The Transatlantic Dialogue Program of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) held its annual Transatlantic Conference in Ottawa, Canada from May 18-21, 2017.
The conference brought together political professionals from multiple regions across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Germany and Belgium in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, to discuss the current state of transatlantic relations and the issues at the forefront of transatlantic discourse.
Following an enlightening introduction to the history of Canada in its 150th year and the contemporary mosaic of communities in Canada by The Honorable Greg Fergus, Member of Parliament for Hull-Aylmer, the conference opened with a panel discussion with campaign strategists and advisors from the Liberal Party, Conservative Party, and New Democratic Party in Canada. Together they discussed the strategies that led to Trudeau’s successful 2015 campaign.
Turning to the other side of the Atlantic, participants gained insights into the political situation in Germany just months before the Federal Elections in September. Participants learned about how the Free Democratic Party has remade itself since its loss of representation in the German Bundestag in 2013 to win several state elections, most recently in the most populous German state, North Rhine-Westphalia.
Following a tour of the Canadian Parliament, participants split into small groups for conversations on the subject of “Transatlantic Dialogue in Times of Trump: What is Needed?” The discussion group leaders later presented their group’s findings on how the work of the Transatlantic Dialogue Program of FNF can reach out to more people and respond to current political challenges.
On the second day of the conference, participants learned about the political and economic situation in the European Union. The group engaged in a panel discussion on perspectives on Washington, DC outside the Beltway with consultants and campaign strategists who work in other regions of the US. The following session offered perspectives on the future of global trade agreements and the re-negotiation of NAFTA by experts working in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. Following a lunch discussion with The Honorable Wayne Easter, Member of Parliament, participants discussed the state of US-Canada relations with The Honorable Andrew Leslie, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In the evening, participants met with The Honorable Werner Wnendt, German Ambassador to Canada and discussed the contemporary media’s effects on politics with journalist James Anderson of National Newswatch.
These debates will continue to play an important role in the transatlantic dialogue, which will be facilitated and followed by the TAD in the years to come. There will be more reports to follow with specific information about each of the sessions at the conference.
Anne-Marie Simon, Program Assistant, Transatlantic Dialogue Program, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom