The future of Canada-U.S. leadership on the roadmap of a renewed partnership

International and Francophonie
Jacques Frémont, David L. Cohen and Sanni Yaya
As Ottawa is getting prepared for President Joe Biden’s first visit in-person later this month, U.S. Ambassador David L. Cohen met with the university community to reiterate that Canada and the United States can only work together in friendship and collaboration. Cohen met with the university community to remind them that friendship and collaboration are the foundation of the Canada-U.S. leadership renewal in the face of the challenges of a changing world.

On Tuesday, March 7, Jacques Fremont, President of the University of Ottawa, and Sanni Yaya, Vice-President, International and Francophonie, hosted the Chief of the United States Diplomatic Mission, Ambassador David L. Cohen, as part of the uOInternational Dialogue and Insights series who presented "The U.S. – Canada Roadmap: Leading Together in a Changing World."

H. E. David L. Cohen said he was very pleased to visit the campus for the second time in his 18 months in office, especially since this Tuesday he had the opportunity to interact with the students, who, to him, represent the future. At the outset, he announced that his mission is essentially focused on rebuilding some of trust between Canada and the United States that has been lost. These two countries are not only friends, but also allies and partners, sharing the longest unprotected international border in the world, and must continue to work together on common issues.

Ambassador Cohen draws his inspiration from President Biden’s "Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership", which was brought forward upon his inauguration in February 2021, laying out a blueprint  for both countries’ prosperity in their efforts on climate change, defence and security cooperation, and fight for diversity, equity and justice. For Ambassador Cohen, achieving our common goals means overcoming our fears and doubts so that each country can find the motivation to act and succeed in their relation with one another. It is indeed with enthusiasm that H. E. David L. Cohen talked about his encounters in Canada, from the Cabinet, where he met with 80% of the members, down to the 20 cities and communities he visited, including field hockey rinks.

Quoting President Biden, Ambassador Cohen said the United States has no better ally than Canada. The two countries have supported each other in the fight against the pandemic, with the U.S. advancing more than a million doses of vaccine to Canada, and have also been committed to protecting small and medium-sized businesses, mostly run by women, to help them recover from the health crisis. And it is together, the two countries developed the "Champlain Hudson Power Express", a major agreement for clean and sustainable electricity production, through which Quebec will be able to supply the New York metropolitan area with electricity via underwater cable.

Following the presentation, the moderator, Professor Ferry de Kerckhove, a former diplomat himself, congratulated the American envoy for painting a comprehensive picture of cooperation between the two countries, believing that collaboration is the way forward. Professor de Kerckhove then moderated the question-and-answer session, which focused on issues such as migration, the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, and the fight against polarization in our societies. The ambassador made a point of conveying a message to the students that he considers to be of the utmost importance: in order to move forward, we must meet each other, because it is through active listening that disputes are resolved and that collaboration becomes possible.

"The United States and Canada share not only a common border, but also a beautiful relationship of friendship and partnership that dates back more than 150 years. Our two countries are also committed to a shared responsibility for the advancement of education and research. We believe that with the support of the U.S. Embassy, the University of Ottawa will have the opportunity to increase its partnerships and collaborations with U.S. universities", said Sanni Yaya, vice-president, International and Francophonie.

Jacques Frémont, President of the University of Ottawa, noted that Ambassador Cohen plays a vital role in the trading relationship between Canada and the United States, which share the world’s longest undefended border, nearly 9,000 km long. As allies and defence partners on land, at sea and in the air, the trade relationship between the two countries is world-leading thanks in part to the Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement.

The event concluded with a reception during which H. E. David L. Cohen met one-on-one with several of the attendees, including other ambassadors and diplomats as well as members of the University of Ottawa’s senior administration, staff and student community.