TPP Deal would reignite North Amierican integration

TPP trade deal would reignite North American co-operation: Mexican minister

“There are very few issues that would not benefit from a more North American perspective,” Jose Antonio Meade told The Globe and Mail in an interview.

“More and more we are coming to realize that there is benefit to trilateralizing the issues.”

But analysts warn that it will take more political will than U.S. President Barack Obama has displayed thus far to get the Three Amigos working together again.

Efforts to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation – an ambitious trade agreement that would involve 12 Pacific nations – foundered last month in Maui in part because Canada and Mexico rejected a deal that the United States and Japan had reached on automobiles and auto parts.

Canada and Mexico want a higher threshold of production within the trade zone before cars and car parts are exempt from tariffs than the United States and Japan are proposing.

And feathers were ruffled when Ottawa and Mexico City learned that the United States and Japan had negotiated the lower threshold without consulting them.

“I think it was safe to say it was a surprise,” Mr. Meade acknowledged.

To get the talks back on track, trade officials from Canada, the United States and Mexico met in Washington on Thursday in an effort to reach a compromise. In an e-mail, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development described the talks as “constructive,” but had no further comment.

The TPP, as it is known, is facing major headwinds, and time is running out to reach an agreement. The U.S. Congress must ratify whatever agreement is reached, the American presidential election could hijack congressional approval and attention in Canada is distracted by the federal election.

But Mr. Meade remained confident that an agreement will be reached, although he would not predict by when.

And he said he believes that agreement would revive a continental approach to tackling major issues affecting the three countries.

Such co-operation has been on the decline, with Canada and Mexico negotiating bilaterally with the United States during the Obama administration, especially on border issues.

The trilateral relationship is “stalled for lack of political ambition and leadership,” said Colin Robertson, an analyst in Canada-U.S. relations.

Mr. Obama has shown little interest throughout his presidency in taking a continental approach to issues, preferring to talk with Canada and with Mexico separately – to the extent he talks to them at all.

“There’s not that grand vision, which we’ve had under previous presidents and which I think you have to have,” Mr. Robertson observed.

Canada-Mexico relations are also strained as a result of the Stephen Harper government’s decision to impose visa requirements on Mexicans visiting Canada.

But a successfully concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership would not only strengthen ties among the 12 Pacific nations that are part of the talks, Mr. Meade predicted, it would also update the two-decade-old North American Free Trade Agreement involving Canada, Mexico and the United States.

And that, in turn, could lead to a continental approach to other pressing issues, especially energy security. “The more we integrate our energy markets the more security we will have, the better prices we will have, the more competitive we will be,” Mr. Meade predicted.

Similarly, it makes sense to pursue a continental approach to reducing carbon emissions, he added.

But others are skeptical. Len Edwards, a distinguished fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ont., and a former deputy minister of foreign affairs, agreed that a successful conclusion to the TPP talks would rejuvenate NAFTA.

But grappling with challenges in energy, the environment, agriculture, mobility and the like “will require renewed energy, co-operation and commitment,” he added. And at the moment, all three are lacking.

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Canada and TPA debate in USA

Canada has stayed out of TPA debate, feds insist‘A lot to be done’ before Pacific trade talks are completed.

Architect of the Capitol Photo
The US Capitol building on April 30.

Peter Mazereeuw
Published: Wednesday, 06/24/2015 12:00 am EDT

Canada’s government has watched from the sidelines as American political interests have gone to the mat over legislation holding up Trans Pacific Partnership talks, unlike its much more aggressive approach lobbying for the Keystone XL pipeline, say a former diplomat and a government spokesperson.

Progress on the TPP deal has been stalled since the Guam round of negotiations at the end of May, as the parties waited to see whether the United States government would secure trade promotion authority, say lobbyists, interest groups and trade watchers.

That authority—which would force the US Congress to vote on trade agreements without having an opportunity to amend them— has crawled through a series of close votes in the Senate, the House, and back in the Senate again in the past days and weeks.

