St. Marys Journal Argus
On the day in July when the German national soccer team won its fourth FIFA World Cup, the German Ambassador to Canada, Werner Wnendt, celebrated at the Federal Republic of Germany’s embassy in Ottawa — and later received a friendly note from the nearby embassy to Argentina (the nation Germany defeated in the World Cup final) that their celebrations could be heard from down the street.
Meanwhile, the manager of the St. Marys plant of Canadian packaging manufacturer Norampac, Steve Cousins, was in Munich, Germany. The celebrations Cousins heard that night were much louder and long-lasting than those held at the embassy in Ottawa.
On Thursday, July 31, the two men — along with Perth-Wellington MP Gary Schellenberger and the operator of another St. Marys manufacturing business, Stew Cardiff of Shepherd Gourmet Dairy — met for the first time in St. Marys. And, although there was a short bout of small talk about soccer — particularly, how last month’s FIFA final caused countless Canadians to suddenly reveal their German roots — most of the discussion was about business.
“Our company has made massive investments in German technology over the last couple of years,” Cousins told the gathering, after inviting the Journal Argus to meet with Ambassador Wnendt. The Norampac plant manager added that the European economic powerhouse is an established leader in the design and production of specialized equipment for printing and packaging.
Cardiff, meanwhile, told the Journal Argus that “since moving to St. Marys (following a 2008 fire at Shepherd Gourmet’s original Tavistock-area location), I’ve likely invested approaching $15 million in German technology.”
Ambassador Wnendt was in the region as a guest of Schellenberger, who is chair of the Canada-Germany Interparliamentary Group. The Perth-Wellington MP says he has gotten to know the ambassador quite well since he took over the post at the embassy about three years ago.
“He’s been all over Canada but he has not been to rural or southwestern Ontario,” Schellenberger said.
“We’ve also been travelling and seeing some farms,” Ambassador Wnendt said, regarding his activities outside his visits to Norampac and Shepherd Gourmet. “And we spent some time at Gary’s family cottage on ‘Ontario’s West Coast,’ on Lake Huron.”
Speaking with the Journal Argus, Ambassador Wnendt confirmed that a part of his work is to travel around the host country, meeting with German Canadians. But the main role of the position is to promote and enhance business connections between the two nations.
“In recent times, there have been three strong pillars of trade from Germany: cars; chemicals and pharmaceuticals; and machinery. And that (machinery) is a big part of what I’ve been seeing today,” he commented.