Conférence des premiers ministres de l’Ouest 1999


DRUMHELLER, Alberta - May 21, 1999

Premiers and the Governor noted that since NAFTA, the economies of western Canada and the western United States have become increasingly interdependent. They agreed that, with yearly two-way trade between the two regions of over $35 billion, western provinces and states should work more closely to preserve and expand this relationship.

In the discussions with Governor Ed Schafer, who represented the Western Governors' Association at the meeting, it was noted that producers of primary products on both sides of the border are suffering from low commodity prices. Concern was shared about the policies and practices of third parties, such as the European Union, that are aggravating this already dire situation.

Premiers and Governor Schafer further agreed that, although some cross-border frictions are inevitable in a trading relationship of this magnitude and complexity, those who are closest to the issues can help to resolve them through better communication and mutual understanding, and through informal dispute settlement and avoidance.

To this end, the Premiers and the Governor together reviewed the recent recommendations of the National Governors' Association, as well as the standing resolution from the Western Governors' Association, on ways of working together to facilitate the cross-border trading relationship. In conclusion, Premiers proposed to work together, and with western Governors, in the following four ways:

  • to develop a formal institutional linkage between the Western Premiers' Conference and the Western Governors' Association, and to hold an annual discussion on Canada-U.S. relations at their annual general meetings on an alternating basis;
  • to work towards formalizing, or otherwise strengthening the government-to-government relationship of each western province and territory with at least their respective border states;
  • to encourage their Ministers with sectoral responsibilities, especially those responsible for trade and trade-related matters such as trade policy, agriculture; marine products, transportation, economic development, energy and the environment, to establish direct working relationships with their border-state and regional counterparts, circumpolar neighbours, and to encourage private sector exchanges in these areas; and,
  • to encourage more, and more frequent, legislative exchanges between western provinces/territories and states.

On behalf of the Western Premiers, Premier Klein will send a letter to the Chair of the Western Governors' Association, Governor Geringer, to transmit the Premiers' proposals to establish closer ties with the Western Governors. Several Premiers hope to attend the upcoming Western Governors' Association meeting in Wyoming in June for further discussions of these proposals with the Western Governors.