What a Clinton or Trump Victory would mean for Canada

How a Clinton victory could affect Canada

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonDemocratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign event at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Laura Payton, Ottawa News Bureau Online Producer


Published Monday, October 24, 2016 6:30AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 24, 2016 11:02AM EDT

It can be disconcerting for Canadians following the U.S. election to hear the candidates talk about renegotiating NAFTA or withholding NATO support unless members vastly increase their defence spending.

Given her decades in politics, it’s likely easier to predict what Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would do as president than Republican nominee Donald Trump.

CTVNews.ca breaks down the impact her policies could have on Canada, and how they compare to those of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The economy

With $2.4 billion in goods and services exchanged every day between Canada and the U.S., the potential effect on the economy is likely the greatest concern for Canadian policymakers.

The North American Free Trade Agreement governs much of that business, with a dozen Pacific Rim countries looking to the possibility of an even more ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership. Both deals have had a starring role in the debate about U.S. economic policy.

Clinton criticized NAFTA in her first run for the democratic nomination in 2007-08, and has been critical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership – after calling it the “gold standard” early in negotiations. But a leaked email released earlier this month through a campaign hacking suggests she’s warmer to free trade than she admits. In an excerpt from a 2013 speech to a Brazilian bank, Clinton says her “dream” is “a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders.”

Clinton’s private position more closely mirrors Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s position than do her public pronouncements. Trudeau – and U.S. President Barack Obama – both spoke strongly in favour of free trade during the North American Leaders’ Summit last June. Trudeau has frequently said export-intensive industries pay higher wages than non-export industries and that people benefit from free trade.

Canada-U.S. trade map CLINTON

SOURCE: Global Affairs Canada and RealClearPolitics.com, based on data from October 25, 2016. (Tahiat Mahboob)

Joy Nott, president of the Canadian Association of Importers & Exporters, says it’s not unusual to hear NAFTA or free trade come up during an election.

“The fact that NAFTA’s being discussed in a U.S. election: not new and not terribly unnerving because it’s been talked about a lot and then whoever is elected gets elected, and then they enter the White House, and NAFTA is never touched.”

Moreover, Nott points out, to change NAFTA, the president would need Congress behind him or her.

Clinton has proposed having a trade enforcer to make sure the detailed regulations are carefully followed and to punish any rulebreakers, but Nott said the U.S. has always enforced its rules pretty strictly.

“Could they potentially become more active in enforcing and auditing and that kind of stuff? Yeah, they could, but they’re already quite active in that area,” she said.

Former foreign affairs minister John Baird, however, sounded a more warning tone.

In an interview with Don Martin, host of CTV’s Power Play, Baird said Clinton supports a strong relationship with Canada, but Congress is increasingly protectionist.

“A more inward-looking landscape will make it really hard even for a President Clinton to tackle trade irritants where their predecessors might have been able to,” he said.

“You could see an increasingly protectionist tone from Washington that could reverberate around the world.”

Climate change

It’s hard to talk about Canada-U.S. economic issues without referring to TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline extension, the permit for which President Barack Obama denied 11 months ago.

While then-secretary of state Clinton said in 2010 that she was inclined to approve the Keystone XL pipeline extension, she announced last fall that she had changed her mind and opposed it. It would likely be harder for her to revert back and approve it as president, analysts say, given the late-stage support she received from former rival Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton

“It might have been easier a year or two ago for her to endorse Keystone than it would be today,” said Mark Cameron, executive director of Canadians for Clean Prosperity.

“But after the election, particularly if the Republicans still control the Congress, it’s the kind of thing that you could possibly see a compromise occurring on.”

Clinton’s environment platform bears similarities to that proposed by Trudeau’s Liberal Party. Both discuss the need to invest in clean energy to create good-paying jobs, end subsidies to oil and gas companies, and limit emissions. Clinton is likely to maintain the course set by Obama on climate change, including implementing the clean power plan that’s currently making its way through American courts. Trudeau, meanwhile, promised to work with the U.S. and Mexico to “develop an ambitious North American clean energy and environmental agreement.”

Cameron says the clean power plan would look a lot like carbon pricing for the electricity sector, if it’s fully implemented.

“That would probably open up discussion about how Canada and the U.S. can cooperate more on carbon pricing,” said Cameron, who has political expertise as a staffer in former prime minister Stephen Harper’s office.


Despite serving as secretary of state in the Obama administration, Clinton is widely expected to take a stronger stance on foreign policy than the outgoing president. For those trying to read tea leaves, her time as secretary of state and her record as a public figure over the last 25 years suggest a President Clinton would probably be more interventionist than Obama has been, says Thomas Juneau, assistant professor of the University of Ottawa’s graduate school of public and international affairs.

Nato Allies Defence Spending

SOURCE: World Bank, Military expenditure (% of GDP) 2015. (Tahiat Mahboob)

“That means Syria, that means the Middle East as a whole and that means overall,” said Juneau, whose research focuses on the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy in the region.

“As secretary of state she favoured a no-fly zone over certain parts of Syria. That’s a very, very complicated intervention,” he said. “What would the U.S. ask of its allies? What would Canada do, politically, diplomatically, militarily?”

While Clinton’s national security plan calls for an intensified coalition air campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, Trudeau pulled Canadian fighter jets out of the mission. The Liberals instead increased the number of Canadian trainers and added three helicopters and an intelligence centre to the mission.

Canada could also face pressure to increase its defence spending – a call Obama made in person during a visit to Ottawa last June, but one Clinton would likely make more aggressively, Juneau said.

Canada currently spends one per cent of its GDP on its defence budget, although NATO countries have pledged to spend two per cent.

Still, Juneau says, “it’s a safe assumption that a Clinton presidency would be more consistent with most Canadian interests than a Trump one.”

How a Trump victory could affect Canada

Donald Trump Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Delaware County Fair, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016, in Delaware, Ohio. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Laura Payton, Ottawa News Bureau Online Producer


Published Monday, October 24, 2016 6:30AM EDT

In a presidential race with its fair share of jaw-dropping pronouncements, it’s hard to choose just a few. But for Canadian officials, a handful of Donald Trump’s statements stand out.

The political neophyte has promised to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement and throw it out if he doesn’t get what he wants, get tough on America’s NATO allies and increase coal production in the face of a world moving increasingly to clean energy.

All of these policies would have a dramatic impact on Canada. CTVNews.ca compares his policies to those of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and breaks down the impact they could have.

The economy

Without a history of public service, it’s difficult to judge how closely Trump would stick to his promises. But Trump has said plenty that would raise concerns for Canadian policymakers.

The Republican nominee opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed free trade agreement between a dozen Pacific Rim countries, including Canada. He also says he’d tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump’s main targets are Mexico and China, but observers say Canada would be collateral damage if he starts to torpedo trade deals.

Trump’s avowed protectionism runs counter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s vocal support for more free trade, and would surely lead to tension between the two countries.

It’s not unusual for Americans running for president to campaign as protectionists: both Clinton and U.S. President Barack Obama criticized NAFTA during their 2008 races, but Obama didn’t push to reopen NAFTA once he was in the White House. The question is whether Trump would follow through, and how.

