Ambassador Heyman addresses U.S.-Canada SAGE Summit

Ambassador Heyman addresses the Ohio State University US-Canada SAGE Summit. Credit SAGE.

As Delivered

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. Glenn [Richardson, JobsOhio, Managing Director for Advanced Manufacturing and Aerospace], I appreciate that. Before I begin this morning, I’d just like to take a few moments to say a few words about the tragic loss of life, actually let’s call it what it is, a massacre, in Orlando, clearly this past weekend. Each of us has our own ideas about what motivated this killer and I’m sure in the fullness of time, we’ll have a clearer understanding. Whatever the outcome of the ongoing investigations, the shock and pain of this weekend will remain with us.

I have been touched and humbled by the outpouring of love and kindness from Canadians in the aftermath of this terrible weekend. Spontaneous vigils sprung up across Canada, the City of Toronto has dedicated its upcoming Pride Parade to the Orlando victims. At the Embassy, we set up a condolence book for people to come and share their thoughts on what happened. Prime Minister Trudeau was not only one of the first world leaders to call President Obama and express his condolences, but the Prime Minister and his wife Sophie also came to the Embassy on the very first day the condolence book was open and wrote beautiful, comforting messages of support. Later in my speech, I will talk more about the many ways in which Canada has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States and has been our staunchest ally.

And, I am sorry I’ve had to start on such a sad note but now I’m going to switch the tone. It is really great to be back in Ohio, my home state. I grew up just an hour or so from here, in Dayton.

My Mom and Dad met right here, at Ohio State. My Dad was the first generation to go to college, first generation American. And so it’s with great fondness that I’ve returned to Columbus, a place that I shared so many fun weekends with my parents and my father while he was still alive.

And, so, Dan, [Dan Ujczo, President of the Ohio-Canada Business Association], Dan there you are, thank you for inviting me back here to talk for a little bit about the amazing U.S.-Canada relationship. And, I know all of you have heard, and will continue to hear, plenty about the relationship over the course of this event. And I realize I’m talking to an assembly of experts on many details and programs of our bilateral relationship.

So I’m actually going to focus on the intangibles, I’m gonna focus on the intangibles of the what the United States and Canada bring to the world when we work together – the leadership, the shared values, our roles of beacons of hope and opportunity, and our roles as forces for good in a world that continues to face challenges to peace, freedom, and prosperity.

We are both nations of immigrants. The American “melting pot” and the Canadian multiculturalism enrich our societies and provide space for diverse experiences and perspectives. Ultimately, though, what identifies us as Americans and Canadians isn’t our physical appearances or our ethnic origins; instead, it’s the values that we share. These values are central to our unparalleled success as partners – we actually want the same things in the world: democracy, freedom, peace and security, inclusiveness, transparent and responsive government, free markets.

Now, you may have heard of the Peace Arch which commemorates the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. The Peace Arch is on British Columbia-Washington State border and the inscriptions on either side capture the kinship we share based on the values I just described. On the U.S. side it reads, “Children of a Common Mother.” On the Canadian side it reads, “Brethren Dwelling Together in Unity.” These words are not just figurative – millions of us really do have family on either side of the border.

So when we work together around the world in pursuit of peace, freedom, and prosperity, we do it with a conviction that few partners can match. We’re not simply seeking common ground; we actually stand on common ground.

I want to tell you about one of the areas where we’re working together and that I had the rare opportunity to experience first-hand a couple of weeks ago. I just got back from an amazing trip to the Arctic organized by the Canadian government. It was done for foreign ambassadors. We did 15 locations in nine days! Now, I have traveled all across Canada and I’ve loved every place I’ve been, but the Arctic is like no place I have ever been. Now this is a shameless plug, but I hope you followed me on social media posts because I tried to capture some of the wonder of the place as well as the challenges.

Canada and the United States are both Arctic nations, committed global leaders on stewardship of the Arctic. In March, President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau announced a new partnership to embrace the opportunities and confront the challenges of the changing Arctic, with Indigenous and Northern partnerships, and responsible, science-based leadership. The United States took over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council from Canada last year and we’re building on Canada’s great work with focusing on addressing the impacts of climate change; Arctic Ocean safety, security, and stewardship; improving economic and living conditions. And of course the Arctic is just one of the many areas which we cooperate to advance our shared goals and values.

