While still Consul General of Canada for the Southeast on Sept. 5, Louis Blais hosted a farewell reception at the Georgian Club in which she introduced her successor Nadia Theodore, and thanked her supporters before assuming her new post as ambassador and deputy permanent representative to the United Nations.
For the estimated 150 attendees whom she called those “who care about Canada and me and my family,” she underscored the importance of her country’s relationship with the Southeast and highlighted the consulate’s new staff members including David Weiner, the senior trade commissioner, and Vera Nicholas, manager of political, economic and public affairs, both of whom have moved to Atlanta from the consulate in Dallas.
Ms. Blais appointment to the United Nations is part of a realignment in Canada’ s presence here as well as in Washington, San Francisco and Seattle with trade-savvy officials who are to defend Canada’s interests during the renegotiations of the Nafta trade agreement.
Ms. Theodore is moving to Atlanta from Ottawa where she served as chief of staff to the deputy minister of international trade in the Global Affairs office. Since 2004 she has held multiple trade policy positions as well as first secretary to the permanent mission of Canada to the World Trade Organization from 2010-12.
Acknowledging that she was “passing the baton” (her last day as consul general is Sept. 8) to someone whom she admired, she added, “You will thrive and you will grow as I did.” She also gave special recognition to Sylvie Racine, the executive assistant to the head of mission.
Instead of acknowledging all “the commissioners, senators, captains of industry, government officials and president of universities” in attendance, she said that she would read aloud an introductory letter she wrote for Ms. Theodore concerning her new responsibilities, much as former President Obama left for President Trump upon his entering office, which had recently been released to the media.
Emphasizing that the basis for diplomacy was composed of “trust, goodwill and relationships,” she said that as her successor she would be surprised by the “generosity and goodwill” of Southerners generally.
“This will make you want to be the best that you can be to honor their commitment and friendship,” she said, adding that “the best of the experience is in the journey.” She added that “the attributes of one are better when seen through the eyes of the other.”
Reflecting on her three years as consul general, she cited among her accomplishments the North America Summit of Women in Business, which received he support of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Technology Association of Georgia and the Clemson Canada Center.
She also referred to the visit by Canada’s head of state, Governor General David Johnson who awarded special Canadian medals to Sonny Perdue, former governor of Georgia and current U.S. secretary of agriculture; David Wilkins and Gordon Giffin, former U.S. ambassadors to Canada, and Craig Lesser, former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
In addition, she cited “our innovative work to grow the film industry on both sides of the border, the SEUS-CP, the programs at the World Affairs Council, and the 150th anniversary of Canada event held at the Carter Presidential Library. “And I could go on,” she added.
She also said that she appreciated “calls quickly returned on busy days by Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr and later Pat Wilson.”
Ms. Blais’ letter to Nadia Theodore follows:
Congratulations on being named Consul General of Canada to the South East. As you take on this incredible role, you will not only have the honour of representing our great nation but also serving as the bridge between Canadians and the South. My blessing has become your blessing.
Soon you will find yourself talking up the beauty of the red clay and live oaks, the charm of the culture, the taste of the food, and the spirit of southerners to all that will listen.
Doing so will take on as much joy as promoting Canada. After all, the attributes of one are better when seen through the eyes of the other.
Southerners and those who have adopted this land will surprise you with their generosity and goodwill. This will make you want to be the best that you can be to honour their commitment and friendship. If I could list all those that made my time here so meaningful, I would. Each deserve the recognition and have my admiration. But I will let you discover them yourself as the best of the experience is in the journey.
If there is one thing I am proud to leg to you, it is that of a new management team in David Weiner as STC, an award-winning trade commissioner and Vera Nicholas who will be your right hand on political, consular and public affairs. Never have I had as much hope in a new team as I have in this one under your leadership.
Yet you biggest lucky charm is embodied in the person of Sylvie Racine!
As I reflect on my 3 years in your position, I think about the big achievements like the North America Summit of Women in Business with key partners like MAC, TAG, the Clemson Canada Center, the visit by our Head of State in 2016 with his presentation of Canada medals to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, David Wilkins, Gordon Giffin and Craig Lesser, our innovative work to grow the film industry on both sides of the border, SEUS-CP, our programs at the World Affairs Council, the 150th Anniversary of Canada event at the Carter Presidential Library and I could go on.
But at the end of the day much was in the little things.
The calls quickly returned on busy days by Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr, later Pat Wilson.
The friendly hugs and smiles at the Rotary Club on Monday.
The show of support when we had terrible fires in Western Canada last year,
Touring a car plant and hearing about how integrated their supply chain is with Canada,
Getting to know the team of Chick-fil-A and understand that a company can be a family.
Then, there is the weather. Nadia, trust me you can put your winter coat in storage with moth balls. You will not need it.
Please indulge me a few words of advice learned some of the them the hard way.
1) Learn to master Y’ALL, it will take you a long way
2) Seek those sages and ask for advice,
3) Make time for your family and yourself. My Peter and Max and Pearson have been a source of strength, a sounding board and critics when I needed it.
Yoga at Infinity Yoga and tennis and our neighborhood at the Arbors have been my communities outside of work. Sometimes you just want to be Mom or a yogi or terrible tennis player, not the Consul General of Canada.
Dear Nadia, you have been selected among many leaders for this appointment. I could not be happier to know that I am passing the baton to someone so qualified, talented and engaged. You will thrive and you will grow as I did. I take with me a reservoir of lessons and love. May it light your way and my path the United Nations.
As I rest at night after a busy day in New York, I will know that you are here with all the leaders in this room and beyond, continuing to do honour both our countries and what we mean to each other.
Peter, Max, Pearson and I wish you, Eric and Ariana the best adventure of your lives. May you be as happy here as we were.