The election of President Trump has created a great opportunity for America and Canada to make both of our economies more productive, accelerate economic growth, and enable our nations to compete more successfully in the world market.
That is my first conclusion after talking with more than 70 Canadian CEOs in Toronto on Sunday night.
The meeting was arranged by Gordon Giffin, my friend and colleague at Dentons, who was ambassador to Ottawa under President Bill Clinton and has maintained very active ties to the Canadian government and business community.
It struck me during our talk that the U.S. should continue building on our incredibly old, deep mutual relations with the Canadian people.
After all, Canada and the United States already have an amazing level of joint manufacturing. Some cars cross the U.S.-Canada border 13 times as they are being assembled. The St. Lawrence Seaway is managed cooperatively by our two countries to expedite maritime trade between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. And there are Canadian hockey, baseball and basketball teams competing with American teams.
In the energy sector, a project has been approved to bring 1,000 megawatts of Quebec hydroelectric power to New York City. And President Trump has already approved moving forward the Keystone Pipeline – one of many opportunities in joint infrastructure development. Canadians have far more experience than Americans at such public-private infrastructure projects, and there are more places along the border where such development will be mutually profitable.
One of the greatest emerging areas of potential partnership is the Arctic. The Russians are making very large investments in both civilian and military development of the Arctic. A joint United States-Canadian effort would be a much more effective response than either country could muster trying to go it alone. This could be one of the great growth areas of the next half century.
We should also not forget that on Sept. 11, 2001, it was a Canadian commanding the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) who executed President Bush’s decision to land all the planes until we had a grip on the terrorist threat. And Canadians have been and are still serving with American forces in the Middle East.
It was clear during British Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit last week that both the Trump Administration and the British government were excited about the prospects of closer ties. I think in a visit by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau we will see a similar joint desire to work more closely together.
A United States-Canada trade agreement may be a profitable parallel to a United States-Great Britain trade deal.
At the start, the mood in Toronto Sunday night was a combination of optimism, apprehension and just plain curiosity about this new American president. By the end of the hours-long discussion, there was genuine excitement and optimism that we could work and prosper together.