Economic recovery in the Canada-United States relationship.

AuthorNewcomb, R. Richard

Speaker--R. Richard Newcomb

Speaker--J. Michael Robinson

Moderator--David Crane

United States Speaker--Hon. James Blanchard

Canadian Speaker--Hon. James S. Peterson, P.C.


MR. UJCZO: In order to introduce our first speaker today it is my great pleasure to introduce Rick Newcomb of DLA Piper, (1) who will in turn introduce Governor Blanchard.

MR. NEWCOMB: Ladies and gentlemen, Governor Blanchard, Mr. Peterson, Mr. Crane, it is indeed my pleasure to be here and to have the great honor to introduce my partner, colleague, and friend Jim Blanchard. It is a particular pleasure for me, as an alumnus of the law school, that I was able to bring this fine gentleman together with this great institution, so it is truly a double pleasure. Jim Blanchard of Michigan has quite a distinguished career. He was a four-term member of the United States Congress, had two terms as governor in landslide elections, was United States ambassador to Canada, and did all this before he was fifty. (2) He then went to practice in Washington, D.C. He is a practice group leader and head of government affairs at DLA Piper, where he has a very active practice. (3) He is a board member of a number of companies, including Chrysler. (4) Jim was largely responsible for recruiting me to come to DLA Piper.

I have a great story to tell you. In making the decision to go to DLA Piper, I consulted one person, so help me God, this is true, Henry King. He offered two views. He first said you will be leaving a smaller, more intimate firm that has a Southeastern focus, and you will miss the charm and grace, and you will be joining this behemoth. And then he said, the upside, however, is that you will get to work with Jim Blanchard.

When I asked Jim if he would be interested in participating in this body as being the co-head of the Canada-United States Law Institute, he was delighted, and he accepted immediately. It was a great pleasure for him to say yes.

We have a very active Canadian practice and it is growing. For example, Jim and I will be going to Montreal to participate in the Canadian Corporate Counsel Meeting. Jim has many clients in Canada, and we spend many days just talking about our Canadian business. It is with particular pleasure that Jim has joined us. Thank you, Jim, and we are glad to have you.

MR. BLANCHARD: Thank you.


J. Michael Robinson

MR. UJCZO: And, now, it is my privilege to introduce Michael Robinson of Fasken Martineau in Toronto, (5) who will introduce Minister Peterson.

MR. ROBINSON: Thank you, Dan. It is my pleasure to introduce Jim Peterson. I am not going to read you all of his many accomplishments, but the one that stands out always in my mind is that he is the second longest serving federal parliamentarian in Canadian history, twenty-three years. (6) Only Sir John A. Macdonald, the first prime minister of the country, was in Parliament longer. (7) Jim was the minister of international trade,8 and he had a wonderful title called the secretary for international financial institutions, (9) which involved a lot more than that, too. Jim has always been a people person. He has always been open to new ideas, and I would like to give you just three personal anecdotes about that. There is one new idea, however, he has never been open to and that is abolishing the Wheat Board. We have in the audience Richard O. Cunningham, counsel for the Canadian Wheat Board for many, many years, who has successfully defended fourteen attacks on the legitimacy of that institution by the United States' Department of Commerce. (10) Jim Peterson was famed for having walked out on Bob Zelek in the Geneva Ministerial Meeting when Mr. Zelek demanded the abolition of the Wheat Board. That was a negotiation in the Doha Round--2005 I think it was, Jim. That shows you how long the Doha Round has been grinding on. That was one of the meetings where everything was supposed to get resolved.

My personal example shows what a fine people-person Jim is and how open he is to new ideas, and that is a good thing for the Canada-United States Law Institute as we move into this new era with Henry's demise. Jim was chair of the House of Commons Finance Committee, (11) by the way, which was not listed on his biography. That is one of the many committees he headed. When he was chair I wrote him a letter and said that the Canadian Foreign Sovereignties Immunity Act, which was going for second reading, was seriously flawed. Jim did not have any problem with that. He said, well look, why not come up to Ottawa and appear as a Crown Witness and tell the House of Commons Committee what they have done wrong. I was amazed. So, I did. Not your average minister who would do that when some persnickety lawyer acting for a bunch of banks tells you what you are doing wrong, especially since we did not know each other at the time. I said your government has drafted this bill all wrong, and I can tell you what is wrong with it. Anyway, Jim was open to that.

