Canada to shut Philadelphia consulate

Update: The Government of Canada is shutting its Philadelphia consulate later this year as part of a cost-cutting move, spokesman Hani Nasser confirms.

Canada is one of a handful of nations -- including Mexico, Italy and Israel -- that have maintained full-service offices serving exporters and immigrants to Philadelphia in recent years. More than a dozen European and Latin American nations have parttime honorary consuls.

So losing one looks bad: "We take for granted our relationship with Canada, while in fact they are the strongest and most important foreign business relationship many companies have in this region," says Scot DeCristofaro, president of Philadelphai Sales Co., a specialist in U.S.-Canada trade "business development."

"It's always a concern when a foreign government closes an office that was tasked with supporting foreign trade," he adds, citing the importance of Canadian military orders for local manufacturers like Boeing helicopters and Lockheed Martin electronics, as well as the busy truck, train and air traffic across the border, and the importance of keeping friendly at high levels "to sustain business." 

A closing date has not been set. Work done at the consulate, which mostly helps Canadian exporters and importers, and employs "less than a dozen" professionals, will likely shift to Washington, Nasser told me.

Canada will also shut its Buffalo, Raleigh, Phoenix and Anchorage consulate and a satellite office in Princeton, N.J. A statement from the embassy said the government is closing 5 of its 22 U.S. missions to provide better "value for money" for Canadian taxpayers.

David Marshall, head of the Consulate General of Canada in Philadelphia, referred inquiries to his embassy in Washington.

Way bank in 1984, when I was struggling through my last year in college trying to pay the bills, I worked at the Consulate General/Consulat General du Canada here in Philadelphia, writing trade-show manuals for companies like Bombardier that were seeking to export to U.S. markets, reporting to trade section chief Stan Cohan.