Republican Congressmen in both Houses have worked together with US President Barack Obama’s administration to pass TPA, which the majority of Democrats have resisted. Business and labour groups have loudly advertised their opposing positions on the legislation, which many have framed as a proxy vote on the TPP.

When asked whether Canada was lobbying Congress in support of the TPA legislation, Trade Minister Ed Fast’s spokesperson Max Moncaster, said TPA “is for US lawmakers to decide” and that Canada has been “monitoring” the situation, in an emailed statement.

Canada’s government has boosted the TPP as a part of its efforts to open new markets for Canadian business. But this time it has likely stayed out of what is “very much an American” TPA debate because the harm of doing so could outweigh the benefit, said Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat who worked in Washington, Los Angeles and New York. 

“What you don’t want to do is play into the hands of the adversaries, who would say, ‘this is all about outsourcing jobs’,” said Mr. Robertson, adding staff in the Canadian embassy in Washington would be watching the TPA deliberations “very closely.”

TPA no Keystone XL

Canada’s government took a much more aggressive approach a few years ago when US legislators, interest groups and the White House were at odds over the future of the cross-border Keystone XL pipeline, another economic project close to the heart of the Harper government.

The government ran a $24 million public relations campaign in the US, with adds popping up in the Washington metro, and Canada also lobbied on the issue heavily. Later assessments would conclude the ads were largely ineffectual.

Mr. Obama himself has lobbied Congress intensely to pass TPA—a key difference between the two issues from a Canadian perspective, said Mr. Robertson.   

Lobbyists and trade watchers on both sides of the border said they were optimistic Congress would pass the trade promotion authority legislation in a June 24 vote, and that the White House would sign the bill quickly.

If TPA is secured, TPP negotiations would move to the most politically sensitive areas, particularly agricultural and intellectual property protections, said Canadian and US lobbyists.

Progress on the negotiations may be quick, but it could be some time before the deal is done, said Ron Davidson, a spokesperson for the Canadian Meat Council.

A “legal scrub” and translation of the text into the many languages of TPP members will likely need to be completed before a deal is signed and made public, he said. Even if everything goes smoothly, “there’s a lot to be done.”

Mr. Davidson said he is hoping to see Canada secure an agreement in principle completed this summer, but he was not confident an agreement could be finalized before Canada’s federal election in October.

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Cultural Diplomacy at work

The first lady of Lornado While not on the State Department payroll, Vicki Heyman uses the arts to boost Canada-US ties.

Embassy Photo: Sam Garcia
In just over a year since arriving in Ottawa, Ms. Heyman has fashioned Lornado as a networking base to promote cultural diplomacy.

Published: Wednesday, 05/20/2015 12:00 am EDT

Colin Robertson remembers meeting Vicki Heyman for the first time.

The wife of the United States ambassador took Mr. Robertson, Canada’s consul general in Los Angeles from 2000 to 2004, through her new home, Lornado.

When she and her husband, Bruce, moved into the official residence in early 2014, they brought some pieces from their own art collection to decorate the sprawling Rockcliffe Park home. The Heymans augmented their black-and-white photos of civil-rights era protests and American street scenes with borrowed works by well-known American artists.

Mr. Robertson, who left the Canadian foreign service in 2010, had noticed a portrait of US President of Barack Obama hanging in the sitting room in the Heymans’ Edwardian-style house.

The Heymans, who fundraised big money from their Chicago home for Mr. Obama during his 2008 and 2012 campaigns, brought the piece by Chuck Close from their own collection.

Mr. Robertson asked Ms. Heyman to tell him about it.

“There was somebody else with me. She took us through the house and explained each of the pieces with obvious enthusiasm. And then we got talking about some of the Canadian artists,” recalled Mr. Robertson.

“She’s warm and personable—and quite interested in you.”

It likely wasn’t the first time Ms. Heyman had toured guests through the art in her house, and certainly wasn’t the last.

In just over a year since arriving in Ottawa alongside her banker-turned-ambassador husband, Ms. Heyman has fashioned Lornado as a networking base to promote cultural diplomacy. The art makes for a conversation starter about big, borderless issues that both Canadians and Americans grapple with, like identity and assimilation.

It’s all part of a plan she and her husband crafted before stepping foot in the Great White North. They’re a team, they say, and that means tackling the ambassador job as one. Mr. Heyman has the title, official duties, and policy lead on everything from trade to security and defence. She’s taken the reins on culture.

While other spouses of heads of mission are busy taking care of children, have separate career endeavours, or just don’t feel comfortable sharing the diplomatic spotlight, the Heymans have embraced the job as shared.

“We tackle everything together, and why not this?” Mr. Heyman told a Global morning news anchor while he was seated beside his wife in Montreal in February.

Besides joint media interviews, at last year’s July 4 celebration they both gave speeches to the thousands of guests at their home. Together, they were named earlier this year as a couple of the top 100 people influencing Canadian politics by Power & Influence magazine (a sister publication to Embassy).

Gregarious, with a background in both business and arts, Ms. Heyman appears to be a diplomat in all but official title.

As the face of an ongoing art partnership with the National Gallery of Canada, Ms. Heyman was quoted in a US Embassy press release in February. She was the keynote speaker at a March event in Ottawa on women in politics, and is scheduled to give a breakfast talk this week in the city on social innovation. She also tweets several times a day to more than 1,000 followers.

The beginnings of the dyad

Married for 34 years (35 in June), the Heymans met at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee where they were both in the same program, which involved a three-year undergraduate degree followed by a one-and-a-half year MBA.

At one point, she said she mentioned to him that they could both sign up for a class on entrepreneurship.

“And I said, I think, ‘You know, with your brains and my creativity, we can get an A,’” she recalled, with a hint of the southern drawl of her Kentucky upbringing. “We were a dyad when we started in 1980, and we’re a dyad today.”

Having graduated with art-history and business degrees, she uses the management lingo to describe their plan coming to Canada.

We knew that we wanted to go to a country that would embrace and welcome both of our energies, both of our leaderships, and both of our passions so that we could both drive outcomes and be part of the landscape,” she said.

“Being here as spouse of the ambassador, I consider myself a cultural envoy and have really had the opportunity to lead in the cultural space.”

At the outset, she decided to concentrate on three areas she’s worked on throughout her life: education, art and social innovation. In Chicago, for instance, she was as an adviser to a teacher-led organization focused on supporting academic success for low-income high school students. She also served seven years as president of the philanthropic Kaplan Simons Family Foundation.

In Canada, she’s visited art galleries across the country and helped organize a Toronto event with entrepreneurs talking about scaling Canadian social innovations to US markets.

She’s the driving force behind Contemporary Conversations, which has seen her display in her home work by well-known American artists and host public lectures by them. The second in the four-part series, with visual and performance artist Nick Cave, is set for May 28.

I am passionate about art and film, and arts as a driver for dialogue and exchange. Art as a magnet to bring people together in a zone where they can talk about things that connect them and not divide them,” said Ms. Heyman, seated in the shadow of Chuck Close’s Obama portrait earlier this month.

While her work is self-directed, it often aligns with State Department projects, like working with documentary filmmakers on a film about the Arctic just as the US was about to take over chairmanship of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum. When her work intersects with US foreign policy, embassy staff members sometimes support her. But she also employs an assistant, paid out of her own pocket. They work out of Lornado.

“The State Department didn’t say to me ‘Vicki, do this.’ I was like: this is what I’m passionate about, this is what I’m going to do and I can do this in a way that really will augment and align with the mission, without necessarily running in front of the mission, [but] hopefully running beside the mission.”

Wielding soft power

With several longtime observers agreed that US-Canada relations have hit a rough patch, the positive sentiment generated from Ms. Heyman’s cultural diplomacy may come as a breath of fresh air for the US Embassy.

