Halifax International Security Forum

CTV News Channel: The future of diplomacy

Colin Robertson of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute on the highlights of the Halifax International Security Forum.
Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016
Screen Shot 2016-12-04 at 9.50.41 PM

Comments Off on Halifax International Security Forum

Trump: the morning after

The American people have made their decision but what does that mean for Canada?
Nov 9, 2016

http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/ottawa-morning/segment

Canada/U.S. relations under Trump  CBC National 

Air Date: Nov 09, 2016 9:33 PM ET

Canada/U.S. relations under Trump2:21

The two countries are close partners. Is a Trump presidency going to strain that?

Comments Off on Trump: the morning after

Congress and the US Election

Forget Clinton and Trump — it’s Congress that matters most to some Canadians

A border deal, a trade deal, climate change co-operation all hang on partisan makeup of next Congress

By Matt Kwong, CBC News Posted: Nov 07, 2016 5:00 AM ETLast Updated: Nov 07, 2016 6:59 AM ET

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan speaks to the assembled House after being elected as the new Speaker in Washington in October 2015.

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan speaks to the assembled House after being elected as the new Speaker in Washington in October 2015. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

Repeal this, legislate that, nominate them.

U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump can make all the campaign promises they want, but they won’t be able to accomplish much without Congress.

While the fight for the White House gets all the sizzle in this fiery election season, Canadian interests are also watching the down-ballot races as our superpower neighbour to the south — our biggest trading partner  — shuffles seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives. More than 400,000 people flow back and forth across the Canada-U.S. border each day.

At stake for Canada? Anything from trade pacts to ease of cross-border travel, taxes on goods, a potentially lucrative project for Hydro-Québec and climate change co-operation.

Border Crossing Fee 20130422

Traffic makes its way from Windsor, Ont., to the Ambassador Bridge that connects Canada to the United States. In the dwindling days of the current Congress, a border pre-clearance agreement has stalled. (Mark Spowart/Canadian Press)

Whoever takes over the Oval Office, just as important to Canadians will be what the partisan composition is in the U.S. chambers.

“It’s what I’ve been telling Canadians for a long time,” says Maryscott Greenwood, senior advisor with the non-partisan Canadian American Business Council. “I know everybody’s obsessed with Trump-Clinton, but really, let’s also think about the Congress.”

Colin Robertson, a former diplomat and vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, notes that as a general principle, “Democrats are less sympathetic on trade and bring in more Buy America legislation.” But both Clinton and Trump have offered protectionist views on trade policies.

Either way, it’s a moot point “because you work with whoever’s there,” he says.

How Congress approves future judicial appointments will matter because the U.S. Supreme Court, while not holding jurisdiction in Canada, often makes decisions that are of interest to Canada.

‘How we approach things is so closely linked — because of our economy, our environment — that we tend to move in tandem.’ – Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute

“How we approach things is so closely linked — because of our economy, our environment — that we tend to move in tandem,” Robertson says.

While it appears to be an increasingly distant possibility that the Democrats will be able to flip the Lower House to their control — requiring at least 30 seats from the Republicans — a Democratic-majority Senate looks within reach.

Were that to happen, Greenwood notes that the Upper House would have two members from Washington State, Democratic senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, in powerful committee positions.

As for why that matters to Canadian trade policy?

Both senators have played active roles in matters to do with the Port of Seattle, arguing that Canadian ports have unfair advantages over U.S. ports.

The senators have tried to introduce legislation to slap a fee on all containers entering the U.S. via Canadian and Mexican ports.

“A border tax on all cargo,” as Greenwood describes it. “And it hasn’t seen the light of day or been passed in[to] law so far because Murray and Cantwell weren’t senior enough” to be able to broker the kinds of deals they might have coveted.

Apple Dumping

Container ships sit moored at the Port of Seattle, which is in the constituency of two Democratic senators for Washington state who say Canadian ports have an unfair advantage over U.S. ports. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

TPP up in the air

Then there’s the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The largest regional trade pact in history includes Canada, the U.S. and 10 other signatories, but if Washington doesn’t want anything to do with it, Canada probably won’t want to either.

“It would be in Canada’s interests not to try navigating the Asian trade pond by itself,” says Geoffrey Hale, a policy expert on U.S.-Canada relations with the University of Lethbridge. “It’s a lot easier to slipstream behind the Americans in these waters than to try to cobble together alliances” with the Pacific Rim countries involved.

