Jones visits Canada on NY-Canada Relations Task Force trip

Assemblyman Billy Jones traveled to Ottawa and Montreal last month for the New York-Canada Relations Task Force for a tour organized by the Office of the Consul-General of Canada.

Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake, is the chairperson of the task force, which was formed by the New York state Assembly last year. Other members of the task force joined him for the tour including assemblymembers Stacey Pheffer Amato, Marianne Buttenschon, Simcha Eichenstein and Scott Gray.

In Ottawa, the group met Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs David Morrison from Global Affairs Canada, Canada’s equivalent agency to the U.S. State Department, where they discussed immigration policy and staffing at the border.

The following morning, the task force started their day with a meeting with leaders at the Business Council of Canada including Jack Hughes, senior vice president of planning and operations; Robert Asselin, senior vice president of policy, and John Dickerman, vice president of U.S. relations, to discuss the business relationship between the U.S. and Canada. In the afternoon, the assemblymembers met with leadership from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to continue the conversation about the importance of the trade relationship between the two countries.

The task force also held meetings with the Parliament’s Standing Committee on International Trade as well as the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group to discuss the trade relationship between United States and Canada. During the meeting with the Canada-U.S. Parliamentary Group, the assemblymembers discussed strengthening the relationship between the New York state Legislature and Parliament, and to continue this conversation in the future by creating an action sheet.

The task force continued their tour in Montreal to learn more about the city and Quebec. The assemblymembers had introductory meetings with Assistant Deputy Minister for Relations with the Americas, Economic Affairs and Strategic Intelligence Eric Dequenne, as well as Quebec Delegate General in New York Martine Hebert, before they started a full day of meetings. In the morning, Jones and his colleagues learned more about economic development in Montreal and the rising of the tech industry in the city during a discussion with leaders from Montreal International. After that meeting, the task force met with leadership from CDPQ Global, an investment and pension agency, where they learned about the investments they have made in United States infrastructure, as well as their work in sustainability.

In the afternoon, Jones and his colleagues met with members and leaders from the Federation des chambres de commerce du Quebec to continue the dialogue about the business relationship between the U.S. and Canada. FCCQ represents more than 130 chambers of commerce across the province and 1,100 corporate members, with many of them doing business with the U.S. The Task Force ended their tour with a meeting with representatives from the United States Observatory at the Chaire Raoul-Dandurand en etudes strategiques et diplomatiques at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, where they discussed their research in American politics and the observatory’s goal to gain a better understanding of the relationship between the U.S. and Canada.

“While the North Country understands the importance of our relationship with Canada, this friendship is often taken for granted by the rest of New York,” Jones said in a statement. “That is why I asked the speaker of the Assembly to create the New York-Canada Relations Task Force so that my colleagues can better understand this critical relationship. It was a whirlwind tour, but in a good way — my colleagues and I absorbed so much knowledge about the trade and business relationship between the two nations, immigration and border policy, and Canada’s mining industry that we will bring back to Albany.”

“I want to thank the General Consul of Canada for organizing this tour and for the hospitality of everyone in Ottawa and Montreal,” Jones added. “This is just the beginning of the task force’s work to strengthen the mutually beneficial relationship between New York and Canada and I look forward to continuing this dialogue in the future.”

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