Canada-U.S. trade map TRUMP

SOURCE: Global Affairs Canada and RealClearPolitics.com, based on data from October 20, 2016. (Tahiat Mahboob)

There is a measure in NAFTA that would let one signatory provide six months notice and then withdraw, says Daniel Kiselbach, a partner at Deloitte Tax Law LLP, but it’s likely not as simple as that. While the U.S. president signs trade deals, it’s up to Congress to pass the legislation that makes it law.

“At least one U.S. constitutional lawyer has said you just can’t withdraw by withdrawing from the treaty,” Kiselbach said.

“The president has to respect the enabling legislation unless and until Congress has repealed it.”

That means Congress would have to be on board. And, while former foreign affairs minister John Baird has raised the alarm about increasing protectionism in Congress, the president of the Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters says she’s not worried yet.

“There’s no sense at this point in time that, whether it be Hillary Clinton that wins the White House or Donald Trump … that the House would necessarily go along with what they’re thinking,” Joy Nott said in an interview with CTV News.

Canada, in fact, is the top export destination for 35 states – a market they’d be at risk of losing if a president withdrew from NAFTA. A move to ditch NAFTA would likely result in American importers taking the U.S. government to court, Kiselbach said, but it’s hard to know exactly what would happen since there’s almost no precedent.

“The last time the U.S. withdrew from a trade agreement was 1866,” Kiselbach said.

Even if quitting NAFTA isn’t in the cards, former diplomat Colin Robertson says Trump can find other ways to make life difficult for Canadian exporters. That includes having the U.S. trade representative and Department of Commerce initiate trade actions.

“That would have a chilling effect on investment in Canada,” said Robertson, vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Climate change

When it comes to climate change, there’s little similarity between Trump’s and Trudeau’s positions. Trump once tweeted that global warming “was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” while Trudeau campaigned on the need for tougher regulations and a price on carbon. Trudeau has since maintained the targets pledged under the previous government, but announced he’ll impose a carbon tax in 2018 on any province or territory that doesn’t price carbon on its own.

Donald Trump

According to Mark Cameron, executive director of Canadians for Clean Prosperity, the question for a Trump presidency would be: can he undo some of the measures Obama has brought in? That includes Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which is currently working its way through the American courts.

“He’s taken some pretty strong stands against climate policy,” Cameron said.

“There are some people on his environmental advisory group …who have taken pretty extreme stands,” he added. “So I think they would try to unravel things. I’m just not sure that they would be able to dismantle everything that’s been done already.”

Trump has also promised to boost the coal industry, while Trudeau talks of clean energy.

One area on which Trudeau and Trump could agree is a re-do of the Keystone XL pipeline decision. Trudeau supports the pipeline extension, which U.S. President Barack Obama vetoed last fall. Trump says he would approve the pipeline extension, but wants “a piece of the profits” to “make our country rich again.”

Robertson says that argument wouldn’t get Trump very far. Canadian officials would privately remind the White House that the U.S. now has pipelines running north, nevermind a supply of shale gas they’re exporting north.

“Do you want us to put a tariff on the 30 pipelines running north?” Robertson predicts the discussion would go.

“So I think that his claim on this one could be easily rebutted and put in perspective. Energy flows both ways now.”


Among Trump’s proposals is a threat to withhold American military support from NATO if its partner countries don’t meet their targeted defence spending. All NATO countries pledged to devote two per cent of their GDP to their defence budgets, but Canada is among the countries that don’t hit that target – something noted by Obama when he was in Ottawa last June.

Nato Allies Defence Spending

SOURCE: World Bank, Military expenditure (% of GDP) 2015. (Tahiat Mahboob)

Not backing up a NATO partner would be a dramatic move.

“Some of the statements he’s made question the very basic raison d’etre of NATO. When he questioned whether he would actually come to the defence of NATO members under aggression by Russia, nobody has ever done that in the history of NATO at that level,” said Thomas Juneau, assistant professor of the University of Ottawa’s graduate school of public and international affairs.

But would he follow through? Trump’s unorthodox style and lack of political experience make his proposals difficult to plan for, Juneau says.

“The thing with Trump is, we don’t know what he thinks. He has been so inconsistent on everything, and specifically on foreign and defence policy,” he said.

“If I were an American senior official in the national security apparatus, I’d be freaking out at the possibility of a Trump presidency just because it would be so unpredictable at every level.”

Trump’s NATO comments drew a mild rebuke by Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who said they weren’t helpful. The sentiment behind them certainly contradicts Trudeau’s pronouncements on how Canada should “re-engage” with the world as he promoted his international visits and attendance at global summits. While his government believes in working with allies and communicating with foes, Trump’s campaign rhetoric is about doing the opposite.

Still, Juneau says there are too many variables to assume a Trump presidency would mean the end of NATO.

“That’s so hypothetical that I wouldn’t go there that fast,” he said. “For me, the point is that, at this point, the uncertainty is what we have to plan for.”

Canada and Mexico


Why Canada should work to strengthen its ties to Mexico

Colin Robertson, The Globe and Mail, October 14, 2016

The Trudeau Government should prioritize its strategic partnership with Mexico. The June visit of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to Quebec City, Toronto and Ottawa set a plan for closer collaboration. Both nations need to deliver on specific initiatives, especially those that emphasize our people-to-people ties.

The signature of the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) established a framework through which we have become each other’s third-largest trading partner. It is built largely through the investment of Canadian banking and resource industries in Mexico and through continental supply chains in manufacturing industries. Together, we make planes, trains and automobiles.

With a 44 million strong middle class, Mexico’s market will only increase. By 2050, Mexico is expected to rank fifth in global economic weight.

There is no shortage of collaborative instruments. The Canada-Mexico Partnership, with its private-public membership, has been in place since 2004. Its agenda covers the waterfront: energy; agri-business; labour mobility; human capital; trade, investment and innovation; environment; mining; forestry; and recently we have commenced annual security discussions.

With the election of the Trudeau government, we have developed a common North American approach to climate.

And, last December, after collaborating at the World Trade Organization, we persuaded Congress to roll back the protectionist US country-of-origin labelling requirement that threatened both of our country’s meat exports into the USA.

Canadians have begun once more their annual migration south. More than two million Canadians spend over 22 million nights in Mexico, making it our second most popular destination after the USA.

But despite the declared ambition and collaborative framework, the relationship seems less than the sum of its parts. The arbitrary imposition of a visa in July, 2009 offended Mexicans. It damaged the vital people-to-people ties that underwrite lasting relationships.

Mexicans stopped coming to Canada, complaining that the information required for the visa was excessive, intrusive and the processing time too long. Tourism and student study from Mexico sank. Mexican investors looked elsewhere. Today, we get more visitors from South Korea and Australia than Mexico, even though those flights are at least three times as long.

The visa will be replaced in December with the much-delayed Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) system.

In anticipation of this change, the Trudeau government should work with the provinces to aggressively market student study in Canada.

We have more than 400 interinstitutional agreements and Canada’s International Education Strategy identifies Mexico as a priority market. What is missing is Mexican students; there are only 5,000 among the 200,000 foreign students in Canada.

To give the initiative momentum, why not have Governor-General David Johnston lead a group of Canadian university presidents to Mexico to promote joint study opportunities and co-operation in innovation? Mr. Johnston, a former university president, represented Canada at the inauguration of Mr. Pena Nieto and recently played host to him in Quebec City.

