Ambassador Heyman’s Speech to the Canadian Club in Toronto

Ambassador Heyman speaks at the Canadian Club in Toronto.
Ambassador Heyman speaks at the Canadian Club in Toronto.

Ambassador Bruce A. Heyman’s Speech to the Canadian Club of Toronto
The United States and Canada: A Comprehensive Commitment to Shared Prosperity
Wednesday, June 3, 2015

As prepared for delivery.

Good afternoon!

Thank you, Jennifer Sloan, for that introduction and the Canadian Club for hosting this event. I also want to thank Don Newman, who came to me just about a year ago and suggested this outstanding venue. This has been a long time coming and I am honored to be here today.

Toronto is a city close to my heart. For one, it is the sister city of my hometown, Chicago. It has become my second home here in Canada. Toronto was, in fact, the first city I visited after my arrival in Ottawa and I have been back many times since. So it is with great affection for this city that I stand in front of you today.

Toronto and Chicago have a lot in common. Both cities rebuilt after devastating fires destroyed their city centers. There’s a lesson here because, although the fires were devastating, the important part is what happened next in both these cities.

The destruction was seen as an opportunity; an opportunity to make these two great cities, aside two great lakes, even better than they had been before. Both cities are part of a region of unquestionably great importance to the prosperity of both Canada and the United States — a critical hub for jobs, trade, and investment.

Much of our bilateral trade and investment flows through the Great Lakes Region. The eight Great Lakes States traded more than $290 billion in goods with Canada last year. That’s more than the U.S. trade in goods with Japan and India combined.

The province of Ontario exports nearly four times more goods to just one Great Lake state, Michigan, than it does to the entire United Kingdom. Our markets are inextricably linked, our families interwoven, and our values aligned. There is no better partnership.

I am here today with great optimism, in a region of unquestionably great importance to the prosperity of both Canada and the United States — a region steeped in our shared history as manufacturers and ripe for potential growth. Continued growth in the region not only benefits the states and provinces of the Great Lakes, but the North American economy as a whole.

In a few minutes, I’ll touch on some initiatives that are expanding trade and investment between our two countries, but first I’d like to start with some of my general impressions about the U.S.-Canada relationship.

I’ve been on the job a little over a year now and let me first tell you how much I love it and how thankful I am for the opportunity to serve my country in this role. Since I arrived in Ottawa as Ambassador, Vicky and I have had the pleasure of travelling across Canada and meeting thousands of Canadians from all regions and walks of life. The overwhelming reception we have received and the overwhelming view of the relationship is extremely positive.

I have been to more than 30 cities in 9 provinces and all 3 territories. And later this summer I will be in Newfoundland and Labrador. In all of my travels, in my daily work, in my meetings with senior government, business, and other institutional leaders in Canada, the message I come away with is the same: that the relationship between our two countries is as strong and fundamental as the Canadian Shield, the bedrock upon which Canada is built.

The fact is that there has never been a more comprehensive commitment to shared prosperity between two sovereign nations than the one that exists between the United States and Canada.

Ambassador Heyman speaks at the Canadian Club in Toronto.
Ambassador Heyman speaks at the Canadian Club in Toronto.

One year ago I stood in the newly renovated atrium at the National Gallery of Art in Ottawa — the spires of Parliament over my left shoulder and the lit dome of the U.S. Embassy over my right– and spoke about my priorities as Ambassador.

I presented four broad areas of engagement and cooperation and I want to take a moment to review them:

First, the Economy and Trade.

Let’s go over the big figures here…so big that when I discuss these with other ambassadors they ask me to repeat them.

Total trade and investment between our two countries creates an astounding 1.4 trillion dollar economic relationship. Last year, we had 759 billion dollars in two-way trade in goods and service. That’s more than 2 billion dollars per day, or 1.4 million dollars each and every minute. Last year, a whopping 77% of all of Canada’s merchandise exports went to the United States. Nearly 650 billion dollars in two-way investment between our two countries, a figure that increases by tens of billions of dollars every year.

Second, Energy and the Environment.

We work together on energy and environmental issues including: the Arctic, where the United States just succeeded Canada as the chair of the Arctic Council; forest and watershed issues, as well as boundary waters and water quality policies; all aspects of energy generation and transmission; and Greenhouse Gas emissions as well as the full range of environmental issues.

Third, Cultural Exchange, which my partner in this adventure, Vicki, has made her priority focusing on cross border arts, education, and social innovation and if you haven’t followed what she’s doing, you should check out her twitter feed, @vshey.

And Fourth, Cooperation and Leadership on the World Stage.

The United States and Canada cooperate in close and productive ways to ensure a coordinated approach on a whole host of issues from ISIL to Ebola to Ukraine. Our militaries stand together and serve together. Through NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, we protect North America together. And uniquely, U.S. and Canadian troops report through a unified command structure.

In NATO, we remain committed to the defense and security of all of our allies, while we work together to support Ukraine.

Now into my second year here, I want to reaffirm my commitment to each of these four areas as well as another item:

Our Shared Border.

