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Noted scholar and policy‐maker on North American relations, Professor Robert Pastor kicks off the Saturday session of the Washington NACLE workshop. In his recent book, The North American Idea: A Vision of the Continental Future, Pastor explains that NAFTA’s mandate was too limited to address the new North American agenda. To re‐invigorate the continent, the leaders of NAFTA need to start with an idea based on a principle of interdependence. If one country fails, all three are harmed, and if one grows, they all benefit. Drawing on first‐hand experience as a policy‐maker and analyst, Pastor shows how this idea – once woven into the national consciousness of the three countries — could mobilize public support for continental solutions to problems that have confounded each nation working on its own.