From the very beginnings of this COVID-19 crisis and shutdown, one thing we have done at the Chamber is maintain our active relationship with our Partners to the north, including the Quebec Government, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, the FCCQ (Federation of Quebec Chambers) and others. Even as many meetings, missions and events were cancelled or postponed, we knew contact and sharing must continue. Indeed, outreach had become even more important than usual.

A recent conversation with Nadine Girault, Quebec’s Minister for International Relations, confirmed a common theme of our cross border dialogue — that sustaining and maximizing the Quebec-New York economic dynamic is an indispensible and primary part of our shared pathway forward to renewed prosperity and growth.

A virtual strategic roundtable we co-hosted the next day with our partners at the FCCQ brought together twelve diverse business leaders from both Quebec and the North Country, Quebec Delegate General Catherine Loubier, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, and Assemblyman Billy Jones. It spotlighted a number of opportunities for collaboration including reshoring manufacturing but on a shared bi-national platform; continuing to focus attention on transportation equipment with emphasis on electrification; opportunities for tele-working, including cross border; the need for further bi-national harmonization in regulations and standards related to logistics and shipping; and life science opportunities, particularly in relation to reshoring.

Shortly thereafter, we joined with 26 other partners in the U.S. and Canada in releasing a joint statement regarding the importance of the U.S.-Canada economic partnership in safely addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and securing shared economic growth. The group also launched “North American Rebound”, featuring a website through which other organizations, governments and businesses can join in the message:

The core theme being stated strongly and together is clear and compelling. The U.S. and Canada have a truly unique economic relationship that has moved well beyond trade and is unlike any other. Together, we compete with greater effectiveness against the rest of the world. But in the past, this special relationship has often found itself wrongly swept into responses by the U.S. to unfair trade or economic challenges coming from other places. As we recover from this pandemic and reclaim economic growth, it is crucial this not happen and that we instead move forward together.

Our tourism and visitation strategies have also been recreated for the remainder of 2020, going into 2021, positioning us for renewed Canadian travel when border conditions and a willingness to travel return.

Our vital north-south connections have not only been maintained in our Quebec-New York region, but are energized and ready for new collaborations in the months ahead. Our pathway forward remains on a strong north-south axis and we will not miss any opportunities to defend, sustain and build our Canadian connections.

Garry Douglas is president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce.