Canada's Ambassador Visits Vermont

12/04/09 5:50PM By Peter Biello
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(Host) Canada's ambassador to the United States visited Vermont on Friday to promote trade.

And, as VPR's Peter Biello reports, the ambassador was looking for a little respect.

(Biello) Gary Doer's visit to Vermont was just his second official trip outside Washington since becoming Canada's ambassador to the United States.

Canada is Vermont's largest international trading partner, accounting for almost half of the state's exports.

Ambassador Doer says Canadians are concerned about provisions of the American recent stimulus program required goods to be manufactured in the U.S.

(Doer) "It's our view that populist slogans won't allow us to continue to grow our economies in these very challenging times. The unemployment rate is up in Canada. It's gone up in the United States. People are worried about their retirement incomes on both sides of the border with what's gone on in the markets. We have a more stable banking sector because we're regulated. ... But we believe in these tough times that we can't look inward."

(Biello) Vermont does four billion dollars in trade with Quebec and nearly a half-billion with Ontario. Doer says that business relationship strengthens the bonds between Vermont and Canada.

(Doer) "I think people in Vermont get it, certainly the governor gets it. And certainly as a former premier I get it and now as an ambassador I get it."

(Biello) Doer was formerly premier in Manitoba.

Doer says Canada also wants to work with the United States on a comprehensive energy policy.

Canada says it's close to meeting its targets for greenhouse gas reductions and the Conservative government in Ottawa believes it's time for a North American strategy.

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have discussed Canada's goals for clean air. They've also talked about Canada's energy supply.

Doer says the U.S. should appreciate how important Canada is in supplying American demand for oil.

(Doer) "We're a non-OPEC country; we're close; we're reliable; we're stable politically. And that's also part of the dialogue that the president has with the prime minister, maintaining affordable, reliable, energy along with working together on renewable energy, energy efficiency in an environment of having progress being made on behalf of our citizens in Canada and the United States."

(Biello) Doer says strong trade relationships with states such as Vermont are an important part of that relationship.

That's why the ambassador met with business groups during his trip. Doer says he believes the strength of the U.S. dollar will promote more trade and tourism between Vermont and Quebec.

For VPR News, I'm Peter Biello.

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