North Country Chamber of Commerce. He has done much to put Plattsburgh, NY back on the map after a difficult recession in the early 90’s saw many jobs disappeared from the manufacturing sector. Politicians of both parties value his opinion and actively seek out his support. Then-Senator Hillary Clinton would seek his input on issues relating to the northern part of the state. The man is engaged in just about every subject that leads to economic development and job creation in the region. Just recently, he was part of Andrew Cuomo’s transition team. That says a lot about his clout and credibility.
Garry is beyond partisan politics. Sure, he is a fiscal conservative and you can tell by his office, which is full of paraphernalia about Ronald Reagan. But above all, he is the Chamber’s president and it is a real passion for him. Under his stewardship, Québec companies have settled in the North Country. Novabus and Bombardier acknowledge readily that Douglas is their best friend. The same could be said of Plattsburgh International Airport. Thinning the border, investing in better security, encouraging the development of new technology and bringing jobs to the North Country round out Garry’s list of priorities and achievements.
Just recently, I participated in his annual “North Country Day” in Washington with Chamber members and associates as well as the Canadian Consul General in Buffalo, Marta Moszczenska. Here I saw up close the Douglas treatment. We met with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, Representative Bill Owens and newly elected members of the House from the Tea Party. We spoke about border security and efficiency, high speed rail and energy needs. The meetings were formal, yet had an intimate touch. Garry sets the tone, never hogs the meeting and ultimately, gets his point across. We felt we had engaged listeners. From a Québec perspective, I was able, with Garry pitching alongside, to push for Senator Schumer’s endorsement of pre-clearance at Montréal’s Central Station as part of our efforts to be part of the Northeast high speed rail corridor. A week later, Senator Schumer came out in favour of pre-clearance.
Garry says that Plattsburgh is Montréal’s American suburb and Québec Premier Jean Charest says Garry is Québec’s best friend in New York State. Well, there is a lot of truth in both these statements. Most of all, in every encounter in my time as Delegate General, I have seen in Garry a man of deep sincerity and passion, relentlessly fighting for his beliefs. Proud to say Garry is Québec’s friend.