Prominent Canadian lawyer Jean Bazin stressed the importance of a well-maintained relationship between Canada and the United States during his lecture last week.
“The [Canadian and U.S.] governments must deal with issues in a very forthright and clear manner,” said Bazin. “This close relationship will forever be in the mix.”
The Conservative Senator, who served from 1986 to 1989 under then-prime minister Brian Mulroney, discussed Canada’s relationship with its southern neighbour in terms of trade, disputes, tourism and security.
Canada and the U.S. have the world’s largest bilateral trade relationship, with merchandise exchanged between the two countries totaling close to 500 billion dollars, according to Bazin.
“Canada’s importance to the U.S. is not just a border state phenomenon,” he said, adding that Canada is the main export market for 39 U.S. states, and has become the country’s largest supplier of energy.
The high flow of trade between Canada and the U.S. may be impeded by both countries’ recent concerns regarding security.
“The secure flow of people, goods and infrastructures, and very importantly, coordinated enforcement” are issues that need to be explored, Bazin explained.
“All of these preoccupations, in particular since 9/11, are real and both countries have very systematic and clear common interests in finding solutions,” he added.
If the proposed U.S. legislation requiring Canadians to carry passports when crossing the border is finalized, difficulties may lie ahead, according to Bazin.
“This of course will have an impact on the relationship between the two countries,” Bazin said. “It’s a real issue that has to be dealt with.”
Bazin urged the audience of approximately 20 students to understand the notion that Canada can “disagree without being disagreeable” with the United States.
“It is crucial that the prime minister and the president be able to share, disagree and agree,” he said.
Bazin discussed the influence former prime minister Mulroney had on Canada-U.S. relations and listed his accomplishments, such as the acid rain treaty, the bilateral trade agreement, and NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.
After the lecture, students asked Bazin questions ranging from Canada’s biggest future challenge, environmental responsibility and Senate reform.
“My sense, if you look down the road, is that our biggest challenge will be something related to the Arctic, or something related to the environment,” Bazin replied.
Bazin acknowledged that Canada is not meeting the standards of the Kyoto Accord. However, he “presumed good faith” that government officials are actively trying to remedy the situation.
“Generally, people in positions of responsibility do want to find lasting solutions,” he said. “I think every country, every province, and every state is trying to find solutions.”
Organized by Conservative Concordia, the event’s purpose was to help bring about a political balance at the university and enlarge students’ perspectives, said President Sofia Parusheva.
“We thought that by bringing academics, researchers, members of Parliament and ministers from the Conservative Party to speak, we might present students at Concordia with a different point of view from the one that’s been offered in the past few years,” Parusheva said.
Future Conservative Concordia lecture topics range from youth involvement in politics and Senate reform, to environmental issues and women in politics.
“There will hopefully also be joint projects with the other political clubs at Concordia,” Parusheva said.
“All the events are for students,” she added. “All the events are internal. So far, [Conservative Concordia has] 200 members and we’re recruiting even more.”