2012 Conference

Prosperity and Partnership in the Great Lakes Region

at the School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Toronto
Toronto, ON

2012 Conference Poster

The focus of the 2012 conference, entitled Prosperity and Partnership in the Great Lakes, was on the future of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence region, an area that faces a number of challenges with respect to economic development and environmental protection.

The Vital Commonsa report commissioned by the Mowat Centre, highlighted the need for collaboration and cooperation in the Great Lakes region. According to the report, the region, consisting of eight states and two provinces, must find ways to collaborate on a number of important policy-related areas, like cross-border trading and water preservation, to remain competitive and sustainable.

The Great Lakes region possesses a multitude of natural, cultural, and place-defining attributes, making the region an attractive place to live and work. However, the communities in this region have not fared well in the past three decades with decreases in auto, steel, chemicals, machine tools, electronics, paper, and durable goods manufacturing. Globalized patterns of production and trade have fundamentally restructured these industries and altered the communities dependent upon them. In response, the region is utilizing the capital, talent and innovation produced in the 20th century to produce new industries such as financial and health services, food processing, energy, aerospace, information and communications technology, transportation and pharmaceutical.

These realities can, if leveraged, turn the conventional narrative of economic decline. In this spirit, the U.S.-Canada Conference 2012 aimed to identify ways to:

  • Increase the collaboration across the border;
  • Ensure the prosperity and sustainability of the region;
  • Devise policy measures to tackle the region’s challenges;
  • Capitalize on its significant opportunities.

Students were assigned teams  and case studies relating to the specific policy challenges in the Great Lakes region. They were responsible for identifying and understanding the policy issue, designing an implementation plan, and presenting the key recommendations to a panel of policy experts.

Slide Decks
Find below the slide-decks of the four student teams from the 2012 Conference.

News/Blog Coverage


Find below information about  the 2012 Conference Panel Speakers.

Jeffrey R. Izzo, Chief of the Political and Economic Affairs

Jeffrey Izzo has been the Chief of the Political and Economic Section at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto since September 2011.  Joining the Foreign Service in 2000, Mr. Izzo has served in four Embassies worldwide as well as in Washington before coming to Canada.

Mr. Izzo served as Deputy Chief of the Energy Unit in Baghdad, Iraq from 2010 to 2011, and as Chief of the Political and Economic Section at Embassy Luanda, Angola from 2008 to 2010.

Previously he served as Energy Officer in the Bureau for Economic and Energy Affairs from 2006 to 2008, where he covered Canadian energy issues and led the Department of State’s Presidential Permit process for cross-border crude oil pipelines.  Prior to Washington, he served as Political-Military Officer at Embassy Budapest, Hungary and Consular Officer at Embassy Kingston, Jamaica.

A graduate of the University at Albany with a B.A. in English Literature and Geography, he is the recipient of multiple Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards from the Department of State.

Jeffrey is married to Kristin Eberhardt-Izzo and has three children.

Laura Dawson, President of Dawson Strategic

Laura Dawson is the President of Dawson Strategic and provides advice to business on cross-border trade, market access and regulatory issues.  Previously, she served as senior advisor on U.S.-Canada economic affairs at the United States Embassy in Ottawa.

As a specialist in U.S.-Canada economic relations, Dawson contributed to the launch of the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council, the Border Vision Strategy, and the bilateral Government Procurement Agreement.  She is a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a Senior Fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute conducting research in North American competitiveness, supply chains and energy policy.

She has conducted research for clients and scholarly publications in investor-state dispute settlement, cross-border labor mobility, government procurement, technical barriers, energy, telecommunications, financial services, softwood lumber, foreign investment review and corporate-social responsibility in the extractive sector.

From 1998 to 2008, she was a senior associate at the Centre for Trade Policy and Law advising governments in developing and transition economies on trade and investment issues. Dawson taught international trade, Canada-U.S. relations and policy analysis at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and holds a PhD in political science.


Take a look at what U of T students had to say about the Conference: