2006 Western Premiers’ Conference


GIMLI, May 31, 2006 – Canadian Premiers and Governors from Mexico and the United States of America, who see themselves as an integral part of the North American community, met to discuss the role of provinces/territories and states in North American relations, including the region’s future in an increasingly competitive global economy. Also present for the meeting were Her Excellency María Teresa García Segovia de Madero, Ambassador of Mexico to Canada; His Excellency David H. Wilkins, Ambassador of the United States of America to Canada; The Honourable Michael Wilson, Ambassador of Canada to the United States of America; and Mr. Gaëtan Lavertu, Ambassador of Canada to Mexico. In addition, a number of North American business leaders participated, including Carlos Bremer, Ron Covais, Gordon Giffin, Hartley Richardson.

This meeting builds on the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) being implemented by the federal governments of the three countries and the first Hemispheria conference of provincial, state and local governments, their business communities, and their civil societies, held in May 2005 in San Pedro Garza Garcia, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

As a result of their discussion Premiers and Governors agreed to the following joint statement:

Many aspects of the SPP (e.g., emergency management, energy, environment, transportation, agriculture, and regulations, among others) are the sole or shared responsibilities of provincial/ territorial/state governments. Therefore, provinces/ territories and states have an important role to play in the SPP and the future of the North American relationship.

Specifically, a significant role exists for provincial/territorial and state governments in establishing and maintaining the economic, social and environmental conditions and instruments for steady productivity growth in their respective regions.

Provincial/territorial and state governments are already actively working together on many levels – bilaterally and regionally – and through a variety of forums such as the Border Governors and regional grouping of the Western Premiers and Western Governors, the Council of Great Lake Governors and the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers. Their activities contribute to the strength and vitality of the North American relationship and add legitimacy and value to federal efforts.

Premiers and Governors look forward to Canada’s hosting of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver/Whistler, British Columbia. The Games provide a unique opportunity to celebrate the strength and vitality of the North American relationship.

Premiers and Governors recognized that ongoing cooperation and engagement at the provincial/ territorial and state level of all three countries is vital to achieving their common objectives of physical and human security and equitable prosperity throughout North America.

Today’s discussions focused on the following key priorities:

1. Strengthening the North American Trade Relationship

Premiers and Governors agreed that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been a great success. Canada, Mexico and the United States have the most dynamic trading relationship in the world. North America represents one-third of the world’s GDP, and a market of more than 435 million persons.

Since NAFTA took effect on January 1, 1994, three-way trade has reached about US $890 billion, well over double the pre-NAFTA level.  Each day, the three North American partners conduct about US$2.4 billion in trilateral trade.

Canadian exports to NAFTA partners increased by about 144% between 1993 and 2005, while United States’ exports to NAFTA partners increased by 119% over the same period. Mexico’s exports to the US and Canada grew by about 300% in this same period.

Over the same period, total direct investment by the three NAFTA countries in each other has also more than doubled in value, thereby further integrating the continental economy.

However, the world has changed dramatically since the North American Free Trade Agreement was first signed. Global commercial competition is becoming increasingly intense, and concerted efforts in all three countries are needed to ensure that North American companies remain competitive in the global economy. At the same time, the NAFTA can be a vehicle for opening up overseas international markets because it is the opportunity to access the entire North American market that attracts these countries to our continent.

Premiers and Governors called for action by all North American governments to strengthen and build upon NAFTA, for example by improving the dispute settlement mechanism to the benefit of all three countries. It is necessary to ensure that trade disputes are addressed in a timely, fair and definitive manner.

Provinces/territories and states, given their responsibilities, have a leading role to play in implementing public policies that support NAFTA’s objectives as well as continental competitiveness. Business leaders are important partners in achieving these objectives.

Premiers and Governors applauded the efforts of their respective federal leaders through the Security and Prosperity Partnership and noted that many of the objectives of the SPP fall to provinces/ territories/states to implement locally and regionally. They look forward to working with their federal governments in the next steps of implementing the SPP objectives.

2. Competitiveness and Innovation

 Innovation and research hold the key to North America’s economic future. Innovation fosters the new ideas, technologies, and processes that lead to better jobs, higher wages and a higher standard of living.

Premiers and Governors agreed to develop a strategy to create province/territory/state knowledge corridors. They recognized that, in an increasingly knowledge-based and globalizing economy, it is the generation, diffusion, and application of ideas that will create and sustain prosperity. They are committed to creating an innovation-driven North American labour force, focusing on broad improvements in science, engineering, math and technical skills.

Individual firms and entrepreneurs are at the centre of innovation. Universities, colleges, research hospitals and technical institutes play a key role in research. Premiers and Governors agreed that governments also play a role in creating an ‘innovation environment’ by encouraging partnerships and investments in R&D and commercialization. They agreed to share best practices in attracting venture capital, especially for emerging technologies and knowledge-based industries.

They also agreed that competing in a global economy requires reliable and sustainable world-class infrastructure. North American transportation systems – road, rail, air and water – are key to maintaining and expanding the benefits of an integrated North American market as well as seizing opportunities for NAFTA countries in the world’s emerging markets, like China and India. Increasingly, commerce is also dependent upon access to telecommunications that provide a gateway to these and other world markets.

Premiers and Governors agreed to share information on ways of attracting investments and applying innovative technologies to gateways and border and transportation infrastructure to support trade corridor development throughout North America.

3. North American Security

 Canada , Mexico and the United States are linked, not just by the largest commercial relationship in the world, but as importantly, by family ties and shared commitment to human security, social development and democratic values. These commonalities are what make assisting one another in times of need instinctive and automatic. Whatever the cause – be it hurricane, ice storm, forest fire or terrorist attack – Canadians, Mexicans and Americans help each other immediately and generously.

Premiers and Governors fully recognize that security is a prerequisite for trade and that transborder security must remain a priority for all governments. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) was discussed at length. Provinces, territories, and states have an important role to play in ensuring the security of foundational identity documents.

Premiers and Governors agreed that effective measures and new technologies are essential to maintaining border security as well as border access. Given the enormous flows of people and goods, care must be exercised to ensure that security measures do not unintentionally impede trade and the legitimate passage of people.

Premiers and Governors recognize that investment in stewardship of the Arctic contributes to the security of North America. The Arctic is emerging as North America’s newest and last frontier, as its communities grow and as exploration for resources surges. Premiers and Governors believe that a foundation for North American security is effective occupancy in the North by communities that are socially, economically and politically sustainable.

North America has also felt the economic impact of human and animal disease crises such as SARS and BSE. The threat of avian or pandemic influenzas poses additional challenges today and in the future. Furthermore, all three countries have significant, ongoing concerns about the illegal cross-border trade in drugs (e.g., methamphetamines) and firearms, organized crime, child abductions and/or other human trafficking, sex offenders, and other criminal activities. Premiers and Governors agreed to support and build on existing national and regional mechanism to address these concerns.

Premiers and Governors are pleased to see the three countries preparing for pandemics, and they look forward to working together on the development of emergency response and communications protocols on an urgent basis. They also agreed to develop appropriate regional pandemic containment policies.

Premiers and Governors noted that terrorism, natural disasters and threats to human health or the food supply do not respect borders and affect the entire North American continent. They strongly supported the need for continued and expanded cross-border cooperation in emergency management and response and for safe and secure borders.

Premiers and Governors noted that improvements in border, air and marine ports of entry infrastructure have not kept pace with the dramatic growth in cross-border and international traffic flowing to and from North American markets. This has resulted in congestion and lengthy delays at many ports of entry, which have in turn led to increased costs of doing business and to serious negative effects on the environment and quality of life in the port of entry regions.

4. Human and Environmental Resources

Prosperity depends on productivity and on sustained and balanced investments – both private and public – in physical, human, social and natural or environmental capital.

More than ever, investing in people – human capital – is vitally important to the success of an economy. Lifelong education and skills-development are fundamental to economic growth, and they are also keys to ensuring that all citizens have an equitable opportunity to share in prosperity. North America must, therefore, ensure that its education and skills development systems are the best in the world.

Premiers and Governors also agreed that North American prosperity requires environmentally sustainable economic development, whether at a local, national, regional or continental scale. Natural capital can be sustained and enhanced in many ways, not least through investing in innovative ‘green’ technologies and through cooperative regional management of those environmental challenges that are trans-border in scope. Premiers and Governors will continue their work together and initiate work with their federal leaders to promote environmental stewardship under the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

5. Energy Strategies

North America has significant energy resources, yet there are challenges in ensuring reliable and affordable access to secure energy sources. Energy development is critical to the North American economy. Environmental concerns require stronger efforts to conserve energy and utilize clean, renewable energy sources as well as existing resources.

In March 2006 in Cancun, Mexico, Canada’s Prime Minister and the Presidents of Mexico and the United States of America outlined priority ‘next steps’ for the development of a North American Energy Security Initiative:

  • Enhance the development of a diverse energy resource base in North America by increasing collaboration on research, development and commercialization of clean energy-related technologies, and
  • Strengthen the North American energy market by improving transparency and regulatory compatibility, promoting the development of resources and infrastructure, increasing cooperation on energy efficiency standards, and supporting other efforts aimed at addressing challenges on the demand side.

Premiers and Governors support these objectives and look forward to the opportunity for actively contributing a province/territory/state perspective on how those objectives can best be achieved.

Premiers and Governors recognized the significant level of cooperation amongst provinces, territories, and states that already exists in the energy sector. They will continue to cooperate on research and technology development for renewable and non-renewable energy sources.

 Next Steps

Premiers and Governors agreed that they have much in common with respect to their perspectives on strengthening the North American relationship. They agreed that it would be valuable to continue their open exchange and dialogue. They find that sharing ideas and best practices, hearing differing points of view, and discussing a range of options to address various issues, all add to their overall understanding and, ultimately, result in strengthened relationships. Governor Rounds of South Dakota, incoming Chair of the Western Governors’ Association, asked Premier Doer to report on outcomes of this meeting to the WGA Annual Meeting in Arizona in June 2006.

Secretary Williams from Texas invited the leaders to attend a meeting in 2007 in his state to continue discussions on the future of the North American relationship.




Premier Gary Doer (Chair)

Premier Dalton McGuinty

Premier Jean Charest

Premier Bernard Lord
New Brunswick

Premier Gordon Campbell
British Columbia

Premier Lorne Calvert

Premier Ralph Klein

Premier Joseph Handley
Northwest Territories

Premier Paul Okalik


Governor Juan Carlos Romero Hicks

Governor José Natividad González Parás
Nuevo León

United States:

Governor Bill Owens

Governor John Hoeven
North Dakota

Governor Mike Rounds
South Dakota

Secretary of State Roger Williams