The Canada Institute hosted their semi-annual advisory board meeting on June 6, 2016. Executive Vice President of the Wilson Center Andrew Selee, Director of the Canada Institute Laura Dawson, and advisory board co-chairs Hugh MacKinnon, Gary Doer, and David Jacobson welcomed advisory board members and friends of the Canada Institute for an afternoon to discuss highlights of the past year, the current state of Canada-U.S relations, and research initiatives moving forward.

A highlighted summary of the afternoon’s events is provided below.

A Year in Review

To kick off the afternoon, Laura Dawson and Andrew Selee welcomed the advisory board and Canada Institute friends and shared program successes of 2015-2016. Program highlights included the Canada-US Health Summit 2015, the Softwood, Hard Choices: The 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement event, and the Canada Institute Woodrow Wilson Awards Dinner held in May of this year in Calgary, Alberta.

The Canada - U.S. Relationship Today and in the Future

Ambassador David MacNaughton briefed the board on the current state of play of Canada-U.S. relations highlighting the bilateral relationship as one of friendship and of great economic importance to both countries. Ambassador MacNaughton also provided insight into the Canada-US relationship moving forward and assured that regardless of who is the next US president, it is ultimately within the U.S.’s best interests to preserve a strong relationship with Canada. To conclude, Ambassador MacNaughton took questions from the board ranging from trade deals to climate change including specific questions on the state of the Softwood Lumber negotiations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and joint commitments on climate change and energy.

Climate Change and Energy on the Radar

Canada Institute Global Fellow Jim Prentice guided discussion on the future of climate change and energy research at the Canada Institute. After providing an overview of his forthcoming book on Canada, energy, and the environment, the board engaged in a conversation surrounding North American climate change and energy with topics ranging from harmonization of energy and environmental standards, including discussion of a North American carbon standard and energy infrastructure alignment. Eurasia Group's Robert Johnston also spoke with the board about Canada's energy sector, and gave promising insights for future growth and stability of the industry despite recent events. 

The U.S. Presidential and Congressional Election

With the advisory board meeting held only a day prior to the Democratic primary in California, Andy Lewin and Randall Gerrard of the Podesta Group joined us for the afternoon to share projections on Electoral College votes for presumptive Democratic nominee Secretary Hillary Clinton and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. From insights on swing states to the potential game changing effects of third party candidate Gary Johnston, lively ‘what if’ scenarios were discussed amongst participants and how national politics may affect the Canada-U.S relationship.

North American Partnership

The advisory board meeting concluded with a joint reception and dinner between the Wilson Center’s Canada and Mexico Institutes. The keynote speaker of the evening, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemispheric Affairs Mari Carmen Aponte discussed the importance of the trilateral relationship in advance of the Three Amigos meeting in June. The dinner also provided a time for members of both advisory boards to build connections and learn more about the close cooperation between the two institutes in trilateral cooperation.