LAYTON — Most Americans have no idea how vast the bond between the U.S. and Canada is.
“Trade is huge!” said Jewel Lee Kenley, speaking to the Layton Rotary Club last week. “Canada is the largest trading partner for the U.S. People don’t realize it’s tremendous.”
Some 80 percent of Canadian exports flow to the U.S., she said.
Trade could be expanded if such projects as new Detroit-Windsor, Ontario bridge were completed, Kenley said. Canada has agreed to foot the bill for all but the U.S. customs plaza, which is on American soil. However, funding for that has been stalled by the U.S.
“That has been a real sticking point. Even though this administration agreed to pay for it, it has been delaying on it,” Kenley said. The latest U.S. proposal was to ask private Canadian donors to pay for it.
“That’s upsetting to the people of Michigan and to their legislators,” she said. “They feel like the U.S. should pay for their own plaza on the U.S. side. Canada sees this as stifling trade, which benefits both sides.”
Kenley owns Ed Kenley Ford but spoke in her capacity as the Utah representative of DOCA, which is the Defense Orientation Converence Association.
Membership inludes educators, businessmen and filmakers where participants pay all of their expenses. They visit U.S. military-related sites around the nation and the globe. The group’s goal is to return home and disseminate information.
The tension and uncertainty in Ukraine is a big concern for Canada, Kenley said.
“Over one million people living in Canada are from the Ukraine,” she said. That’s nearly 3 percent of the nation’s population. “It’s their third largest ethnic group. The Ukranians are really upset by this move by (prime mnister) Putin. They just want the U.S. to take leadership on how the West feels.”
Canada was tghe first nation to implement sanctions. Both the U.S. and Canada are members of NATO, which is supposed to provide protection and support in Europe, Kenley said.
America’s northern neighbors also get worried about terrorism that could impact the hydroelectric power supply which Canada supplies to the Northeastern U.S., she said.
“If terrorists decide tdo attack those sites the U.S. would be directly affected,” the Layton businesswoman said.
Just as military cuts are being considered in the U.S., the Canadian governmenthas looked at that as it strives to balance its budget – something that nation has done in the recent past.
“They’re rethinking it now that they’re looking at what’s happening in the Ukraine,” Kenley said. “They might need to deploy ground forces, might need to keep retraining.”
In addition, the Canadian military is looking seriously at procuring F-35s to aid in that potential need, she said.
“They try to remind us they are our best partner militarily and economically, Kenley told the group gathered at The Castle in Layton.
“Even though they’re smaller, not a frontline player, they want to pay their way, play their part,” he said of Canada. “They remind us that their soliders lay side by side with ours all over the world (in military graves).”