Clinton has denounced TPP, which she at one time hailed as a “gold standard” in trade agreements. Trump exhibits a rather un-Republican opposition to free trade, slamming it as “the death blow for American manufacturing.”

USA-ELECTION/

Delegates protesting against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement hold up signs at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 25, 2016. (Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters)

Obama’s fast-track on TPP was achieved with Republicans in the House and Senate, not within his own party.

Greenwood isn’t betting on the prospect that Obama will be able to push its passage through a lame-duck Congress, believing TPP will instead “wither on the vine.”

Border bill stalled

Likewise on the climate change front, Hale says the likelihood of coherent climate change legislation coming out of Congress in the coming session is slim. Hale says the “modest Democratic majority” projected for the Senate wouldn’t give Clinton much room to manoeuvre.

“The [Canadian] government would be absolutely insane to take a very aggressive, unilateral approach on climate change if the United States was doing absolutely nothing,” Hale says.

A Canada-U.S. border pre-clearance agreement also has been stalled. Passage of the bill, which in Canada received first reading in the House of Commons in June, would expedite commerce and allow pre-cleared travellers to skip long customs lines.

Although the deal has bipartisan support in the U.S., there’s precious time left to pass the law. And once the new session of Congress begins, “you’ve got to get started from go again,” Greenwood says.

Canadian interests are hot topics in local congressional races this year.

In New Hampshire, voters worry about the “Northern Pass,” a $1.7-billion joint proposal from Hydro-Québec and New England’s Eversource to export 1,000 megawatts of hydro power to the northeastern U.S. The controversial 309-kilometre high-transmission line would cut a swath through idyllic New Hampshire landscapes. Republican Senate candidate Dolly McPhaul opposes the plan, which would run through her district, and has focused her campaign on the issue.

In Alaska last month, Senate candidates on public radio debated how B.C. mineral mining upstream was affecting water flowing into southeast Alaska and threatening the state’s fishing industry. Republican senator Lisa Murkowski faced a grilling from independent Margaret Stock on creating an international commission to look into the matter.

Robertson, the former diplomat, notes that when the U.S. election ends, Canada’s wheeling and dealing only just begins.

“We have permanent interests for whoever’s there. We work with whoever we can to find our way in,” he says, adding, “For Canada, it’s a permanent campaign.”

Comments Off on Congress and the US Election

US Election

Clinton vs. Trump, through Canada’s eyes

Photo: Creative Commons. https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexindigo/ Some rights reserved.
Listen to this storyCanadians have big reasons to pay attention to the U.S. presidential election. For one, after Canada’s national sport of hockey, few subjects engross Canadians more than American politics. “It’s our national pastime,” said Collin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, a think tank based in Calgary with offices in Ottawa.

There’s also huge economic and political reasons. “The United States is our principal ally and our main trading partner. 75% of what we sell abroad goes to the United States,” Robertson said.Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

He has been spending the election season thinking about what a President Clinton or a President Trump would mean for Canada and helped lead a panel on the topic recently at Carleton University in Ottawa.Robertson’s key points:

  • If there’s a President Clinton, her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership may mean Canada will have to go it alone on future trade deals. “This plan effectively updates NAFTA,” says Robertson, and would open markets to Asian countries, including Japan, for Canadian companies. “If that does not proceed, we have to move to a plan B.”
  • If there’s a President Trump, he has called on the countries in the NATO alliance, which includes Canada, to “pay their fair share” for defense and security. “We rely very much on the United States,” says Robertson. “We can expect a Trump administration to push us very hard to double our defense spending.”

Click listen to hear Robertson’s conversation with David Sommerstein.