Our two governments work together to ensure that the constant flow of goods and people across that shared border is efficient and secure. We work together across all these issues, in all these areas not because of political expediency or because we are reacting to the issue of the day, but because our common history, our common interests and, most importantly, our common values demand it.

In Canada, we received more than ten thousand official U.S. Government visitors last year. And I’m sure glad they didn’t all show up at my house. This massive flow of official visitors largely happens below the radar, as officials in both our countries, from all the various government agencies work together, as they have for decades. This work includes international conferences, scientific research visits, and meetings on the broad array of issues on which we cooperate, from space exploration to food safety, from health policy to international security, from transportation to border infrastructure.

Along with Mexico, the U.S. and Canada are working together to enhance North American competitiveness and maintain our status as the most innovative, dynamic and competitive economic region on the planet.

And while we love being Canada’s number one trading partner, and having Canada as our number one trading partner, I think it is also important to note that we are fully supportive of Canada expanding and diversifying its markets and expanding its trade opportunities as broadly as possible.

One of the most important lessons I learned in my many years working in the financial industry is the value of diversification. Broader global trading relations are good for the Canadian economy, good for North America and good for the United States.

The Canadian government has been actively pursuing trade deals across the globe and we welcome this. Perhaps the best opportunity for Canada in this regard is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The importance of this trade agreement cannot be overstated. TPP countries comprise almost 800 million consumers and 40 percent of global GDP. The TPP will not only expand markets for exporters, but also set high-standard rules for trade, and address vital 21st-century issues within the global economy. With all three NAFTA members at the TPP negotiating table, we have a unique opportunity to strengthen North American competiveness.

Of course most business doesn’t actually happen between governments. No, business is driven substantially by private companies of all sizes delivering products and services in an ever more competitive marketplace.

But governments can help. Along with creating the institutional and regulatory framework for business, governments can point businesses toward growth opportunities. In fact, that’s a key focus of almost any embassy of any country in the world.

As Ambassador, this has been one of my primary interests. I believe driving outcomes on the trade and investment front is one of the most tangible ways I can contribute to growing our relationship.

As much as we support Canada’s efforts to expand its global footprint, the bilateral figures illustrate that we both have plenty to gain as well by continuing to invest time and energy into expanding even further the Canada-U.S. economic relationship. Neither of us is likely to see, nor would we necessarily want to see, any change in our status as the other’s most important and reliable trading partner.

Energy is of course a huge factor in our trading relationship. But there’s something I would bet the vast majority of Americans — and maybe many Canadians — wouldn’t know: Canada is by far the top foreign supplier of all types of energy, including crude oil to the United States, sending us about 3.2 million barrels per day or just over 45% of our total imports.

The other aspects of the energy relationship are just as important. Canada is the largest supplier of electricity to the United States and 80% of Canada’s electricity supply comes from sources that do not emit Greenhouse Gases. Clean energy.

In the decades to come, investment and job growth in clean energy will be phenomenal. Canada ranks #1 on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s list of top renewable energy export markets — accounting for nearly one-third of all U.S. renewable energy sector exports through 2015. As partners in one of the most broad energy economies in the world, Canada and the United States are well positioned to move into the next generation of energy sources.

Climate change is real. Clean energy is the solution to climate change. It also is the biggest emerging market. It will create an enormous number of jobs. It will allow us to live up to our responsibility to future generations both in terms of the planet we leave behind and in economic security.

Make no mistake, this is more than an opportunity, this is an obligation. So what are we doing to continue to enhance, expand, and facilitate trade and investment in the Atlantic and, more broadly, between our two countries?

One of my very top priorities is to make crossing the border, for goods and for people, easier, faster, and more efficient, while ensuring that our security standards remain uncompromised and that we fully implement our obligations to screen incoming goods and people.

Those two goals may seem at odds with each other, and they are to some degree, of course. If you want 100% security, no one gets in; and if you want 100% ease of movement, you have no security. The key, of course, is balance.

But I believe there is huge potential to use technology to improve the way both our countries approach their responsibilities to manage the border. Small improvements in processing can yield big payoffs. I already mentioned $2 billion per day in trade. There are also over 300,000 people crossing the U.S.-Canada border each day.

Imagine the gains that can come from consistently making those border crossings more efficient, i.e. shaving a few seconds a year per person through the use of technology or better processes.

And that’s what we have been working on.

Not too long ago, Canadian Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson signed a long-in-the works agreement to manage our preclearance process.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) currently conducts air preclearance at eight airports in Canada. Preclearance between the United States and Canada benefits travelers and trade by reducing congestions and related delays at the border and increasing efficiency and predictability in cross border travel, tourism and transportation. Among other things, the updated agreement will allow for the consideration of requests for new preclearance locations in air, rail, land, and marine facilities.

This is another part of the Beyond the Border (BTB) initiative, which our two governments launched in 2011 as a shared vision for perimeter security and economic competitiveness. And an initiative that continues to produce results.