The Heymans arrived at a low point in cross-border relations, given the Harper government’s frustration over continued delays in US decision-making on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. In March, the Globe and Mail reported that Mr. Heyman had spent his first year on the job practically frozen out of cabinet ministers’ offices.

Just this week, Canada said it would ratchet up tariffs on a range of US products unless the Americans change country-of-origin meat labelling rules that the World Trade Organization found violate international trade law.

So is the embassy leading on culture to downplay other sticky aspects of the Canada-US relationship?

No, said Ms. Heyman. “If I was living here as an independent person, I’d be immersing myself in culture, [even if] I had nothing to do with this,” she said. “Because this is what drives me. I’m authentic to who I am. I’m a person who likes to activate people.”

Her cultural diplomacy shows that Canada-US ties are about more than just a pipeline, said Andrew Cohen, who was hosted by the Heymans a couple times for the launch of his recent book on John F. Kennedy, Two Days in June.

The networking events Ms. Heyman has spearheaded provide a non-controversial, non-adversarial setting to do business, said Mr. Robertson.

Cultural events are an extremely effective way to send a message, he said. He recalled when he was working in the US and acclaimed Canadian film director Norman Jewison was coming to town. The Canadian mission organized an event to mark the occasion and invited John Negroponte, US director of national intelligence at the time. Mr. Negroponte, who would rarely attend such events, according to Mr. Robertson, knew Mr. Jewison through family ties. The official had recently told a US Senate committee that he was more worried about the US border with Canada than with Mexico.

Mr. Robertson had told Mr. Jewison the back-story, and when the filmmaker got up to speak at the event he mocked the whole idea of border. Mr. Negroponte said he got the hint and noted that Canadians are not so bad.

“That’s how soft power works,” said Mr. Robertson. You can use an event to bring people together and deliver a message—in a subtle, positive way.

“The arts is a great medium,” he said, and Ms. Heyman is “really good at this stuff.”

She’s not the only diplomatic spouse, or even spouse of a US ambassador to Canada, who’s used the role to further cultural diplomacy.

For instance, Ms. Heyman’s predecessor, Julie Jacobson, was also active culturally, having used the role to support the work of writers’ festivals across Canada.

“It varies, I think. The role changes according to whomever is in the role,” said Mr. Cohen. “The level of which you do it changes, the prominence with which you do it. And I think [Ms. Heyman] in particular loves the job, and loves being part of this element of it and so is giving it a lot of her time and attention.”

Indeed, she explained that none of their three kids are still living at home; they’re all grown up. So she has the time to devote to multiple cultural and community events every day, which she might not have had 10 years ago.

“I’m all in,” she said.

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Postponement of Three Amigos Summit

Stephen Harper postpones North American Leaders’ Summit to late 2015

Prime minister’s spokesman says no date announced for meeting Canada hasn’t hosted since 2007

Jan 15, 2015 CBC

The date for a trilateral summit between the leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico appears to have moved.

It’s Canada’s turn to host the North American Leaders’ Summit, and security officials were actively planning for it to happen in February.

The last so-called Three Amigos summit was held in Mexico in February 2014. Canada hasn’t hosted one since 2007, when it was held in Montebello, Que.

“President Obama and President Peña Nieto welcome Prime Minister Harper’s offer for Canada to host the next North American Leaders’ Summit in 2015,” a joint declaration said last year.

In December, Canadian security officials learned the date would be changed to the fall. No further explanation was provided.

In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said the summit will happen later in 2015.

“We have not announced a date for the meeting. We intend to host the meeting later in the year,” said spokesman Jason MacDonald.

No specific location had been confirmed for Canada’s meeting.

Summit dates prone to change

There is no fixed time of year for the three leaders to meet. Dates for the summit have been prone to change.

The three countries rotated hosting duties between 2005 and 2009, but in 2010, Canada postponed a meeting that had been scheduled to be held in Wakefield, Que., and then did not host it at all.

