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Out & About in Cleveland

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Union Club With The Cleveland Council on World Affairs

On Monday morning, May 21, we got up early to attend a 7:30 am program at the Union Club put on by the Cleveland Council on World Affairs. It featured the Honorable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Canada's Minister of International Trade, as the guest speaker. Also present was Mr. Douglas George, Consul General of Canada based in Detroit, and Mr. Daniel Tremblay, a consul also from the Detroit office, who talked to us for a moment about Canada's participation in the Cleveland International Film Festival.

During his address, Mr. Champagne cheerily recalled that he attended Case Western Reserve University Law School in the early 1990's and had a very rewarding experience serving as its commencement speaker just the day before.

He went on to talk about the relationship between the United States and Canada, specifically Ohio and Canada and the vast amount of people and products that move across the border between Ohio and Canada each day. We learned such facts as 308,000 jobs in Ohio depend on trade relations with Canada, and 291 Canadian companies have opened a subset/counterpart here.

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He praised relations between the United States and Canada, reminding us that no two countries in the history of the world have enjoyed as peaceful of a relationship for so long a time, which he attributed to shared values. Subsequently, the two economies are intrinsically linked and operate for the betterment of all members (i.e., consumer, worker, and entrepreneur) of both societies.

Along these lines, Mr. Champagne contended that NAFTA, which has been in place since 1994, has been a vital element in the success of trade relations, but it was time to update it due to the realities of new monetary trends and technological developments. For instance, small- and medium-sized firms are now at the forefront in terms of being economic drivers, and the updated agreement (which must be all-encompassing and negotiated with great patience and intelligence) must take this into account.

Mr. Champagne had time for a few questions so we asked him about immigration between the United States and Canada. Among what he said in his reply was that it was essential that progressions be continued/improved that permit that craftspeople be able to move freely across the borders to ensure the success of bilateral transactions. An example would be U.S. technicians/engineers going to Canada for extended periods to install technologically advanced equipment in a Canadian firm and being allowed to return to perform maintenance procedures.

He also praised the diversity of Canada, which he upheld as a major source of its prosperity and identity.

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison

Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC