CORIM continues to host timely events
Promoting greater knowledge of international affairs
By Byron Toben
CORIM (Conseil des relations internationales de Montreal/Montreal Council on Foreign Relations) was founded in 1985 as a non-profit, non-partisan organization to promote greater knowledge of international affairs. This it has certainly done, with hundreds of meetings, seminars, workshops and discussions allowing local and foreign leaders to network, as Montreal grows as an international crossroads.
Two such examples took place this past week. One was a luncheon meeting at which James C. Cherry, President and CEO of Aeroports de Montreal (ADM), presented its annual report called Sustainable Expansion. The other was a breakfast meeting featuring Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe discussing that state’s relations with Quebec.
Aeroports de Montreal (ADM)
First, a few statistics:
ADM is serviced by 29 passenger carriers (9 Canadian, 3 U.S. and 17 international) and 20 all cargo carriers. These involve 86 year-round scheduled destinations (47 Canada and USA, 39 international) and 44 seasonal.
ADM is a private non-profit corporation (no share capital) responsible for both Trudeau and Mirabel international; these airports are under a lease with Transport Canada until 2072. In 2015, it grossed $155.9 million while expending $68.9 million.
Its mission is not only to provide airport services but also to foster economic development in the Montreal region while respecting environmental protection.
Six highlights of 2015 were:
• Montreal-Beijing direct link thrice weekly
• Six new boarding gates
• New restaurants and shops with more to come
• Increase in passengers by 4.5% (total of 15.5 million
• More Hybrid “green” taxis
• Luminous 9-meter “Column of Light” at Trudeau entrance.
Other topics covered in the handsome 46-page annual report included engineering and construction, protection of the environment, soundscape management, arts and culture and social management. A five-year strategic plan (2016-2020) was also revealed, plus, as has become de rigueur with companies these days, a transparency declaration.
A highlight of the verbal presentation by the affable Mr Cherry was a description of the new train route to benefit local stops between downtown Montreal and Trudeau International in Dorval.
The 300 attendees were also reminded how important Montreal is in the global aviation scene, hosting ICAO, IATA, IFALPA and ACI as well as McGill’s Air and Space Law Institute, the leading such school in North America, if not the world.
Virginia and Quebec
It is unusual to have a political business speaker who once wrestled an alligator but that is just one fact along Governor Terry McAuliffe’s colourful path.
Forming his first corporation at only 14, he went on to become a lawyer and a successful businessman (banking, insurance and real estate). He also became deeply involved in politics, directing finances for Jimmy Carter in 1980, then Dick Gephardt in 1988, then campaign director for Bill Clinton in 1996 and Hillary Clinton In 2008. This was followed by his position as head of the Democratic National Committee from 20O1 to 2005. He was elected Governor of Virginia in 2014.
He explained that Virginia exports lots of oysters and wine to la belle province (I would have assumed those items would have gone South) and that Virginia is doing the best of the 50 states. Its unemployment rate is only 4%. It contains the huge and important Norfolk port and has the most Department of Defence bases in the USA. In education, it features many educational institutions. Its tourist destinations include the homes of both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, as well as the Blue Ridge Mountains and enviable beaches. Airport access is superior, headed by Dulles international. Local taxes and business friendly climate are attractive to foreign branches.
Even though the stress was on two-way business opportunities, it was inevitable in the question period that his comments on the current US presidential primaries were solicited.
With his long time association with the Clintons, it was obvious whom he favoured. As to Mr Trump, whom he has known for some time, even donating $4500 (vs. $100,000 to Bill Clinton) he observed that, “what you see is what you get”.
As to the general election in November, he was very much a numbers guy. Only 20% of US Voters vote in primaries, so Trump, despite the seemingly meteoric rise, garnered 35% of that 20%. In a general election, where 40 to 60% may vote, he will face disgruntled Latinos, women, some religious groups in a complicated electoral system where once again swing states, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio will predominate.
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club