The summit scheduled for Hawaii in November 2011 was postponed following the sudden death of Mexico’s interior secretary. U.S. President Barack Obama hosted his counterparts the following April in Washington.

There was no summit in 2013.

If the Stephen Harper government sticks to its fixed election date, the next federal election will be on Oct.19.

Although speculation is rife that the Conservatives may prefer to go to the polls early, the PMO has given no official indication that could happen.

In Washington Thursday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said he didn’t know exactly why the summit was postponed and he was “not really” concerned as long as it gets rescheduled in a timely fashion. He joked that the weather would be better later in the year.

Tactical postponement?

Given the fixed election date, former diplomat Colin Robertson, now based in Ottawa with the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, thinks a new date in November is most likely.

“It would be an anomaly not to have it at all,” he says, despite Canada’s track record of not hosting in 2010.

‘It will raise in both minds, how committed is Stephen Harper to trilateralism?’– Colin Robertson, former diplomat

For his American and Mexican counterparts, Harper’s decision not to host this winter or spring should be “not a surprise and not unexpected,” Robertson says.

Last summer, Harper’s ministers were taking plenty of shots at the Obama administration — over the Keystone XL pipeline, food labelling and a range of other issues.

But the need to put up a more unified front on things like the fight against ISIS or the crisis in Ukraine compelled Harper and Obama to keep “on a more even keel” since then, Robertson says.

Obama spokesman Earnest downplayed Canada-U.S. tensions Thursday, saying the relationship is “far deeper and far broader than this one infrastructure project,” and there is certainly a lot more for the countries to discuss than just the Keystone XL pipeline.

“I’m not particularly worried about any sort of Keystone outcome looming over those meetings at all,” said Earnest. He added that U.S. and Canadian government officials are frequently in touch by phone.

Wants to look ‘prime ministerial’

For Mexico, Canada’s unwillingness to budge on their visa requirements remains a barrier to a harmonious summit, despite more recent efforts to fast-track Mexican visa applications.

“They want the summit to go well and if the backdrop is clouded with an election looming,” Robertson says, “Harper will have no interest in a summit where he doesn’t look… prime ministerial.”

The other two leaders will understand that tactically, he says. The date is Canada’s call.

Nevertheless, cancelling it outright would be a strategic error, Robertson thinks.

Shared energy and environmental concerns leading up to the UN climate change summit in Paris, as well as shared trade interests like the automotive and agriculture negotiations key to the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, are among the top-level discussions the leaders need to convene at some point.

The later date tips Harper’s hand in terms of his priorities.

“It will raise in both minds, how committed is Stephen Harper to trilateralism?” he says.

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ON appointment of kevin Vickers as Ambassador to Ireland

Kevin Vickers hailed as next ambassador to Ireland

January 8, 2015

Politicians Thursday praised the surprise selection of House of Commons Sergeant-At-Arms Kevin Vickers as Canada’s new ambassador to Ireland.

The near-universal congratulations included plaudits from former diplomats and foreign affairs experts, who said the honour is a fitting reward for Vickers’ gallantry in helping take down gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau to end the Oct. 22 attack on Parliament Hill.

Vickers reacted with the same humility he displayed in the days following the shooting, vowing to do his best as Canada’s newest diplomatic envoy.

“As a Canadian with family on both sides hailing from Ireland, there could be no greater honour. I am humbled by the invitation to serve my country in this way,” he said in a written statement. “You have my word that I will do my best to represent you in Ireland with pride and dignity.”

In Ireland, where you come from does matter, said Colin Robertson, a former senior Canadian diplomat. “So they’ll look at him as somebody, in a sense, returning home. The bottom line is will this appointment serve Canadian interests? And I believe it will.”

Vickers succeeds former Conservative minister Loyola Hearn, who was appointed Canada’s ambassador to Ireland in 2010. Canadian governments have sometimes filled the Dublin post with a political appointee instead of a foreign service officer. But few were quibbling about that Thursday.

