with the administration, the president. … I’m a ‘we’ guy, not an ‘I’ guy.”

TI: Overall, with the entire university, what are you most proud of that’s been accomplished during your time as chair?

WILKINS: I think it’s been a good run, a good six years. I’m very appreciative of the fact that the board elected me as chairman when I had only been on the board for about two years. I think that was sort of a leap of faith by some of the board members to do that, but I’m very appreciative of them doing that. I think we’ve made a good team…

 I think we’re on a strong trajectory. Obviously our sports programs overall are doing quite well. Football certainly is leading that charge. We’ve had a number of ACC championships this past year, a number in the spring sports. In fact, at our July meeting I’ve asked Dan Radakovich to give us a full report on the state of Clemson athletics – each sport at a time, what he thinks about each sport, the coaches, the players, the records, the projection they’re going in.

But there’s no doubt that football is leading that charge. And we’re all proud of what Dabo Swinney and his coaches have accomplished. And we agree with him: The best is yet to come, and it’s going to be a positive for the whole university and a positive for all the sports…

TI: Is legacy important to you?

WILKINS: … By my nature I think I’m inclusive and I want people to work together. I think we’re doing that. I don’t think I deserve the credit for that, but I think I’ve been a part of that Clemson family that wants to work together to achieve and get even better. So I’m proud of that.

I think the board should never micromanage. We’ve got to hire good people and let them learn. But for the board to be involved, to ask questions, to have that continue in a relationship between athletics and academics – the provost talking to us, the AD talking to us, the president talking to us – I think it energizes them. And I think it reinforces to them that, “Man, we’ve got your back. We’re with you. You’ve talked to us. We agree with your strategy. We’ve got your back. You go make your tough decisions and we’ve got you covered.” That’s sort of how we’ve worked it the last couple of years.

TI: When was the first time you heard the name Dabo Swinney?

WILKINS: I was in Canada, as U.S. Ambassador, when we got the phone call that we had to make a change. And the recommendation was that he would be made the interim coach. I may have heard of his name before then, but I’d been removed a little bit being in Canada for a couple of years. I’m not sure I had heard it before then. But I distinctly remember it then.

TI: Seven years later, can you recall anything poignant from the time when he was auditioning for the job? Did he make any sort of presentations to the Board of Trustees at that time?

WILKINS: I do remember the phone call to the board that Tommy Bowden was leaving, and the recommendation was to promote Dabo. I believe Bill Hendrix had Terry Don (Phillips) on the phone, saying he recommended Dabo. So we did that. And then at the next board meeting, which wasn’t too long after that, Dabo came and spoke to us early one morning before maybe his first or second game. I distinctly remember him talking about we were a 10-point underdog, and the point he made was, “10-point underdog? I’ve been an underdog all my life. That’s nothing.” And as he can do, he got us all pretty fired up and inspired. We were all ready to go dress out for the game right after he spoke to us. So I remember that.

TI: In your eyes, what’s the biggest challenge for Clemson and the board moving forward?

WILKINS: I think it’s important we not get complacent. It’s important we continue to support our president… I think we just need to keep our eye on the ball and do that. I think we have a lot of momentum going for us right now. We’ve just got to keep doing it. We could always improve. We’ve just got to keep focused.

Perfect In PEI

Team Wilkins was proud to participate in the 8th annual Southeastern United States – Canadian Provinces Alliance (SEUS-CP) conference held late last month in beautiful Prince Edward Island.  PEI Premier H. Wade MacLauchlan was certainly a gracious host to the numerous delegates from SEUS-CP member states and provinces including our own Ashley Martin Aldebol as well as the head of the South Carolina delegation, Lieutenant Governor Henry McMaster.  Other VIPs in attendance included New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, Canada's Consul General in Atlanta Louise Blais, our great pal June Dewetering with the Canada-US Interparliamentary Group, Steven Zate with the US Embassy Ottawa, as well as a bevy of commerce secretaries, trade representatives, lieutenant governors, and other various officials.

