Minister Baird: I’m pleased to be joined by a number of guests that were part of the consultations: representatives from the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association, from the Tourist Industry Association of Canada and from the Canadian Federation of Independent business in addition to representatives from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. All of them played a very important role in the consultations that we’re releasing today.
Good afternoon. In February, you remember that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. president Barack Obama issued a joint declaration in Washington. Canadian and U.S. officials were asked to develop two action plans on a shared border vision and on the other, on the importance of regulatory cooperation. The goal: to speed up legitimate trade and travel between our two countries while also enhancing security. Work has been progressing very well on both action plans and an announcement will be made in due course once the final details are completed.
One of the things both leaders pledged at the time of the declaration was that there would be public consultations on both the border and the regulatory issues and that’s exactly what we’ve done this past spring and this summer. We listened and we listened carefully to Canadians and I’m pleased to release the reports on both sets of consultations here today.
I would note that we consulted on a – consulted a broad cross-section of Canadians. We’ve heard from individual Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We heard from provincial and territorial governments, business groups, both large and small, organized labor, border communities, Aboriginal Canadians, think-tanks and civil society groups. In fact, we received ideas and views from more than 1,000 Canadians and almost 200 written submissions. These are important issues for Canada and Canadians and the response we received certainly reflects that.
Ces questions représentent une grande importance pour le Canada et les Canadiens et les rapports que nous avons reçus en témoignent à coup sûr. These ideas and concerns have been front and center in our thinking as we pursue talks with our American counterparts. During this spring election campaign, we also heard from countless Canadians on door steps across the country. Loud and clear, we heard that jobs and economic growth was the most important priority of Canadians. Permettez-moi d’être clair, nous avons entendu le message des Canadiens. L’économie est la priorité absolue.
Canadians gave our government a strong mandate to focus on the economy and secure Canada’s economic recovery. Trade is the life blood of our economy. More than 70% of our exports go to a single market: the United States and they account for one out of every seven jobs in our country. In the United States, some 8 million jobs are supported by trade with Canada. Making trade and travel easier will help grow our economy and create jobs and prosperity. Cooperating to improve security, streamline regulations and better manage our shared border simply makes sense. It’s clear that it’s in our national interest and with that, I’m certainly pleased to take any questions.