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Cablegate: Ambassador Jacobson's Visit to Winnipeg, October 18-20

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R 031500Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0026
INFO AMCONSUL CALGARY
AMCONSUL HALIFAX
AMCONSUL MONTREAL
AMCONSUL TORONTO
AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
AMCONSUL QUEBEC
AMCONSUL VANCOUVER

UNCLAS OTTAWA 000836


DEPT FOR WHA/CAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON MARR PREL PGOV SENV CA
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR JACOBSON'S VISIT TO WINNIPEG, OCTOBER 18-20

1. Summary. Ambassador Jacobson's October 18-20 trip to Manitoba
capitalized on Manitoba Premier Doer's preparation as Canadian
Ambassador to the U.S. and the swearing-in of a new Premier, Greg
Selinger. The headline read "New kids roll up their sleeves," and
the atmosphere of good will, good intentions, and hard work
prevailed through the trip.

2. Manitoba, occasionally the victim of an inferiority complex as
the neighbor to richer Ontario, enjoyed its time in the spotlight
as the home to the new Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. The
Ambassador's visit ensured the spotlight shone even more brightly
on Winnipeg as the new Premier took office. His meetings and
social events introduced him to a range of Manitoba issues: trade,
First Nations, human rights, border issues, water conflicts, and
culture. End Summary


Meeting with Ambassador-Designate Gary Doer
-------------------------------------------

3. Hours before then-Premier Gary Doer departed for Washington to
take up his new post as Canadian Ambassador to the U.S., he met
with Ambassador Jacobson on a Via Rail train traveling from
Saskatoon to Winnipeg. In fact, he delayed his departure because
of his eagerness to meet Ambassador Jacobson in Manitoba - boding
well for the spirit of U.S.-Canadian cooperation here. The Via Rail
meeting, which included spouses, was an important
getting-acquainted session for two new ambassadors. In a setting
which allowed Premier Doer to act as an informal tour guide to his
province, the session moved smoothly between the personal and the
political. Both ambassadors were able to offer advice and insight
on their respective countries, strategies, and networks, and to
discuss life in Ottawa and Washington informally. The meeting was
an excellent (and somewhat cinematic) beginning to the Manitoba leg
of the trip. On arrival at the Winnipeg train station, several
onlookers remarked that it was refreshing to see "our two
Ambassadors talk together like regular people" without an entourage
or armed guards. This atmosphere of practicality, goodwill, and
open communications set the tone for the rest of the trip.

4. In a frenetically busy weekend for the Manitoba government, the
new premier was selected only the day before Ambassador Jacobson's
arrival. Greg Selinger, the Premier-designate, invited Ambassador
and Mrs. Jacobson to attend his October 19 swearing-in at the
provincial legislature. Ambassador Jacobson's presence was
acknowledged and many in the audience spoke with him; again, the
willingness to acknowledge historical events and to celebrate
milestones with Canadians sat very well with the press and the
public, as did Ambassador Jacobson's open admiration for the
peaceful transfer of power.

5. Ambassador Jacobson met with Premier Selinger for breakfast on
October 20, the Premier's first morning in office. Noting that
they could "start literally on Day One," the Ambassador stated that
he had no specific agenda in his Canadian tour and saw the trip as
an opportunity to learn - whether the chance came from the cooks at
The Chocolate Shop, the porters on the train, or the Premier
himself.

6. On both Buy America and Country of Origin Labeling, the
Ambassador stressed the preference for an amicable resolution over
years of rancor and litigation. He noted the U.S.-Canada
relationship is the largest trade relationship in the history of
the world, saying the measure of the relationship is "whether we
want to address issues straight on and find common ground." The
countries' common interests also arose during the brief discussion
on Devils Lake - in which the Ambassador described himself as
familiar with the essential problem but not its complex technical
aspects - and our sharing of water and air in the Great Lakes and
other areas. Former Premier Doer's environmental credentials and
his support for a North American-wide cap and trade program were
stressed. As in other provincial meetings, the Ambassador
described the twin issues of the environment and energy as being
temporarily eclipsed by the health care debate in Congress.

7. Premier Selinger raised border issues, somewhat apologetically
calling them "parochial," and noted delays at the Pembina-Emerson
crossing. Ambassador Jacobson described the need for a balance of
security and efficiency on both sides, and suggested that
infrastructure improvements - which both Canada and the U.S. have
undertaken to some pre-WWII structures - will mitigate delays. The
Montreal preclearance facility, a $300 million upgrade, exemplifies
this approach.

8. The meeting was cordial and relaxed, with broad agreement to
address the "little issues" that sometimes sting the warm bilateral
relationship.


Canadian Museum for Human Rights
--------------------------------------------- ----------------

9. Ambassador Jacobson met with several Board members of the
Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) on October 19. He was
briefed on the Museum's origins and purpose: to have a profound
impact on the world through education on human rights issues, and
secondarily as an economic development project for the "regularly
insulted" City of Winnipeg. The driving desire is to offer
visitors a powerful experience, equivalent to the Holocaust Museum
in DC. CMHR, championed by former Premier Doer and the official
opposition, is currently under construction based on plans by
Newseum and Holocaust Museum architect Ralph Applebaum. Expected
completion date is mid-2012. The project is experiencing serious
cost overruns and the Board seeks an additional $45 million
infusion.

