[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1997, Book II)]
[November 25, 1997]
[Pages 1655-1656]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 1655]]

Remarks to the United States Consulate Staff in Vancouver
November 25, 1997

    Thank you very much. Thank you. First of all, this is the first 
chance I've had to say thank you, Ambassador Giffin. Let me thank all of 
you for coming, all of you who work for the American consulate here, for 
our Embassy, both the Americans and the Canadians who are here. And 
those of you who brought your children, thank you for bringing your 
    I know that whenever a President comes to another country and to 
another community, the very happiest time is when he gets on the plane 
and leaves--[laughter]--because it's a lot of trouble. And I appreciate 
the trouble that you have taken to make my second visit to Vancouver a 
really wonderful one.
    I was told that when I came here before as President in 1993, to 
meet with President Yeltsin, I was the first sitting President ever to 
come to Vancouver. Now I hope that no one will ever catch my record. But 
it is a wonderful place.
    And I want to thank Gordon Giffin, who is almost as Canadian as he 
is American, for his willingness to become our Ambassador and leave his 
happy home in Georgia. And I thank Mary Ann Peters, who worked for me at 
the National Security Council before she came here as a DCM. Ken Fairfax 
was also at the National Security Council. He had to track nuclear 
materials in the former Soviet Union; I imagine he's happier in Canada 
now. But he did a fine job. And Jim Tomsheck used to be on my 
Presidential protection detail; he's now an assistant treasury attache. 
And I asked him whether this was not a better job and he said, ``Well, 
both of them were an honor.'' I think that was a political way of saying 
this is a much better job. [Laughter]
    Thank you, Jay Bruns, and thanks to all the people here at the 
consulate. I do think that you went the extra mile to turn--to move the 
consulate to a golf course. I know that my love for golf is legendary 
but this is sort of overdoing it. I appreciate you coming here because 
it is on the way to the airplane.
    And speaking of the airplane, Air Force One, and Harrison Ford, I 
actually made arrangements for Harrison Ford to see Air Force One for 
the first time when we happened to be in Wyoming. And I was present when 
he asked Glenn Close to become his Vice President. If you've seen the 
movie, you know she's the Vice President. And she and I were sitting 
there, and he got down on his knees and proposed to her. [Laughter] It 
was very romantic. And she said, ``I can't. I'm too busy.'' And I looked 
at her, and I said, ``Glenn, you do not say no to the President.'' 
[Laughter] So that's how the movie came to be.
    Let me say that this APEC meeting was a very important one. 
Historically, it may be to the most important one we've had since we 
started meeting in my first year as President at Blake Island, 
Washington. We committed ourselves to a common vision of peace and 
stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. Then we met in 
Indonesia and then in the Philippines. We adopted a plan, a strategy, a 
blueprint for open trade by the year 2020.
    And last year, we came out for the information technology agreement, 
to reduce to zero tariffs on computers, semiconductors, and 
telecommunications equipment. It's now been embraced by the World Trade 
Organization, and it amounts to a $5 billion tariff cut on American 
products and services. It's an enormous positive impact for the United 
States, and indeed, it will also help Canada and every other country 
that manufactures and sells such equipment. And it will lift the living 
standards and the quality of life of people all around the world.
    This year, we proved that our community is for good times and for 
challenging ones, as well. Asia's financial difficulties would have made 
it tempting for some of our partners to turn inward, maybe even to stay 
home. But instead, we agreed to open trade in nine new areas totaling 
$1.5 trillion in goods and services, everything from chemicals to 
medical equipment to environmental technology. This is a really strong 
vote of confidence in our common future.
    We also supported an action plan to meet the financial challenges 
that we all face in Asia. And I say that advisedly, we all face them, 
because Canada and the United States will not be unaffected unless we 
can restore confidence and growth and forward progress throughout the 
Asian area.

[[Page 1656]]

    We believe that the affected countries are doing the right thing in 
committing to take the right steps to remain strong, with the IMF taking 
the lead for international community and with other advanced countries 
backing them up when it's appropriate.
    Last year we set an agenda for more open trade. This year we set an 
agenda to help us meet the challenges of the international financial 
system in the 21st century and to tackle other problems, including 
global warming. We committed to working to achieve an agreement in 
Kyoto, which is coming up in just a couple of weeks. I can't tell you 
how important I think this is. The scientific evidence is overwhelming 
that the Earth's climate is warming at a more rapid rate than it has in 
thousands of years. The leader from Papua New Guinea was here, saying 
that he literally feared huge chunks of his country being overrun if the 
sea level rises. He said, ``It's not just our livelihood; it's our 
culture and our religion. It's everything about our life.''
    We know that global warming will lead to more extreme weather 
developments, the floods in the northern part of the United States, the 
fires in Indonesia, things of this kind. And so we know that we have to 
face these together.
    We have already endorsed some things that will help, including a big 
natural gas energy network from North to South Asia which will 
dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise come from 
coal or oil. We are going to take on the transnational consequences of 
environmental crises like the forest fires burning across Indonesia. 
We're developing an emergency program to predict, prevent, and 
coordinate our response to natural disasters of that kind in the future.
    We're acting to meet the challenges that we'll face as a community 
and seize the opportunities we can only seize fully as a community. And 
I just want to reemphasize that your work is vital to that success. It 
wasn't so many years ago that it would have been unheard of for a few 
leaders from Asia, from North America, and from South America to sit 
around and have the kind of conversations we've had for the last 2 days. 
We didn't agree on everything, but we agreed on a great deal. And the 
world is better off and our people will be better off because of the 
work that you helped to make possible.
    Again let me say a special word of thanks to all of our own citizens 
here at the consulate for serving as ambassadors of the United States, 
and to the Canadian citizens who work to help us do our job every day.
    I wish Secretary Albright were here with me. She gives a great pep 
talk to all of you, and she would say that one of the great unnoticed 
benefits of the balanced budget agreement I signed last summer is that 
for the first time in years we have taken the cloud off the annual 
debate about whether the United States would walk away from fully 
funding our diplomatic efforts around the world in a way that supports 
people like you here and in every other nation in which we're 
represented. The balanced budget agreement did a good thing to help fund 
fully our diplomatic efforts. And I hope that will give you a lot of 
security and boost your morale as you do America's mission in the months 
and years ahead.
    Let me finally say a special thank-you to the people of Vancouver. 
Hillary and Chelsea and I had a wonderful family vacation here a few 
years ago at the beginning of this decade. I fell in love with the city. 
We went over to Victoria; we loved everything we saw over there. And 
when I came back today to the same place that I met with President 
Yeltsin 4 years ago, I saw again what an astonishing and unique place 
this is for historic and cultural reasons and for all the modern reasons 
that I'm sure that a lot of you young people know and understand far 
better than I do.
    I am gratified that we came. I'm pleased by the results of the 
meeting. And again, thank you very, very much for what you do to help 
the United States move the world to a better place in a new century.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 4:32 p.m. at the Shaughnessy Golf Course. 
In his remarks, the President referred to Mary Ann Peters, Deputy Chief 
of Mission, U.S. Embassy in Canada; Ken Fairfax, consulate economic 
officer; Judson L. Bruns III, U.S. Consul General, Vancouver; actor 
Harrison Ford; actress Glenn Close; and Governor General Wiwa Korowi of 
Papua New Guinea.