What U.S. ambassador Bruce Heyman had to say to Canadians

Full text of the new U.S. Ambassador’s first major speech in Canada
Bruce Heyman

The prepared speech by Bruce Heyman, United States ambassador to Canada on June 2, 2014.

Friends, colleagues – good evening.

I just came back from a 21-day trek across your beautiful country. It’s been an amazing education for me and my wife, Vicki, and I’ve seen so many things and met so many incredible people that I’ll never forget.

What a beautiful venue. I want to thank Canada 2020, Don Newman and the National Gallery for hosting us tonight. Vicki and I are so grateful to be here.

President Obama said it best: “No two nations match up more closely, or are woven together more deeply, economically, culturally, than the United States and Canada.” I understand this now having travelled coast to coast. This unparalleled relationship provides us with unprecedented opportunity.

I am the kind of person who does not view the workings of the world as a zero-sum game, nor do I accept the idea that every decision is a matter of either/or. In discussing our choices among various interests, I much prefer using the word “AND” rather than “OR.” Economic growth AND environmental protection. Free trade AND jobs. Co-operation AND leadership.

My unshakeable belief is that the U.S.-Canada relationship is strong and thriving. Tonight I would like to talk to you about four areas that underline the strength in our unique bilateral relationship, and speak to the great opportunities that they hold for us: economy and trade; energy and the environment; cultural exchange; and co-operation and leadership on the world stage.

Economy and trade

The United States could not have a better partner than Canada. The trade statistics clearly bear it out:

$734 billion in annual trade; that’s $2 billion a day; or $1.4 million a minute. Millions of workers in both countries have jobs thanks to that rich trading relationship.

But in the depths of the financial crisis, no one would have predicted that five years later, Canada-U.S. two-way trade in goods and services would increase by $233 billion: a phenomenal 47 per cent increase. This just proves that together, we do great things. We defy the odds. We grow economies. We create jobs.

Canada and the U.S. had a strong economic relationship before NAFTA .

The agreement sparked an even more dynamic relationship, with even more interactions. More free trade AND more jobs on a continent-wide scale this time.

It’s not just that we make things together. Now, we’re making more things together. We are trading a lot more goods and services across the border. Both our economies are benefiting from that.

Canada’s two-way merchandise trade with the United States has increased nearly two-and-a-half times since NAFTA’s implementation. It is hard to think of better proof that our mutual AND individual good are inseparable.

Even that which divides us, connects us. Our interactions along the 5,000 plus miles of border provide the lifeblood of our two economies. President Obama and Prime Minister Harper recognized this when they launched the Beyond the Border and Regulatory Co-operation Council initiatives in 2011.

We need an effective border that makes it easy for legal commerce and travelers to flow through efficiently, AND makes it hard for those things that threaten us to pass through.

Beyond the Border has a great track record and huge potential to build on its success, as do Trusted Traveller programs like NEXUS, Global Entry and TSA pre-check. As ambassador, I am committed to work hard with Canada in increasing programs and technology to maximize the efficiency of our border. A crucial step will be finalizing pre-clearance negotiations and ensuring we have parallel customs procedures in place.

While I was in Vancouver, I visited the Peace Arch border crossing. I met with officials from both countries and witnessed firsthand how the NEXUS lanes have expedited the flow of cross-border traffic. I learned that over the past five years, non-NEXUS traffic heading southbound has more than doubled, yet wait times have been halved, due in part to NEXUS operations. I look forward to working with Canada to expand our joint ability to process new NEXUS applications.

Money also travels across our borders, to the benefit of both nations. Investment is a basic ingredient of economic growth domestically AND internationally. Part of my job as ambassador is to ask Canadians to look south when they are thinking about investing. And for Americans considering foreign expansion – come to Canada. That’s not a hard sell. This bilateral investment already happens constantly and organically. A walk in my hometown of Chicago takes you past all sorts of buildings, banks and businesses with roots right here in Canada. Similarly, my recent walks through Canadian cities brought me face-to-face with many U.S. businesses. To all Americans and Canadians, looking to invest across the border – call the American Embassy here in Ottawa: I’ll make sure you get started in the right direction.

Both of our economies are thriving in large part because innovative companies invest in research and invent new products. To ensure this continues, we must have patent policies and laws that encourage our creative talent to continue rolling out new ideas, and venture capitalists to invest the resources to make those ideas realities. Enhanced intellectual property rights protections are an important component of our bilateral trade relationship.

In the past few weeks I have spoken about counterfeit goods being shipped through Canada and across the border. This is not only an intellectual property rights issue — it is also a consumer health and safety issue, an economic issue, a supply chain issue, and a security issue.

Now I’d like to explain a bit more why this is a matter of real concern. Just as legitimate supply chains have gone global, so have counterfeits. We are pleased Canada has introduced legislation that will give its border officials the authority to seize pirated and counterfeit goods, but the United States is concerned because the bill does not apply to goods that are shipped through Canada, from a third country to the U.S. Given our highly integrated supply and production chain, a dangerously substandard counterfeit airliner part or car airbag in either of our countries is a threat to the citizens of both. We therefore believe 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 perimeter.