Vickers “has vast security experience as a longstanding member of the RCMP and obviously on the parliamentary precinct as well, and significant management experience through his roles on Parliament Hill,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said at an event Thursday in Delta, B.C.

Vickers has been credited with firing the shot that killed Zehaf-Bibeau during a firefight in the Centre Block’s Hall of Honour. That was just down the hall from where the Conservative and NDP caucuses were holding their weekly meetings.

Vickers received a three-minute ovation from MPs in the House of Commons the following day. He quietly nodded his appreciation, appearing close to tears.

House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer thanked Vickers Thursday for his “heroic service to Parliament.” The Commons security team will be led by deputy sergeant-at-arms and director general of Protective Services Pat McDonell until further notice.

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New Zealand and Security Council Campaign

Canada backs New Zealand’s bid for UN Security Council temporary seat

Kim Mackrael

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail Wednesday, Oct. 15 2014, 3:00 AM EDT

The Canadian government is backing New Zealand’s bid for a temporary seat on the UN Security Council, throwing its support behind a long-time ally that’s promising a stronger voice for less-influential countries if it’s elected.

Ottawa lost its own bid for a Security Council seat in 2010, an embarrassing defeat that was followed by several years of cool relations between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the multilateral body. New Zealand is vying this year for one of two seats set to open up in the Western Europe and Other category, but faces stiff competition in rivals Turkey and Spain.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said the government would not disclose its voting intentions because the election takes place by secret ballot. But a source familiar with the New Zealand campaign said Canada is supportive of that country’s bid, and internal records show Ottawa was prepared to dispense advice and advocate on New Zealand’s behalf.

China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States have permanent status on the 15-member Security Council and the power to veto proposed resolutions, and the remaining seats are filled through regular elections, with each member serving a two-year term. A total of five temporary seats are on the line in this year’s election, which is scheduled for Oct. 16.

Three of those seats should be decided easily: Angola, Venezuela and Malaysia are all running unopposed in their regional groups. The remaining two, which are reserved for countries in the UN’s Western European and Other grouping, are being contested by Spain, Turkey and New Zealand.

Colin Robertson, a former Canadian envoy to Washington, said New Zealand enters the race at a disadvantage, particularly compared with Spain, which can expect the support of other European Union members who tend to vote as a group. Turkey may also have an advantage in the election as an influential country with a growing role in global security issues.

“New Zealand is hoping to win just on merit,” Mr. Robertson said, noting the country has long been an active and steadfast supporter of the UN. “But it’s uphill for them compared with Spain or Turkey.”

A booklet on New Zealand’s candidacy emphasizes a commitment to multilateralism and the government’s interest in bringing the voices of smaller states to the Security Council table. Last week, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister told The Wall Street Journal that, if elected, his government’s priorities would include containing Islamic State militants and finding a solution to the crisis in Ukraine.

Internal records obtained through Access to Information laws show the Canadian government expressed support for New Zealand’s bid and may have lobbied Caribbean countries on New Zealand’s behalf. “Canada is actively supporting New Zealand’s bid for election to the United Nations Security Council for 2015-16, particularly among Caribbean nations,” says a memo for the Prime Minister, dated April 12, 2013.

A second document, prepared for a meeting between Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and then-New Zealand justice minister Judith Collins in July, 2013, said Canada supports New Zealand’s bid and “is happy to share lessons learned from our previous campaign for a [UN Security Council] seat.”

A source familiar with New Zealand’s campaign confirmed Canada has offered advice and support. There were “plenty of conversations” between officials from both countries over the course of New Zealand’s bid, the source said, including talks about that country’s candidacy and its efforts to secure votes. New Zealand has also discussed its candidacy with a number of other countries, the source said.

Adam Chapnick, a foreign policy expert at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto, said Canada, Australia and New Zealand have a long-standing, unwritten agreement to back each others’ candidacies at the Security Council, in part because all three are outsiders in the Western European and Others regional grouping. The countries are also long-standing allies and are part of an intelligence-sharing relationship along with Britain and the United States.

