Joe Comartin

Joe Comartin spoke 41 times across 1 day of testimony.

  1. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    I’ll swear on a bible.


  2. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    Joseph Comartin, J-O-S-E-P- H C-O-M-A-R-T-I-N.


  3. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)



  4. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)



  5. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)



  6. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    Yes, I was Consul General in Detroit until the end of September of this year. The Consulate is responsible for four states in the United States: Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. I would say our primary work is divided between certainly Consular Affairs, but that’s a small part of what we do. The other major part is a breakdown between the trading relationship between the two countries and the amount of work that we do in terms of contacts with -- mostly with the business community. The other side of the office deals with political, and academic, and people like that.


  7. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    I’d have to say it was mostly reactive. We were being contacted both from elected officials, not only from Michigan, but also from Ohio, and a good number of senior business people, particularly from the auto industry and the manufacturing sector as well, some from the agricultural sector, basically looking for, I guess, information from us as to how the blockade at the Windsor/Detroit tunnel was going to -- or bridge was going to be dealt with.


  8. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)



  9. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    She's a member of the House of Representatives at the federal level in the United States. As an interesting background, she actually was -- she was posted a number of times in Iraq. She has a military background, and I believe also some association with the CIA at one period of time ---


  10. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    --- in her career. She -- but this particular quote, quite frankly, was of concern to us in terms of the context. She was speaking about the impact the blockade was having at one of the Ottawa plants that is in her district.


  11. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    Be later than that.


  12. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    Well, just that this was the -- her comments were the strongest that we had from any of the elected representatives. I think it reflected, to some degree, the passion she feels for her district, but it also reflects a certain level of ignorance in terms of the relationship, the treaty relationship we have between ourselves, Canada, Canada, U.S. and Mexico, which we'd just gone through, you know, in the previous couple of years, of renegotiating that agreement, and this idea of, you know, bringing back manufacturing to the United States, even from allies, would have been a complete contradiction of that agreement.


  13. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)



  14. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    Well, a great deal of concern coming from the elected -- both senators and members of the House of Representatives. I was dealing with those who were from my territory. I think one of the messages was the impact was having on the supply chain. They also were expressing repeatedly, I got messaging to the extent that why isn't Canada doing more. Their analysis was that the three levels of government were not cooperating, didn't have a coordinated plan. That was the kind of perception they had of what was going on. And that was difficult for us to respond to in the first couple of days. Certainly, by the 10th and the 11th, we were able to point out that we were dealing with specific responses.


  15. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    That message was quite strong that they did not see that the -- all levels of government were responding in a coordinated fashion.


  16. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)



  17. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    Yes, we were hearing that directly from the White House; he was, and I was getting it locally in our -- in my territory.


  18. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    That’s correct.


  19. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    Well, starting on the -- late in the day on the 7th, which is when it first got shut down, we were already hearing from them of having to shut down line production; they were beginning to look at alternate ways of moving the product across, which was primarily going to be -- it turned out they were already looking at it, primarily at the Blue Water Bridge up at Sarnia/Port Huron and at other methodologies of trying to move their product. They were -- I’m trying to wear my diplomat hat here for a second. They were much more aggressive -- is that the right term? They were much more forceful in their comments about the fact that Canada had to get -- you know, get their organization in place and get this stopped right away.


  20. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    That is accurate; but it also was -- she had been wanting a call with the Ambassador, our Canadian Ambassador in Washington who was not available at that particular time, so it was offered that I would speak to her initially. I have had several contacts with her before -- you know, worked on a number of items of relative interest to the two jurisdictions. So that’s how the call came about. And she did, I believe, subsequently have a call with the Ambassador. The important part about her role, is that both the Ambassador Bridge and the tunnel are in her district, as is the new crossing that’s being built currently. So she has a major interest in the impact that this was having. And, again, she had automotive plants and other manufacturing plants that were being negatively impacted already.


  21. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    Yeah, I’ve had quite a lengthy contact with her prior to the blockade. I had pushed for this call because she had been on, as it happens, CBC the night before and that would have been on the 10th, and had made some -- which surprised me, quite frankly, because we’ve always had a close working relationship. And she has with Canada as well. And made some statements that were fairly close to what the statements were that you saw from Elissa Slotkin. So I wanted to raise that with her and so we had a good conversation. I had asked her, in keeping with what calls I had had with Representative Kildee and with Senator Peters that we were seeking from them -- for them when they were talking about this in public, that they would stress the importance of the relationship between Canada and the United States. And she assured me in the course of this conversation that she would attempt to do that going forward. I think the other point at this particular time, so it was easier for me I think to convince her to be sympathetic, was the injunction either had been granted -- I think that call was in the morning; the injunction was granted by the Superior Court in Windsor later that day and I had seen -- I had assured her that I expected it would be a positive order and the injunction would be granted. So, you know, proof positive, I guess, that we were as the jurisdiction, were moving on this.


