By Gov. John Baldacci
The following is a transcript of the address given by Maine’s governor in the New Brunswick legislature Wednesday:
Thank you very much for that very generous introduction and for your invitation to be here today, Shawn. I have enjoyed the discussions that we have had, the agreements that we have signed, and the work that we have to do. To all of you, this visit is long overdue.
This visit, frankly, should have been done much earlier because our relations over the years have been so numerous, so involved, and, in some cases, related. I have brought with me a couple of examples of that, with Representative Crosthwaite, who carries with him his dual citizenship, with State Senator Phil Bartlett, who chairs the utilities committee, along with my Economic Director, Jack Cashman, and Public Utilities Commission Chair, Kirk Adams.
The work has been numerous, with the work that has gone on between Bangor, Maine and Saint John in developing a strong relationship; the work on the East-West Highway, the work that we do in so many joint ventures in research and development, such as Maritimes & Northeast, and other areas.
This visit, while it is long overdue, today begins a new beginning, where we can work together for the opportunities for all our people, because we are in this together. I look forward to that.
Let me just say that we hold dear our Acadian heritage and our natural friendships that we have developed over the centuries. We must build on those ties also, for we live in a rapidly changing and expanding global economy.
The new economy necessitates that we work together regionally for our mutual benefit.
Thank you for letting me have the opportunity to address this Legislature, and to be able to discuss issues that are important to all of us. By working together on these issues, such as education, tourism, economic development, and energy, we will greatly benefit the citizens of all of our region.
Already, we have the collaboration between the sister cities of Bangor and Saint John. They have focused on the regional investments, establishing trade partnerships, and are committed to mutual growth and regional prosperity. They are now exploring a possible Bangor-Saint John trade and growth corridor to enhance these efforts.
Just a week and a half ago, I welcomed Premier Graham to Bangor, Maine, my hometown. There, we signed a memorandum of understanding on electrical interconnections, promoting and expanding efficient electrical systems including new generation capacity resources.
A partnership between Maine and New Brunswick makes an awful lot of sense. We have a lot in common. We are both rich in natural resources that can be harnessed with clean energy. We both want to ensure that we pay competitive prices for electricity. We both produce an electricity surplus, and we are both committed to reducing carbon emissions that stem from electricity generation and contribute to global warming.
Together, we can expand the clean energy market, reduce carbon pollution, all the while creating new jobs and increasing the production of a clean environmentally responsible product we can export to both countries.
Your second chapter of the report, Premier Graham, on self-sufficiency’s task force, is very instructive for New Brunswick and for Maine. As Governor of the state of Maine, I have signed on an Apollo initiative, which means that if we can put a man on the moon, in 10 years we should be energy independent and self-sufficient and with renewable energies.
We, in our state, not only recognize the opportunity to be energy independent for national security purposes – which is hugely important, thinking of the young men and women whose lives are on the line overseas – but also recognize the opportunity to stimulate our economic development and job opportunities, not only by having the energy, but by producing the component parts that go along with it.
You recognize that through the work you are doing in this province. I want to commend the Premier for his leadership in regard to these matters and recognize your province’s leadership in developing those best practices which can be exported from this region throughout the world.
Premier Graham and I also witnessed, in Maine, the signing of the memorandum of understanding outlining how the Maine Community College system and the New Brunswick Community College system will share knowledge, experience, and resources, and will be able to make sure that no borders exist in terms of educational opportunities in both of our regions. This will enhance how we meet the needs of our students and our communities, and build new skills for a new economy and a brighter future.
A report was just completed by a leading firm in Maine that researched the importance of economic development to the state of Maine. It was very compelling, because it instructed us to recognize that we must work as a New England region. We, in the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, need to work together for our regions to promote trade in this world economy. We need to do more of this and to recognize the importance of each other.
These MOUs are the beginning of a relationship that holds a lot of promise for Maine and New Brunswick. Premier Graham and I discussed other ways in which we may work together in New Brunswick and Maine to enhance our respective economies. Already, I have talked to Premier Graham to help us in regard to the current CN Rail strike, which has greatly impacted the ability of consumers in Maine to access propane for heat and for business uses. I deeply appreciate the advocacy of the Premier on behalf of the citizens.
We have partnered with businesses and industry, with our Bangor-Saint John trade and growth corridor, to build new linkages and to find ways to collectively solve challenges. Our region has about 400,000 people and is connected to a good highway, rail ports, and airport infrastructure. It makes sense to continue talking with businesses in and around Saint John to pursue further trade and growth in our region, and we have been doing so.
I have been encouraged by these conversations, and look forward to working with you and the people of New Brunswick, because we are in this together. Together, we can reach into international markets and compete on a stronger plane than if we stand apart – sharing ideas, best practices, universities, community colleges, research and development, energy, tourism, and economic development.
These partnerships give promise not only to what we do now but to what will happen in the years to come. I hope that this is the beginning of building a strong relationship that we can build upon, one that will further move our region forward, and one where we can share a brighter future for New Brunswickers and Mainers alike.
Let me just say, in closing, that I appreciate your hospitality very much, and the extension of gratitude that you have given to me and to the people on my staff who have visited. We are looking for a great day here, but we are also looking for many great days into the future.
Thank you very much, and thank you for welcoming us here today.