High-level visits are catalysts for action. Justin Trudeau should also put Mexico on his travel agenda for 2017. Why not make it a trade and investment mission with the premiers?

The Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, that effectively updates NAFTA, will depend on whether U.S. President Barack Obama can secure its congressional approval during the lame-duck session. To prepare, we should be discussing with Mexico what provisions we can jointly salvage and make bilateral, to our mutual benefit.

Mexican ministers are making regular visits to the United States to make the case for continental trade and the jobs they create. Canadian ministers should join them.

As the Trudeau government contemplates a renewal of Canadian involvement in peace operations, it should look first to the challenges in our own hemisphere.

Citing its “global responsibilities,” Mr. Pena Nieto has committed Mexico to peace operations. Helping Mexico with training of peace troops would be a useful contribution as we increase our own participation.

Last week’s failed referendum on a peace pact in Colombia will oblige renewed efforts to end the more than half century conflict that has displaced 6.7 million Colombian citizens. Canada and Mexico should pursue the talks begun earlier this year on a possible joint peacekeeping role.

Can we also help Mexico with its southern frontier problems as a result of the continuing turmoil in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador?

Both governments need to pick shared initiatives on which we can achieve tangible results. Success will develop more trust and create a better basis for a shared approach when dealing with the new U.S. administration.

Over the years, the Canada-Mexico story has resembled a spasmodic series of tango-like bursts of intensity followed by long siestas. This time, let’s keep the dance going and put the emphasis on our people-to-people ties.

Comments Off on Canada and Mexico

US Elcction and Canada as target

Canada leery of protectionist U.S. campaign



The Canadian embassador to Washington says the Republicans’ and Democrats’ tough stand on trade is concerning

OTTAWA (Reuters) — Canadian diplomats are fanning out across the United States to talk up the benefits of trade with state and local leaders and counter what senior officials see as a worrying mood of protectionism swirling through the U.S. election campaign.

Amid voter anger about the supposed harm done by international trade deals, both Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton have talked about altering the North American Free Trade Agreement. That could have calamitous results for Canada, which sends 75 percent of its exports to the United States.

From trade forums in Kentucky, California and Illinois addressing state legislators and small-business owners to meetings with mayors, labour unions and interest groups, a team of diplomats has gone coast to coast to explain how important Canada is as a trading partner.

The diplomatic offensive comes amid concerns in Ottawa about both candidates, who opinion polls show are in a tight race ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Trump has talked about renegotiating the NAFTA treaty with Canada and Mexico to secure more favourable terms for the U.S.

However, he has also said he would revive TransCanada Corp’s cross-border Keystone XL pipeline project, which Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration blocked over environmental concerns. Clinton has said she opposes Keystone XL.

Current and former government officials in Ottawa said a Clinton presidency posed its own challenges for Canada.

They see the Democrat as tough on trade and more hawkish than Obama, who quickly struck up a warm relationship with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

While tough talk on trade has occurred in previous U.S. election campaigns, “there is an undercurrent and a mood here which is concerning me,” said David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to Washington.

MacNaughton, who took up the job in March, has already visited Denver, Colorado Springs and Boston and plans trips to Massachusetts, Michigan and California.

An embassy spokesperson said diplomats were intensifying their outreach effort and doing more events than usual. At every meeting, they hand out tip sheets showing Canada is the top export destination for 35 U.S. states and that nine million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Canada.

Trudeau will not say which candidate he favours, stressing he is happy to work with whomever U.S. voters elect. However, his Liberals have more policies in common with U.S. Democrats. Elected last October, he and Obama have become close, exchanging visits to each other’s countries.

“Some of the issues that we are going to be facing will be very much the same regardless of who wins,” MacNaughton said.

“I think we have to prepare to deal with some pretty difficult situations on the trade front.”

Some Americans had little idea about the size of the U.S. trading relationship with Canada, he added.

Roland Paris, who served as Trudeau’s foreign policy adviser until late June, said Trump had tapped into some strong anti-trade sentiment.

“Those feelings aren’t going away any time soon,” he said.

“We may be heading into some protectionist headwinds, even with a Hillary Clinton presidency.”

Trump and Clinton also oppose a proposed Pacific trade deal that could benefit Canada.

One person with day-to-day knowledge of the U.S.-Canada trade file also predicted strains over Canadian exports of softwood lumber, as well as Canada’s system of protection for its dairy industry, which U.S. producers strongly dislike.

Another potential area for concern is Canada’s defence spending, which is .98 percent of gross domestic product, far below the two percent commitment agreed on by NATO members.

MacNaughton said that in his talks with Republicans and Democrats, both had raised the issue of “U.S. allies stepping up to the plate” in military terms.

Trump stirred concerns among allies and even some Republicans earlier this year by saying he would decide whether to come to the aid of Baltic NATO allies in the event of Russian aggression only after reviewing if they “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”

Former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson, who had several postings in the U.S., also predicted hard discussions with Clinton administration officials over defence.

“We will be circled because we are at .98 percent,” said Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

That may not sit well with Trudeau’s government, which is pledging to run large budget deficits for at least the next five years to fund investment in infrastructure and social programs.

A government source said Canada had taken part in a number of high-profile NATO missions and was ready to push back on de-mands to increase spending in the military.

“We’re quite prepared and proud to stand up on our record and explain why there might be a discrepancy between numbers … and our actual contribution,” said the source, who asked not to be identified given the sensitivity of the topic.

Comments Off on US Elcction and Canada as target

Canada and Iran

Release of jailed Canadian a sign Liberals making progress in relations with Iran

Marie-Danielle Smith | September 26, 2016 9:02 PM ET

OTTAWA — While Montreal Professor Homa Hoodfar was still imprisoned in Iran, Canadian and Iranian officials held several meetings this summer to negotiate the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, according to a source close to the Foreign Ministry.

Though impasses remain, some experts say Hoodfar’s release on Monday is a sign the Liberal government is making progress on a promise to reopen channels cut off when the previous Conservative government severed ties with Iran in 2012.

In the meetings, officials discussed irritants that could hinder progress. Iranians highlighted the Conservative-era Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, which allows “victims of terrorism” to sue foreign governments labelled as state sponsors of terrorism — an issue that proved a “show-stopper” in negotiations, the source said.

Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion, who said earlier this year he has no intention of taking Iran off that list, met his Iranian counterpart for the first time at UN General Assembly meetings last week.

At the meeting, Dion brought up the cases of the imprisoned Iranian-Canadian professor and the children of Alison Azer, who were taken to Iran by their father more than a year ago.

Oman News Agency via AP

Oman News Agency via APRetired Iranian-Canadian professor Homa Hoodfar, left, speaks to the media in Muscat airport, Oman, after being released by Iranian authorities, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016While Azer’s plight continues, Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA reported Monday that the 65-year-old professor had been freed on humanitarian grounds and flown out of the country.

Margie Mendell, a Concordia professor and close friend, said Hoodfar’s niece, Amanda Ghahremani, met her in Oman, the first stop on her journey home.

“She’s very frail, she looks extremely thin … and very worn,” Mendell said of a report she received. “I suspect that she’s not in good health, but she’s free, she’s free and she’s out of Iran and she will get medical care and her medication.”

