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Home > About BNE > Press Room > 2011 Archive > April > BiNational Seeks to Improve Relations

BiNational Seeks to Improve Relations

 Business First - by James Fink

Friday, March 11, 2011
  The warm relations between the United States and Canada should be expanded to the economic benefit of both countries, officials said as they kicked off the 2011 BiNational Dialogue session.

The two-day session, put together by the BiNational Tourism Alliance and other agencies on both sides of the Niagara River, brought together national and regional tourism, hospitality, political and business leaders from the two countries.

The sessions, which began Thursday evening and continue all day Friday, are focusing on a myriad of ways to aid both the Niagara Region in Southern Ontario and the Buffalo Niagara region through cultural, sports and economic development-based initiatives.

“Now is the time to take advantage of our relationships,” said Kevin Johnson, U.S. Consul General for the Province of Ontario.

Despite weakened economic conditions and border-crossing issues, Johnson said U.S. exports to Canada rose 21 percent in the past year and Canadian exports to the U.S. increased 22 percent. The bulk of those exports crossed either the Peace Bridge or Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.

While leaders understand the importance of U.S.-Canadian relations, the same can’t be said for many Americans who take the relationship for granted, Johnson said.

“Our leaders get it,” he said. “Now, we have to work on the rest of the country. We can make border issues better. We can do things better.”

Newly-elected Niagara Falls, Ont. Mayor Jim Diodati said the region truly benefits from the friendly relations between the U.S. and Canada.

“There is a lot of back and forth,” Diodati said. “It is important we work together collectively.”

Niagara provincial minister Kim Craitor, whose district includes both Fort Erie and Niagara Falls, said the region serves as a “gateway to two countries.”

“The best way to showcase the assets in both countries is to get together,” Craitor said. “The sum of both regions makes for an awesome package.”

The recently concluded World Juniors hockey tournament was a prime example of the two regions working together. The Buffalo Sabres organized and orchestrated the tournament that feature 31 hockey games between 10 different countries.

Canadians accounted for 65 percent of all ticket buyers.

The World Juniors attracted 333,0000 people during its 10-day run and considered a huge success. The Sabres were honored at the conference for their role in putting the tournament together.

“The World Juniors showed what can happen when we all collaborate,” said Arlene White, BiNational Tourism Alliance executive director