The increasing internalization of Minnesota is reflected by the presence of foreign consulates (and honorary consulates) in Minnesota. Canada has such a diplomatic presence in Minnesota. It is a position of great importance within the Canadian diplomatic corps. The Canadian Prime Minister ultimately selects the Consul General for the Minneapolis office which serves Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
For well over 100 years, the United States and Canada have been strongly allied. In 1970, Canada expanded its diplomatic network in the United States and opened the Minneapolis Consulate. Four decades later, the Consulate General of Canada in the Twin Cities continues to strengthen the bonds between Minnesota and Canada.
I have had the pleasure of working with Consul General Martin Loken over the past few years and he is truly a wonderful steward for Canadian-Minnesota relations. He shared with me a few highlights of Canadian-Minnesota ties over the last 40 years as he completed his posting as Consul General in Minneapolis:
· In 1972, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement was signed committing Canada and the U.S. to control pollution in the Great Lakes. In 2009, the two countries agreed to further update the successful agreement;
· In 1979, Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S., Peter Towe, became the first foreign diplomat to address a joint session of the Minnesota Legislature;
· In 1984, the Minnesota National Guard and the Canadian Armed Forces conducted joint training drills, one of many examples of close Canada-U.S. cooperation in the defense of North America;
· In 1986, the 50th anniversary of the first supply of electrical power from Manitoba to Minnesota. To this day, Manitoba Hydro continues to be a reliable partner for Minnesota’s energy needs, supplying the state with clean and renewable energy;
· In 1993, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Minnesota topped $5 billion for the first time. Ten years later, trade surpassed $10 billion, and in 2008 it topped $20 billion;
· In 1999, the Minnesota Twins picked British Columbia native Justin Morneau in the amateur draft. Morneau was named MVP of the American League in 2006; and
· 2009 marked the 100th anniversary of the Canada-U.S. Boundary Waters Treaty, which was the world’s first international environmental agreement. Through the treaty, the U.S. and Canada protect 134 rivers and lakes that run along or across the border.
Beyond economic ties – the U.S. and Canada share the world’s longest undefended border – the U.S. and Canada have closely aligned foreign policies. Like the United States, Canada is a great friend of Israel. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said, “Under our government, Canada will remain an unyielding defender of Jewish religious freedom, a forceful opponent of anti-Semitism in all of its forms and a staunch supporter of a secure and democratic state of Israel.” Just last week, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird announced the closing of Canada’s embassy in Tehran calling Iran “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today.”
Please view my interview (video 1 and video 2) with Consul General Loken that I conducted with him this past July.