The Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources Speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, Washington D.C., March 29, 2017
Thank you, and good morning.
There is a place in northwestern Washington State called Sumas, but it could really be anywhere in Small Town, U.S.A. It’s a community of 1,300 people, just 20 miles off an Interstate. There’s a parade and fireworks display every summer, and the town boasts both an American Legion and a branch of the Bank of America. It’s as American as the stars and stripes — except that, technically, a lot of Sumas is in Canada. Some parts of the town are as much as a mile north of the 49th Parallel.
Sumas is not unique. There are curiosities like it all along our 5,500-mile border.
At Dundee, Quebec, and Fort Covington, New York, the owners of a hotel once painted the international boundary line on the floor of their bar, right beside the pool table.
Many houses still straddle the border, which means the people in these homes might eat in the United States and sleep in Canada.
These stories remind us that there is very little that separates us. We share similar values, mutual interests and the same ambitions. We marry each other, shop in each other’s stores and visit each other’s tourist attractions.
As an American journalist noted many years ago, “Canadians are generally indistinguishable from the Americans, and the surest way of telling the two apart is to make the observation to a Canadian.”
We may be polite to a fault, but Canadians are passionate about their national identity. We consider it a mounting crisis that a Canadian hockey team has not won the Stanley Cup since 1993.
But today, I’d like to talk about another aspect of the Canada–U.S. relationship that you may not know, achieving things you might not expect. It’s a truly unique economic relationship that is larger and stronger than ever. One unrivalled by any two countries, anywhere in the world.
It starts with the more than $1 trillion (U.S.) in trade and investment between us each year. To put that in context, nearly $2 billion in goods and services — and some 400,000 people — cross the border every day. That’s more than $80 million of trade every hour. Of every day.
No other country buys more American-made goods than Canada. We buy more from the U.S. than all the member nations of the European Union. Combined.
Canada is the number one customer for two-thirds of U.S. states, and in the top three for 48 different states. All of this trade means jobs. For both countries.
Here in the United States, it means nine million jobs. Across every Congressional district.
Our economies are so interconnected that whether a car is assembled in Detroit, Michigan, or Oshawa, Ontario, the parts for it will cross the border five or six times.
And nowhere is this shared prosperity more pronounced — or more important — than in our natural resource sectors: the vital backbone to today’s economy and tomorrow’s clean growth. From Canadian softwood that’s used to build American homes to minerals that are used in high-tech manufacturing. And, of course, Canada and the U.S. share the closest energy relationship in the world.
As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in Houston earlier this month, “Nothing is more essential to the U.S. economy than access to a secure, reliable source of energy. And Canada is that source.”
A few quick examples.
With the third-largest crude oil reserves in the world, Canada provides the United States with 43 percent of all the crude it imports. Alberta alone sends 2.5 million barrels a day to the U.S. Some 86 different pipelines criss-cross our border.
And it’s not just oil and gas.
No fewer than 34 transmission lines cross our border in a truly integrated grid. Canada supplies more electricity and uranium to the U.S. than any other country.
In the case of electricity, Canada provides enough energy each year to power almost seven million American homes. And Canadian uranium generates six percent of America’s electricity — enough to power one in every 17 of your homes.
This energy integration benefits both our countries by increasing our energy security, lowering energy and capital costs, and enhancing reliability of supply.
It also creates good, middle-class jobs at the thousands of American companies that supply Canada’s energy industry.
Our two countries are also working together on clean energy. For example, harmonizing our energy efficiency standards has lowered operating costs for businesses and helped create an integrated market for the clean technologies that will transform traditional resource sectors and open up entire new industries.
Canada and the United States are also major markets for one another’s mining sectors.
The U.S. exports almost $40 billion worth of minerals and metals to Canada, creating thousands of American jobs. Canada, in turn, exports $49 billion of minerals and metals to the United States — including 60 percent of the aluminum Americans use to manufacture planes, cars and other products.
Our countries’ steel industries are equally integrated, and Canada is the number one destination for U.S. steel products, supporting a key industry that employs hundreds of thousands of Americans.
The same goes for forestry.
Canadian softwood plays a major role in building American homes. In fact, one-third of all the softwood used in American construction comes from Canada —enough to build one million American homes.
Sourcing this lumber from another supplier would increase construction costs, making home ownership more expensive for Americans.
How much more expensive?
The National Association of Home Builders estimates that for every $1,000 (U.S.) increase in home prices, another 153,000 American households would no longer qualify for average mortgages.
And it goes both ways.
Canada, for example, is a major consumer of American forest products. We import almost $5 billion of American paper products every year, along with $615 million of American-made furniture.
These numbers confirm what we know in our hearts.
The United States and Canada are connected like no others. Our economies, our businesses, our infrastructures and even our family ties depend on keeping our border as open as possible, with as few impediments to trade as possible.
Seamless supply chains allow our countries to keep costs low, create jobs and generate tax revenues for all levels of government.
Border adjustment taxes, import tariffs and other trade barriers make us nervous. They demand that we have bean counters counting each transit and laying taxes with each transaction, hurting not just the Canadian economy but the American economy as well, costing good jobs on both sides of the border.
Americans understand this as well as we do. I was in Houston with our Prime Minister for CERA Week, the world’s largest energy conference. While I was there, I met with six cabinet secretaries. I spoke with 11 CEOs or their designate. Industry leaders from some of the world’s largest companies. And not a single person said they wanted a border adjustment tax. To a person, they said they are free traders.
So are we.
Now, more than ever, our focus should be on working closer together, expanding our economic opportunities and enhancing our shared prosperity.
So I want to end where I began, in Sumas, Washington.
Legend has it that Sumas’ overlapping of the border was due to a surveyor’s mistake. But like everything else in our country’s 150-year history, we resolve these things with you in peaceable ways. And by forming committees.
In this case, it’s an International Boundary Commission that has been maintaining the peaceful border for more than a century. The Commission’s jointly operated website hails its efforts as a “true sharing of resources, intellect and goodwill in pursuit of a common objective.”
We are two proud nations, sharing the same continent by chance. But we are friends — and economic partners — by choice.
Let’s continue to work together as friends, share together as neighbours and trade together as partners.
We have come too far and achieved too much to settle for less.
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