Canada and the United Kingdom have a long and storied history with one another. As Canada transitioned from British colony to a sovereign country our relationship has evolved. While we still share the same monarch, our two countries are more closely related thanks to our intimate trade deals and cultural ties.
It was in that spirit that the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce was founded in the early 1920’s. Now, amidst global changes, Torontoism joined up with the Chamber in hopes of fostering closer ties and helping anyone who may be making the transition between countries.
Sherille Layton is a member of Torontoism and was born in England. She’s played a big part in the team’s decision to join the Chamber.
We're just really trying to help a lot of the companies that do a lot of trade between Canada and the UK. Help them when they've got their employees transferring, whether it be to the UK or to here. Help them with their real estate needs.
A Little History
The Chamber is a bilateral networking organization that helps representatives of companies in the two countries meet and share ideas. Nigel Bacon, CEO of the Chambers, says Chambers of Commerce generally help in the networking, introduction and referral space, and historically they've represented smaller businesses and provided advocacy to the government.
The Chamber, currently in its 96th year, was founded in London in 1921. Since 1998 it’s been housed inside the High Commission of Canada. Currently, they boast 320 members, ranging from multinational corporations to individual businesspeople. Top tier patrons are referred to as "charter members" and they’re given the opportunity to put someone on the board of directors. The board meets five times a year in addition to an annual general meeting.
Functions and Luncheons
The primary function of the Chamber is for networking and referrals, says Bacon. This is achieved by hosting event forums for members, about 40 per year.
What we say to prospective members is we offer [business-to-business] opportunity to them. To help get their brand out, particularly here in the UK.
Layton says the topics at the events can range widely.
It's all various. It's all networking. They cover different subjects over networking cocktail and lunch receptions.
High profile speakers have included Stephen Poloz, Governor of the Bank of Canada, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and former federal Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty.
A Reason To Join
Bacon explains that people join the Chamber for any number of reasons.
We're dealing with global talent. They may be Canadian businesses but their representatives may not be Canadian at all. They want to get involved. They want to meet people and find help getting settled.
Richard Silver sees the Chamber as an opportunity to help people who may be transitioning from one country to another, especially after Britain's recent vote to leave the European Union.
We just wanted to make sure we had a foot in the door in case there were people in the UK who wanted information on Canada or were thinking of moving. And there has been quite a move.
Bacon doesn’t believe Brexit will impact the Chamber’s role too substantially.
We're not a Canada-Europe Chamber, we're a Canada-UK Chamber. So whatever that relationship is in the future, we're here for that relationship. That business relationship. So, if our working environment is changing just like everybody else's is, then we have to adapt.
For her part, Layton points out there has been a lot of activity between the two countries lately. A lot of immigration lawyers have joined the Chamber, and that’s because the uncertainty is making Canada look like an increasingly stable option.
The ties between the two countries are very strong. But it seems as though they’re growing even closer of late. Bacon says Canada’s mentioned every single day in the news in some way.
I've been involved with the Chamber for 12 years and I think, certainly in the last five years, I've seen headlines around Canada every day.
It seems as though Britain can’t get enough of Canada lately.
We have a Canadian running our Central Bank, we have a Canadian running our lawn tennis association, we have somebody running one of our postal services. There are examples everywhere of Canadians doing very well in the UK.
And joining the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce looks to be a good opportunity for Torontoism.