A weekly outreach to our friends and colleagues in Canada
Weekly Washington Wrap
- Congress proved the pundits wrong this week by passing significant legislation during its lame duck session. On Tuesday, the Senate passed the biggest U.S. food safety overhaul in 70 years. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act passed by a vote of 73-25 after the Senate ended a filibuster by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) that stalled the legislation for several months. The House now has to decide whether to pass the Senate version or try and negotiate changes. If both the House and Senate do not agree, time will run out and the legislation would have to be re-introduced in the next Congress where its fate is uncertain.
- Republican and Democrat congressional leaders met with President Obama on Tuesday morning to try and negotiate what tax cuts can be extended past their December 31 expiration. Democrats and the president want to limit tax cuts to the middle class. Republicans want a permanent extension of all the tax cuts. While no agreement was made, both sides left the meeting optimistic that consensus could be reached and they appointed a bi-partisan panel to try and hammer out a compromise.
- Yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a seven-year drilling ban for the eastern Gulf of Mexico and for the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The announcement was a reversal of policies President Obama announced in March, when he was open to the possibility of oil and gas drilling off the east coast and to lifting the moratorium for the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Canadian Magic and Miracles in Afghanistan
Tomorrow morning before a sellout crowd of more than 550 people, David Wilkins will be delivering a most special keynote address to donors, staff and volunteers of A Child's Haven. The Greenville, South Carolina based nonprofit organization provides a safe haven of learning and support for young children whose development has been delayed by poverty, neglect and abuse.
Founded in 1992, this special place also works directly with parents and caregivers so when children leave the program, it is to safe, stable and successful homes.
Wilkins had been asked to speak about his service in Canada. But when our friend, Dr. Alex Barron of Toronto, shared with us the touching story of a 10-month-old Afghan baby girl saved by the talents, determination and love of Canadian medics stationed in Kandahar City, it provided the perfect way for Wilkins to remind yet another American audience of Canada's commitment and sacrifice fighting the war on terror in Afghanistan.
Little Masah was burned over more than 50% of her body by boiling water and was considered all but dead by the local Afghan clinic. Her mom, refusing to accept this prognosis, took her to the gates of hope: Camp Nathan Smith. Canadian Forces were returning from patrol when Petty Officer Second Class Felix Gelinas and Camp Doctor Captain Jaime Thibodeau rushed into action. Through their efforts, and those of Corporal Samantha Parsons, Masah was amazingly healed.
From Wilkins remarks:
"The Canadian medics later learned that Masah's family had tried other local Afghan clinics and facilities for help but were refused. Then they heard about Afghans who were treated by what they deemed the 'wizards' at the military base.
So Masah's mom took her to the wizards. And the wizards saved her life.
But to me, Masah's recovery is not a story about magic.
It's about miracles.
For it takes a miraculous person to leave all the comforts of home and deliberately stand up, and if duty dictates, lay down, their lives in freedom's name.
Masah's story is just one of so many acts of compassion by Canadian and US forces coming from the front lines.
It's also a story as old as our military itself, for wherever our troops have served – they have saved…
I've heard it said, 'While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.'
Masah's Canadian medic team returned from Afghanistan saying that treating her was one of the very best things they did over there. All they gave to that precious baby meant little compared to what she gave to them.
And so it is with children.
It's God's way that the littlest hearts should give away the most love.
It's our duty to safeguard those hearts from harm…
May God richly bless you and all those who are on the front lines serving children – whether in the deserts of Afghanistan or on a Greenville playground.
And in this most holy of seasons, when we celebrate the birth of a child, Susan and I wish you all a joyful and blessed Christmas and New Year."
A Time for Transition
So when David Wilkins isn't giving speeches, traveling across Canada, chairing a Clemson University Board meeting, or working in Washington, D.C., he's helping our new South Carolina Governor-elect, Nikki Haley, organize her governing team in advance of her inauguration this January.
As chairman of the Haley Transition Team, Wilkins devoted much of his time this week to interviewing talented South Carolinians for a variety of high-profile jobs in the new Haley Administration.
Gathering of Governors
And speaking of Governor-elect Haley and David Wilkins, both of them are in Washington, D.C., this morning meeting with other newly-elected governors from across the US.
The breakfast event is sponsored by the Government of Canada and the Province of Alberta. As Canada is our top trading partner, as well as our country's number one foreign supplier of energy, the gathering provides a great way for Canada to build a strong foundation with new state leaders and stress the strategic importance and value of the US-Canada relationship.
As close friends and associates of Team Wilkins know, the instate football rivalry between Ambassador Wilkins' beloved Clemson Tigers and his Special Policy Advisor, Ashley Martin's, adored South Carolina Gamecocks is more than intense (those of us with any sense stay far away from both of them every November as the big brawl rolls around).
This year, it was Ashley who got the last laugh (and what a laugh it was) as the USC Gamecocks crushed Clemson 29-7. Ouch!
Even better for Ashley, her SEC Eastern Division champs are set to play in Atlanta this Saturday against the undefeated Auburn Tigers for the SEC Championship Title.
If you are interested in the possibility of having Ambassador Wilkins speak at an event, please contact Christy Cox at Christy.Cox@nelsonmullins.com or call 803.255.9470.
The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.