Mr. Robertson added that he thinks the Canadian government was unfairly criticized for losing its 2010 bid, because it was already at a disadvantage as a non-EU candidate in a regional grouping dominated by Western European countries. There were other “mitigating” circumstances, he said, but “it’s always going to be tough for Canada to get in because we work in a bloc that works to our disadvantage. And this holds true for the New Zealanders and Australia as well.”

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On retirement of Russian Ambassador Georgiy Mamedov

Russian envoy retiring from Canada post after 11 years

Georgiy Mamedov in TorontoGeorgiy Mamedov in Toronto on Tuesday April 22 , 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Chris Young)

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Published Thursday, June 12, 2014 6:59AM EDT

OTTAWA — Georgiy Mamedov’s diplomatic career was forged in some of the fiercest political fires of the Cold War.

As he prepares to depart Canada as the so-called dean of the country’s diplomatic corps after 11 years, it is as if he’s being re-baptized in those old Cold War flames all over again.

The sharp-accented, sardonic and often provocative Russian ambassador to Canada has become the target of Canada’s political and public disapproval of President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea and the ongoing unrest in eastern Ukraine caused by pro-Russian gunmen.

He’s been called on the carpet behind closed doors in recent months by top Foreign Affairs officials, bearing Canada’s official outrage on behalf of the Putin government. He was even heckled in public — some called him a liar — at a recent business luncheon in Toronto.

For some who say they know him better than others, none of this has knocked the 66-year-old Mamedov off his axis.

“Behind the Falstaffian exterior is a canny and shrewd diplomat who knows how to play the game. (More) importantly, he likes to play the game and he is very good at it,” said retired Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.

Mamedov is expected to depart his post at the end of June after 11 years at the Russian embassy in Ottawa, easily twice the length of most diplomatic postings. Unlike most other governments, Russians favour long postings.

In Mamedov’s case, it made even more sense because is widely acknowledged as one of his country’s foremost experts on North American affairs.

Over the years, Mamedov has worked hard to build economic ties between Canada and Russia, in between finessing various flashpoints that periodically raised the ire of the current Harper government.

Those include a Russian submarine planting a flag on the North Pole seabed, accusations of Russian bombers flying too close to Canadian airspace and disgraced Canadian navy sub-lieutenant Jeffrey Delisle, convicted of stealing and selling military secrets to Moscow.

As of late, Mamedov has become the Canadian face of a “regime” that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has personally branded a threat to world peace.

Paul Heinbecker, Canada’s former ambassador to the United Nations, recalled how Mamedov bore the brunt of some harsh criticism from his own government while the West was negotiating the end of the 1999 Kosovo crisis.

NATO had bombed the former Yugoslavia for 78 days, driving Russia’s ally in Serbia out of the predominantly ethnically Albanian province of Kosovo.

“He was constructive and resourceful and tough and faced down a lot of opposition inside Moscow to deliver the kind of deal Yeltsin could live with,” Heinbecker recalled. “I actually saw some of it.”

Heinbecker said he came to hold Mamedov in high regard for rising above that pressure.

“There were a lot of people in Moscow who thought this was abandoning the Serbs and letting NATO run wild. He was able to surmount that.”

Four years later, Mamedov began his diplomatic run in Ottawa.

“Mamedov played on various levels: Canada-Russia political, economic, social — people to people relations — as well as intellectual,” said Robertson.

“He also observed for Russian interests in the wider world especially reporting from Canada on U.S. affairs. We are a very good listening post.”

The son of a career diplomat, Mamedov began his own career more than 40 years ago, a doctorate in history on his resume, with a short one-year posting at the Soviet Union’s embassy in Washington. He returned in the 1970s for four more years that spanned his country’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

When the Soviet Union collapsed a decade later, Mamedov was at the director of his foreign ministry’s desk for Canada and the United States.

For the 12 years prior to his 2003 appointment to Ottawa, he served as Russia’s deputy ministry of foreign affairs.

