Keynote Address to the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth
Dallas, Texas, Friday, May 27, 2016
Thank you for that kind introduction, and thank you all for your warm welcome.
We arrived in Dallas late yesterday and already we’ve found that warm and friendly welcomes are the standard in this town!
What a pleasure it is to be here at the World Affairs Council to talk about the important relationship between Canada and Texas.
Let me first commend the Council on its mission to promote global awareness and to foster connections with international partners.
It’s a mission for which I have great respect. As governor general of Canada and the representative of our head of state, The Queen, I often speak of the importance of practising what I like to call the diplomacy of knowledge, by which I mean working together across borders and silos in common cause.
That’s how we build understanding and prosperity in this globalized world, and that is the key to our shared well-being as members of the North American community.
So with this in mind, I’d like to do three things in my remarks today.
One is to talk about the great partnership that exists between Canada and Texas, and how much we have to celebrate and build upon.
Two, I’d like to share a few thoughts with you as to why I think Canada is such a great partner for this state, and how we can go even further in strengthening that partnership.
And three, I want to hear your questions and your ideas on how we do that.
But first, let me express my deep admiration for the very significant friendship that exists between Canada and the United States.
In fact, the U.S. is Canada’s most important international partner. We share a continent, similar values, common interests and significant economic ties. And in my view, no two nations in the world have benefitted so enormously from working with one another.
It’s certainly true from the Canadian perspective.
In fact, my own family is an example.
I grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and my mother was born across the border in its twin city, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, where my grandfather worked on the St. Marys River as a lock operator. That river divides the two cities and our two countries, but also acts as a common passage for ships.
Those locks, between Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Canadian province of Ontario, allow more than 10,000 ships a year to traverse the 21-foot drop between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. They were built in the 19th century and are nothing short of an engineering marvel. I’ve come to view them as emblematic of the Canada-U.S. relationship.
Like those waterways, our two countries run separate, but parallel, and we work together to our mutual benefit.
A critical component of the Canada-U.S. picture is the Canada-Texas relationship.
Let me be specific.
We are traders. Texas is the largest exporter in the United States and total Canada-Texas trade comes in at more than $45 billion. After Mexico, Canada is Texas’ 2nd largest trade partner.
And this has real impact on peoples’ lives. More than 450,000 jobs in Texas depend upon Canada-U.S. trade and investment.
Each year, more than 600,000 Canadians visit Texas, spending more than $400 million tourism dollars.
Texan exports to Canada range from industries such as energy and equipment to transportation, business and technical services.
Our people-to-people ties are significant and they are growing, as are our cultural and educational exchanges.
We send you some great hockey players, you send us some great ballplayers—a fair trade, I’d say!
You get the point: the Canada-Texas relationship is doing very well.
And yet, we can go so much further as partners, and we have much to gain by doing so.
This brings me to the second point I want to make today: how Canada is a great partner for Texas, and how critical it is that we nurture our north-south partnership.
Everyone here understands the value of looking north. This is, after all, North Texas!
So let me tell you about five of Canada’s strengths as a partner.
First, Canadians believe deeply in the value of working together and learning from one another. We came to this belief early and out of necessity: the first Europeans were wholly dependent on their willingness to work together and to learn from Aboriginal peoples.
Second, Canada is a welcoming, inclusive society. New Canadians are encouraged to retain and celebrate their culture and language, while embracing the values of Canada. This approach fosters social harmony and makes our country more outward-looking and global.
Third, Canada strives to harmonize and maximize equality of opportunity and excellence. It’s not a case of “either/or,” but rather of “both/and.” Excellence is important in a competitive, globalized world, and we view equality of opportunity as not just the right thing to do but the bright thing to do, as it deepens our talent pool and raises the general level of aspiration.
Fourth, Canada is a strong and stable business and investment partner. To share just a few highlights:
- Canada is the best country in the G-20 for business according to both Forbes and Bloomberg;
- Canada is the easiest place to start a business in the G-20, according to the World Bank;
- Canada currently has the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the G-7, according to the International Monetary Fund;
- For the eighth consecutive year, the World Economic Forum has declared Canada’s banking system to be the soundest in the world;
- Overall business costs in Canada are the lowest in the G-7 and are now 14.6 per cent lower than in the U.S., according to KPMG.
Canada’s fifth strength is its highly educated population. More than half of Canadians aged 25 to 64 have post‑secondary education, a fact which helps explain why Canada is the best in the G-20 at meeting business needs for high‑quality workers, according to the World Economic Forum.
I’m sorry if I sound immodest! Canada isn’t perfect, of course, and we struggle with challenges like any other society. But most Canadians are remarkably open and willing to work across borders, cultures and disciplines, and that includes when looking south to our American friends and neighbours.
So, I call on all of you to seize on the opportunities we have and to work towards deepening and formalizing partnerships between Canada and Texas. So much is possible!
Let me close with an image of how we can learn from each other and grow together, borrowed from the third president of these United States, Thomas Jefferson.
President Jefferson used the image of a burning candle to illustrate his Enlightenment values and the importance of sharing knowledge and working together.
The candle symbolizes not only enlightenment, but also the transmission of learning from one person to another. We could also say from one country to another.
And it’s important to keep in mind that when you light your unlit candle from the flame of my lit candle, my light is not diminished, it is enhanced.
So let’s work together to develop new ideas and initiatives to strengthen this relationship between Canada and Texas.