Tonawanda News — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, announced Tuesday that the Canadian Consulate has added two more employees to focus on issues in Upstate and Western New York.
In a press release issued by his office, Schumer said both employees are now working in the Buffalo region.
The news follows last year’s announcement by the Canadian government which said it planned to close the consulate — previously located inside the HBSC Bank building in downtown Buffalo —completely. At the time, Schumer urged 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. Schumer argued that the move would preserve critical resources for Western New York businesses as well as offer expertise in cross-border management.
In August 2012, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird heeded Schumer’s call. Schumer’s office said the two staffers — who now work for the Consulate in New York City — will be based in Buffalo starting this week.
Schumer, who chairs the Senate 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, Baird agreed to maintain a presence in WNY. Schumer said 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. He said 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.
“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,” Schumer said. “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.”