Hoodfar suffers from a serious neurological condition and her family had said requests for a check-up by an independent specialist doctor while jailed were ignored.

She was arrested and sent to Tehran’s Evin prison on June 6. The exact reasons for her detention were never made public but her family and colleagues have indicated she ran afoul of Iranian authorities due to her research on homosexuality and women’s sexuality in the context of Muslim countries.

Nader Hashemi, a Canadian professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Denver, said he thinks the timing of her release is not a coincidence.

Jacques Boissinot/CP

Jacques Boissinot/CPForeign Minister Stéphane Dion

“I suspect that now the prospects of diplomatic relations are much better today than they were yesterday,” Hashemi said Monday. “This was, I think, a condition that Ottawa placed before Iran.”

A statement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government had been “actively and constructively engaged at the highest levels” in Hoodfar’s case. The statement confirmed Canada worked with officials from countries with embassies in Tehran, including Oman, Italy and Switzerland.

“The government of Canada is committed to a step-by-step re-engagement with Iran. Engagement is a tougher path but a necessary one to deal more effectively with Middle East security issues and to hold Iran to account on human rights,” said Kristine Racicot, a spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada.

Not all are convinced that this is a step in the right direction.

The Iranians still have “a great deal of explaining to do” with regards to Hoodfar’s imprisonment, said Conservative foreign affairs critic Peter Kent.

“I don’t want to speculate, but my gut tells me it has more to do with them not wanting to have yet another death that they can’t explain on their hands,” he said, a theory Hashemi also mentioned since recent reports indicated Hoodfar’s health was deteriorating.

“We are highly skeptical of any talks that may be going on at the moment,” he said, adding that based on Iran’s behaviour, “we believe that any discussions with the regime are of no value.”

Former diplomat Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said for Canadian consular cases, “it’s better to be there.”

“We’ve got a lot of Canadians who would be considered dual nationals, and if you’re not there, you can’t protect their interests,” he said of putting Canadian officials in Tehran.

“This government has put a priority on people, and that would probably be something that was underlined in the feelers that were probably put out — that before we can move forward, we’ve got to see evidence of better behaviour.”

Still, this is going to be “more of a waltz rather than a quick tango,” Robertson said.

Peter Jones, associate professor at the University of Ottawa, noted that while the Iranian foreign ministry is “keen to re-establish relations” with Canada, its intelligence services and the Revolutionary Guard are much less eager.

A cautious step forward could be to accredit ambassadors in neighbouring countries, Jones said, who’d be able to visit Iran and work on Canadians’ consular cases without having to open an embassy.

Even that would be a boon for Alison Azer, whose four children were kidnapped to Iran by their father more than a year ago.

“One of the problems with Alison’s case is there is no diplomatic representation in Tehran to pursue the grievances and the problems that Canadian citizens have,” Hashemi said. “Up until now she’s had the door frozen shut.”

In a statement to the National Post Monday, Azer said she was happy to learn of Hoodfar’s release. “This demonstrates what diplomacy from the highest levels of government can accomplish,” she said.

“Today’s news gives me cautious optimism I will be reunited with my four beautiful children soon.”

Comments Off on Canada and Iran

On Results of the China Trip and G20

Post-G20 Discussion: Trudeau and China

For Immediate Release

6 September 2016 – Ottawa, ON

On today’s ‘Global Exchange’ Podcast, host Colin Robertson looks at last weekend’s ‘Group of 20’ Summit in Hangzhou, China. Join Colin for a discussion with four experts in international relations – Rob Wright, Randolph Mank, Hugh Stephens, and Marius Grinius – as they look to identify the significance and impact of the most recent G20, along with the importance of Trudeau’s visit to China preluding the Summit.

What does China’s increased role international affairs mean for Canada? What did we get out of Trudeau’s visit to China, and at the G20? Does Canada have a role to play at summits such as the G20? All this and more are discussed on this weeks episode of ‘The Global Exchange’.


  • Colin Robertson (host) A former Canadian diplomat, Colin Robertson is Vice President of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a Senior Advisor to Dentons LLP.
  • Rob Wright – served as Canadian Ambassador to China from 2005-2009. He served as Ambassador to Japan from 2001-2005.
  • Randolph Mank – a three-time former Canadian ambassador and businessman, with over thirty years of experience in Asia and around the world.
  • Hugh Stephens – Executive-in-Residence at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and Vice Chair of the Canadian Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation.
  • Marius Grinius – joined the Canadian Foreign Service in 1979 after serving in the Canadian Army for 12 years. His early overseas postings included Bangkok, NATO/Brussels and Hanoi. Assignments back in Ottawa included desk officer for nuclear arms control, Director for Asia Pacific South and then Director for South East Asia.

Book Recommendations:

Related Links:

Canada playing ‘long game’ on China as it tries to counter protectionism in the global economy

Marie-Danielle Smith | September 6, 2016 1:21 PM ET
More from Marie-Danielle Smith

Justin Trudeau answers a question from Bloomberg Television anchor Angie Lau during a Canada-Hong Kong business luncheon, held by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, during his visit to Hong Kong on September 6, 2016.

Anthony Wallace / AFP / Getty ImagesJustin Trudeau answers a question from Bloomberg Television anchor Angie Lau during a Canada-Hong Kong business luncheon, held by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, during his visit to Hong Kong on September 6, 2016.

HONG KONG — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrapped up his first official visit to China Tuesday with another push for close co-operation, including on human rights, and for openness and inclusiveness in the global economy.

“The kinds of anxieties we’re seeing around the world as people are closing in are going to leave us all poorer and worse off,” he said in Hong Kong Tuesday, expanding on messages Canada brought to the G20 table Sunday and Monday.

“There are not as many bright spots in terms of growth and openness and trade as we’d like to see around the world.”

Though it has yet to be ratified, one example could be the Canada-EU trade agreement, as election rhetoric in the U.S. could leave the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal dead in the water.

During his tour, Trudeau tried to make the case that the relationship between Canada and China could be another such bright spot.

In Beijing, finance minister Bill Morneau signalled Canada’s intent to apply for membership in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, joining other countries such as the U.K. and Australia. (The United States is not a an AIIB member.)


Trudeau downplays chance of protectionist rise in Canada 2:00

And in Shanghai, trade minister Chrystia Freeland signed $1.2 billion worth of commercial deals with Chinese corporations, followed by another series of signings in Hong Kong Tuesday. A foreign investment promotion and protection agreement with Hong Kong also went into force.

In Hangzhou, just before the G20 summit got underway, Trudeau launched a Canadian pavilion on Alibaba Group’s e-commerce platform. It was, Canadian businesspeople said on Saturday, a positive way to reach more of the Chinese consumer market.

Trudeau’s high-level meetings with Chinese leadership showed strong support for trade and investment on both sides.

A spat over Chinese restrictions on Canadian canola — which Global Affairs Canada fellow Colin Robertson said was “China showing its muscle and trying to intimidate us” — was temporarily resolved amid further negotiation.

AP Photo / Vincent Yu

AP Photo / Vincent Yu Trudeau speaks with scouts at the Sai Wan war cemetery in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016.

Addressing concerns in Canada, Trudeau strengthened his language on human rights Tuesday, appearing more relaxed in Hong Kong on the last day of his visit. He said he didn’t see a trade-off between human rights and a closer economic relationship.

