2000 Western Premiers’ Conference


Western Premiers and two Western Governors who are members of the Western Governors' Association met today at the International Peace Garden to discuss ways of working together to preserve and expand the cross-border relationship that exists between Western Canada and the Western United States.

Premiers who attended the meeting were: Gary Doer of Manitoba, the host and Chair of the meeting; Roy Romanow of Saskatchewan; Ralph Klein of Alberta; Ujjal Dosanjh of British Columbia; Pat Duncan of Yukon; Stephen Kakfwi of Northwest Territories; and, Paul Okalik of Nunavut.

In attendance were Governor Edward T. Schafer of North Dakota and Governor Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho, members of the Western Governors' Association.

Also in attendance at the meeting were Mr. Raymond Chrétien, Canadian Ambassador to the United States of America - Washington, His Excellency Gordon D. Giffin, Ambassador of the United States of America to Canada, and Mr. James Souby, Executive Director of the Western Governors' Association.


Western Premiers and the Western Governors' Association unanimously endorsed a framework establishing an ongoing cooperative relationship between western provinces/territories and states. The agreement commits western Premiers and Governors to meet annually to discuss regional issues of mutual interest, identify and develop opportunities for cooperation, and foster closer relations between western states and provinces/territories. Premiers and Governors noted that face to face meetings are key to building relationships and expressed their hope that this regular contact will help to resolve disagreements that occasionally arise in the otherwise positive and mutually beneficial relations enjoyed by western provinces/territories and states. They agreed to work with existing transboundary cooperation bodies in various sectors to promote mutually advantageous polices at the highest level.

Ambassadors Chrétien and Giffin indicated their support for the formalization of the cooperative relationship between western provinces/territories and states and encouraged the continuation of joint efforts to support the trading relationship between western Canada and the western United States.

Under this new framework, Premiers and Governors had substantive discussions on border issues, trade, justice and crime prevention issues and requested that they receive status reports on progress made on these matters for their next meeting, scheduled for August 11-14, 2001, in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, in conjunction with the annual Western Governors' Association meeting. Subsequent meetings will alternate between the annual meetings of Western Premiers and those of the Western Governors' Association.


Premiers and Governors affirmed the need for open borders between Canada and the United States. The relationships between Western Canadian provinces/territories and Western U.S. states are vitally important and Premiers and Governors were encouraged by the greater information exchanges and collaborative efforts among Canadian and U.S. governments to facilitate the free-flow of goods and services across the border. Premiers and Governors recognized the value of presenting common positions to their respective federal administrations related to the elimination of border restrictions and structural impediments that undercut efforts to expand trade and travel.

Premiers and Governors noted that the development of coalitions between western provinces/territories and states has been a successful approach in the past, as evidenced by the joint efforts of several Western provinces and states to postpone the implementation of Section 110 of the U.S. Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act that would have restricted the free-flow of trade and people across the border. They also acknowledged and thanked the two Ambassadors for their work to amend Section 110.

Premiers and Governors were pleased to note the recent introduction of a new bill in the U.S. Congress, entitled the Immigration and Naturalization Service Data Management Improvement Act of 2000, which amends Section 110 and retains the close and friendly relationship that has existed between Canada and the United States in cross-border trade and tourism activities. They agreed to retain their coalition of support to ensure that this bill is proclaimed into law and to build on the momentum generated through their efforts to seek other areas of cross-border collaboration.


Premiers and Governors agreed on the importance of trade and investment flows between western Canada and the western United States, as well as between western North America and the rest of the world. Currently, annual two-way trade of goods between Western Canada and the Western United States totals about $40 billion ($Cdn) or $26 billion ($US). They reaffirmed their commitments to the 1999 resolutions by Western Premiers and the Western Governors' Association to work closer together to address trade irritants and to identify opportunities for further joint action.

On bilateral agricultural trade, Premiers and Governors strongly supported the collaborative work of WPC and WGA members over the past year. They underlined the importance of continuing to promote the exchange of factual information and the informal resolution of disputes through such means as face-to-face meetings between provincial/territorial and state governments, between their governments, producers and key stakeholders on both sides of the border, and with their respective federal agencies responsible for agricultural trade.

Premiers and Governors identified the Provinces/States Advisory Group on the Canada-U.S. Record of Understanding on Agricultural Trade Issues and the Trinational Agricultural Accord - that includes Mexico - as particularly important forums for working together to identify and resolve cross-border trade concerns in this sector. They applauded the success achieved so far within the agricultural sector in improving communication and mutual understanding to minimize protest actions such as border blockades. Premiers asked their Ministers and Governors asked their designated agricultural representatives to meet together in the coming year to identify outstanding trade concerns, to develop a common action plan and to report progress to the next meeting of Premiers and Governors in Idaho in 2001.

