Category Archives: News

Environment Minister Visits North America To Turn Tide On Marine Plastic

Thérèse Coffey meets Canadian and American counterparts to discuss marine pollution objectives

Minister Coffey and Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna. Photo Credit: Canadian High Commission

Minister Coffey and Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna. Photo Credit: Canadian High Commission

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey has joined forces with Canada and the USA in the fight against marine plastic.

During a visit to Washington D.C. and Ottawa this week, the Minister met her international counterparts to discuss the UK’s priorities for the marine environment ahead of the G7 Environment meetings to be held later this year.

Like the UK, Canada has already banned microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics, and the Minister met the country’s Environment and Climate Change Minister, Catherine McKenna, and Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, to look at how the two countries can unite in further tackling the threats facing our oceans.

Through its presidency of the G7, which includes a focus on climate change, oceans and clean energy, Canada will be pushing member states to take action to deal with plastic pollution, ocean acidification, and develop the blue economy.

Following her visit, the Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said:

There is no greater asset than our blue planet, and it is only by working together we can address the multitude of threats facing our marine life.

In the UK we have already banned microbeads and cracked down on plastic bags, and in 25 years’ time we will have eliminated all avoidable plastic waste. I look forward to working with my international counterparts to do all we can to protect our oceans for future generations.

Minister McKenna and Minister Coffey also discussed the crucial role industry can play in turning the tide on plastic. And with businesses across the UK pledging to ban straws, cut plastic packaging and roll out water refills, the Minister met Mars and Coca Cola to see first-hand how big producers in the USA are tackling waste.

While in Washington D.C. the Minister also met Judy Garber, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the American Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, who was supportive of moving forward work on oceans – especially on improved data and marine mapping.

Minister Coffey also used a meeting with stakeholders from Pew Environmental Trust and the High Seas Alliance as an opportunity to discuss improving biodiversity in the marine environment.

Defence Secretary Meets Canadian Counterpart To Further Strengthen Ties

Defence Secretary has met with Canada’s Minister of National Defence in London today, further strengthening the historic relationship

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has met with Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, to further strengthen the historic relationship between the UK and Canada. Crown copyright

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has met with Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, to further strengthen the historic relationship between the UK and Canada. Crown copyright

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has met with Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, to further strengthen the historic relationship between the UK and Canada.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

The UK and Canada have enjoyed a close-knit relationship for more than a century and we we have further reinforced this bond, discussing the wide range of issues we face today.

At a time when our nations battle intensifying threats on numerous fronts, we must continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Canada and all of our allies, to ensure the safety of our people.

The two nations have maintained a close alliance on a wide range of security issues for decades, and are uniquely linked. Both are members of G7, the Five Eyes Intelligence Community, NATO and the Commonwealth.

At the forefront of this bond is the posting of UK troops at British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS), in Canada, which will celebrate 50 years of operation in 2021.

Both countries have also expressed a desire to further reinforce their commitments to international diplomacy, and co-hosted the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in Vancouver last month.

The UK Defence Secretary also praised Canada for tripling its training effort in the fight against Daesh, as well as increasing their surveillance and intelligence in support of the counter-Daesh coalition, which both countries are key members of.

Along with the Netherlands and France, the UK and Canada also worked together to form the Multinational Caribbean Co-ordination Cell during Operation Ruman, providing aid to those caught up in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in September.

Meeting With Mission Personnel Of U.S. Embassy Ottawa

Rex W. Tillerson

Rex W. Tillerson

It wasn’t in my remarks to hit the button and make it go green. It’s green now. (Laughter.) Well, let me say again how much we appreciate – (laughter) – all of you and our folks across the countries in how you represent us and the important role you play across this vast nation of Canada. And just really happy all of you could join us on the VTC at least today.

But again, thank all of you for what you do in furthering America’s interests. And in particular, I want to thank our locally employed employees. As you know, a lot of your colleagues, they come and go. They come in for their assignment and stay a couple years, three years maybe, and then they move on. And it’s really your presence here and the continuity that you provide to this mission that allows others to come in and be successful. And you maintain those relationships and you maintain our ability to operate seamlessly as people move through their assignments and move through their responsibilities here. So thanks to all of our locally employed, as well.

