The day after President Obama visited Canada, the Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie, Pierre Arcand, was in Washington to promote Québec’s interests among key figures in the U.S. capital’s political, economic and institutional communities.
On February 20, Minister Arcand was received at the U.S. Department of State by Roberta Jacobson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Canada, Mexico and NAFTA issues. A review of various matters pertaining to Québec–U.S. relations was the focal point of the meeting. The Minister reiterated his hope that hydroelectricity would finally be recognized for its value as a renewable energy source. He also stressed the significant commercial ties that exist between Québec and the U.S.
While in Washington, Minister Arcand met with the Canadian Ambassador to the United States, Michael Wilson. The occasion provided an opportunity to assess the outcomes of President Barack Obama’s February 19 visit to Canada. The Minister also met with the President and Director of the prestigious Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Lee Hamilton, to discuss the outlook for Québec-U.S. relations. It bears noting that the Ministère des Relations internationales and the Canada Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars established a partnership in 2007. The partnership’s goals include heightening the level of awareness of U.S. decision-makers as to Québec’s role in enhancing security in North America.
On February 21, the Minister took advantage of his visit to Washington to attend the meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA), a major forum composed of the governors of all fifty states. In connection with the NGA, the Minister met with Vermont Governor James Douglas, who is currently serving as NGA Vice Chair, and New York Governor David A. Paterson.
Earlier in the week, Minister Arcand was in New York City to get a feel for the viewpoints held by financial decision makers. The Minister met with Marisa Lago, President and CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation, the agency that coordinates government action related to economic development and the promotion of investments in New York State. Minister Arcand and Ms. Lago discussed measures that might be taken to minimize the effects of the economic crisis. Ms. Lago expressed great enthusiasm at the prospect of collaborating on green technologies and emphasized the importance of energy partnerships between Québec and New York.
The Minister also discussed security with Thomas Donlon, Director of the New York State Office of Homeland Security. Québec and New York intend to continue their exceptional collaboration on this issue, particularly through the implementation of their 2008 agreement on internal security.
Additionally, Minister Arcand met with Wendell Hannaford, Director of the Council of State Governments-Eastern Regional Conference, an organization composed of policy makers and legislators of the Northeastern states and Eastern Canadian provinces, including Québec. Minister Arcand and Mr. Hannaford are confident that the U.S. states and Canadian provinces will serve as vectors for reviving the economy through the concrete actions they take, especially with respect to infrastructures. Both agree that it is important to keep the Canada-U.S. border flow as smooth as possible in order to facilitate trade and travel without jeopardizing internal security.