10. Gail Asper, CEO, pitched the CMHR as an international
destination; foreign ambassadors posted to Canada have been
contacted, and former U.S. Ambassador Cellucci held a networking
event at his residence for CMHR. She suggested that Ambassador
Jacobson's public support, particularly on a joint program with
Ambassador Doer, would be extremely helpful. Based on the fact
that Canadian arts and culture funding is significantly lower in
the Western provinces than in the Eastern, Asper asked that the
Ambassador promote CMHR when he meets Eastern premiers. She ended
by making a strong plea for a Presidential endorsement and
appearance at a Museum event.


Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
--------------------------------------

11. Ambassador Jacobson met Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs' Grand
Chief, Ron Evans, at an October 19 lunch meeting. Chief Evans, who
represents 120-130,000 First Nations people in Manitoba, stated
that aboriginal communities' biggest challenge is strengthening the
family unit, which is stressed by alcoholism, unemployment, and
8000 children currently in care. Lack of opportunity makes women
and children, in particular, vulnerable to illness, crime and
exploitation. Linked to this challenge is problematic access to
health care and education; Chief Evans seeks support for programs
to train First Nations youth in health care professions, following
up on a University of Winnipeg partnership. Small and isolated
First Nations communities face a critical shortage of doctors and
poor transportation to hospitals.

12. Chief Evans seeks information on cooperative programs with the
U.S., such as education exchanges with neighboring states. He and
Ambassador Jacobson discussed the possibility of a binational
discussion of First Nations issues, focused on Manitoba, North
Dakota and Minnesota, to share best practices in both countries.
He invited the Ambassador to visit the northern reserves to gain
first-hand experience of conditions there; he has followed this up
with a formal invitation offering to facilitate the Ambassador's
visit to a remote Indian Reserve and to participate in the planning
of a conference of First Nations leaders from the U.S. and Canada.


Other meetings in Winnipeg
--------------------------

13. Ambassador Jacobson toured the 1st Canadian Air Division
facilities and museum at NORAD Canada Region Headquarters. He met
Americans serving there, was briefed on the joint Canada-U.S.
mission, and toured the Combined Air Operations Center. Prior to
his airport departure he met U.S. Customs and Border protection
personnel at Winnipeg's preclearance facility.

14. In a courtesy call on Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz, the Ambassador
discussed city infrastructure issues and the revitalization of
downtown. Mayor Katz, owner of the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team
in the Northern League, invited the Ambassador to a game next
spring. The Ambassador also called on Lieutenant Governor Philip
Lee following the new Premier's swearing-in.

15. Ambassador Jacobson discussed trade and business issues in a
reception hosted by the Business Council of Manitoba. Winnipeg
Chamber of Commerce and Manitoba Chamber of Commerce, in addition
to Canad Inns, Great West Life Assurance, and Tundra Oil and Gas
were some of the 20 CEOs represented.

16. In a tightly packed day, Ambassador Jacobson also visited the
Winnipeg Art Gallery to view the Karsh photography exhibit on loan
from the Art Institute of Chicago and its world class collection of
Inuit art. The latter is curated by a recent Voluntary Visitors
program participant. Oct. 19 ended with attendance at a Manitoba
Theatre Centre performance of the drama "Five O'Clock Bells."


Media
-----

17. In addition to informal photo opportunities on arrival at the
Via Rail station and at the Premier's swearing-in, the Ambassador
was interviewed by Mary Agnes Welch of the Winnipeg Free Press and
participated in a brief media scrum after his meeting with Premier
Selinger. Though the Free Press reporter pre-billed the interview
as a "getting to know you" session, the topics covered were the
usual suspects: Devils Lake, border irritants, Buy America, Country
of Origin Labeling. The unexceptional and rather flat article,
titled "We can work it out," summarized the U.S. position on key
issues and gave an overview of the Ambassador's Winnipeg visit.

18. On Oct. 21, the WFP ran a photo of the Ambassador with Premier
Selinger accompanying a story about the new Premier's first day in
office.


Comment
-------------

19. Ambassador Jacobson's visit elicited strong interest
throughout Manitoba, and the Consulate was besieged with offers and
invitations. The fact that Ambassador-Designate Doer delayed his
departure to Washington to meet Ambassador Jacobson, that Premier
Selinger met him during his first five minutes in office, even that
the Winnipeg Art Gallery opened its doors on a day off, speak
volumes about this interest. The usual "irritants," including
Devils Lake, border delays, Buy America and COOL, were largely
swept aside by a wave of goodwill. On several occasions the
Ambassador was asked to use his good offices and ties to President
Obama to promote issues of provincial or federal interest, such as
publicizing the Canadian Human Rights Museum, or to nudge state
leaders to a more amenable position on water issues.

20. Suggestions for future visits to the province include a visit
to a remote First Nations community, perhaps combined with a trip
to Churchill to gain a firsthand impression of environmental issues
in the far North; a visit with Premier Selinger to the symbolic
International Peace Garden which straddles the U.S.- Canadian
border; a site visit to Devils Lake and the Pembina Dike, perhaps
with Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Gary Doer. END COMMENT


JACOBSON

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