The Columbus Statement

Dear Signatories to the Columbus Statement on U.S.-Canada Relations,

Listed below for your review and endorsement is the FINAL version of The Columbus Statement. This statement is being circulated to the initial S.A.G.E. stakeholders for endorsement, in addition to the broader U.S.-Canada/international community for review and support.

Note: By electronically signing and agreeing to have your electronic signature affixed to The Columbus Statement, you agree that this document will be for public disclosure, including, but not limited to, posting on websites and media releases.

We thank you for your consideration and support.

Columbus Statement on U.S.-Canadian Relations

November 4, 2016

On June 15, 16 and 17 2016 in Columbus, Ohio, stakeholders in the U.S.- Canadian relationship came together on the campus of The Ohio State University to confirm the fundamental principles and essential features of the historic partnership between our two great countries and to explore the parameters of a 21st century relationship.

We are raising our voices together in support of the efforts of the governments of the United States and Canada to strengthen and deepen the bilateral partnership. Improved border and regulatory cooperation, energy and environmental collaboration, and joint efforts in many other areas can facilitate the integration of our markets for goods, services and investment. This was the objective adopted with the ratification of the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement a generation ago.

Furthermore, we are raising our voices to declare our conviction that a good U.S.-Canada relationship cannot be taken for granted; it must be fostered and recommitted to by leaders in each era. And this work begins with us. Stakeholder voices have always been essential to building a consensus for action among leaders in both countries.

Principles for Managing the U.S.-Canadian Relationship

We approach U.S.-Canadian relations in the spirit of friendship because of the friendship between the people of the United States and Canada. This is why we have maintained good relations successfully since 1814, overcoming disagreements and disputes, natural disasters and global threats.

We acknowledge that interdependence is an abiding and defining feature of the U.S.-Canadian relationship, such that it is imprudent for us to be indifferent to one another when making policy decisions. Supply chains, data flows, transportation infrastructure linkages, pandemic disease vulnerability, and a shared environment cross borders and bind us together; managing these flows is a joint responsibility in the public interest.

We endorse the principle of partnership that has guided the leaders of the United States and Canada since the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to work together as sovereign equals despite asymmetries of population, wealth and other disparities.

We call on fellow stakeholders and leaders in both countries to respect the principle that disputes should be resolved wherever possible according to a rule of law process, rather than by political or coercive means. Trade dispute settlement mechanisms, domestic courts, institutional fora, and diplomacy should remain the accepted means for the resolution of any conflict.

We believe that a healthy relationship is characterized by the fundamental constitutional principles of our two governments: the management of U.S.-Canadian relations must preserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the spirit of peace, order and good governance of cross-border flows.

In the 21st century, we hold that the management of U.S.-Canadian relations should unleash the secure flows of goods, services, investment, ideas and people across our shared border consistent with mutual prosperity and security.

A Call for Action

The periodic convening of stakeholders has contributed to good relations between Canada and the United States. These meetings have generated policy alternatives and agendas for constructive engagement that would be impossible for political leaders and officials in Washington D.C. or Ottawa to generate alone, given the diffuse and decentralized nature of this relationship.

In Columbus, we met to establish a new coalition to develop common strategies, coordinate plans for advocacy on behalf of good U.S.-Canadian relations to governments, demonstrate support for the gateways both physical and virtual that connect the two countries and promote engagement by stakeholders in order to work to improve U.S.-Canadian relations as technologies and opportunities change and challenge both countries.

Several challenges confront governments in the United States and Canada. We urge leaders to work together to address them. These include:

Innovation is essential to economic growth, and to thriving in the manufacturing and energy sectors of both countries, but requires policy support. This is particularly true in the case of innovative energy solutions that support a healthy environment. A key component of an innovative economy is the legal protection of intellectual property for inventors in all sectors. Canada should address IP inadequacies in order to spur innovation.

Expanded labor mobility is required to match skilled people with employers, innovators with investors, and support the growing cross-border trade in services.

Regulatory alignment between the U.S. and Canadian markets are essential to business and current supply chains. The work of the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council has been valuable, and should be sustained, accelerated and expanded in a new effort to address alignment of voluntary standards.

Border security, Trade and Travel Facilitation Cooperation between U.S. and Canadian officials must continue to keep citizens safe and seek to reduce the compliance burden (whether measured in terms of time or monetary costs) and error rates in inspections and enforcement actions. Efforts to improve our border relationship are essential, and the Beyond the Border Initiative made important progress. Border cooperation should be reinvigorated with new and innovative solutions that have a commercially significant impact on our border relationship.

Subnational governments, including states, provinces and cities can and do contribute to problem solving and good governance in the U.S.-Canadian relationship and help to connect citizens to bilateral relations. Federal government leaders and stakeholders need to do more to empower and seek input from these governments to participate fully in discussions on local innovation, cross border infrastructure, regulatory alignment, worker education and training, public health, economic development, disaster preparedness and response, energy and environment policies, and security.

In the 21st century, leaders of the United States and Canada must increasingly conceive the bilateral relationship in a global context, and not in isolation. The place of Mexico in a North American partnership, and commercial linkages to markets in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America should be discussed bilaterally, and wherever possible acted upon in a coordinated manner.

U.S.-Canadian Relations from Columbus Forward

We will seek consensus among ourselves to promote specific actions to improve the relationship so that decision makers can work constructively to find lasting solutions with stakeholder support. In Columbus, we, as stakeholders, committed ourselves to dialogue and cooperation that will continue in the spirit of friendship and equal partnership, respecting the imperatives of interdependence and the rule of law in this relationship. Through dialogue, we hope that our efforts will foster new principles and agendas to sustain the U.S.-Canada relationship through the 21st century and beyond. While we recognize the importance of our political leaders and systems, our shared history reveals that the best policy and practical solutions arise from engagement with the stakeholder community. As the stakeholder community, we reaffirm our commitment to provide data, recommendations, and resources to demonstrate best practices, develop innovative solutions, and, ultimately, encourage the bilateral relationship.

Signed by:

Christopher Sands, Ph.D.
Center for Canadian Studies
Johns Hopkins University School of
Advanced International Studies (SAIS)


Total signatures: 4    Total companies: 4
First Name Last Name Company Title
Christopher Sands Johns Hopkins University Schoo Senior Research Professor
Dr. Jan Woznick Integrated Marketing Insights Managing Director
Rob Haggarty ITS President
Jeff Musson Dynamitenetwork.com President
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