“I think you have to talk fully and frankly about human rights and engage and talk about the challenges that need to be faced,” Trudeau said.

He added that in talks with Chinese leaders, he raised the example of a scathing 2014 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples in Canada.

I don’t think it means any less of us that we recognize that there is still work to do, and that was the tenor of the conversations I had with the Chinese leadership

“I don’t think it means any less of us that we recognize that there is still work to do, and that was the tenor of the conversations I had with the Chinese leadership.”

This is all part of a “long game,” according to Roland Paris, Trudeau’s first international adviser who now teaches at the University of Ottawa. Trudeau, Paris said, is setting a positive tone to Canada’s inevitable relationship with the world’s second-biggest economy.

According to Chinese sources and social media, Trudeau remains a popular figure in China. The prime minister’s celebrity, even if often focused on his appearance, “gives Canada more attention,” Robertson said, “which thus far is almost uniformly positive.”

The fact China hosted Canada in the busy lead-up to the G20 was a strong sign of “the importance that the Chinese put on their relationship with Canada,” said Paris.

Paris rejected suggestions that Canada is pivoting away from the U.S. by joining the AIIB. “The United States will remain our principal partner, trading partner and ally just by virtue of geography,” he said. He added that the U.S. is beating Canada in the race to capitalize on trade with Asia — something Canada “can’t afford not to pursue.”

At the economy-focused G20 summit, Trudeau wasn’t in the spotlight and didn’t hold many bilateral meetings, though he did meet with new U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.

The failure of the U.S. and Russia to reach a deal on Syria stole significant attention at the summit, but Trudeau avoided commenting on the issue.

Still, in the context of the G20’s economic focus, Paris said the prime minister showed himself to be “one of the world’s leading voices for openness and inclusion and against protectionism and discrimination and xenophobia and building walls.” Trudeau, Paris said, offered a “full-throated” defence of small-l liberal values to other leaders.

With careful language around issues sensitive to China, including the South China Sea and the results of a legislative vote in Hong Kong that saw some young pro-democracy candidates elected, Trudeau appeared to want to protect a friendly start to his relationship with Chinese leadership.

And Trudeau will have an unusually short time to prepare for his next encounter with the economic giant — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is expected to travel to Ottawa in mid-September.

Comments Off on On Results of the China Trip and G20

Justin Trudeau goes to China

Trudeau visits China: 6 things to watch

Prime minister leaves today for his first official visit to Beijing

By Susan Lunn, CBC News Posted: Aug 29, 2016 5:00 AM ETLast Updated: Aug 29, 2016 12:48 PM ET

Media placeholder

Trudeau departs for China and G20 1:20

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau departs for his first official visit to China, Canada’s second-largest trading partner, here are six things to watch.

How warm a welcome?

When Stephen Harper first went to China in 2009, the prime minister received a frosty reception and was famously chastised by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao for not visiting sooner.

And that was when journalists were still in the room.

A senior official quipped afterwards that the reception was so frosty, icicles nearly formed on the mirrors in the room at the Great Hall of the People.

Trudeau has been critical of the Harper government’s handling of the relationship.

“Over the past government’s mandate, unfortunately, relationships with China were somewhat inconstant. They went from hot to cold depending on the issue, depending on the day, it seemed,” Trudeau said Monday.


Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai toasts Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau during a banquet held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct. 11, 1973. (Peter Bregg/Canadian Press)

By all accounts, Trudeau should receive a much different welcome.

“The name Trudeau is almost as good as being [revered Canadian doctor Norman] Bethune, because it was, after all, Pierre Trudeau who took the step to recognize China in 1971,” said former diplomat Colin Robertson, who at one point was posted in Hong Kong.

Robertson noted Justin Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping also have something in common: they are both sons of famous fathers.

“So he starts off well past first base, whereas Stephen Harper was still working his way to first base even when he got there.”

Progress on a free trade deal?

As Canada’s biggest trading partner behind the United States, China would like a free trade agreement with Canada.

The previous Conservative government produced studies on the idea that were positive, but not much has been done since.

What will Canada agree to during this visit? Exploratory talks? Or more study?

Robertson said he doesn’t think the Trudeau government has decided yet, and that could be a problem as officials get ready to sit down with the Chinese.

“When you negotiate with the Chinese, despite the tea and buns, they are much more dragon than panda.”

Canada-China Relations 20160127

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he wants to set “a very clear and constructive relationship with China.” (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Canadian investment in Asian infrastructure

Beyond free trade, China would also like Canada to invest in its $100-billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The AIIB was created to support the development of infrastructure in China. Countries that invest in the bank give their country’s firms preferential access to projects funded by the AIIB.

Canadian firms are keen to get a piece of this business and are hoping Trudeau will send a positive signal during this visit, said former Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day, now a vice-president with the Canada-China Business Council.

“I think there’s a huge opportunity for Canadian firms; large firms, mid-size firms. We’re very well acquainted with issues related to developing infrastructure in cold weather and in extreme climates. We’ve got so much to offer there,” Day said.

David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China, disagrees.


David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)

“I actually think we made the right decision in not joining,” said Mulroney, who’s now president of the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto. “China is, in my view, far from ready for hosting a major multilateral financial institution.

“As they were announcing the launch of the bank they were shutting down the website for Reuters, which is one of the premier financial media outlets in the world.”

Asked about potential investment in the bank, senior Canadian government officials would only say, “We will have more to say on the trip.”

Human rights and global security

Trudeau has promised to balance economic interests with human rights.

“What we want to do is set a very clear and constructive relationship with China that yes, looks at the potential economic benefits of better trade relationships, while at the same time ensuring that our voice is heard clearly on issues of human rights, of labour rights, of democracy, environmental stewardship,” Trudeau said.

He will get a chance to raise thorny issues like human rights, canola exports and the espionage case of Canadian Kevin Garratt when he meets with the Chinese premier and president Wednesday in Beijing.

Garratt family

Kevin and Julia Dawn Garratt, flanked by their son Peter and daughter Hannah, were detained in August 2014 near the border with North Korea. They were accused of stealing Chinese military secrets. Julia Garratt was released on bail on Feb. 5, 2015. (Simeon Garratt)

Day accompanied Harper on two of his visits to China, and he has no doubt Trudeau will raise these issues as well, in the appropriate way, behind closed doors.

“You can make headway sitting down around a table, eyeball to eyeball, and without trying to make political points,” Day told CBC.

Mulroney adds the Chinese are very used to foreign leaders raising these issues.

“You want to address it in a non-confrontational way because you want the conversation to continue. And you want to nudge and move the Chinese system into a direction that’s going to be helpful for Canada,” he said.

Canada and the G20

China has promised to ratify the Paris Accord to fight climate change in advance of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, which begins Sept. 4.

There are media reports the U.S. will also sign, with China, two days before the international summit.

Canada has promised to ratify the accord by the end of the year. There have been no such reports it plans to do so in China.

Canadian officials are also expected to talk with European delegations about the Canada-EU free trade deal.

Reasonable expectations

The general advice for Trudeau seems to be to not rush into anything with China, but rather to focus on building a long-term relationship.

Day said both parties have an “assured sense” they’ll be dealing with each other for at least the next several years, “so it gives some opportunity to build some types of relationships and decision-making that can have long-term effects and prosperity for Canadians.”