  22. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    Yes, President Baruah has been a long-time friend. He is the head of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce which takes in not only the City of Detroit, but a number of the municipalities in southern Michigan. It’s the most influential Chamber in the State. And, again, he was speaking forcefully. This was the day before I had told him the injunction had been sought, but it had been ticked over to the following day, but was quite positive and willingness, I guess, to send his messaging out to his membership and to the general public about the importance of the relationship, that it was a strong one and needed to be preserved.


  23. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    They’re both basically manufacturing associations. The OESA stands for “Original Equipment Suppliers Association” and then the Motor Equipment Supplies. Again, we’ve had extensive contact with these associations over the years. They’re very knowledgeable of the importance of the supply chain relationship between the two companies. They were -- Ms. Freeland in particular was upset; she had raised the concept of the Emergency Act, whether it was going to be -- a state of emergency was going to be declared. I don’t think she understood the Act itself, but wanted that at that point. My information was that it was not being considered; I didn’t have any indication to the opposite, and indicated some of the other things that we were doing. Again, this call took place on the 11th, the day the injunction had been granted, and I think this call took place after it was granted, so I was able to say, "We've got that." And at that time, I think I also knew that the province was moving on their emergency legislation as well.


  24. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    That was what I had to communicate to her.


  25. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    He's the representative for one of the districts in Michigan. I think the important thing to know about him in terms of his background is he was a strong proponent of the -- on the side issue a bit -- of the tax credits for the electric batteries and had been strong on pushing this, that those -- these credits were going to be limited to batteries having to be built in the United States as opposed to in Canada and Mexico. So his support that we were trying to get to have them agree that the credit should be granted to vehicles or batteries built in both Mexico and Canada is, his support was really important that we were able to do that, which we eventually did. But at this period of time, it was still up in the air, and so we really needed to get him onside as much as we possibly could.


  26. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)



  27. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    Not so much at that immediate period of time, but subsequently over the next few weeks, few months, the same point my colleague has raised of that sense of relief and a -- I think a conviction that Canada was not prepared to let this happen again, to the extent that they would move to invoke that type of legislation. So that messaging was fairly clear but it sort of drifted in over a period of time. It wasn’t immediate.


  28. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    Yeah, maybe just to emphasize the -- and, again, I’m speaking particularly in my territory. When the blockade hit, it hit at a really crucial time, both in terms of what was going on in the auto manufacturing sector, the types of development that’s coming; we’re going to build a whole new supply chain in order to have the electric vehicles come on line. And Canada has the potential to play a great role in that. That was jeopardized by this blockade. I think we’ve been able to put most of it to bed now, but it was a high risk period of time for that to occur, especially coming out of the pandemic when the manufacturing sector had been so hard hit. It was just a very difficult time to be able to convince our U.S. partners that we were serious about being their partner on an ongoing basis as we have historically.


  29. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    That’s correct.


  30. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    That’s correct also.


  31. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    Again, going back to the comments she had made the night before, and as it happens, she was obviously concerned about the relationship and the long-term impact it would have -- the blockade would have on that relationship. And at that point in time, it was not at all clear that it was going to be resolved quickly. So when I was speaking to her the following day, I was able to give her reassurance that in fact it was going to be resolved quickly at that border crossing.


  32. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    That’s correct.


  33. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    They are. And they have a long history of working very closely with companies on the Canadian side.


  34. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    They were, but they were also concerned about reoccurrences, which was when the Emergency Act issue got raised by Ms. Freeland.


  35. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    I did.


  36. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    Well certainly, you know, we heard a lot of this evidence last week from both the OPP and the Windsor Police Services, that it took another 24 hours before it really began to permeate, and certainly by the end of the day, the 48 hours, it was over. So ultimately, it did. The final group that was there was very small. I think there were 30, 40, 50 people maybe, as opposed to the hundreds that had been there before. But by the end of the day on the Sunday the 13th, there were very few people left, so I think both the injunction and the Emergency Act invocation by the Province had its desired effect.


  37. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    The Provincial Act.


  38. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    It was invoked on the Friday afternoon, shortly after the injunction was granted.


  39. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    That’s correct.


  40. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    We did not know what the -- you know, what the actual implementation of the new rules under the Provincial Emergency Act would be until the following day.


  41. Joe Comartin, Consul General (GC-GAC)

    I think that the one that I can probably think of would be the Chief Legal Counsel for the Governor of Michigan. He and I were having regular conversations on this and a number of other issues. But he certainly raised it about, you know, are we able to give them assurances that this was the actual end of it?