Rene Jones ridiculed by local activists for skipping NAFTA negotiations in Montreal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Liberal leader Justin Trudeau meets with the editorial board at the Toronto Star in Toronto. (Todd Korol/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

M&T Bank’s new CEO Rene Jones has just recently taken the helm — a top 20 American bank by market capitalization and Western New York’s largest employer — but local activists are already ridiculing the CEO for a perceived leadership void.

Jones is not attending NAFTA renegotiations in Montreal next week, at a time when political activists across the Rust Belt are demanding that the Clinton-era trade agreement is ended with a return to bilateral trade agreements with Canada and Mexico separately.

The activists insist that unfair Canadian trade practices must be ended and that the Canadian government-backed banking monopoly, in particular, must be broken.

In Canada commercial banks are considered ‘federal works,’ meaning they are charted extensions of Canada’s federal government.  Five commercially branded banks dominate the Nation: Royal Bank of Canada (RBC); Toronto Dominion Bank (TD Bank); Bank of Montreal (BMO); Scotia Bank; and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).

“American commercial banks should have the right to enter the Canadian market at par with any Canadian banking institution; just as Royal Bank of Canada and others are aggressively and unapologetically entering the American market,” explains Matthew Ricchiazzi, a Buffalo area publisher and political operative.

Congressman Brian Higgins — who serves on the House Ways & Means and Foreign Relations Committees — is stepping up to do what he can and plans to be at the talks in Montreal.  It’s expected that Higgins will insist on American access to the Canadian banking industry.

One thing is certain: for M&T Bank, the easiest immediate term growth opportunity exists just across the Niagara River, where Toronto and the Niagara Peninsula are among the wealthiest and fastest growing metropolitan areas in the world.

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