How Trudeau’s visit to China could help the case of a Canadian jailed for spying
Head By Andrew Russell National Online Reporter Global News



WATCH ABOVE: Justin Trudeau hopes to reset relations with China on 1st official visit

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to China on his first official visit, two issues that could be on the agenda as he meets with Chinese president Xi Jinping are human rights and the case of Canadian Kevin Garratt who has been charged with espionage.

Ahead of the official visit, Trudeau said his government would balance strengthening business ties between the two countries with concerns over human rights issues in China.

“What we want to do is set a very clear and constructive relationship with China that yes, looks at the potential economic benefits of better trade relationships, while at the same time ensuring that our voice is heard clearly on issues of human rights, of labour rights, of democracy, environmental stewardship,” Trudeau told reporters last week in Sudbury, Ont.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau hopes to reset relations with China on 1st official visit

The Chinese regime has been accused of targeting activists and dissidents, persecuting people for religious beliefs, and using torture. But China’s ambassador to Canada, Luo Zhaohui, made an attempt to quell fears of his government’s troubled human rights record ahead of Trudeau’s trip.

WATCH: PM Trudeau heads to China to talk trade, human rights. Shirlee Engel reports

“You say you’re concerned about human rights issues? I think this is understandable,” Luo told the Canadian Press. “Every country has their own problems with human rights issues. No country thinks that their human rights situation is perfect.

“(In) China, we’ve got a long way to go to improve the human rights situation, but at the same time we have also made a lot of progress in the past many years.”

READ MORE: Chinese official angered by question from Canadian journalist

Who is Kevin Garratt?

Trudeau will also get the chance to speak with Chinese officials about the case of Kevin Garratt – a Canadian man who was charged with spying and stealing Chinese state secrets. Garratt and his wife Julia — who have lived in China for 30 years — were arrested in August 2014 by the state security bureau. Julia Garratt was released on bail in February 2015.

Their son Simeon Garratt, who lives in Vancouver, has previously denied his parents were involved in any wrongdoing.

Former Canadian ambassadors who spoke with Global News said Trudeau could send a strong message just by raising the issue when he sits down with Jingping on Wednesday.

“Just by raising the arrest of Mr. Garratt he flags to the Chinese authorities that this is something the Canadian government puts some priority on. That alone sends the message.” said Colin Robertson, a former diplomat and vice-president with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Gar Pardy, the former head of Canada’s consular services, said in rare cases China has been known to release prisoners based on high-profile representation. Garratt’s case was also raised by the former Conservative government.

Pardy said releasing Garratt would be an “easy” gesture for Chinese officials looking to improving the relationship between the two countries.

“Whether or not they will do it no one can hazard any sort of a definite answer,” Pardy said.

Robertson added that Trudeau will be closely watched by the press on the issues following a visit in Juned from China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

WATCH: China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs blasts Canadian journalist over human rights question

Tension over China’s jailing of the Garratt’s boiled over after Minister Yi publicly berated a Canadian journalist for asking about the case.

“Your question is full of prejudice against China and arrogance … I don’t know where that comes from. This is totally unacceptable,” Minister Yi said through a translator at a joint news conference with Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion.

Dion, who was sharply criticized for staying silent during the incident, has said that both he and Trudeau raised Garratt’s case with Wang and discussed human rights.

China admits human rights concern ahead of Trudeau visit
China admits human rights concern ahead of Trudeau visit

Canadian prime minister aims to strengthen economic ties with China

World Bulletin / News Desk

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left on Monday for his first official visit to China, in a bid to better relations between the two countries.

But one sticking point has already been addressed – that of human rights.

“[In] China, we’ve got a long way to go to improve the human rights situation, but at the same time we also made a lot of progress in the past many years,” Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaohui told the Canadian Press wire service in an interview prior to Trudeau’s trip.

The admission could be considered a preemptive strike to ease tensions since Canada has chastised China on its human rights issues many times in the past. Trudeau had promised to revisit the issue during his week-long visit.

But better economic ties between the two countries is the major objective, Canadian media reported.

Next to the United States, China is Canada’s largest trading partner and China would like to negotiate a free-trade agreement with Canada.

It is not always easy to broker deals with China, according to former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson, who was at one time was posted to China.

“When you negotiate with the Chinese, despite the tea and buns, they are much more dragon than panda,” he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada’s state media.

Relations between the two countries was frosty when Stephen Harper was Canada’s prime minister. Trudeau’s Liberals took over government after winning election in the fall of 2015.

“Over the past government’s mandate, unfortunately, relations with China were somewhat inconstant,” Trudeau told reporters Monday. “They went from hot to cold, depending on the issue, depending on the day, it seemed.”

But Robertson said Trudeau has a better chance of reaching deals with China because the prime minister’s father, who is also a former prime minister of Canada, was one of the first Western leaders to recognize communist China in 1971.

Economics again is slated to dominate the visit.

China also wants Canada to invest in its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to the tune of CAN$100 billion.

China is more likely to look favorable on countries that have invested in the bank when it comes to awarding contracts for various projects within China and Canadian businesses are eager for a piece of that, according to the CBC.

On Sunday the G20 Summit in Hangzhou convenes and Trudeau’s stated goal of improving economic ties with China will have a chance to strengthen – leaders are expected to discuss ways to advance global economic co-operation and development, the Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest newspaper, reported.

Comments Off on Justin Trudeau goes to China

Trump, Clinton and Canadian Trade


What Canada needs to do as Trump, Clinton talk trade

Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016.

Even when we are not the target, Canada is often collaterally damaged by U.S. trade action. In preparing for the next U.S. administration, our federal and provincial governments should be recalibrating their own economic policies.

The Trudeau government is mapping out the various scenarios depending on the election outcome. We need to closely examine the areas for collaboration and conflict in the policy platforms of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Our place in continental supply chains should benefit from the reinvigoration of U.S. manufacturing promised by both candidates. Adoption of the Trump corporate tax rates would oblige us to re-examine our own regime. There is more opportunity in the Clinton plan for collaboration in green energy, research, and infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile Ambassador David MacNaughton and our U.S. envoys are reaching out to Americans to stress the value of the relationship to Canada, especially in terms of jobs and investment. This exercise should be co-ordinated with the provinces and business.

But we need to do more.

It should start with a doubling-down on trade liberalization at home and abroad.

Our sesquicentennial present to ourselves should be to finally tear down interprovincial trade barriers. The premiers made progress at their recent Whitehorse meeting, but they now need to deliver on their promised Canadian free-trade agreement.

A recent Senate report estimates the annual cost of interprovincial trade barriers is $130-billion. Last month, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia agreed to co-ordinate online wine sales, but as the Senate report observed, it’s only a modest step. The top 10 barriers cited by the Senate, which include trucking, food (notably cheese, wine and beer) and varying standards, should be the starting point for provincial action.

Internationally, we need to ratify the Canada-Europe trade agreement (CETA) as soon as possible and then launch an ambitious trade promotion exercise, led by the Prime Minister and premiers, to take advantage of the deal. Our European missions should already be identifying the trade opportunities of an agreement and, working with the provinces and business, matching the new opportunities against Canadian products and services.

