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Arnold leads trade delegation to Canada 

[PoliticsWatch updated 5:15 p.m. May 29, 2007]

OTTAWA  — California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger arrived in Toronto Tuesday for a three-day visit to Canada. 
  
The governor, who is leading a large trade delegation from his state, will also make stops in Vancouver and will meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa on Wednesday. 

While Schwarzenegger is one of the biggest box office icons in motion picture history, a political super star, and governor of a state with a population and economy greater than Canada that has not stopped him from becoming another bit player in the PMO's feud with the Parliamentary Press Gallery. 

The Prime Minister's Office announced late Tuesday that Harper and the governor will only be available for a photo-op with no questions from reporters. The late afternoon announcement of no opportunity to ask the charismatic Schwarzenneger questions has outraged many in the Parliamentary Press Gallery. 

Liberal MP David McGuinty isn't surprised and accused the government of trying to keep the meeting with the California governor "secret."

"Less than 24 hours before the meeting, they're hiding, no one's invited, there's no agenda, no known announceables and nobody is surprised," McGuinty told PoliticsWatch. 

McGuinty said that the PMO has ratcheted down the governor's meeting with Harper because even though he is a Republican Schwarzenegger is much more progressive on environmental issues. 

"It's not a win for them because every time Prime Minister Harper sticks his head up out of the foxhole on anything environmental he gets shot at."

NDP Leader Jack Layton is more optimistic and said he hopes the governor will use his "persuasive abilities" to convince Harper to get moving on the issue of climate change. 

While much of the media focus of the visit has been on Schwarzenneger's plans to sign climate change agreements with Ontario and British Columbia, the trip will also focus on promoting California's agriculture and tourism industries. 

Canada is California's second-largest trading partner, generating over $14 billion in exports from California last year alone.

"Californians share so much with our neighbours to the north," Schwarzenegger said earlier this year when he announced the trade mission, "whether it is a desire to protect our environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions or our entrepreneurial spirit."

Schwarzenegger has led similar trade missions to Mexico, China and Japan. 

Marc LePage, Canadian Consul General to San Francisco, said this trade mission will include representatives from "all sectors of industry" from the state. 

"California exports to Canada are just going through the roof," LePage said in a video message that appeared on the governor's Web page. "We love California products. We need more."

A recent study by the Bay Economic Forum in San Francisco concluded that trade growth between Canada and California is due primarily to both being similarly "progressive" and "forward-thinking." 

"Both have begun to confront a variety of challenges with similar approaches and concerns: global warming and the gradual transition out of a carbon-based economy; the potential for disease pandemics; using smart technologies to improve the productivity of highways, water systems, air traffic corridors and freight supply chains," the study noted. 

In addition, Canadian firms such as Research in Motion, MOSAID Technologies, Sierra Wireless and MDS Inc. are now major players in California after making acquisitions in the state. 

Canada and California: Did you know..? 

> California is the world's eighth-largest economy. Canada is the ninth. 

> Canada provides 23% of California's natural gas supplies and a third of its hydropower. 

> Automobiles and parts worth about $12 billion account for Canada's entire trade surplus with California. 

> California has about 36 million people; Canada has about 
32 million. 

> Trade with Canada supports 832,000 jobs in California. 

> Two-way of $36.9 billion in 2006 is made up of $22.7 billion in Canadian exports to California and $14.2 billion in Canadian imports from the Golden State. 

Source Department of International Trade

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