Canada and the United States, an Equal Partnership
Canada and the United States have the strongest partnership in the world. This should not be taken for granted, but continually nurtured and maintained. Canada's strong economy, along with the United States, creates two strong nations which can be equal partners. Strong security at the border and continuing trade benefit both countries. It is also important to work together on international issues, such as disarming Iraq, poverty, and AIDS. Speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, Chicago, Illinois, February 13, 2003.
I want to reflect with you on shared challenges. On how in a dangerous time, we can advance values cherished by our societies and admired by so many in the rest of the world.
Specifically, I will address three themes underpinning the Canada-United States relationship: being strong at home; being strong in partnership; and being strong internationally.
In my view, the long term security of our democracies requires us to succeed on each of these fronts.
Strong at home
Let me begin with a few remarks on the Canadian economy. For, quite simply, it matters to your economy that ours does well: we consume 25% of your exports.
I am pleased to tell you that our economy is firing on all cylinders right now. We are strong at home. And a sound fiscal situation assures us of continued success.
Canada avoided recession in 2001. We led the G7 with growth of 3.3% in 2002. And the IMF and OECD predict that our GDP growth will again lead the G-7 in 2003.
Our economy created close to 560,000 jobs in 2002, the highest number of jobs ever created in a single year in Canada. In a country one tenth your size, this is no small achievement.
Inflation has been low and steady for 10 years. Interest rates are lower than they have been in 40 years. We are implementing the largest tax reduction in our history. And Canada's corporate and capital gains tax rates are now below American rates.
Canada has also enjoyed a dramatic fiscal turnaround: we have had five consecutive budget surpluses. We are predicting another budget surplus for this year and surpluses in the years after that. Canada is the only G-7 country in that position. Since 1997 we have paid down more than 10% of our market debt. And we are continuing year after year to pay down the debt.
Our debt-to-GDP ratio has fallen from 71% to 49% over this period; and it continues to fall. The OECD predicts that in 2004 our debt to GDP ratio will be below that of the United States.
The reasons for the attractiveness of Canada as a place to invest are not just fiscal and economic: our social investments also make a difference. Our public health care system saves significant costs to business. Unlike all other countries, our public sector pension plans are now fully funded and actuarially sound for at least the next 40 years.
We are very strong at home. And Canada's being "strong at home" is helping make America "strong at home".
My second theme is, "strong in partnership"--both a security partnership and a trading one.
At the centre of our foreign policy is, of course, our relationship with the United States. Our countries are linked in ways like no two others. Our security and our prosperity are mutually dependent.
We fought side by side in the three major wars of the last century. We jointly developed security institutions like NATO and NORAD which enabled us to withstand together the Soviet threat throughout the Cold War.
Since September 11, our collaboration has been very close. Faced with new threats, we are developing new tools to ensure our joint security.
We have passed strong anti-terrorism laws. We have funded tougher security measures. The number of police, immigration, and customs officers at border points has been increased. State of the art security technologies have been put in place. …