Canada’s $U.S. 2 billion in exports to Atlanta-based Home Depot Inc. underscores the close ties binding Georgia and his country, John Manley, Canada’s deputy prime minister, said at a Rotary Club luncheon downtown last week.

          Held at the Loudermilk Center on Edgewood Avenue, the event attracted more than 350 business and civic leaders, the largest number ever to attend one of the Rotary’s international events.

          Among the attendees were seven members of the local consular corps as well as Maggie Tien, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office here.

          Mr. Manley said he could not resist pointing out to Rene-Serge Marty, France’s consul general here who attended the luncheon, that the exports to Home Depot placed the company among the Canada’s top 10 export markets worldwide, even exceeding those to France.

Mr. Manley, who is originally from Ottawa, is fluent in French and was named in January as deputy prime minister after serving as chairman of a new Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee on Public Security and Anti-terrorism.

He took on additional duties six months later when he was sworn in as minister of finance.

With a relaxed delivery, Mr. Manley spoke of the friendship he and his wife, Judith, have for Atlanta attorney Gordon Giffin, who was the U.S. ambassador to Canada, and Mr. Giffin’s wife, Patti. He also spoke of his fond memories of frequent visits with Gov. Roy Barnes.

“Georgia is one of 38 U.S. states that looks to Canada as its chief trading partner, sending over a quarter of its exports to our country,” he said. “We are your principal foreign energy source, as with the rest of the U.S. And this state is equally important to Canada…”

          Mr. Manley also spoke of Atlanta-bound Delta Air Line flights 15 and 129 that landed in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, on Sept. 11. In addition to the Delta passengers, the town hosted Canada’s prime minister, Jean Chretien, and Paul Celluci, the current U.S. ambassador, who also were forced to land there.

          He praised the members of the Delta flights who have created a scholarship fund of some $U.S.50,000 to date, to benefit the young people of Lewisporte, Newfoundland, in appreciation of the hospitality the province provided to them.

          Go to for a film of further efforts to create closer economic relationships between Atlanta and Newfoundland.

          Mr. Manley’s speech also may be found on at in the section for speeches and articles.