Fifty delegates representing businesses, government and academia from Canada and Germany met at Niagara-on the Lake, Ont., for the 34th annual Atlantik-Brücke conference from May 2-4, 2019. The conference was established in 1952 as a forum to create cross-Atlantic understanding and co-operation.
The conference featured two days’ worth of discussions from members of both the German and Canadian parliaments, and from Her Excellency Sabine Sparwasser, ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Canada, as well as Hon. Stephane Dion, Canada’s ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany and special envoy to the European Union. The conference was co-chaired by Tom Jenkins, Distinguished Policy Fellow at The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, and chair-emeritus of Atlantik-Brücke Canada, and Friedrich Merz, chair of Atlantik-Brücke.
Delegates discussed numerous topics including the importance and future of trade, the China question, digital transformation and cybersecurity as well as electoral interference.
“There has perhaps never been a time when cross-Atlantic co-operation between nations is more important,” said Dr. PG Forest, director and James S. and Barbara A. Palmer Chair, The School of Public Policy, and Atlantik-Brücke Canada Secretariat. “Canada and Germany share common values of tolerance, free market enterprise and moderate politics. Atlantik-Brücke will grow in importance as those values and the traditional global order are increasingly challenged.”
This year’s conference welcomed the first cohort of participants in the New Bridges program, a program featuring future leaders from Germany and Canada, supported by the embassies of both countries.
Participants of the program observed the conference and participated in an in-depth, week-long exchange on current and future challenges from both sides of the Atlantic. Topics included technology’s disruptive impact on politics, the economy and society, changing geopolitical realities, and the future of economic progress and the transition to a low-carbon economy.
The program aims to foster greater understanding of the German-Canadian relationship among the younger generations and to provide them an opportunity to make lasting transatlantic connections.
Robert Fry, director general, Bureau of European Affairs, Global Affairs Canada remarked that “Germany is a strong ally for Canada and one of our most like-minded partners in the European Union. The importance of our transatlantic relationship is increasingly palpable at this critical juncture in global relations. This is why the Government of Canada greatly values Atlantik-Brücke, a flagship of Canada-Germany relations, which offers a crucial forum for exchange on issues of great interest to our countries across a range of sectors, from business and trade to government, civil society, and academia.”
Added Dr. David Deissner, executive director, Atlantik-Brücke: “The good and long-standing partnership between Germany and Canada must not be taken for granted. Particularly in these days it unfolds its full strategic importance. This conference proved once again to be the most prominent forum for strengthening our German-Canadian partnership, foreign policy, trade and digital innovation.”
Atlantik-Brücke Canada was founded more than 30 years ago by Canadians who had participated in exchanges between West Germany and the United States, and who believed that a separate Canadian organization was essential. The core activity of Atlantik-Brücke Canada is an annual conference of approximately 30-50 members from each country engaged in candid conversation on current issues of global significance and mutual interest.