October 29, 2012 9:34:44 AM
JACKSON -- The Canadian ambassador to the United States will be in Mississippi on Wednesday.
The Clarion-Ledger reports that Gary Doer is a special guest at Wednesday's Mississippi Hobnob 2012, an annual event hosted by the Mississippi Economic Council, the state's chamber of commerce. Canadian Consul General Stephen Brereton will also be a special guest.
Hundreds of state government and business leaders will mingle and be briefed on the state of the state at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum.
Canada is the state's No. 1 international trade partner. At least 64,100 Mississippi jobs depend on trade and investment in Canada. Mississippi exports more goods to Canada -- $1.8 billion a year -- than any other country and imports more than $815 million worth.
Mississippi and Canada are connected in part by Canadian National, one of North America's largest railways, and CN employs 550 people in Jackson and Gulfport.
Doer said he's looking forward to visiting Mississippi.
"I've had catfish -- we have catfish in Canada -- but I've never had Mississippi fried catfish," Doer said. "I hope I can wash it down with a cold Mississippi beer."
Doer said he's been to Mississippi once, a visit to Biloxi when he held his former position as three-term premier of Manitoba.
Gov. Phil Bryant ran into Doer at an event held by South Carolina's governor recently, and invited the ambassador to Hobnob.
"Canada is our number one trading partner, and we are continuing to grow that relationship," Bryant said.
Both Doer and Bryant said that, if the much-debated Keystone Pipeline comes to fruition, energy trade between Mississippi and Canada would boom.