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Part-time consular services requested; Schumer suggests plan to Canada

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., is asking the Canadian government to offer consular services in Buffalo on a part-time basis once the full-time consulate closes in August.

Schumer suggested the part-time plan in both a phone call and a letter Thursday to John Baird, the Canadian minister of foreign affairs.

"While I was extremely disappointed that Canada suddenly and mistakenly closed their Buffalo consulate, I conveyed in my call to Canadian Foreign Minister Baird that establishing a part-time presence here is cost-effective and would have enormously positive impacts on cross-border cooperation and commerce," Schumer said.

"The Canadians already do part-time consular operations in North America so they should set up a similar operation here in Buffalo, too," Schumer added.

In his letter to Baird, Schumer suggested that staff from the Canadian consulate in New York fly to Buffalo periodically to perform duties important to Western New York businesses. Schumer said he would help the Canadian government secure office space for that part-time work if necessary.

"Instead of needing full-time infrastructure and personnel, a consistent part-time schedule can be established where consular personnel come to Buffalo to process applications and provide other consular services," Schumer wrote. "Appointments can be taken online to ensure the need for consular availability in Buffalo on any given date staff is scheduled to travel to Buffalo."

Spokespeople for the Canadian government did not provide an immediate response to a request for comment on Schumer's proposal.