Academic journal article Canada-United States Law Journal

Ambassadors' and Ministers' Roundtable: The Canada-Us Relationship at Large

Academic journal article Canada-United States Law Journal

Ambassadors' and Ministers' Roundtable: The Canada-Us Relationship at Large

Article excerpt

Moderator: Consul General Douglas George

Speaker: The Honorable James J. Blanchard

Speaker: The Honorable James S. Peterson

Speaker: The Honorable David Jacobson

Speaker: The Honorable Peter MacKay

CONSUL GENERAL GEORGE: I wonder if I could get the panelists to come up. While they are making their way forward, I will just start with a few remarks. I am Doug George, the Consul General of Canada in Detroit.

(Greeting in French.)

CONSUL GENERAL GEORGE: For the sake of the court reporter, we will do it in English. First, I really do want to thank Ted Parran and Steve Petras for inviting us here and, once again, including this session in the conference. I personally think this is the most interesting session and the most fun for all of us, especially my panelists.

It is really a great opportunity to get together with these distinguished leaders, distinguished policymakers, and people that can bring an awful lot of experience to what we are doing today.

I know most of us in the room follow NAFTA on a day-to-day basis, but for those few of you who don't, I will just give you a quick summary. As was stated last night by our keynote speaker, NAFTA is basically the premier regional trading relationship.

It is the largest one in the world, annual trade of over a trillion dollars, three times what it was when we started NAFTA. It supports nearly 14 million jobs in the U.S., serves 480 million customers in a combined GDP of $21 trillion dollars.

What that represents is just under seven percent of the world's population but 25 percent--over 25 percent of the world's GDP. And over the course of NAFTA, we really developed highly integrated supply chains and a highly integrated economy. And NAFTA has got a few wobbles here and there, but its track record is one of growth and prosperity.

Now we are in the middle of negotiations or renegotiations, and without going into nauseating detail, we have had seven rounds of negotiations, which have finalized six chapters, two annexes, and great progress is being made.

We just entered a very intensive phase, and among some of us, the perception that we are dealing with is NAFTA isn't working. That's wrong. NAFTA is working, but it needs to be modernized and brought up to date.

So what we are doing in NAFTA and in negotiations is to try and bring it into the 21st century. It is 24 years old. Twenty four is a great age if you just graduated university; young if you are a Brandy, and I do have an Olympic athlete joke, which never seems to go over because I talk about snow boarders, so if you don't get your Gold Medal by 17, you are over the hill.

(Laughter.)

HON. JAMES BLANCHARD: I thought it would be about curling.

CONSUL GENERAL GEORGE: We are all friends up here.

(Laughter.)

CONSUL GENERAL GEORGE: Let me just say Vice President Pence said it best: "What we are looking for in NAFTA is a win-win."

Now, my panelists don't need introduction, so I will make them very short. First is Jim Blanchard, former governor of Michigan, former U.S. ambassador to Canada, and now with DLA Piper in Washington. Next is Jim Peterson, former Canadian Minister of International Trade and now with Fasken's in Toronto.

Next is the Honorable David Jacobson, former U.S. ambassador to Canada, now Vice Chair for BMO Financial Group of Chicago where BMO's U.S. operations are headquartered.

And finally, the Honorable Peter MacKay, served as Canada's Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Minister of National Defense, and Minister of Foreign Affairs. And he is currently partner at Baker McKenzie in Toronto.

Now, a whole lot of honorable stuff. But it does show the depth of this panel, and none of them are currently serving government, so they are more than willing to share their unvarnished views.

As moderator, I am going to ask the first question or two, but I encourage you all to ask questions. …

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