When I came in to the State Department, on day one I had some things I said that were important to me about our values. And first and foremost, I said we’re going to protect our people – so safety and security is extraordinarily important to me – and protect our people no matter what the situations they may find themselves in. And that comes with you taking personal responsibility for your own safety and security first, and then look to the people on either side of you and make sure you’re taking care of them. But we’ve said to every mission around the world, if you ever have concerns about that, you should raise your hand immediately and let us know because we will address it. So protecting our people.

Second, as I said, we were going to hold ourselves accountable and be honest with one another. And that means we can’t expect our partners, whether it’s here in Canada or our partners within the State Department or our partners within the U.S. Government, to be accountable if we don’t hold ourselves accountable for our responsibilities. And be honest when we make mistakes; let’s learn from them. Don’t be afraid of them. We’re going to make them. And be honest with one another. When we have our disagreements, let’s work through them in a very, very respectful way.

Which was the third value I wanted to really impart to people, is that everyone has an extraordinarily important role to play in the success of the State Department both on the Civil Service side, Foreign Service side, locally employed, our EFMs. Everyone has a role that’s important to us, and we should respect the role that everyone plays. There are no second-class citizens in this State Department. Everyone is important, and we’re going to treat each other with the respect that each of us deserves as well. So those are the things that I say are important everywhere I go, because it makes us stronger as an organization if we all work together in a much more effective way.

The last thing I want to comment quickly on the redesign of State Department. Hopefully many of you had a chance to either watch on the webcast the town hall we had last week, or maybe you’ve been able to re-watch it or read the text of it. But the redesign effort really was – we put it underway in order to have you tell us what do you need to be more effective, more efficient, and what are the obstacles that get in the way of your ability to do your work.

What I know is we have a very capable and competent workforce of dedicated people in the State Department. So if we’re not achieving everything we could, it’s because there are things that are getting in the way. Tell us what those are so we can begin to address those. And in the town hall, that’s what we talked about is we’ve been through three phases of listening to you, setting up seven teams of 250 people of your colleagues to take all that information, identified 300 projects from it. They got it down to 150. We’ve since gotten it down to 72, and now we’re down to 16 what we call “keystone projects.”

We announced some early things. And I told the folks on the teams, I said, “If there’s things that I can do with a stroke of a pen, you bring them to me, I’ll do them.” So we announced, I think, seven what we said are early actions. We’re going to take things like getting everyone into the cloud so we can communicate with one another more efficiently, allow people to work from different locations, just help you be more efficient and more effective, to things like some of our policies around MedEvac, how we treat MedEvac cases, to lifting the freeze on hiring EFMs, but beyond that, expanding opportunities for EFMs through the EPAP program. We’ve increased the number of people we want to push through that program because this is just a great way to deliver on our mission around the world.

So we had a number of things and we’re doing those, and they’ll get done within the next year. The 16 keystone projects have now been turned over to bureaus and tiger teams, and these are a little more comprehensive projects. Some of them we hope will be underway and under implementation within the coming year. Some of them are going to take a little longer, like creating a new IT system. It’s going to be a multi-year effort. But we need to modernize the tools you have. We need to modernize the way you work, allow you to be – to do the things that you’re really good at, which is use this, use the brain matter. And when we tie you up on things that are really wasting that capacity, we’re really not serving the American people well with the investment that we’ve made in you.

So that’s what the redesign was really about. And from that, we’re going to find some efficiencies and things that we’re going to capture. And the whole endpoint of it is for you to have a much more rewarding career, a much more enjoyable career, and contribute more – because you have a lot of to contribute, and I know that.

So I’m going to stop there because our time is a little short because I’m late getting here, and I want to have an opportunity to shake your hands. As I also said on the first day in the State Department, my objective is to shake every member of the State Department’s hand. So you’re going to find me working the crowd now. (Laughter.)

Thank all of you again for all your contributions and we appreciate you. God bless you. (Applause.)