A Canada-China free-trade agreement is in the cards. We should approach this carefully. What lessons can we learn, for example, from the experience of the New Zealand and Australian free-trade agreements with China?

Better prospects are closer economic ties starting with Japan and Mexico, and they should be top of our list if Ottawa or the U.S. Congress fails to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

We can resume the economic partnership negotiations with Japan. And we should be working more closely with Mexico in our continuing advocacy efforts, reminding Americans why our continental economic partnership creates jobs and growth for all of us. Mexican ministers are regularly visiting U.S. states to point out the jobs created by trade with Mexico. We should do the same.

Through the TPP we have already effectively negotiated trade agreements with many ASEAN and Pacific Alliance nations. We should quickly turn these into regional agreements. There are continuing economic partnership negotiations with India. While difficult and frustrating, we need to keep plugging away.

Of the Trudeau Government’s many policy reviews, the recommendations of the Barton committee on Economic Growth could potentially shape our economic future in a fashion similar to the Macdonald Commission on Economic Union. Their policy deliberations should include advice on:

getting the most out of trade liberalization, especially in ensuring that the negotiated trade policy gains become realizable results for business. Can we do more with the Export Development Corporation and Canadian Commercial Corporation?;
managing foreign investment to our advantage, including its place in our planned big infrastructure transportation projects designed to get our goods to market;
in developing global champions in our oil and gas, mining and agri-food sectors, what kinds of incentives and performance measures will work?;
how to more closely align and co-ordinate government-funded research and its practical application? Genome Canada is an effective model;
how higher education can better contribute to skills and training. Shouldn’t we be revaluing our community colleges and putting higher public value on the dignity of our trades?

Both levels of government need to better explain how trade liberalization policies benefit Canadians. They also need to help those affected by change. Governments no longer get a free pass on trust.

The U.S. will always be our main market and our principal trade partner. Our broad economic policy approaches, of necessity, are often complementary, but not the same. And when the U.S. takes a wrong turn, we should not panic, but improve our own game.

Comments Off on Trump, Clinton and Canadian Trade

Hidden Wiring of Canada US Relations


How Canada can avoid falling victim to Trump’s protectionist rhetoric

MILWAUKEE, WIS. — The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Jul. 19, 2016

In the coming days both the Republicans and Democrats will adopt platforms that will underline American concerns around security and trade. Donald Trump pledges to “rip up” all existing trade deals “to make really good ones.” Even when we are not the direct target, Canadian interests, especially trade, are at risk of becoming collateral damage.

Assuaging U.S. security concerns and containing the protectionist instinct requires an all-Canada effort by our national and provincial governments.

At the Washington summit in March and then last month in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers worked with the Obama administration to strengthen perimeter security with a joint entry-exit program that also should give greater confidence in easing border access.

The Ottawa meeting also endorsed a trilateral competitiveness work plan with a series of measures to reinforce supply chain efficiencies, innovation and stakeholder consultation and outreach. In practical terms, it will help business: further expediting travel with the NEXUS “fast pass” and, eventually, a single electronic portal that satisfies the information requirements of the governments’ multiple agencies.

This effort, led by our trade ministers, should also serve as basis for a continental Plan B so that we can realize the gains from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement should it fail to secure the required congressional approval for implementation.

We need similar efforts at the state level. This is where protectionist fires start, usually through “ Buy America” policies that are then copied at the congressional level. But by the time these flames reach Congress, we are essentially firefighting so it is better to tamp them down at their source.

Our fire hose has three streams.

First, the hard data that demonstrates that 35 American states export more to Canada than anywhere else in the world. We are the second-largest export market for most of the rest. The data also shows how much the U.S. needs what we sell to them. A recent study for our Washington Embassy concluded that 78 per cent of what we sell to the U.S. is then used to make goods and services in the U.S. Trade with Canada generates an estimated nine million U.S. jobs. We need to define these by district and state.

The second stream is the web of existing reciprocal agreements that cover everything from trade to lending a helping hand in fighting fires, floods, pandemics and other disasters. Many are practical understandings negotiated by states and provinces. Reciprocity means equal treatment, a concept even Mr. Trump can understand, and the basis of cross-border agreements since before Confederation.

The third stream is public diplomacy. Prime Minister Trudeau has taken our envoys off the Harper government’s short leash and told them to be creative in pursuit of Canadian interests.

Our Consul General in Chicago, Roy Norton, entertained Midwest state legislators this past weekend in Milwaukee using a Jeopardy-styled game to inform them on Canada, helping by samplings of Ontario wine and Quebec beer.

After a decade of cuts, however, public diplomacy needs reinvestment in resources and budgets. Given that the U.S. accounts for three-quarters of our trade this would seem to be a “no-brainer.”

If “all politics is local,” then provincial premiers and legislators have a vital and continuing role in reaching out to their state counterparts and reminding them that doing and making things together generates mutual prosperity.

In Calgary this week, the Pacific Northwest Economic Region brings together over 80 legislators from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Meanwhile in Milwaukee, several hundred legislators from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario are meeting with their Council of State Governments’ counterparts from 11 Midwest states.

Legislators build relationships that are important, today and tomorrow, especially given the ladder nature of U.S. political careers. Barack Obama was an Illinois state legislator in 2004. Five years later he was the U.S. president.

These get-togethers debate and pass resolutions on regional issues and in previous years they have encouraged border co-operation and opposed protectionism like country-of-origin labelling. In Milwaukee this weekend legislators endorsed a resolution for a “Protein Highway” to encourage research and entrepreneurship between the Prairie provinces and Great Plains states on high-protein crops.

These regional get-togethers, operating with little fanfare or attention, most closely resemble extended family reunions. They constitute the hidden wiring of our continental relationship. They do practical work.

They contribute to a relationship best described by Harry Truman. This quintessential Midwestern U.S. president, speaking to the Canadian Parliament in 1947 said its working principle is “compounded of one part proximity and nine parts good will and commonsense.”

Relationships, whether prime minister to president or legislator to legislator, are what build good will and common sense.

Comments Off on Hidden Wiring of Canada US Relations

Three Amigos Summit

In Canada, Mexican President calls for ‘economic integration’ of North America

Robert Fife – Ottawa Bureau Chief

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Published Monday, Jun. 27, 2016 11:39AM EDT

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto arrived in Canada Monday for an official state visit, using his first remarks to call for the “economic integration” of North America.

Governor-General David Johnston welcomed the Mexican leader at the historic Citadelle in Quebec City as Mr. Nieto begins two days of bilateral talks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the premiers of Quebec and Ontario as well as business leaders in advance of Wednesday’s summit of the North American leaders that will include U.S. President Barack Obama.

“Canadians and Mexicans alike share values and development goals and we also share a single vision of the world we want,” Mr. Nieto said. “Let us take stock of our affinity and agreement to bolster innovation and environmental sustainability and also to foster the economic integration of North America.”

During their bilateral talks, officials say Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Nieto will remind North Americans “how lucky we are to be where we are … and we are a lot more successful when we tackle shared problems together rather than put up walls.”

The three leaders of North America will trumpet the benefits of liberalized free trade and the necessity of countries to work in unison when they gather in Ottawa for a summit that had been set up largely to focus on the environment but has been turned upside down by the stunning British vote to exit the European Union.

