Bruce Heyman sets out agenda as U.S. ambassador to Canada

In his first public speech since taking on the job, the top American envoy to Canada says he is determined not to let the Canada–U.S. relationship sour under his watch.

Heyman says that 'naysayers' of bilateral relationship should not 'mistake headlines for trend-lines'

U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman - shown with his wife Vicki making their way into the National Gallery of Canada Monday night - focused largely on the 'positive' aspects of the bilateral relationship that some critics argue has weakened in recent years during his speech. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman says he is determined not to let the Canada-U.S. relationship sour under his watch, in his first public speech since taking on the job.

"At the end of my tenure here, I want to be able to say that I have enhanced the enduring relationship our two countries share," Heyman said in prepared remarks to a crowd gathered at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa on Monday night.

Heyman, a self-described optimist, said "naysayers" who suggest the bilateral relationship is not as "positive" as he sees it, should not "mistake headlines for trend-lines."

"Do not take a few issues and draw any conclusions on the overall relationship."

While Heyman's written speech does not actually mention the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, it's no secret that a six-year delay has dominated the bilateral relationship.

A decision on the pipeline that would connect Canada's oilsands region to refineries in Texas has been punted again until after the U.S. midterm election in November.

Heyman outlined his agenda, which includes a focus on:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Beyond the Border deal.
  • Intellectual property.
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership.

On the same day the Obama administration announced its most ambitious plan to address climate change, Heyman said that the two countries must work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"We need to continue that work together moving toward a low-carbon future, with alternative energy choices, greater energy efficiency, and sustainable extraction of our oil and gas reserves."

"From an environmental perspective, there is no U.S.-Canada border," Heyman said.

With trade between the two countries estimated $2 billion a day, removing some trade irritants could improve the flow of business both ways.

"I am committed to work hard with Canada in increasing programs and technology to maximize the efficiency of our border," Heyman said.

"A crucial step will be finalizing pre-clearance negotiations and ensuring we have parallel customs procedures in place."

Heyman also said the U.S. would like to see Canada take further steps on intellectual property rights.

"It is in the best interest of the U.S. and Canada to expand this legislation to include in-transit goods. We should have laws and procedures stopping these illegal goods at our shared perimeters."

Heyman said it was "critically important that Canada, and all 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership countries, make the difficult decisions now that are necessary to conclude a comprehensive, highly ambitious, 21st-century agreement."

The U.S. would also like to see Canada continue to collaborate on the world stage through organizations such as Norad and the Arctic Council, Heyman said.

The ambassador said he and his wife, Vicki, would promote art as "cultural ambassadors." Heyman said the pair would work "tirelessly to enhance the already deep and rich links between our two countries."

The event was organized by Canada 2020, a think-tank based in Ottawa.


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