Reinforcing Canada-U.S. Relations, Visit of Minister Marc Garneau to Florida
6 March 2018
On March 2nd, Canada’s Minister of Transport, the honourable Marc Garneau, made a quick visit to Florida. On the program: the opportunity to address the local community regarding important issues that directly affect Canada and Florida. As the chair of the Cabinet Committee on Canada-United States Relations, Mr. Garneau is the authority of choice to reinforce Canada’s position and promote the current actions taken to improve commercial ties between the two countries.
The Quebec-Florida Chamber of Commerce (QFCC), in partnership with the Consulate General of Canada in Miami (ConGen), had the chance to organize a luncheon at the Tower Club in Fort Lauderdale for the occasion. The participants represented a variety of sectors including local government, including City of Fort Lauderdale and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance (GFLA); international associations established in the region, such as the Greater Fort Lauderdale Sister Cities International; of course, Canadian companies established in Broward, for example Air Canada and GardaWorld (official sponsors) as well as Natbank; in addition to nearly 65 other guests.
The members of the QFCC’s board of directors, the consuls and ConGen representatives as well as the sponsors and speakers were able to meet the minister and his team during a closed doors session before the reception. The welcome and opening remarks were presented by the president of the QFCC, Glenn Cooper, The VP memberships of the GFLA, Gail Bulfin, the chair of the international trade committee at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, Marcel Summermatter, the director of government affairs at Air Canada, David Rheault, the Director of US sales at GardaWorld Cash Services, Hayden Trepeck, and finally the Consul General of Canada in Miami, Susan Harper, introduced the minister.
The minister’s remarks had an optimist tone regarding the largest economic relationship in the world, and more precisely, regarding Canada and Florida. Impressive numbers represent this commercial exchange. Canada-Florida trade is estimated at 7.8 billion US dollars, without counting the value of services that are too hard to quantify. Canada is the #1 destination for Florida agricultural products with the export of 20% of total production. The relationship does not stop there since nearly 500 Canadian companies are established in the Sunshine state, and this number continues to grow every year; it represents almost 42 000 jobs.
As to be expected, Mr. Garneau took the opportunity to address the NAFTA situation and current negotiations. The Canadian government’s position is clear: the advantages created for each member of the agreement since its inauguration 24 years ago are undeniable. However, they are in favor of a modernization and improvement of the partnership in order to maximize its shared benefits. The minister qualified NAFTA as “one of the greatest economic success stories in our shared history”; a well-placed remark considering NAFTA’s territory includes only 7% of the world’s population but 25% of the global GDP. The astronaut-politician declared to be a prudent optimist in front of the current situation, a habit he developed over his career.
After recognizing the QFCC’s recent successes and forthcoming changes, the floor was open to very interesting questions from the participants. The event concluded with the audience agreeing that Florida should keep its access to Canadian maple syrup while Canada maintains its expectation of an abundant flow of Florida orange juice, in short, to continue with the win-win situation!