British Intelligence Officer Honoured During Ottawa Ceremony

Canadian family gift medals awarded to Frank Foley to the Secret Intelligence Service

Ottawa Ceremony

Ottawa Ceremony

On Monday, 27 November, the British High Commissioner to Canada Susan Le Jeune d’Allegeershecque welcomed the Canadian relatives of celebrated British Intelligence Officer Frank Foley to her residence Earnscliffe. The visit commemorated the family’s decision to gift medals awarded to Mr. Foley, including the Order of St Michael and St George, to the UK government so they can be properly displayed in hopes of inspiring future generations through Mr. Foley’s courage.

Whilst working for the Secret Intelligence Services (SIS), often known as MI6, Mr Foley was posted to Germany under cover as a Passport Officer prior to the Second World War. During this time he used his role to ensure Jews threatened with death under Nazi rule could escape Germany by helping them secure travel documents. Working without diplomatic immunity, he put his personal safety at risk to save the lives of those looking to flee persecution. It is estimated he saved the lives of 10,000 people.

During the ceremony the High Commissioner read a statement from the current Chief of SIS.

In his statement to the family Alex Younger said:

Frank Foley was a true British hero. His dignity, compassion and bravery are in no doubt. He was a consummately effective intelligence officer who personified the SIS Values of Creativity, Courage, Respect and Integrity.

Serving in Berlin between the wars, he witnessed at first hand the Nazi seizure of power, and the horrors and depravity of the regime. While many condemned and criticised the Nazis’ discriminative laws, Frank took action.

With little regard for his personal safety, Frank’s tenacity and passion saved the lives of many thousands of European Jews, using his position as a Passport Control Officer, he ensured that they could travel safely out of the clutches of Hitler’s killers.

After his death in 1958 at the age of 73, Mr. Foley’s medals were willed to his surviving family in Canada. Following a visit to a memorial plaque in his honour at the British Embassy in Berlin his family decided to donate the medals to SIS.

Frank Foley’s grand nephew Michael Foley said:

After seeing his medals on the wall inside our home for years and not being recognised, we felt it was better to give them to the British government so they could be properly displayed in the UK in a way that ensures Frank continues to receive the attention he deserves.

Commerce’s Pritzker On Trade, Commercial Relations With Canada

U.S. Department of Commerce
Office of Public Affairs
Ottawa, Canada
October 30, 2014

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker
Remarks to the American Chamber of Commerce in Canada

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Ambassador Heyman, for your kind introduction. I want to thank Rick Tachuk and AmCham Capital Region for hosting us today. I also want to acknowledge the strong working relationship between AmCham and our Foreign Commercial Service officers throughout Canada.

Our Senior Commercial Officer, Rich Steffens, is here with us today. Rich, can you please stand or raise your hand? If anyone in this room is looking for new U.S. partners, Rich and our Commercial Service staff should be your first point of contact.

We meet today in the shadow of last week’s heinous attacks on your parliament and in Quebec.

Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. I want to offer my deepest condolences to all who knew and loved them, and to people across Canada.

In good times and bad, Canada has always stood by the United States; as good friends and close allies, the United States will stand by you now.

We pledge to provide any assistance Canada needs in your response. And we will work together to prevent such terrifying acts of violence from ever happening again.

The United States and Canada share a unique and special friendship. We have no better partner when it comes to facing threats to our common security. And, similarly, we have no closer economically anywhere in the world.

I am here today to discuss the current state of the U.S.-Canada economic and commercial partnership, but I also want to focus on the opportunity presented by deepening economic integration across greater North America. Indeed, our long-term success requires us to see all of North America as a united engine for economic growth – founded on the strengths of the United States, Canada, and our neighbors in Mexico.

To build a brighter future for communities across our continent, the United States is committed to strengthening the North American commercial platform.

Let me begin with Canada.

Our bilateral economic relationship is the most efficient, most integrated, and most dynamic in the world. The success of our businesses and the prosperity of our people are inextricably intertwined.

Together, the United States and Canada generated $736 billion in bilateral trade in 2013– which breaks down to more than $2 billion a day, or $23,000 every second.

Simply put: ours is the largest trading relationship on the planet – and for good reason:

• We have deeply integrated North American supply chains;

• We enjoy ease of access thanks to geographic proximity;

• We share a language and similar consumer preferences; and

• We have an established free trade agreement.

As a result, more than 96,000 American companies currently export to Canada, and 70 percent of Canadian exports come to the United States.

