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Colorado Mesa University hosts North American dignitary

Canadian Consul General speaks with students and faculty

The unsecured boundary between Canada and the United States is a political line and is transcended by culture, custom and economy. This was part of the message shared by Canadian Consul General Stephane Lessard as he spoke of the common ground shared between the U.S. and Canada when addressing students and faculty in Houston Hall. Lessard visited CMU on November 11 and engaged students through the course of three events on campus.

The range of topics covered by Lessard were diverse, ranging from timber and oil and natural gas to manufacturing, tourism and military cooperation. The Consul General outlined that cooperation between Canada and the United States represented one of the strongest and most continentally significant bi-lateral relationships in the world today. Lessard also noted Canada's near universal agreement that climate change is an issue that must be address but that there there are notable differences between the countries ongoing policies around how to accomplish climate goals. Despite some differing opinions the Consuls' message focused primarily on Canadian and U.S. shared objectives.

"The Canada-U.S. partnership is forged by geography, similar values, deep connections and powerful, multi-layered economic ties," said Lessard. "Canada and the U.S. trade over $800 billion in goods and services each year."

Following the Consul’s lecture to students, CMU-TV and the CMU Civic Forum hosted Lessard for a television interview with CMU Instructor of History Timothy Winegard, PhD. Winegard was born in Canada, serviced in the Canadian armed forces and is a speaker, bestselling author and coach of CMU Hockey Team.

"Speaking with people from home is always a good time and trading perspectives with one of Canada's U.S. representatives is a healthy exercise for me as a teacher and faculty member," said Winegard. "The U.S. and Canada have much in common, but my conversation with Consul General reminded me that America will never match our Canadian love for hockey."

Winegard and Lessard exchanged their favorite hockey factoids and jousted about their favorite hockey players during the discussion.

The discussion between Winegard and Lessard is part of an ongoing effort between the CMU Civic Forum and CMU-TV to make civic dialogues available to the larger western Colorado community. The Civic Forum initiative began in 2018 and receives continued support from campus leaders.

“These civic engagement opportunities are the kinds of events, that when added together over the arc of a students’ education, result in meaningful, practical knowledge that will help them navigate a global economy,” said CMU President Tim Foster. “Consult General Lessard is always welcome at CMU, but next time I’m going to challenge him to join me for a CMU hockey game so he can see Canada doesn't have a lock on the future of the sport.”

Lessard completed his campus visit attending an event hosted by Colorado Senator Ray Scott and the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. More than twenty CMU students attended the event and listened as conversation ensued on topics ranging from energy and tariffs and trade to international military strategy and continental defense.

"University students of today will dictate North American and Canadian relations in the future," said Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Diane Schwenke. "So having this event on campus and making sure students could engage in the conversation means they will better understand how U.S. and Canadian relations will impact Colorado’s businesses in the future."

The panel discussion was moderated by Senator Scott and included question and answers from the audience.


Written by David Ludlam