In March, I had the distinct privilege to be at the White House as President Obama hosted Prime Minister Trudeau on an official visit to the United States. I was at Andrews Air Force base, when the Prime Minster and his family landed to the sound of cheering crowds, and the U.S. and Canadian national anthems playing. The streets of Washington, DC were awash in U.S. and Canadian flags. It was spectacular! And just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, the White House put on what was easily the piece de resistance of the whole trip: a State Dinner! Not just any State Dinner mind you. It was actually the first State Dinner at the White House – for a Canadian Prime Minister – in almost 20 years! And to put this in perspective: it was only the 10th State Dinner that President Obama had held since coming into office. The evidence of the unbreakable U.S.-Canada bond was on full display for the entire world to see.

And, in about two weeks, President Obama is coming to Ottawa for the North American Leaders Summit, where he will hold trilateral meetings with the leaders of Canada and Mexico. And, in an interesting case of symmetry, he will address a special session of Parliament – the first time that a U.S. president has addressed the Canadian parliament in almost 20 years.

On the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, we have quotations from four former U.S. presidents who’ve addressed the Canadian Parliament. Their words are reminders of our historic bonds. These bonds are deep. And these bonds are strong.

Quite simply, there’s almost no aspect of our lives that is not touched by the bilateral relationship. Our governments engage at every level – from international security, to health, to law enforcement, to trade and investment. Beyond inter-governmental cooperation, universities engage in joint research, local groups promote cross-cultural exchange, and environmental groups work to protect our shared landscapes, waters, flora, and fauna.

On the business front, thousands of small, medium, and large companies engage in hundreds of billions of dollars of annual trade in goods and services, creating the largest bilateral trading relationship in the world. These businesses have invested hundreds of billions of dollars across the border creating economic connections that go beyond trade, resulting in entire communities on both sides of the border having long and deep associations with companies from both sides of the border.

We in the U.S. government, along with our Canadian counterparts, work tirelessly every day to enhance these ties.

You name it, we’re probably working on it together. I’ll tell you something you might not know. In each of the last two years we have had approximately 10,000 official U.S. government visitors to Canada. Ten thousand! I bet you’re wondering what are they doing in Canada? Well, they are doing just about what I’ve been talking about – meeting with counterparts on all the things Americans and Canadians care about: trade, the border, climate change, energy, scientific research, consumer protection, food safety, law enforcement, international security, banking oversight, education, just to name a few.

And it’s very difficult for me to identify the most important area of cooperation, frankly, much of what we do together is so very important. But the one area I’d like to highlight is the work United States and Canada do to protect our environment, and more specifically, global climate change.

On April 22 – Earth Day, as a matter of fact – the United States and Canada, and a record number of countries, at the United Nations in New York, signed the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement is a historic and enduring agreement that sets the world on a course to a low-carbon future. And for the first time, nearly 200 nations came together for an ambitious, durable climate plan that sends a powerful signal that all countries are committed to take real action on climate change. This agreement is designed to build trust and is a call for ambitious action. It includes binding transparency requirements for both developed and developing countries to ensure each country lives up to its commitments. We’re proud to have been partners in this endeavor, which is so consequential for the future of humanity. Together, we have taken on a leadership role, including initiatives to transition to a low-carbon economy ourselves, and to helping developing countries make that transition with funding, with technology.

If there’s any doubt about the seriousness with which our governments are taking this, in the last 10 weeks alone, Canada has hosted separate visits from the most senior U.S. officials dealing with this issue — Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Special Envoy for Climate Change Jonathan Pershing, and senior White House officials, all of whom are working with Canadian counterparts to continue the momentum from March 10 Summit and work toward implementing our commitments on climate and the environment.

Beyond the Paris Agreement and our bilateral cooperation on climate change, we continue to work toward further progress globally. Among the other initiatives we’re working on phasing down hydroflurocarbons — which are exceptionally potent in terms of their impact on climate change. We’re working to reduce emissions from international aviation. And we’re working together with other countries to improve the environmental performance of heavy-duty vehicles.

Climate change is also a major issue for our defense, foreign, and development policies given the impacts of climate change fall particularly hard on countries already dealing with conflict and instability. In fact our two countries are perhaps nowhere more aligned than on those foreign, defense, and development policies.

The United States and Canada cooperate on many of the most pressing regional and global issues that face the international community today. We’re not only NATO allies committed to our common defense, but partners in NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which ensures our airspace sovereignty and security, and which the men and women of our armed forces serve side by side. Last month, U.S. Air Force General Lori Robinson was sworn in as the new commander of NORAD and I would note, she is the first woman combatant commander in United States history! Her deputy is a Canadian Lieutenant-General Pierre St-Amand. This is a “bi-national command” with complete authority vested in both Commander and her deputy which means at any time, either Commander Robinson or General St-Amand could be responsible for ensuring the safety of our two countries from air and space threats. To be clear: we don’t have such arrangements with other countries – we are special partners. Canada continues to play an important role in the U.S.-led Coalition’s efforts to degrade and defeat Da’esh, and we welcome Canada’s significant contributions to the Coalition. Canada’s major commitments to training and humanitarian development assistance will strengthen resilience in the region.