These connections—and this legacy—is the foundation of our commercial relationship. But we can do even better, and our leaders know it. Prime Minister Harper and President Obama are committed to making it even easier for goods and people to move securely across the border.

In 2011, the U.S. and Canada launched two complimentary efforts that are moving us toward an even more seamless economic relationship: the Beyond the Border initiative and the Regulatory Cooperation Council.

The goal of Beyond the Border is to enhance our security while accelerating the legitimate flow of people, goods, and services between our two countries. We are already seeing concrete outcomes that are making us more economically competitive.

For instance, membership in the U.S.-Canada NEXUS program – which allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers to move with little or no delay across the border – has increased by nearly 50 percent since 2011 and recently celebrated its one-millionth member.

Beyond the Border initiatives like this are making a real difference for U.S. and Canadian companies, but we need to get the word out. The Department of Commerce—as the lead for the United States on outreach—wants to collaborate with our Canadian partners to raise awareness.

The Regulatory Cooperation Council, which met in Washington, last week, facilitates the coordination of our regulatory policies.

For example, when the Council began this process in 2011, only one-fifth of U.S. and Canadian auto safety standards matched. By the end of this year, more than two-thirds of our auto standards will be the same. This reduces costs for auto companies and consumers alike.

Going forward, our senior regulatory officials will work together to deepen and broaden our cooperation on both new and existing regulations. These types of initiatives deepen the economic ties between the United States and Canada. And they can serve as a model for a more integrated North American commercial and economic platform.

Make no mistake, the economic cooperation between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, is extensive and impressive. Our three countries comprise the largest free trade area in the world.

Each day, $3 billion worth of goods cross between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Our combined economic output already accounts for more than one-quarter of the world’s GDP. Our region is home to a skilled, productive workforce, as well as abundant and affordable energy. And all three of our nations are investing in research and development.

Our people and our economies are deeply intertwined, but with these advantages we can do more, which is part of why I am here in Canada this week. If our continued economic integration is well-managed, we can out-compete any region in the world.

I will be joining Minister for International Trade Fast and Mexican Secretary of the Economy Guajardo in Toronto tomorrow for the 4th annual North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference, or NACIC.

Our goal is to develop new ideas and initiatives to build on the progress we have collectively made toward North American economic integration over the last twenty years.

• We want to foster innovation – including through cross-border partnerships between business incubators and accelerators;

• We want to attract foreign direct investment to North America;

• We want to make cross-border trade and travel easier, faster, and cheaper;

• And this year, we are focusing on new areas, including big data, commercial cybersecurity, and entrepreneurship.

This will be my second year attending NACIC, and what I have learned, is that our collective competitiveness in the 21st century is a trilateral project. If we work together – across government and industry – we can position North America as the hub of innovation and the competitive destination of choice for investment and high-end manufacturing.

Before I close, I would like to take a moment to focus on the Trans Pacific Partnership. Canada, Mexico, and the United States are all committed to completing a high-standard agreement that opens new markets across the Asia-Pacific to goods and services made in each of our countries.

We are at a critical stage in TPP negotiations, and now is the time for all parties to work together, to be bold and creative in crafting an ambitious outcome—with high standard provisions in key areas like intellectual property protection, agricultural market access, and labor and environmental standards.

When NAFTA took effect 20 years ago, it laid the foundation for tremendous economic cooperation between our three countries, creating new markets and new opportunities. But that agreement, of course, didn’t reflect our world today. This is our opportunity to upgrade that transformational trade pact. TPP will be the next chapter of our economic integration, and is critical to our efforts to make North America the most globally competitive region in the world.

In 1961, President John Kennedy, in an address to the Canadian Parliament, recognized the critical role of U.S.-Canada economic relations. He declared that “Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners.”

More than half a century later, the economic partnership that President Kennedy referenced continues to thrive. And as Secretary of Commerce, I am proud to be a champion for this bilateral relationship and for economic growth across all of North America.

Together, let’s continue to trade and invest, build and innovate, and increase our competitiveness.

To be successful in this endeavor, we must partner with Canadian businesses like yours, and leaders like Minister Fast and Minister Moore.

Let’s keep the U.S.-Canada relationship – and all of North America – open for business, and open for more business together.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I am happy to take a few questions.