On December 13, 2010, the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, hosted the North American Foreign Ministers Meeting in Wakefield, Quebec. This meeting provided a key forum to promote trilateral priorities and discuss regional and global issues. Previous North American foreign ministers meetings were held in Montebello, Quebec, in August 2007, and Washington, D.C., in July 2009.
This year’s meeting focused on issues of common interest such as continental and regional security, health security, the environment and clean energy, the North American economy and competitiveness, and other pressing global foreign-policy issues.
Canada and the United States share one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world, fostered through multilateral forums and rooted in common values, history and interests. The United States and Canada also represent each other’s single-largest market for merchandise exports, with roughly $1.6-billion worth of goods and services crossing the Canada-U.S. border every day. A mutually supportive political and trade partnership parallels excellent relations between Minister Cannon and Secretary Clinton.
The Canada-Mexico relationship is broad and multi-faceted, with long-standing cooperation in many areas, including security, governance, health, mobility, environment, energy, trade and investment. Canada and Mexico are close friends and neighbours, as well as strategic partners on North American, hemispheric and global issues. Canada and Mexico are also among each other’s largest trading partners. Mexico’s demographic and economic future points toward even greater commercial growth. Minister Cannon continues to pursue excellent relations with Secretary Espinosa.
Canada, Mexico and the United States have a long history of trilateral cooperation, sharing democratic values, geography and an environment in which security and economic interests intersect. Many of the challenges facing the continent require North American solutions that respect sovereign differences while taking into account hemispheric interdependence. In this respect, the North American Foreign Ministers Meeting is a valuable opportunity to focus on priority issues unique to North America and to set the course for further cooperation.
Continental and regional security
Cooperation built on the principles of shared responsibility, the strengthening of national institutions and respect for national legal frameworks is essential to ensuring continental security and promoting hemispheric stability. This meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss ways to enhance security and stability, combat transnational crime and drug trafficking organizations, and coordinate a trilateral approach to promote democratic governance in the continent and in the entire region.
North America’s coordinated and transparent response to the H1N1 influenza epidemic was a solid example of a cooperative, proactive approach across the three countries to mitigate a common threat. A review of the successful trilateral health cooperation to take advantage of the many lessons learned from the response to H1N1 could serve as a springboard to promote further cooperation on broader health security issues.
Environment, climate change and energy
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of the times, and it requires ambitious and coordinated efforts by all nations. The foreign ministers will discuss efforts to combat climate change in the wake of the 16th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Mexico from November 29 to December 10, 2010.
North American economy and competitiveness
Promoting sustained economic recovery and job creation remains a priority for North America. To enhance trilateral efforts, foreign ministers will focus on identifying and pursuing new areas of cooperation to reinforce economic stability in the region.
North American cooperation is rooted in shared values, complementary strengths and the dynamism of its peoples. The collaboration is predicated on the understanding that deepening ties are a source of strength and that challenges and opportunities in one North American country can and do affect each country under NAFTA. By working together, Canada, the United States and Mexico can ensure that North America thrives in the challenging, competitive and promising century ahead.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada
Lawrence Cannon was sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs on October 30, 2008.
A graduate of the University of Montreal, he holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Laval University. He was first elected to the House of Commons in 2006 and re-elected in 2008. He previously served as Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
Between 2001 and 2005, Mr. Cannon served as a city councillor in Gatineau. He was appointed President of the Société de transport de l'Outaouais in 2002 and, in 2004, President of the Association du transport urbain du Québec. He was a member of Quebec's National Assembly from 1985 to 1994 and held the posts of Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Minister of Communications. Before entering municipal politics, he was a consultant in the private sector.
Secretary of State, United States of America
Hillary Rodham Clinton was sworn in as Secretary of State in January 2009.
A graduate of Yale Law School, Secretary Clinton both taught and practised law in the state of Arkansas. She is married to former President Bill Clinton, and served as both First Lady of the State of Arkansas and First Lady of the United States of America.
Secretary Clinton was elected Senator for New York in 2000 and served for eight years in the Senate before becoming US Secretary of State. She is the author of Living History and It Takes a Village.
Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mexico
Patricia Espinosa was appointed Secretary of Foreign Affairs on December 1st, 2006.
Mrs. Espinosa graduated in International Relations from El Colegio de México, and continued her postgraduate studies in International Law at the Institute for High International Studies in Geneva.
She has been a member of the Mexican Foreign Service since 1981, and was promoted to Ambassador in 2000. Her career has included extensive multilateral and summit experience.
From June 2002 until November 2006, she served as Ambassador to Austria, Slovenia and Slovakia and as Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna, and from 2001 through 2002, as Ambassador to Germany.