Both of our governments are in the midst of very ambitious trade negotiations. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Harper said, “Developing trade is one of the keys to job creation. It is a key to economic vitality and it is a key to long-term prosperity, not just for the Canadian people but for all of our peoples.” As you would expect, the United States and Canada are absolutely on the same wavelength here.

This is good – because the stakes have never been higher to complete trade agreements. The U.S. trade representative Mike Froman said recently, “The question we face is not whether we can roll back the tide of globalization. It is whether we are going to shape it or be shaped by it, whether we are going to do everything we can to ensure that it reflects our values or let the values of others define it.”

We are in the end game of the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations (TPP). It is critically important that Canada, and all 12 TPP countries, make the difficult decisions now that are necessary to conclude a comprehensive, highly ambitious, 21st-century trade agreement. Success is paramount, because a bold, sweeping agreement will mean a better life for generations to come, not just in Canada and the United States, but in a significant portion of the world. Our joint participation is a unique opportunity for both our countries to build upon our already dynamic trading relationship. With both Canada and Mexico in the TPP, we are looking at the best single prospect for North America to expand opportunities in world market. This is our chance. We cannot afford to let this opportunity pass us by.

Energy and the environment

Now, I’d like to take a few moments to talk about the future. I have children, and I also have grandchildren. I often wonder about what the world will look like in 20, 50 or even 100 years. But one thing I am sure of is that we all have a responsibility for our future. The United States and Canada have a strong tradition of working together on environmental issues. We are united in managing challenges that stubbornly refuse to be managed.

From an environmental perspective, there is no U.S.-Canada border. Both good things – water, air, migratory wildlife – and bad things – invasive species, pollution, and ice storms – cross freely in both directions. Together, we protect our shared waters, including the Great Lakes, through the Boundary Waters Treaty. We are committed to protecting birds through the Migratory Bird Treaty. We negotiated an Air Quality Agreement that cut air pollution and practically eliminated acid rain. All this was hard stuff. But together we pushed forward and now we enjoy the benefits of our perseverance. Here, as in so many areas, the proper focus is not Canada OR the United States, it’s Canada AND the United States.

The hard work of expanding and deepening this unique history of environmental co-operation must continue, for the benefit of present and future generations.

Our long-standing energy relationship dates back more than a century when the hydro-generating stations at Niagara Falls began providing electricity to both sides of the border. In 2013 Canada exported $110 billion worth of energy to the United States. But it’s not just a matter of exporting energy.

Last year, President Obama unveiled the U.S. Climate Action Plan that outlines the roadmap for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Today the United States government proposed a 30 per cent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 2030.

Protecting our children’s right to live on a healthy planet is not something that the United States can do alone. I am happy that the United States and Canada have a long history of working together to reduce the environmental impact of our energy generation. 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.

In my travels across Canada, I was extraordinarily impressed by the efforts of Canadians in the areas of energy and the environment.

I participated in a dialogue between oil company executives and COSIA – Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance – an alliance of oil sands producers focused on accelerating the pace of improvement in environmental performance in Canada’s oil sands through collaborative action and innovation.

I met with executives from Saskpower, whose Boundary Dam coal plant is one of the world’s first coal-fired carbon capture and storage facilities, and is just starting commercial operation.

I met with executives of Hydro Quebec which is providing significant energy for the northeastern United States.

I saw windmill tower construction by DSME Trenton in Nova Scotia which is creating new jobs in a former railcar factory.

These examples demonstrate it is not energy OR the environment, but energy AND the environment.

This reminds us that new-found energy abundance should not distract us from the need to improve efficiency and combat climate change. We need a full North American perspective as we work together in the face of this shared threat. This is not a task we can take on individually. It can only be successfully challenged together.


Here in the stunning National Gallery of Art, we are surrounded by beauty and the inspiration of artists. While it is a reflective space bringing people together from across Canada and from different nations, it is also a magnet for discussion and dialogue. Spaces such as the National Gallery and many of the cultural institutions we have visited in our travels throughout Canada are indeed, treasures. We would like to extend these conversations and experiences of sharing ideas, art, and culture.

Ever since university when Vicki and I were partners in our business school class, we have been a team. As we contemplated representing our country, we knew Canada would be a place where we could work together.

Vicki and I plan to promote art, educational exchange, and thought leadership across Canada’s unique provinces and cities – in our consulates, the Embassy and in our home in Ottawa. We plan to engage and gather individuals across all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds. We believe in the power of human connection. It is vitally important that our two countries continue to share our rich cultures through the stories of individuals and communities, to break bread with our friends and also with those who are different from us. This is where we learn about the greater world, and most importantly, it is how we learn and gain perspective about ourselves.

Like any good team, Vicki and I will collaborate, but also work as individual leaders leveraging our unique voices, passions and strengths. Vicki will take a leading role on cultural diplomacy initiatives, highlighting and connecting our greatest American and Canadian commodity – the human capital of ideas and creativity.