On May 19th, our two governments released the 2014 implementation report that not only identified our successes, but presented a “Forward Plan” outlining possibilities for further improvement. In essence a promise that we continue to work together to expedite travel and shipments for trusted travelers and trusted traders, while maintaining border integrity.

One “trusted traveler” component of the BtB initiative is the NEXUS program. I have a feeling I’m preaching to the choir on this, but for those of us that travel frequently between the U.S. and Canada, it is a life-changing card. A Canadian airline executive recently told me his NEXUS card is the most valuable card in his wallet.

We already have more than one million NEXUS users and are headed towards to two million. NEXUS member crossings accounted for 13.5 percent of the total Northern Border crossings in fiscal year 2014. Imagine the potential for reducing wait times if we are able to enroll more of our frequent travelers in this valuable program.

Our governments have also been working to facilitate trade and ease regulatory compliance through the RCC, or Regulatory Cooperation Council. Just last week, the RCC released a set of regulatory partnership statements. These statements provide a framework for our two governments to move forward — breaking down to detailed technical initiatives in each sector that provide a foundation for a fundamental shift in the relationship between U.S. and Canadian regulators.

We can get bogged down in the mechanisms of this, but at the end of the day, this is common sense stuff:

Child safety seats.

SPF in cosmetics

Baby food container size

Soup container sizes.

Both Canadians and Americans want our children to be safe and secure in the car, we all want cosmetics to be safe for daily use, and value the integrity and safety of our food, so of course it makes sense to align our regulations, standards, and labeling so people can buy and sell products in our two markets without unnecessary and duplicative compliance costs and delays.

I mentioned earlier that I believe driving outcomes on the trade and investment front is one of the most tangible ways I can contribute to growing our relationship. So earlier this year, I sent letters to all 50 U.S. state governors, inviting them to lead trade delegations to Canada to explore opportunities to expand business on both sides of the border. We had 11 such visits last year and we’re aiming for more this year.

And I have been meeting with Canadian premiers with the same message — lead your business delegations to the U.S. to scope out new opportunities. Premier Wynne led a highly successful delegation to Washington D.C. and New York earlier this year to discuss both policy and trade at the federal and state levels. This is in the interest of both the United States and the province of Ontario in the long run and I believe shows leadership by Premier Wynne, demonstrating her astute understanding of the nature and importance of the sub-national relationships in our two countries.

We are more than willing to help drive outcomes. We can point out opportunities the delegations may not have known about and make connections that lead to new collaboration, new investments, and new trading relationships.

We know that trade and investment is always a two-way deal. Politicians are, of course, usually focused on exports, which is fine. But if everyone was only planning to increase exports, well…that’s obviously not going to work.

Imports provide consumers with more choice and lower prices, and encourage firms to deliver even greater value.

On the investment front, I celebrate investments by U.S. companies in Canada as well as Canadian investment in the United States. Cross-border investment creates jobs and economic growth that benefit citizens on both sides of the border. That said, we’d love to see more Canadian investment and expansion in the United States.

In March, I led a delegation of 80 representatives of Canadian companies and organizations on a trip to Washington, D.C. to the SelectUSA Summit. This was organized by the U.S. Commerce Department to teach potential investors about the ins and outs of investing in the United States.

Again, we’re not asking Canadian companies to move to the U.S. We want them to expand their businesses in the United States, creating jobs and wealth both here and there!

There is a lot going on between the U.S. and Canada that has tangible and positive impacts on the lives of our citizens. Unfortunately, this great cooperation doesn’t tend to make it into the media. We are all familiar with headlines and commentaries that look for differences of opinion and focus on the challenges we face on some issues. And I get it. “U.S. and Canada Get along Just Great” is not a tagline that is going to inspire a lot of re-tweets. Frequently, controversy makes better copy.

And we understand the challenges. We are working daily on resolving them.

I assure you the U.S. government is fully aware of Canada’s position on the KXL oil pipeline. But neither the pipeline, nor any other single issue, defines our relationship. I think it is important to step back and think of the relationship in the broader and incredibly positive context that I have hopefully clearly laid out today.

Challenges in our relationship are nothing new. I can easily use the same words JFK used over 50 years ago in his famous speech before the Canadian parliament:

“What unites us is far greater than what divides us. The issues and irritants that inevitably affect all neighbors are small indeed in comparison with the issues that we face together.”

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Peace Arch. This is an arch built on the border between Washington state and British Columbia. It was originally built to commemorate 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, which ended the War of 1812.

On the top are the U.S. and Canadian flags with the inscriptions, “Children of a common mother” and “Brethren dwelling together in unity”. More than a century later, those words ring equally true today and we are working to make sure they ring equally true a hundred years from now.

You all are part of one of the thousands of efforts toward that goal. Our job is to make sure that the physical and institutional infrastructure, as well as the personal and business relationships that cement our common future, remain strong and efficient to help ensure the continued prosperity of our two countries and keep this amazing bilateral relationship moving forward.

Thank you.