McGuinty has Obama-Harper priorities wish list
Published Wednesday, February 18, 2009 4:45PM EST
TORONTO - Ontario wants Prime Minister Stephen Harper to use U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to press for Canada's share of auto sector jobs and to find out what the Americans hope to accomplish with a review of border security, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Wednesday.
Harper should make it clear to Obama that Canada is willing to do its share financially to maintain Canadian auto jobs, most of which are in Ontario, McGuinty said.
"I'm hoping that the prime minister will raise a few issues that speak to some of the concerns of Ontarians (and) one obviously has got to do with the auto sector," he said.
"It is a truly integrated industry, and our fates are truly intertwined when it comes to the future of the sector."
McGuinty also said "there is no greater trade linkage between any two countries on the Earth" than between Canada and the U.S., and he's concerned about Obama's call for a review of Canada-U.S. border security, though he could provide no specifics outside of new passport requirements.
"I don't know exactly what they're contemplating, but I want them to understand there are 221,000 jobs today in Michigan that are entirely dependent on trade with Ontario," he said.
It's a matter of "enlightened self-interest," and the United States has as much at stake as Canada in ensuring that the border allows for the safe passage of people and goods, McGuinty added.
"Our economies, particularly in the Great Lakes states, are highly integrated, and we've got to find a way to address both security concerns and trade concerns," he said.
"My concern right now is where do they plan to go next? Maybe they don't plan to go any place further, but we're going to keep a close eye on this."
Ontario's Liberal government plans to introduce a Green Energy Act that it hopes will create 50,000 jobs and help in the fight against climate change, and pushing Obama for a North American system to cap greenhouse gas emissions is another priority for McGuinty.
"We have a real interest in pursuing a continental cap and trade system, something that places a hard cap on emissions," he said.
"I think it's better for us to do that together rather than see the U.S. develop a policy entirely on their own."
However, McGuinty admitted he didn't ask Harper to raise any of those concerns with Obama when he met the prime minister in Toronto on Tuesday.
"I did not speak to that particular issue, but I know from my sources that that's the kind of thing that I expect will be part of the conversation."