MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.
“Obama and Harper Vow Partnership on Economy, Environment, Energy”
Canada and the United States enjoy the strongest economic, cultural and security ties seen around the World. Yet it was still remarkable, and reassuring, to witness the unique connection between U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper when the President made his first foreign trip to Canada last week.
While it had long been billed as a “working visit”, even the aides to both leaders and the media expressed surprise at the real progress on issues that matter most to Canadians and Americans. What’s equally surprising is the speed with which the follow-up actions to this meeting are advancing.
Most important for many Canadians concerned about a “buy-American” clause in Washington’s economic stimulus bill, were the specific assurances by the President that he expects Canada-U.S. trade to grow and that there will be further integration of our energy and other sectors over the next four years.
That’s good news for both Canadian and U.S. industries that rely upon the free flow of goods and services between our two nations …especially in the midst of difficult economic times.
The two leaders discussed working together to respond to the global economic crisis and a joint effort at the G-20 Summit in April with a view to restoring confidence in financial markets.
And on another important economic front, they instructed senior officials to meet quickly to work at enhancing collective security in North America, including the management of the Canada-U.S. Border.
The leaders also agreed that Afghanistan is a top priority for both countries. It was confirmed last week that President Obama has committed to an additional 17,000 U.S. troops for Afghanistan later this Spring, and the mission will be the major subject at the upcoming NATO Summit in April.
The President and the Prime Minister explored practical ways our two nations can encourage the development of clean energy technologies to reduce greenhouse gases and combat climate change.
Once again, they took immediate action by establishing a senior-level U.S.-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue to: co-operate on clean energy research; develop and deploy clean energy technology; and, build a more efficient electricity grid based upon clean and renewable generation.
Building upon his dialogue with President Obama, the Prime Minister was in New York on Monday to emphasize to U.S. business leaders that increased cross-border trade between Canada and the U.S. is essential to the economic recoveries of both nations. He also met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss Afghanistan, Haiti, climate change and the abduction in Niger of Canadian diplomats.
And the following day, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while Sports Minister Gary Lunn was in Washington to discuss the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and the need to facilitate the flow of people between Washington State and B.C. during the games.
Over the coming weeks, several more of my cabinet colleagues will travel to the U.S. to address important issues with their American counterparts. Four-fifths of Canada’s exports head to the U.S. … that’s an economic lifeline that our Government will continue to protect by fostering a strong bilateral relationship.
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