Regarding on-going international trade negotiations in agriculture, Premiers and Governors noted that western regional objectives in the World Trade Organization appear to be similar in many respects, especially regarding trade-distorting internal support, export subsidies and tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade. They stated that a concerted western 'voice' in Ottawa and Washington on international trade negotiations in agriculture would be desirable and encouraged their respective Cabinet members responsible for those negotiations to work together to that end.

Premiers and Governors also discussed bilateral trade corridor initiatives within the context of NAFTA. They noted the rapid growth in cross-border commercial traffic and stressed the importance of continued regional collaboration to facilitate cross-border trade. Governors and Premiers noted that the U.S. Transportation Efficiency Act (TEA-21) provides significant federal funding for infrastructure and trade corridor development. Premiers and Governors agreed to call on their respective federal governments to work closely with them to ensure that the significant and sufficient strategic investments in transportation infrastructure and the required regulatory and border-facilitation measures to support western trade corridor development are in place. They also requested their Ministers and Directors responsible for transportation to identify common interests, to share information on planned infrastructure developments and to report progress at their next meeting.

Premiers and Governors agreed, given the importance of cross-border trade to the western regional economy, that other cross-border market development initiatives such as trade missions and joint work in trade corridor business associations and sectoral marketing organizations are important and should be encouraged.


Premiers and Governors noted that criminal activities often are not confined within state, provincial/territorial, and national boundaries. They recognized the complex challenges posed by transnational crime and agreed that a comprehensive, collaborative approach was required to prevent crime and to facilitate enforcement and prosecution across borders.

Premiers and Governors recognized the need to collaborate with federal counterparts and other agencies to implement effectively a program of crime prevention. Premiers and Governors agreed to explore cross-border opportunities for information sharing regarding crime prevention and law enforcement practices. Premiers and Governors also committed to fostering safe communities through their respective provincial/territorial and state initiatives, including specific support for youth programs, as a means to prevent crime.

Premiers and Governors agreed that some aspects of transnational criminal activities can be addressed through actions at the provincial/territorial and state level. They supported efforts to complete the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime by the end of 2000. In addition, Premiers and Governors agreed to explore possible joint initiatives to increase public awareness and professional law enforcement expertise as well as coordinate cross-border law enforcement efforts.


Premiers and Governors agreed to work together to identify agenda items for their next meeting, which may include discussions on the environment, climate change, tourism, transportation, energy and advanced education and training.


Following the formal meeting of Western Premiers and the Western Governors' Association, Premier Doer of Manitoba and Governor Schafer of North Dakota unveiled a commemorative plaque to rededicate the Charter of the International Peace Garden which exemplifies the principles of lasting friendship and cooperation between Canada and the United States of America.


To establish a formalized linkage between the members of the Western Premiers' Conference and the Western Governors' Association.

Annual Meetings

  • Premiers and Governors will meet annually, alternating between the annual spring meeting of the Western Premiers' Conference (WPC) and the annual summer meeting of the Western Governors' Association (WGA).    


  • Annual meetings will set aside time necessary for discussions and possible plenary session on a Canada/US transboundary agenda , including:
    • Current issues affecting the West
    • Current and proposed cooperative projects
    • Reports from sectoral bodies
    • Exploration of informal avenues for avoiding disputes in specific sectors

WGA/WPC Working Group

  • A WGA/WPC Working Group will be comprised of representatives of the Western Governors' Association, officials from interested member states, and intergovernmental affairs officials from interested Western Canadian provinces and territories.    


  • The WGA/WPC Working Group will be coordinated as follows:
    • WGA and state officials - the Western Governors' Association office in Denver
    • provincial/territorial intergovernmental affairs officials - the Western Premiers' Conference Chair jurisdiction.


  • The Working Group will meet regularly, in person or by teleconference, t    
    • develop an agenda that will be jointly recommended to Premiers and Governors for their annual meeting.
    • identify opportunities for cooperation
    • coordinate action plans.

Coordination with Existing Sectoral Bodies

  • Governors and Premiers may call upon their respective Directors/ Commissioners and Ministers who are members of various sectoral bodies to provide reports or undertake certain tasks.    


  • This will include Western U.S. and Transboundary bodies such as: Western Interstate Energy Board (WIEB); North American States/Provinces Agricultural Accord; Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER); Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture (WASDA); and Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO).    


    - 30 -