By Jim Ogsbury
Shortly after I began my job at the Western Governors’ Association, I was privileged to join Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper on a trade mission to Alberta, Canada. We toured energy production sites near Fort McMurray, visited business and government officials in Edmonton and even attended a hockey game in Calgary.
I had always harbored a warm place in my heart for our neighbors to the north, but the trade mission sensitized me to the profound importance of our trade relationship and strategic alliance. Canada and the United States exchange more than $2 billion in goods and services every day. Nearly 9 million U.S. jobs rely on trade with Canada, and approximately 380,000 people cross the U.S.-Canada border daily.
The special relationship between our countries is reflected in the bonds between western states and provinces. The Canadian and American West are remarkably aligned with respect to their economic interests, environmental ethos, sensational natural landscapes and quality of life.
During the past year, the Canadian consulate in Denver and the WGA have partnered to strengthen the ties between our western regions. We were honored beyond measure when Ambassador David MacNaughton, Canada's chief emissary to the United States, visited the WGA headquarters last May for a comprehensive briefing on the policy priorities and bipartisan work of Western Governors.
In October, the Premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall, granted me a warm audience at the provincial capital in Regina. In November, WGA was pleased to welcome Consul General Stephane Lessard to his new posting in Denver. And in December, Ambassador MacNaughton addressed Western Governors at the WGA Winter Meeting in San Diego.
In recognition of the important and growing ties between the American and Canadian West, WGA Chair and Montana Governor Steve Bullock has decided to spotlight transboundary issues during the 2017 Annual Meeting of WGA, scheduled for June 26-28 in Whitefish, Montana. This is particularly appropriate, as Montana is the only state in the Union to border three different Canadian provinces.
We are expecting a powerful cohort of Canadian officials and thought leaders to attend. We hope you will be there too. Who knows? We might even be able to scare up some poutine and BeaverTails, eh?