Robertson also covered a couple topics that didn’t make it into the final interview – climate change and border issues:


Comments Off on US Election

US Election with Ambassadors Gary Doer and Gordon Giffin

A panel discussion is held in Ottawa entitled The US Election – A Wild Ride Ahead for Canada? The discussion features Gary Doer (former Canadian Ambassador to the United States), Gordon Giffin (senior advisor to the Clinton campaign and former U.S. Ambassador to Canada) and Colin Robertson (Vice-President of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute) discussing the upcoming US election and what impact it will have on the Canada-US relationship. (October 25)

2016)http://www.cpac.ca/en/digital-archives/?search=Giffin+Doer

Screen Shot 2016-11-08 at 9.49.23 AM

Comments Off on US Election with Ambassadors Gary Doer and Gordon Giffin

Canada and China

Canada’s negotiating position in China

BNN interviews Colin Robertson on what can be accomplished during Trudeau’s first official visit to China.

http://www.bnn.ca/video/canada-s-negotiating-position-in-china~941042

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 5.14.39 PM

Comments Off on Canada and China

Obama Speech to Parliament

Comments Off on Obama Speech to Parliament

On Ambassador Kevin Vickers ‘unorthodox’ intervention

CTV National interview with Omar Sachedina

http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?playlistId=1.2919579

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 11.20.56 AM

Comments Off on On Ambassador Kevin Vickers ‘unorthodox’ intervention

Canada Seeks UN Security Council Seat

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially launched Canada’s campaign for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council In the lobby of the United Nations headquarters in New York on March 16, 2016.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially launched Canada’s campaign for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council In the lobby of the United Nations headquarters in New York on March 16, 2016.
Photo Credit: ICI Radio-Canada

Prime minister seeks UN Security Council seat

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestEmailPrint

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went to United Nations headquarters to officially launch Canada’s campaign to get a two-year temporary seat at the Security Council for the 2021-22 term. Among his arguments for were Canada’s leadership at the Paris summit on climate change, its acceptance of 25,000 Syrian refugees, and what he called “Canada’s pivotal role” in peace and security.

ListenLeader promises to revitalize historic peacekeeping role

He emphasized Canada’s role as a peacekeeper and vowing “to revitalize Canada’s historic role as a key contributor to United Nations peacekeeping, in addition to helping advance current reform efforts…

“And Canada will increase its engagement with peace operations, not just by making available our military, police, and specialized expertise, but also by supporting the civilian institutions that prevent conflict, bring stability to fragile states, and help societies recover in the aftermath of crisis,” said Trudeau.

Previous bid lost, an embarrassing defeat

Canada’s previous government had withdrawn from United Nations activity and was seen to have made a lacklustre run for a seat on the Security Council in 2010. It withdrew when it became evident Portugal would win the vote instead.   It was the first time in 50 years that Canada lost a bid to win a seat on the council.

‘Time for Canada to step up once again’

After that government was defeated, newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “Canada is back” as a player on the UN stage. Echoing the same message in the lobby of the UN Trudeau said, “It’s time. It is time for Canada to step up once again.”

Canada’s chances of winning the vote for a temporary seat on the UN Security Council are good, in the opinion of Colin Robertson, former diplomat and vice-president and fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. He notes the Canadian public is proud of Canada’s pioneering role in peacekeeping and is likely to approve of Trudeau plan to take a more active role in international affairs.

 

Reality check: Is securing a seat on the UN Security Council necessary for Canada?
By Monique Muise National Online Journalist, Politics Global News

WATCH: Global News chief political correspondent Tom Clark discusses what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s strategy is for raising Canada’s influence on the world.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau began a two-day trip to New York City on Wednesday, and kicked things off with what will likely prove to be the centerpiece of his visit to the United Nations.

The prime minister confirmed that Canada will seek to re-join the powerful UN Security Council after failing — for the first time ever — to secure a seat around the table in 2010.

The upcoming bid for a two-year term starting in 2021 is part of a broader rapprochement between Canada and the United Nations that began with Trudeau welcoming UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to Ottawa in February.

Observers have noted that the warming trend may be politically advantageous for Trudeau as he attempts to position himself as a champion of UN priorities like refugee resettlement, tackling climate change and stabilizing the situation in the Middle East.

READ MORE: Trudeau at UN promotes parental leave for fathers, gender parity

But beyond the politics, what, if anything, would a seat on the Security Council really achieve for Canada?

WATCH: Canada lost its last bid for a seat on the UN Security Council in 2010, something Justin Trudeau is looking to change with a trip to New York. Jacques Bourbeau reports.

According to Paul Heinbecker, who served as Canada’s UN ambassador during a period when it sat on the Security Council in the early 2000s, membership will allow Ottawa to influence policy at a high level, and that can be critical when dealing with health emergencies like the Ebola crisis, or mass refugee migrations.