Another occasion was when he was Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions. (12) I was sitting in a room full of Dutch bankers that I represented. There must have been twenty, and they were all getting ready to demand, or ask respectfully, I guess, for a ministerial consent under the Bank Act to do something. They were all sitting there twiddling their thumbs, waiting for the Minister to arrive. Jim walked in the room, saw me and said, "Hey, Michael, I did not know you were here. You acting for these people? Can they afford you?" It was one of the nicest things he had ever said. Helped me considerably with my account.

And there is one more story. During the Doha Round Ministerial, it may have been the same one in 2005 where he walked out on Zelek, Jim reluctantly agreed to "consider," putting the Canadian Agricultural--that is dairy, eggs, and chicken--Supply Management Protection System on the table for negotiations to try to induce concessions which had not then been forthcoming on agricultural subsidies from the United States and the European Union. As he said to me personally when I congratulated him for this, "I had no choice. It was 143 to 1." The denouement is that before the wheels hit the tarmac at Ottawa on his return flight, it had been suggested to him by the Prime Minister that he should recant that offer, and he did, and it has never appeared since. But there is another example of Jim being open to ideas, notwithstanding the federal government's position that he should not be. With that I will turn the time over to David. Thank you for your attention.


David Crane

MR. CRANE: Well, welcome everybody to the start of what promises to be a very interesting, relevant, and challenging conference dealing with many issues that are opportunities or irritants between our two countries. Also, if some of these issues can be resolved, it may create opportunities for competitiveness for our industries. We are going to hear from your two new co-chairs; in their presentations, I think you will get a good sense of why it is of such advantage to the Canada-United States Law Institute that we have been able to attract individuals with prestige and intellect so that they can contribute to this organization.

Now, as was mentioned, Henry King himself is not here but the bell is. What I am going to do to start, because we only have about forty-five minutes, is to ask each of our two co-chairs to speak for about eight to ten minutes, whereupon I will ring the bell, and we will ask our distinguished panelists some questions. I have a couple of questions, and we will open it up to the floor. Then we will wind-up. The purpose of this evening is to get our neurons moving for the rest of the conference. Governor Jim, could we ask you to start now? One of the directorships that was not mentioned when you were introduced is Nortel. But, you were there I think when it was in good shape.


Hon. James Blanchard *

MR. BLANCHARD: Yes. Largely, yes. I thank you, first of all, everyone. Dan, for your leadership. The two deans, Bob Rawson and Dean Holloway, Consul General Noble. We work hand-in-glove with George Costaris of the Consulate, who is here, on a lot of issues, and that is great. Rick, thank you. It is always good to be here.

Now, I must tell you that I served as governor of Michigan with Jim's younger brother when he was premier of Ontario. (13) He was the first Peterson that I knew. But I say very proudly that when I became ambassador to Canada, our very first guests to our home for dinner were Jim and Heather Peterson. Jim, it is wonderful to share this moment with you.

You will notice it takes at least two of us, probably more, to fill the shoes of Henry King. But, we are here. Let me just give you an overview, as I see it, from Washington. I made a few notes. You all follow politics. You follow it either in Canada or the United States, and you follow it in the news. For all the "fits and starts," it is actually a pretty good era of good feeling. I think way back to when James Monroe was president and there was an era called the "Era of Good Feeling." (14) In fact, everybody was in a good mood. There were not a lot of fights in Washington. Well, we have those now, but between President Obama and Prime Minister Harper, actually, and between the various Cabinet members, relations are actually very, very strong, with a few hiccups.

You all know that President Obama had a fabulous first visit to Ottawa, and they launched the Clean Energy Dialogue as a result. (15) Even before that, Canadian Environmental Minister Jim Prentice met with Carol Browner in the White House to lay the foundation for trying to synchronize our efforts in dealing with climate change and energy. (16) We even take for granted that during the auto rescue Canada and the United States and Ontario worked, again, hand-in-glove, on helping General Motors and Chrysler. (17) Canada, by the way, has a...

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