Elaine Chao on air travel safety, technology and the USMCA

Recent CORIM luncheon featured the US Secretary of Transportation

By Byron Toben

Elaine L. Chao, the accomplished Secretary of Transportation of the United States, was the featured speaker at a CORIM luncheon recently.

CORIM (Montreal Council on Foreign Relations) is a non-profit, non-partisan body established in 1985 to reflect Montréal’s standing as an international crossroads. It hosts about 35 such events per year as well as other activities.

Ms Chao’s visit coincided with the 75th anniversary of ICAO (the U.N.’s International Civil Air Organization) being based here. She stressed the safety of international air travel compared to 37,000 automobile deaths in 2018. She reminded all that Canada/US trade was the largest between two countries in the world and felt that the new “updated” NAFTA treaty (now called USMCA) would further that relationship.

She also touched on budget increases to reflect changing technologies, regulations to limit the use of increasingly legal marijuana by transport personnel, and the growing use of electric vehicles.

I am impressed by her remaining in that office as dozens of other Trump appointees have been terminated – a tribute to her smarts and tact.

She also congratulated her friend, out going US Ambassador to Canada, Ms. Kelly Craft, upon her new appointment as US delegate to the United Nations.

Born in Taiwan, Ms Chao was brought by her shipping magnate father to the USA at the age of 8. Armed with a Harvard MBA, she was drawn to politics and became the Deputy Secretary of Labour under President George H.W. Bush and then the director of the Peace Corps.

Leaving the government, she was chosen as the head of the United Way of America and a fellow with conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation before becoming Secretary of Labour under President George W. Bush.

She was selected by President Trump as his Secretary of Transportation.

I am impressed by her remaining in that office as dozens of other Trump appointees have been terminated – a tribute to her smarts and tact. In her many positions, she was the first Asian or woman to hold that office.

In her personal life, she is married to U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell.

Feature image: courtesy of CORIM

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Read more articles from Byron Toben

Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.

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