Ambassador: ‘Canada is Your Partner’
By Jo Brosius, CSG Director of Communications
The U.S. and Canada share one of the most successful international relationships in the world today. But according to Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer it’s a relationship not valued as it should be.
“We take our relationship for granted because we just know they’re going to be there,” said Schweitzer, the 2011 president of The Council of State Governments. “We are romancing the English, the French, checking to see if the Italians are our friends, trying to find new friends in Russia, but the closest friends and allies that have stood beside us, we take for granted.”
Schweitzer enjoys a close relationship between his state of Montana and Canada because of a shared border. He also considers Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer his personal friend. Doer spoke at a special session—“Canada & the U.S.—Neighbors, Friends, Allies”—during CSG’s 2010 National Conference in Providence, R.I.
Doer said one of the most important things about the relationship between the two countries is the opportunity to share best practices on a number of areas, including energy, the environment and the economy.
“We work very hard to work together on efforts between our two countries, but it is important to note that in terms of cooperation, we steal from each other quite often,” he joked.
In terms of energy, Doer said most Americans aren’t aware that Canada is the U.S.’s largest supplier of foreign energy. Most people, he said, would guess most of their oil comes from the Middle East.
“If you ask Americans if they prefer to get oil from Canada or the Middle East, they would prefer to get it from a neighbor that has a democracy similar to theirs,” he said.
This is why the ambassador seemed a little puzzled at the debate in Washington about a proposed pipeline from Alberta to Houston. While the states where the pipeline would run are in agreement, the debate in Washington, D.C., is between those who place the importance on energy security and reducing dependency on fuels from the Middle East and others who say we should reduce our use of fossil fuels altogether, whether or not they come from Canada or offshore.
One area of strong cooperation is renewable energy. Doer said the states and the Canadian provinces share many good ideas on solar, wind and hydro energy. In Canada, he said, 60 percent of the country’s total energy generation comes from renewable energy sources and more than 75 percent comes from sources that do not emit greenhouse gases.
“We’re working together on a cooperative relationship on energy sustainability,” he said.
Canada has committed to raising energy efficiency standards and has made significant investments in renewable energy sources while gradually phasing out old coal units.
The U.S. and Canada both seem to agree on a number of areas that are good for both the environment and the economy, including similar vehicle emission standards and goals for reducing greenhouse gases. One of the most successful, yet least talked about, is the Montreal protocol agreement to stop the production and sale of ozone-depleting materials between the two countries. Doer said the agreement went from two countries to 16 and now boasts 165 countries around the world as members.
“We’ve almost banned completely those materials and had the added benefit of more (greenhouse gases) being reduced in the world than the Kyoto protocol,” he said.
Doer said Canada and the U.S. would continue to work together on energy security, renewability and environmental sustainability between the two countries.
“We’ll work together with the U.S. and will not have a situation where Canada and the U.S. are apart. We work together and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” he said. “Canada is your partner, ready, willing and able to work with you.”