They share the longest border in the world, stretching over 5,500 miles and crossed by some 400,000 people and nearly $2 billion in goods and services every day. And yes, there actually are some Minnesotans — as well as New Yorkers, Michiganders, Alaskans and North Dakotans — who can see this neighbor from their porches. The two neighbors are, of course, the United States and Canada. And they have a relationship that is both complex and critical.
As co-chair of the Canada-United States InterParliamentary Group, I’ve been working in the trenches. At meetings in Ottawa and the United States, Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho and I have worked with our Canadian counterparts to hash out issues ranging from border crossings to ballast water, timber to beef, and wood pulp to energy. Now, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is bringing a newfound interest in this work.
Trudeau, like President Barack Obama, is a champion of change. Many of our two countries’ priorities — on national security, infrastructure and climate change — align closely. And during this visit, this relationship will likely deepen and we will hear more about how our two nations will work together on our shared priorities.
Our two countries have a significant trading relationship — a relationship that supports nearly 9 million U.S. jobs. Canada purchases more goods from America than does any other nation. It’s the No. 1 buyer for goods produced in 35 out of the 50 states, including my home state of Minnesota. Last year, Canadians bought $376 billion worth of goods made by American businesses. And it’s a two-way street; the U.S. imports more than $300 billion in Canadian goods each year.
Over the years, to enhance this relationship, we have taken many important steps to improve the flow of travelers and goods across our common border. In the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, we created a U.S. “passport card,” a secure but cheaper and more convenient alternative to the traditional passport.
We removed unnecessary double screening of luggage — a bipartisan bill I passed with Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri — and then expanded the number of preclearance airports. And we have agreed to build a new bridge connecting Windsor and Detroit, which is destined to become an important border crossing between our two countries.
Given the border we share, a strong relationship with Canada is essential for keeping our families safe and secure. Canada has been our ally in protecting our citizens and eliminating threats to our national security without losing sight of our core values. Trudeau has made it clear that he intends to step up Canada’s international presence.
Canadians work alongside Americans in standing up to Russia’s provocations in Ukraine. Canada has the world’s largest Ukrainian population outside of Ukraine and Russia. As a senator from Minnesota, a state with a large Ukrainian-American community, I understand how important it is that Canada works with us to stand up to Russian aggression in Ukraine.
And Canada is also our partner in the fight against terrorism. Tens of thousands of Canadian troops served in Afghanistan, and the nation continues to provide millions of dollars in developmental aid there. Additionally, Trudeau recently promised to increase the number of Canadian Special Forces trainers in Iraq to help defeat ISIS.
At the same time, as Syrians flee their war-torn nation, Canada has opened its doors. Trudeau himself welcomed a group of refugees at the Toronto airport just weeks after his election. In February, Canada met its goal of resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees, and the country has pledged to take in 10,000 more this year.
But war and extremism are not the only global threats our nations face. Working together, we can meet our shared goal to combat climate change. From harmonizing vehicle emissions standards to using our trading relationship to boost investment in clean energy, the actions the United States and Canada take together will help both nations meet international goals.
After I was sworn in as a U.S. senator in 2013, my friends and colleagues celebrated at the Canadian Embassy — just down the road from the U.S. Capitol. The Embassy was draped in banners that read, “friends, neighbors, partners, allies.”
Indeed, in strengthening our security, boosting our economy, and protecting our environment, Canada is our friend, neighbor, partner and ally.