I just finished attending the 35th Annual New England Governors and Eastern Premiers Conference in Halifax. It was a great opportunity to discuss the regional issues that confront the leaders of our states and provinces. In addition to the Premiers and Governors, Ambassador Doer and I were invited to participate along with the U.S. Consul General from Halifax and the Canadian Consul General from Boston.
I arrived on Saturday night from Calgary. Having a free night in Halifax I did what any self-respecting Chicagoan would do. I went out for a lobster supper at Salty’s. Highly recommended.
On Sunday, before the meeting started, I played a round of golf with Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter, Ambassador Doer, and new Member of Parliament — but long-time political figure in Nova Scotia — Robert Chisholm. The weather was beautiful. The course magnificent. And you will all be happy to know that – judging by our golf games on Sunday – none of us can be accused of not spending enough time in the office.
After golf I had a chance to meet with New Brunswick Premier David Alward. We shared a few laughs, and talked about issues ranging from border security to the best fishing locations in New Brunswick.
Then it was off to dinner with the Premiers, and Governors, several of their spouses, Ambassador Doer and the Consuls General at the Halifax Club, which dates back to 1862.
There is at least one part of these meetings that reminds me of an out-of-town weekend wedding. While the topics of conversation are quite a bit different, in the same way as at weddings, the group tends to coalesce as the days go by. People who were casual acquaintances – or totally unfamiliar – become friends. It is easy to forget that high level government officials are people. (Or at least, generally.) When you are able to establish a personal bond it is so much easier to conduct business and to solve problems later on. To me, this is one of the most important parts of these events.
On Monday we started early and ended late. There were a series of presentations including Managing the new Fiscal Reality, Enhancing the Trade Relationship, Maximizing the Potential of Each Region’s Energy Resources, Confronting our Environmental Challenges and an Update on the Lower Churchill Development.
After some press interviews, we bussed out to the Dauphinee Inn which is a beautiful place on the South Shore of Nova Scotia about 30 mins from Halifax. I told Premier Dexter I was tempted to move there.
We then went to the Shore Club for yet another lobster dinner and some good Nova Scotia music.
On Tuesday I gave a speech on the Beyond the Border Vision to a big lunch crowd from the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. Then, after a week on the road, I flew home and fell promptly to sleep.
One last point: I often talk about the value of competition (I used to do antitrust litigation). So I want to give a shout-out to one of my new competitors in the Ottawa diplomatic blog world. The High Commissioner from the United Kingdom, Andrew Pocock, has launched his new blog with his description of our Arctic Trip. Andrew is much wittier that I am. So I will have to up my game to keep pace. Check him out at http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/roller/pocock/.