As we have travelled throughout Canada, Vicki and I have connected with countless Canadians who have shared their stories with us. We met with a wide diversity of people: Aboriginal leaders from the First Nations communities; filmmakers, artists and performers; youth leaders, young innovators and students; business, academic and environmental leaders; members of provincial and municipal governments; Canadian and American military officials; Canadians of all ages, many with cross-border familial ties; and many more.

As we travelled in Canada, we gained new understandings and perspectives through on the ground interactions and experiences.

As Americans, this cross-border exploration is vitally important. Along with the countless intersections that occur naturally every day, there are a wide variety of U.S.-sponsored citizen-exchange programs between our two countries such as the Youth Ambassador Program, the International Visitor Leadership Program, and the prestigious Fulbright Program, to name a few. President Obama also believes in the amazing power of travelling and studying in another country to enhance young lives, and that’s why he created the “100,000 Strong in the Americas,” an initiative that will work to inspire American youth to study in the Western Hemisphere, from Canada to Chile, and youth from these countries to study in the United States. Vicki and I look forward to championing this effort during our time in Canada.

But there is more we can and should do together.

In this role, Vicki and I truly value the exchange of art, film, ideas, food, theatre and dialogue — something that many Canadians and Americans already do every day in their personal and professional lives. Everyone is, or can be, a cultural ambassador. As two of many who proudly wear the mantle of “cultural ambassador,” Vicki and I plan to work tirelessly to enhance the already deep and rich links between our two countries. We invite you to join us.

Global leadership

Another area of deep connection between Canada and the U.S. is our partnership in global affairs. Leading by example and action, Canada and the United States move the world toward a better future. Both of our nations treasure and promote democracy, individual liberty and free enterprise. We continue to attract people from around the world to North America and inspire the hopes of millions. We lead by our individual actions, but we are strongest when we lead together.

Today, our co-operation is often through multilateral organizations – NATO, G7, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the UN. There, as elsewhere, we are stronger together.

We are stronger together dealing with the crisis in Ukraine, where we have stood shoulder to shoulder in support of the Ukrainian people, imposing sanctions on Russia for its actions that seek to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We join Canada in welcoming the results of the recent Ukrainian election and call on Russia to take all steps to de-escalate tensions and lend support to the new government and the Ukrainian people.

We are stronger together in NATO, where Canada and the United States have met the legitimate security concerns of our newest allies in Eastern Europe not only with words but with real commitments of ships, aircraft and troops to demonstrate that NATO’s security is indivisible.

And we certainly have been stronger together in Afghanistan, where Canada has played a vital role in ensuring that Afghanistan would no longer be a haven for those who would do us harm and in giving the Afghan people a chance to chart a better future. The United States will never forget the sacrifice of the 158 Canadians killed and the many more wounded in support of NATO operations.

Stronger together is an ideal our militaries live every day in Europe, in the Atlantic, the Pacific and even in outer space. In fact, NORAD, which monitors our common threat from sea, air and space, is the world’s most closely integrated binational military command, and a wonderful reflection of the nature of trust and co-operation between our two countries.

We are close partners in the Arctic Council and have worked very well together during Canada’s Arctic Council chairmanship. We look forward to continuing that close relationship long into the future.

We applaud the leadership of the Prime Minister and the Canadian government for their significant support of initiatives working to improve global maternal, newborn and child health by 2020. The United States joins Canada and many other countries and organizations working to achieve this goal.

An area of growing concern for both Canada and the United States is cybercrime. I was deeply gratified by the announcement today of the disruption of the “GameOver Zeus” and “Cryptolocker” international criminal computer operations. Law enforcement officials from the U.S., Canada, and numerous other countries all worked closely together to achieve this victory. This is both a great blow to international cybercrime, and a call to increased vigilance in this area.

As Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Blaney stated today, “We fully support our police forces and international partners who work diligently to keep our communities safe.” I can only second the minister’s words, and note that we must continue to work together to strengthen our defenses against the growing threats of cybercrime.

We remain vigilant to the terror threat and we work together to counter violent extremism at home and abroad through collaboration in law enforcement.

Many of the criminals we are fighting in the United States are the same bad guys operating in Mexico and Canada. The more we recognize that crime is not bound by borders, the more effective we can be against organized crime.

The past proves and the future will continue to show that the more the U.S. and Canada act together, the more effective we are, both bilaterally and globally.


How, then, do I see our bilateral relationship?

Based on our unparalleled history of economic, environmental, and cultural partnership, and from my own experiences exploring Canada over the past few months, it is clear that our bilateral relationship is strong and thriving.

But there are those who suggest that our relationship is not as positive as I see it. To those naysayers, I say, do not mistake headlines for trendlines.

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

Churchill said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Let no one have any doubt: I am an optimist.

As close as we are in so many spheres, the guiding principle of my ambassadorship will be to build further upon this extraordinary relationship. 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, and worked with people from all across this great country to make an even better life for Canadians and Americans alike.

With that in mind, I will end where I began, with a quote from a great Chicagoan, Daniel Burnham, who created master plans for the modern development of many great U.S. cities.

He said, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.”

These will be my watchwords as I work with all of you, and every Canadian, in building a brighter future together.