Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Canadian Consulate completed their process of adding two additional employees to focus on Upstate and Western New York late last week, and the employees are now working in the Buffalo region. In June 2012, following news of the Canadian government's plans to close the consulate completely, Schumer urged that the Canadian government reverse its penny wise and pound foolish decision to close the western New York consulate, and at least maintain some presence in Buffalo in order to provide critical resources to western New York businesses, and to offer expertise in cross-border management. In August 2012, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird heeded Schumer's call, and these two staffers will now work for the NYC Consulate, but will be based in Buffalo, starting this week.
Schumer, who chairs the Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, strongly opposed the closure of the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo and personally called Foreign Minister Baird in June to urge that Canada reconsider the potential closure of the Consulate. However, the Canadian government did not reverse course, and Schumer thus pushed this route, to ensure that consular services do not disappear completely for Western New Yorkers. Schumer was pleased that Minister Baird agreed to at least provide some consular services in Buffalo even after the consulate's closure.
"The closure of the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo was a real threat to commerce and security between Canada and the U.S., and while a full reversal of this decision would have been smartest and most productive, a continued presence in Buffalo is an important victory for Western New York businesses and residents alike. In August, I was pleased to announce that Canadian Foreign Minister Baird had heeded my call to maintain a presence here, and with two consulate employees on the job in Buffalo, this plan is complete. This will be both cost-effective and will have enormously positive impacts on cross-border cooperation and commerce, as this plan allows Canada to work within its budgetary constraints to provide similar services to residents, businesses and border officials in Western New York, while using fewer resources. I will work hand-in-glove with Minister Baird and other Canadian officials to ensure that this Consulate is the best resource possible for Western New York."
The Consulate General of Canada's revived presence in Buffalo will focus on the same priorities of the Buffalo and Niagara region: prosperity and security. Canada and the U.S. enjoy the largest bilateral trading partnership in the world and coupled with the Beyond the Border Declaration, which articulates a perimeter approach to security in which both countries work together to address threats at the earliest point possible. The Consulate's continued, though downsized, objective will be to facilitate the lawful movement of people, goods, and services into our countries and across our shared border.
Schumer highlighted in his letter and personal phone call to Foreign Minister Baird in June that his proposal would mitigate damage to Upstate NY, and Canadian, businesses from the closure of the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo. While he remains firmly committed to the belief that the Consulate closure was a step in the wrong direction, Schumer will continue to work to ensure the success of the now scaled down consular services in Buffalo.