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The Carletonian

Loken addresses US-Canada relationship

<nsul General Martin Loken opened his convocation speech Oct. 21 by discussing the importance of Canada’s alliance with the United States.

Loken serves as Canada’s senior representative in the Upper Midwest states of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and North and South Dakota, and works out of the Canadian Consulate General in Minneapolis. In his presentation, “Canada, Minnesota, and the United States: A Vital Partnership,” Loken discussed three important aspects of this link: commercial, energy and global issues, specifically in the Arctic region.

Before arriving in Minnesota, Loken held foreign postings in Prague and Geneva. A specialist in trade negotiations, he has had close contact with the public and, by extension, its views and occasional protests, which led him to joke that he has “had the opportunity to smell tear gas on five different continents.”

Regarding the relatively stable Canadian economy, Loken was eager to share “why one should do business with Canada,” and quoted multiple sources including Forbes and the Economist Intelligence Unit that cite the country as a healthy business partner.

Loken detailed Canada’s commercial partnership with the United States and emphasized the importance of trade between the countries, which has resulted in over eight million jobs in thirty-five states.

“When I speak to members of Congress, I say, ‘It’s about jobs, jobs, and jobs,’” he said.

In addition to quantitative assets, he also highlighted the qualitative elements of the relationship: “It’s not so much selling stuff to one another, but rather making things together.”

He stressed the challenge of making the U.S.-Canada border not a barrier, but a facilitator to commerce, because ever since 9/11 friction regarding the transport of goods has increased.

Finally, he argued that both countries should “resist protectionist calls. Although ‘buy Canadian’ and ‘buy U.S.’ calls are attractive in the short term, preventing other countries from being involved in the trade would be very damaging,” he said.

Loken also highlighted Canada’s approach to energy, as “almost eighty percent of energy is produced without releasing greenhouse gases, (and) sixty percent of that is hydroelectric.”

During the Q and A section, he elaborated that Canada is naturally endowed with certain geographic areas, particularly Québec and Manitoba, that provide opportunities for renewable energy. Regarding the recent developments to the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to New Mexico, Loken hopes that “the administration makes positive choices” in order to continue the well-integrated energy partnership between Canada and the United States.

The increasing importance of the Arctic for many countries was another of Loken’s themes. Rapid climate change may lead to greater traffic and resource extraction up North, he said. Within the framework of the Arctic Council – a group of eight Arctic countries and six aboriginal groups that was created twenty years ago – Canada hopes to conduct “a comprehensive North Arctic campaign to promote environmental stewardship and Canadian sovereignty” alongside the U.S., which is playing a larger role.

In conclusion, Loken remarked that “many have a benign and fuzzy view of Canada’s relationship with the US, and hopefully I’ve sharpened that view between the US and the crucial nature of our partnership.”

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