“Canadians are looking at the world now and they’re seeing a lot of upset, a lot of instability, a lot of risk that they didn’t think that they faced before from terrorism,” said Heinbecker.

“These things come to your doorstep … so I think it’s very important that we have the opportunity to influence events.”

Colin Robertson, another former Canadian diplomat and now vice president at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, agreed with that assessment.

“If you think of, say, the House of Commons, you move from the back-bench to sitting in the cabinet. The Security Council is essentially the cabinet for the United Nations,” Robertson said.

Canada is also one of the major beneficiaries of stable international trade, added Robertson, and by securing a seat, the country “can take an active role in helping to create and preserve that system. Instead of being a watcher, we would become an active participant.”

Additionally, membership on the council fits in with the longstanding tradition of having Canada at the table, Robertson noted, and that’s not as small a consideration as some might think.

“It’s part of what our self-identity is about, more so than other places. Britain and France have long histories, this country doesn’t have a long history. But the history we do have is, in part, as a player on the international scene.”

Conservatives will support bid

Conservative foreign affairs critic Peter Kent said his party will support the Liberal government’s efforts to regain a seat on the Security Council in 2021, but “we would hope that the government doesn’t compromise the principled foreign policy positions that our government took, and which contributed in large part to our lack of success in 2010.”

The Conservatives have always contended that Canada lost out to Portugal because the Harper government took unpopular stands on gay rights in Africa, staunchly defended Israel and flagged human rights issues in countries like Sri Lanka.

“There were a number of countries who … in the end, on the day of the vote, those votes when elsewhere,” Kent said.

Listen

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestEmailPrint

Comments Off on Canada Seeks UN Security Council Seat

Trudeau Visit

Obama on growing friendship with Trudeau: “What’s not to like?”

Reuters

U.S. President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau laugh as they meet in the Oval Office following an official arrival ceremony for Trudeau at the White House in Washington

.

View photo

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau laugh as they meet in the …By David Ljunggren

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Thursday turned the page on years of shaky ties with Canada by staging a lavish White House welcome for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, making clear the new leader is a man after his own heart.

Trudeau, 44, the left-leaning Liberal Party leader and son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, took power last November. He already enjoys a closer bond with the Democratic president than his right-of-center predecessor, Stephen Harper of the Conservatives, managed in more than six years of dealing with the Obama administration.

“He campaigned on a message of hope and of change. His positive and optimistic vision is inspiring young people,” Obama said after meeting with Trudeau in the Oval Office.

“So, from my perspective, what’s not to like?” he added, also noting Trudeau’s commitment to the environment.

Keeping good relations with the United States is critical for Canada, which sends 75 percent of its exports to its southern neighbor. Trudeau brought along six Cabinet ministers in a sign of how seriously he took the visit.

Obama struck a warm, informal tone from the start and told Trudeau at a state dinner he “may well be the most popular Canadian named Justin.” Singer Justin Bieber is from Canada.

The White House dinner was the first for a Canadian leader since 1997. Obama never did the same for Harper, who irritated the administration by insisting it approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Obama blocked the project last year.

At an arrival ceremony on Thursday morning, Obama teased Trudeau about the failure in recent years of Canadian hockey teams to win the sport’s top honor.

“Where’s the Stanley Cup right now?” he asked. “I’m sorry. Is it in my hometown with the Chicago Blackhawks?”

Trudeau replied there was a high U.S. demand for Canadian exports, including three of the star players who helped the Blackhawks win the National Hockey League championship last year.

In Ottawa, Conservative Party foreign affairs spokesman Tony Clement said Trudeau’s visit had little deeper meaning, given that Obama would out of office in January 2017.

Even so, the next few months could be crucial for Canada, said Colin Robertson of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, a former senior diplomat with two U.S. postings.

Encouraged by Obama’s tone, American officials are starting to re-examine important elements of the bilateral relationship in a favorable way, Robertson said.

“The next administration is not going to have Canada on their radar,” he said in a phone interview. “But their reference point when they do … will be this review conducted under the best possible auspices.”

 

CPAC Prime Time Politics host Peter Van Dusen previews the prime minister’s trip to Washington with  Colin Robertson (Canadian Global Affairs Institute), Christopher Sands (Johns Hopkins University).

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 9.17.47 PM

Comments Off on Trudeau Visit