Looking to promote green initiatives and overall economic growth in the Commonwealth, Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick led a seven-person delegation on a tour of Canada last week.
The tour, which included stops to businesses and conferences in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, Ontario began Tuesday and concluded Friday. The Massachusetts-Canada Innovation Partnership Mission aims to strengthen economic relationships between leaders in Massachusetts and Canada in a variety of sectors, according to a Friday press release from the governor’s office.
“We lead the nation in energy efficiency, but we still have to do better,” said George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts. “We support Governor Patrick’s efforts to find new sources of renewable energy and reduce our dependency on fossil fuel.”
The trip, while centered on environmentally friendly initiatives, attempted to open up several new economic channels for Canada and Massachusetts in fields such as technology, life sciences and innovation industries, according to the release.
Members of the delegation included the heads of Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, as well as the executives from the office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, according to the release.
Of the several stops on the tour, one particular focus Patrick made was for natural energy when he delivered the keynote address at the Canadian Wind Energy Association Conference on Wednesday.
“At the end of the energy pipeline with no coal or natural gas resources of our own, Massachusetts is at the mercy of the volatile fossil fuel market,” he said in a transcript of his address. “We are taking the imperatives of tackling climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and answering them with innovations in both behaviors and technology. By doing so, we made clean energy not only an environmental priority but a core economic strategy for Massachusetts.”
The tour out of the country is one of several economic trips Patrick has made as governor. The most recent was to Colombia in February.
James Sutherland, a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Northeastern University, said Patrick’s being out of Massachusetts several times has caused some problems but has also generally been in the best interest of the Commonwealth.
“It’s a good thing that he’s doing this because it addresses some of the state’s long-term needs in regards to our economic sectors,” he said. “What he’s doing is making people focus on long-term initiatives instead of doing [them] election-to-election because a lot of politicians just do their policy initiatives based on their term … [and] we can’t govern from election cycle to election cycle.”
Bachrach said Patrick, who will not seek reelection in 2014, is setting a strong precedent for whoever will take his place.
“This governor has set a very high bar,” he said. “We’re hopeful that other governors of the Commonwealth meet it and beat it.”
Several residents said Patrick’s trip could be in the best interest for Massachusetts.
“Everything in the world is for money,” said Fernando Enriquez, 33, resident of Boston. “It’s good to be good to the environment, but if he [Patrick] brings jobs, that’s super important. Everybody seems to [have] lost their jobs, and with the economy … it’s a good thing.”
Tim Lamb, 57, resident of Brighton, said the tour was important, but Patrick’s actions do not have much effect on whoever will be the next governor.
“Everyone has their own agenda, so they may make this kind of [environmental] push a priority, but it won’t be because of Patrick,” he said. “At the same time, bringing jobs and staying green, that’s huge for us, so we can hope.”
Charles Gargano, 26, resident of Boston, said the potential environmental impact of the trip was the most vital part of Patrick’s travels.
“You’re never really going to change peoples’ minds about what they drive when they have the option, but at some point, there has to be a tradeoff,” he said. “We can always be better environmentally, so anything that pushes us closer to renewable energy is great.”