FARGO, N.D. – North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister met today in Fargo to discuss the critical partnership between the United States and Canada as well as several shared interests and key issues facing both jurisdictions, including trade, water and public safety.
“We are grateful for the collaborative partnership and friendship we have with our Manitoba counterparts,” Burgum said. “From our Midwestern heritage with strong agricultural and energy roots, to our trade, tourism and manufacturing sectors, to the International Peace Garden that celebrates our nations’ friendship, we look forward to continuing to build strong relationships and economies that are mutually beneficial for our businesses and citizens.”
“North Dakota and Manitoba are more than neighbors – we have been friends and trading partners from the earliest days of the Red River Trail, to today when the Pembina-Emerson port of entry sees a million vehicles per year cross our shared border,” Pallister said. “We also share the same economic reality, as jurisdictions with big geography and small populations – we need open markets for the wide range of goods and services we produce for our communities and economies to thrive. Working together on these issues just makes good, prairie common sense.”
During a luncheon with First Lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum and the premier’s wife, Esther Pallister, the leaders discussed the importance of the open, balanced trading relationship between the United States and Canada to the long-term prosperity and viability of communities large and small in North Dakota and Manitoba, especially as the two countries work to update their trade agreements. Manitoba and North Dakota are both Midwestern economies with strong agricultural economies, robust energy resources and innovative manufacturers. U.S.-Canada trade supports more than 28,000 jobs in North Dakota, and North Dakota exports more to Canada than to all other countries in the world combined. Last year, Manitoba exported more to North Dakota than to Mexico, and imported more from North Dakota than from China. Burgum and Pallister agreed to remain in regular contact on Canada-U.S. trade developments.
The governor and premier discussed the strong cooperation between North Dakota and Manitoba on many water issues they have in common, including flood mitigation and forecasting in shared watersheds, joint support for the Assiniboine River Basin Initiative, and continuing work through the International Joint Commission to improve management of the Souris (Mouse) River. Manitoba also appreciates North Dakota’s continued work to complete its Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
Burgum and Pallister shared their views and concerns on other water issues, including the Northwest Area Water Supply Project, the Red River Valley Water Supply Project and the Pembina Road/Dike. They also discussed the importance of long-term flood protection, including Winnipeg’s nearly 50 years of success with the Red River Floodway diversion and the proposed Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project. They agreed it’s critical for both jurisdictions to remain engaged and communicate openly about these issues, with a view toward moving forward and finding solutions that would be acceptable to both sides wherever possible.
The governor and premier also discussed the work that both North Dakota and Manitoba have been undertaking to manage changes to the regulation of cannabis – the creation of rules for medical marijuana in North Dakota and the implementation of the Canadian federal government’s decision to legalize recreational cannabis use in Manitoba. Both agreed on the importance of proceeding thoughtfully and responsibly on implementation.
Pallister also updated Burgum on recent developments with respect to unauthorized asylum seekers attempting to cross the border irregularly from the United States into Manitoba, some of whom are transiting through North Dakota. Attempting to cross the border through open countryside is extremely dangerous, and those attempting to do so face serious risk of injury or even death from natural hazards. Although there have been efforts to build a greater awareness of these risks among communities of potential asylum seekers, the premier and governor agreed that it was important for communities and landowners on both sides of the border to be aware of this issue and to watch for individuals or families who may be at risk of injury or in distress, particularly with the onset of winter.
The leaders and first ladies also discussed the economic and social costs associated with the disease of addiction and the challenges facing American Indians in North Dakota and First Nations in Manitoba.