New Hampshire Governor
Guest at CORIM

Governor Chris Sununu impresses in dialogue with Premier Philippe Couillard

By Byron Toben

The state of New Hampshire has a history of young dynamic governors.

The current one, Chris Sununu (Republican) recently visited Montreal courtesy of CORIM (Montreal Council on Foreign Relations). The last one, as I recall, was John Lynch (Democrat) about 6 years ago.

Governor Sununu, educated as an environmental engineer at M.I.T. and one time owner of a ski facility, comes from a political family. His father, John H. Sununu, was also a former governor of New Hampshire, as well as chief of staff to President George H. W. Bush. His brother, John E. Sununu, was the youngest U.S. Senator during his 6-year term and Chris, now 42, is the youngest current U.S. state governor.

After preliminary remarks reciting the close friendship and ties between New Hampshire and Quebec, where many French Canadians once immigrated (as to nearby Vermont and Massachusetts), he participated in a sit down dialogue with Quebec Prime Minister Philippe Couillard. This, the first of the Governor’s goal of visiting 100 business on the first 100 days in office, attracting new or expanding companies to the Granite State. New Hampshire, by the way, currently exports US $506 million of products from over 2600 companies to Canada.

Chris Sununu CORIM

A high priority project was the Northern Pass, which has been on again/off again for several years. In this project, Hydro Quebec electricity grid would feed 1,090 megawatts of power into an expanded 192 mile New Hampshire grid of pylons, leading to more profits for Hydro and more employment for New Hampshire workers. Local opposition is based on visual and other pollution concerns, even though parts of the corridor would be underground. Hydro, by the way just posted a net profit of $2.861 billion for 2016, so this expansion of its clean energy would indeed seem to be, as both Sununu and Couillard agreed, a ‘win-win’ scenario.

New Hampshire… currently exports US $506 million of products from over 2600 companies to Canada.

The future of NAFTA came up again in Q & A discussions with some of the 300 attendees. The Governor, who supported its continuance in some form, to be more “fair to the United States”, seemed entirely in line with President Trump’s approach. I remember, however, the remarks of Peter Murphy, the US negotiator for the US/Canada Free Trade Agreement which was later expanded to include Mexico, that the Canadians don’t realize what they’ve signed, giving strength to Canadian critics who felt it was unfair to Canada

Amusingly, during Trump’s nomination campaign, opposed by a Sununu, the Donald tweeted a rebuke, apparently confusing which Sununu he was complaining about, not to mention misspelling the family name as Senunu, leading to a counter tweet that remembering only one vowel three times should not be so difficult.

Raymond Chretien, president of the Corim board and former Canadian Ambassador to the USA concluded the luncheon affair with appropriate remarks and reminded the Governor of his own friendship with his father while serving in Washington.

Images: Sylvie-Ann Paré

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club

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