In Europe, the U.S. and Canada stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies in support of the Ukrainian people as they pursue democracy, peace, prosperity, and independence, free from outside interference.

The truth is: this is nothing new. Canadians and Americans have gone into battle together in the most of the major wars and conflicts in the last century. These experiences have shaped both our militaries in significant ways, improving interoperability and professionalism, while creating indelible bonds, keeping peace, and advancing prosperity and democracy around the world.

Not only do we join forces against terrorists and aggressors, but we also fight against global health threats like Ebola, and now Zika. While those two viruses have recently captured headlines, Canadian and American scientists and public health specialists have worked together around the world for decades, both to improve global public health and to advance medical research. Our governments work together to create a more stable, just, and prosperous world with programs to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations; with support for children’s education, especially education for girls; and through cooperation to uphold the rule of law and fight transnational crime and corruption. On the margins of the UN General Assembly in September, Canada and the United States will co-host the Refugee Summit to address one of the great challenges of our time. At the G7 Summit at the end of May, President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau joined fellow world leaders to commit to programs and policies to advance our shared goals on many of the issues I have outlined – ranging from climate change and refugees to malaria and Ukraine.

As the digital economy becomes increasingly central to growth and prosperity, we’re working together to ensure that the world’s poor are not left behind. Canada and the United States are partners with the World Bank and two dozen other countries in an exciting effort aimed at connecting 1.5 billion new users to the internet by 2020 – the Global Connect Initiative. This initiative makes internet access a key development goal, provides funding for greater connectivity, and leverages the skills of our tech communities for affordable access. My colleague Cathy Novelli, who will be speaking later today, is our champion on this important program.

The cooperation we have goes much deeper than the global policy issues I’ve mentioned. American firefighters just left Alberta, where they were helping our friends in Fort McMurray deal with the ongoing wildfires and their aftermath. And last year, too, we had American firefighters working shoulder to shoulder with their Canadian counterparts to fight the outbreak of devastating wildfires.

Canadians have certainly been there for us over the years. The most poignant example perhaps is Canada’s immediate response on 9/11, when 224 airliners, with well over 30,000 passengers and crew, landed in Canada as the U.S. closed its airspace. The majority of flights landed in Atlantic Canada: Halifax, St. John, Stephenville,…and notably, Gander. Gander, Newfoundland, which saw its population of 9,600 people balloon by 70 percent as its citizens opened their homes and hearts to some 6,600 stranded passengers and crew. Imagine that!

Following Hurricane Sandy in 2014, more than 800 Canadian utility workers helped our affected communities regain access to power and gas. New Jersey’s governor even declared December 5, 2014 as Canadian Utility Workers Appreciation Day! Canadian first responders were there for us after Hurricane Katrina as well, helping rescue the stranded with post-crisis recovery.

There’re too many examples of this unwavering support, and the list is too long in the time that I have. However, I would be remiss not to mention the courageous actions of the person whom former President Carter described as “the main hero” of the successful covert operation to rescue six American hostages in Iran in 1979 – I am, of course, speaking of then Canadian Ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor. Ambassador Taylor was one of the first people I met in my new role and I had the great honor to develop a friendship with him before he passed away last fall. He will forever be a shining example of our great friendship.

If you’ve heard me speak before, you will know that our bilateral trade relationship is one of my top priorities. And I know Under Secretary Cathy Novelli will address trade today, but I do not want to make, uh, I do want to make one point, and that is about TPP, and trade in general, that goes beyond the economic benefits.

For me, perhaps the main benefit of trade is that it helps to weave the fabric of social order that keeps chaos and conflict at bay. I’m sure you’re familiar with the “Golden Arches” theory of conflict prevention that was posited by Thomas Friedman – that no two countries that have a McDonald’s franchise have fought [a] war against each other. OK, so it’s not strictly true. But I strongly believe the concept generally works. When we trade with one another, when we are invested in each other’s economies, when we meet through diplomatic channels, when we study in each other’s universities, when we come to each other’s aid in times of need, when our artists and musicians present or perform in each other’s venues, when we read each other’s literature, we are strengthening the bonds of friendship and understanding and pushing back against the dangerous forces of isolationism and xenophobia.

There are no other two countries out there doing this better, together, than the United States and Canada. We share a vision for a better world and we act on it on the global stage. So, as you do all of your great work on behalf of your companies, your organizations, governments to strengthen the U.S.-Canada relationship, please remember that your work creates a better, more secure, more free, more prosperous world for everyone. Thank you.