April 12, 2013 | By CGLR |
The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region is home to one of the most vibrant and diverse regional economies of the world. It is a central engine of the North American economy, representing 27.5 per cent of the combined Canada-US GDP, a quarter of Canada’s agricultural capacity, and a significant share of North American manufacturing (half of Canada’s, one fifth of the United States’).
The 105 million residents of the region may be spread over eight states, two provinces and over a hundred First Nations and Native American groups, but they share a significant common interest. Our economy is highly integrated, representing $232 billion of Canada-US trade annually. We share a common stewardship of the world’s greatest fresh water resource, an ecosystem containing approximately 20 per cent of the world’s fresh water stores.
Many existing cross-border collaborations are highly successful, but no one existing organization speaks for the region’s interrelated long-term economic and ecological interests. Deeper collaboration will help the region meet its shared challenges and take advantage of its shared opportunities.
On April 12, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio, a coalition of economic, environmental, community and government leaders proudly announced the launch of a new regional organization, the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR). The charter members of the organization share a vision of a Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region that capitalizes on its economic strengths, stewards its environmental commons, and promotes the region’s interests.
The organization has been spearheaded by the Canada-U.S. Law Institute at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto, and its launch was co-chaired by the Hon. James Blanchard, former Governor of Michigan and former U.S. Ambassador to Canada, and the Hon. James Peterson, former Canadian Minister of International Trade. Many of the region’s leading private sector, public sector and not-for-profit organizations have participated in shaping the new organization.
CGLR was pleased that Canada’s Ambassador to the United States, Gary Doer, and the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, offered their support to the new organization, considering it to be in the long-term interests of the people on both sides of the border.
The new organization will be comprised of the region’s stakeholders. It will build on the efforts of the existing regional organizations and initiatives and will bring a committed and integrated focus to the future of the region. CGLR will act as a nexus for regional cooperation and lead initiatives that advance the interests of the region and support the work of existing organizations.
CGLR welcomes the decision by Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan and Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois, co-chairs of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, to convene the upcoming summit of Governors and Premiers in Mackinac Island, Michigan, at the end of May. Over the past 30 years, the Governors and Premiers have worked together on a variety of initiatives to protect the region’s water resources and foster economic development. The regular meeting of the region’s elected leaders is an essential component of mature regional collaboration.
CGLR encourages elected officials and public servants in the region from the federal, provincial, state, First Nations, Tribal, and municipal governments to find opportunities to meet, discuss our shared interests, and collaborate where possible.
Some of the first issues CGLR will focus on include economic integration, infrastructure renewal, labour mobility, tourism, shared energy resources and border security. An early project to examine the regional economic impact of declining water levels will be initiated shortly.
CGLR looks forward to a next general meeting in Milwaukee in September 2013 as part of Great Lakes Week.