Delegates including business and industry leaders from the states and provinces spent two days discussing commerce and economic development issues vital to the US-Canada bilat and SEUS-CP members in particular.  They are:  Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Québec.

A highlight of the event was a keynote speech presented by Robert Irving, the co-CEO of J.D. Irving, Limited. 

David Wilkins has been a keen supporter of SEUS-CP since its inception and first meeting in Montreal in 2007 when he was serving as US ambassador to Canada.

Coulda Been A Cowboy 

If cowboys had worn suits and ties and been armed with Blackberries, well than David Wilkins coulda been one, partner! 

Since they don't and he does, he instead opted for the next best thing – a week's vacation out on the wild range where there is no dress code and allegedly, no Wi-Fi or cell service.  (Editor's note: Ha!  Ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough, ain't no river wide enough, or vast amount of vastness vast enough to keep Wilkins off his email.)  

Anyway, when he wasn't climbing mountains and hanging off rocky ledges in search of signs of electronic life on his Blackberry (just kidding) (mostly) he was enjoying an amazing getaway withSusan Wilkins, their sons James and Robert, daughter-in-law Stephanie, and the 7-year-old wonder grand twins, Whit and Clary. 

They were all corralled under the stars at the A Bar A Guest Ranch in southern Wyoming.  The historic ranch sits along the banks of the North Platte River in the heart of the Medicine Bow Mountains.  It was established in 1926 and is one of the oldest guest ranches in the country.

From horseback riding to hiking and fishing, the Wilkins family lassoed themselves up a mighty fine time.  Check out the snaps below!

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The Wilkins Wranglers – James, David, Susan, Stephanie, Clary, Whit and Robert  

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Woman's Work – Susan Wilkins wins the biggest catch of the week – a 24" rainbow trout 

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A River Runs Through It – No obstacle too difficult on this ride

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David and Susan mosey on down the path

Mosey On Out To Montana

And while we are in a cowboy kinda mood, next week will find Team Wilkins out in beautiful Big Sky Montana attending the annual Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) conference. 

PNWER brings together member states and provinces including Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon and the Northwest Territories to discuss vital US-Canada bilat issues. 

Check out the August edition of your Carolina-Canada Connections for all the deets including great photos and name drops from this year's highly anticipated conference. 

They Said What?

  • "Yes," – Comedian Bill Cosby admitting in a 2005 sworn deposition to getting prescription Quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex.  The records were made public Monday after The Associated Press went to court to compel their release.
  • "It is none of your business, it is really none of your business," – GOP presidential candidateDonald Trump when asked by an NBC reporter whether he "uses" his gun.  (Editor's note:  The question came after Trump said he was a licensed gun owner.) 
  • "In case you didn’t notice, this is a big turnout,” – Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, at a rally in Portland, Maine attended by some 7,500 screaming supporters.
  • "I'm not going there," – San Francisco Board of Supervisors Julie Christensen when asked by a local reporter whether 32-year-old Kate Steinle, murdered by an illegal immigrant, would be alive today if the city wasn't a sanctuary city (Editor's note:  The alleged killer and convicted felon had been deported five times and recently served jail time on drug charges in San Francisco.  Following official San Francisco policy, city officials refused to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement as was requested when he was released from jail.  He was out on the streets when he confessed to shooting Steinle with a gun stolen from a federal law enforcement official.  He said he continued to return to San Francisco because he knew it was a sanctuary city and he was safe from deportation.)
  • "…we have started to make changes in terms of structuring and staffing at the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that our law enforcement efforts are focused on felons and not on families. And that is an effort that is continuing. I would say — and it bears repeating in this case — that these efforts would be significantly augmented had Republicans not blocked common-sense immigration reform," – White House spokesperson Josh Earnestrepresenting the Obama administration's take on the Steinle murder.