I have had a very busy week out on the road. I went to Washington for the meeting of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives where I had a chance to address the group along with Ambassador Doer. Then we all enjoyed the political discussion between Howard Dean, the former Governor of Vermont, Democratic Presidential Candidate, and Chair of the Democratic National Committee; and Jeb Bush, former Republican Governor of Florida and brother of President George W. Bush. Fantastic discussion across party lines about the current state of political affairs in the U.S. – we agree on a lot and that gives me hope.
My next stop was Duke University in Durham, North Carolina where I attended a conference on the Canada-U.S. energy relationship organized by the Center for Canadian Studies at Duke. Interestingly, James Duke, the man who donated the money and founded Duke University had a close relationship with Canada. Among his many Canadian investments was the first hydroelectric plant in Quebec. So, when he established the University he made sure there was going to be a center to study Canada. The Canada-United States Law Institute’s (CUSLI) meeting in Cleveland also focused on energy – it’s clearly on the minds of many of us.
At both Duke and CUSLI I talked about the importance to both of our countries of the energy relationship as well as the environmental challenges we face. I support wholeheartedly efforts to study and explain the importance of the energy relationship. It is important – particularly in the United States – to ensure that people are aware of the fact that Canada is the largest foreign supplier of every form of energy to the United States. As President Obama indicated the other day, we need to focus on safe and secure sources of energy from places like Canada to ensure the strength of the United States economy as well as our national security. Our economies and natural environments are so closely connected that our close coordination on these files is important to the people of both our nations.
On this trip I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time in the D.C. airport. The airport was filled with World War II veterans and their families in Washington to visit the World War II Memorial and to see the sights. Many were in wheelchairs or walked with assistance (not surprising since they all have to be at least 85 years old – many quite a bit older). The wonderful part was that everyone in the terminal gathered and applauded as they filed off the plane. It was touching to see the joy on members of “the Greatest Generation’s” faces and to see the outpouring of gratitude from those of us who witnessed the event.
It’s now back to Ottawa to catch up on some work and to see my wife’s brother and sister and their families who are visiting us for the weekend and for the Passover celebration on Monday.