But the shocking British vote to secede from the EU has forced the leaders to reassess the game plan and put a greater emphasis on free trade when they gather for the one-day summit to be held at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

“These three leaders are aligned in believing we need trade relations and we are very lucky to have a continental approach,” Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said in an interview. “When you look at the North American market, it is a very significant market. It is a great message to the world that we are working together and we believe in trade.”

Mr. Trudeau will also rescind visa restrictions on Mexican travellers, a major irritant since 2009, when they were imposed by the former Conservative government to curb the flow of bogus refugees.

“We are a progressive government. The visas are being lifted. That is a campaign commitment to Mexicans,” Ms. McKenna said.

Sources say the two leaders will sign agreements on educational exchanges, and share “best practices” on ending the social isolation and exploitation of indigenous people in both countries. Canada will also offer intelligence and training to combat Mexico’s drug violence.

However, Canadian and Mexican officials say the real aim of the discussions is to set up a partnership to combat what both leaders see as rising protectionist sentiment in the U.S., their biggest trading partner.

A Mexican official noted that both countries teamed up to fight U.S. action, through the World Trade Organization, on country-of-origin labelling for meat products, as well as an attempt by the United States during the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations to allow Japanese vehicles to be imported tariff-free to North America, with just 30-per-cent content. Canada and Mexico forced the cap up to 45 per cent. It is currently 62.5 per cent.

“The protectionist fires are starting to blow, whether we are talking about Hillary Clinton and her opposition to TPP or Donald Trump, who is anti-everything and wants to build a wall between Mexico. We are going to need allies to try and fend off these protectionist winds,” Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said in an interview. “Working with Mexico on country of origin and the TPP, we were able to push back – but especially on country of origin, which is basically a protectionist measure. By both threatening retaliatory action, Congress folded. On our own, we would not have been successful.”

About 40 per cent of what the United States buys from Mexico starts out in the United States, while 25 per cent of what Americans buy from Canada comes from the United States.

Measures to tackle climate change, including a commitment from Mexico to join Canada and the United States to reduce methane gases by 40 per cent, will be announced on Wednesday, as well as harmonization of environmental regulations.

“Canada and Mexico will sign a memorandum of understanding to work together on sharing information on how to foster native languages, protect indigenous art and help women facing domestic and street violence, as well as look at ways to engage indigenous people as partners in resource development.

Comments Off on Three Amigos Summit

Three Amigos Meet

Three Amigos expected to make some real deals on energy, tout North American trade

Lee Berthiaume, Ottawa Citizen and Marie-Danielle Smith | June 27, 2016 9:48 PM ET

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, with President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila in November.

Susan Walsh/The Canadian PressMexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, with President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila in November.
OTTAWA — Get ready for hard commitments on clean energy and a soft sell on North American trade.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosts Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on a state visit this week, before U.S. President Barack Obama joins them for the Three Amigos summit on Wednesday. Climate change will figure prominently, but so will the importance of all three countries working together economically.

Here’s what to expect:

Climate change and clean energy

Eric Feferber / AFP, Getty Images

Eric Feferber / AFP, Getty Images President Barack Obama delivers a speech during the plenary session at the COP 21 United Nations conference on climate change, on November 30, 2015.

In his last year in the White House, Obama has been pushing for real action on climate change.The three leaders will follow that up by committing to increase the amount of clean energy produced in North America from 37 per cent today to 50 per cent in 2025. The ambitious goal, revealed by the White House, includes producing more energy by renewables, nuclear and carbon capture technologies.

The commitment will form the foundation of a comprehensive North American clean energy action plan, said Obama’s senior adviser, Brian Deese. “We believe this is an aggressive goal, but for all three countries, one that we believe is achievable continent-wide.”

Liberal officials say growing the share of clean energy produced across North America goes hand-in-hand with advancing closer economic integration. “It’s about sustainable jobs and sustainable growth,” said one official.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the three leaders will also talk about ways to integrate alternatives into continental energy grids and harmonize energy efficiency standards to make it easier for the clean energy sector to grow.

North American trade

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Joe Raedle / Getty ImagesFree-trade along the Canada-U.S. border could come up at the so-called “Three Amigos” summit.

Pena Nieto, meanwhile, began his visit to Canada in Quebec City on Monday, where he called for greater economic integration. Liberal sources say it’s a message that has taken on added importance amid NAFTA-bashing in the U.S. presidential race, and after last week’s Brexit vote.

“The rhetoric will only get hotter south of the border,” said one Liberal official. “And (Brexit) hit home for us that protectionist sentiments exist everywhere and have to be confronted.”

A poll by the Angus Reid Institute found about one quarter of Canadians felt the North American free trade deal was good for the country, and an equal number thought it was bad. However, the same number said they didn’t know. Officials say it’s those people the government plans to talk to over the coming days.

“I think it’s the same message you saw around immigration and welcoming Syrian refugees,” said another Liberal official. “That we’re stronger together than apart.”

Former Canadian ambassador to Washington Michael Kergin said the message of economic co-operation will be directed not just at North Americans, but also Europeans, in hopes of easing “cynicism” and “anxieties” about the concept of regional unity.

Nevertheless, all three North American leaders are going to have to be careful about how they broadcast their message to make sure they don’t stir up the type of anti-free trade sentiments they are trying to fight, said Carlo Dade, an expert on North American trade and investment at the Canada West Foundation.

Trade disputes

Peter J. Thompson/National Post

Peter J. Thompson/National PostTrade rules for lumber remain a major U.S.-Canadian conflict.

The three leaders will be all smiles when talking trade, but some disputes have been bubbling beneath the surface. The main concerns for Canada are the softwood lumber dispute with the U.S., and Mexico’s continued ban on some Canadian beef.

The beef ban goes back to 2003, when bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in Canadian cattle, and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association estimates it will cost Canada about $10 million this year. Officials, however, have indicated a deal will be announced during Pena Nieto’s visit.

A solution to the softwood lumber dispute is less likely. At stake is billions of dollars for Canada’s softwood lumber industry, and Canadian officials are terrified it could become an election issue down south.

Of the softwood lumber dispute, former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson, now vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said: “In the past this has been a real friction point for Canada and the U.S. This is one you would prefer to put behind us.”

Mexican visas

The Liberals will start to make good on their election promise to lift visa requirements for Mexican travellers. Officials warn, however, that the visas won’t automatically disappear. Rather, Trudeau will announce an “ambitious” schedule for having them removed in the coming weeks.

The Harper government introduced the visa requirement in 2009, after thousands of Mexicans flooded Canada’s refugee system. While the Conservatives said it was necessary to keep out “bogus” refugees, it quickly became a barrier to relations between Canada and Mexico.

Reinstating visa-free travel will remove that barrier, but officials say they will be watching closely to see whether there is a spike in refugee claims from Mexico.

U.S. election and human rights

Trudeau and Pena Nieto are expected to pick Obama’s brain about the upcoming U.S. presidential election, with an eye toward dealing with President Clinton or President Trump. Clinton previously served as Obama’s secretary of state.

Meanwhile, Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, said refugees from Central American countries are regularly persecuted in Mexico and it’s “unconscionable” for leaders to talk about free-flowing borders without addressing this “dramatic human rights crisis.”

Comments Off on Three Amigos Meet