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Canadian counsel-general talks trade, immigration, Great Lakes

U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Canada

The United States and Canada have nearly 4,000 miles of border, spanning from the Atlantic to Pacific oceans.  And Canada's consul-general believes the two longtime friendly nations can work out the trade and immigration issues fueling the current spat between the nations' leaders.

Although based in Manhattan, Phyllis Yaffe knows Western New York well, as someone who worked her way up from a college librarian with roots in Winnipeg to a Toronto media mogul before joining the Canadian government. Canada's former major base in Buffalo went away in 2012, leaving only a small office.

The consul-general comes to meet with people and express Canada's viewpoint, important now because U.S. President Donald Trump has attacked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and attacked long-term economic deals between the two countries.

Yaffe said Canada looks at immigration very differently from Washington and expects 330,000 immigrants this year.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Canadian Consul-General Phyllis Yaffe

"We also believe in the rule of law. So if you want to come to Canada, you have to follow the rules." Yaffe said, "and when we welcome refugees from around the world, as we did from Syria, we worked very closely with the United States to make sure that we checked both the Canadian records and the American records to make sure that the people coming into our country are going to follow our rules and live in our country as law-abiding citizens."

Yaffe sids Americans have to realize how tied together economically the two countries are, citing cars made with parts that bounce back and forth across the border.

"We are actually in business together and if we keep the borders thin and we keep tariffs low, we will both prosper and that's the goal," she said. "Do I think it will happen? I do. I do think we will find a solution to a lot of the issues we're facing today, particularly, I hope, that we will resolve our NAFTA differences and reinstate the treaty."

Dairy cows are also a major area of dispute, but the consul-general said the United States sells far more dairy products to Canada than Canada sells to the United States. Yaffe said there really needs to be a deal on continuing care for the Great Lakes.

"We need to maintain those lakes, for commerce, for travel, for security and for climate change," Yaffe said. "We need to be working on those issues together. When you have a lake in common, it really is no border. I know we have a border. I know there is a spot where you transfer from one country to another, but the fish underwater don't know that."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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