“He came with deep knowledge of the Kremlin,” Robertson said, “after having cut his teeth on the most critical issues of the Cold War: nuclear non-proliferation, negotiating removal of weapons from Ukraine, and U.S.-Soviet relations.”

Mamedov’s fingerprints are on the Budapest Memorandums of 1994, which resonate today with the ongoing Ukraine crisis.

The agreement was between Ukraine, Russia, Britain and the U.S. It called for the removal of Ukraine’s nuclear stockpile in return for Russian recognition of Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty — something the West now accuses Putin of leaving in tatters.

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Counterfeit goods and Bill C-8

Heyman cries foul on counterfeit bill

Extra inspections too pricey, say feds.

The Hill Times Photo: Jake Wright
US Ambassador Bruce Heyman, at a Canada 2020 event welcoming him to Canada on June 2 at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

Peter Mazereeuw
Last Updated: Wednesday, 06/11/2014 12:09 am EDT

United States Ambassador Bruce Heyman took a shot at the federal government’s stalled anti-counterfeiting bill in his first major public speech in Canada last week, decrying an exemption for goods in transit from a third country to the US.

Intellectual property lawyers, an import-export industry spokesperson and Canada-US analysts echoed his complaint that Bill C-8, the so-called Combating Counterfeit Products Act, would exempt goods passing through Canada on their way to another destination from an examination for intellectual property infringement by the Canada Border Services Agency.

Requiring border officers to search goods in transit for counterfeiting would be too costly, said Jake Enwright, press secretary for Industry Minister James Moore.

“Our government doesn’t believe taxpayers should be on the hook for the cost of seizing counterfeit products that are destined for the United States that do not threaten health or safety,” he said.

NDP and Liberal MPs said cuts to the CBSA budget have already strained the agency, and inspecting goods in transit would only make things worse. Both said their parties would support the bill.

The Combating Counterfeit Products Act has remained at third reading in the House since January.

A hole in the shared perimeter

“The United States is concerned because the bill does not apply to goods that are shipped through Canada, from a third country to the US,” Mr. Heyman said, according to speaking notes, at a Canada 2020 event on June 2 in Ottawa.

“Given our highly integrated supply and production chain…We should have laws and procedures stopping these illegal goods at our shared perimeter,” he said.

It wasn’t the first time a US official has raised the issue. A 2011 report from the United States Trade Representative said Canada “should provide its Customs officials with ex officio authority to effectively stop the transit of counterfeit and pirated products through its territory.”

The counterfeiting bill, which introduces new offences related to possessing or exporting goods that infringe intellectual property law and overhauls Canada’s trademarks regime, includes a clause exempting items brought into Canada for personal use (for example, a single counterfeit designer handbag) and for “copies that, while being shipped from one place outside Canada to another, are in customs transit control.”

The exemption comes despite the 2011 pledge by the Canadian and US governments to work towards a shared perimeter, where goods will be checked once and accepted twice, said a handful of lawyers and analysts.

“Putting in the legislation, and stating quite boldly, ‘We will not [inspect],’ that defies the perimeter that we agree upon and it leaves us open then to the Americans to break the covenant of: inspected once, cleared twice,” said Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat and current adviser for McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP in Ottawa.

“I think [the exemption] will have implications for our bigger trade policy interests with the US, because intellectual property is always their first ask from Canada on a trade issue,” said Laura Dawson, an Ottawa-based consultant on Canada-US economic issues who has advised both governments.

As Beyond the Border program initiatives come up for renewal in the coming years, “[US] officials cannot help but sort of look at a status report card from the last couple of years, and say, ‘How well has Canada been co-operating with us?’” she said.

“I think they’re getting some pressure from the US to re-think their position,” said House industry committee vice chair and Liberal MP Judy Sgro.

Mr. Robertson said he did not expect the dispute between the two countries to spill over into other areas of their relations. It is unlikely Canada would use the exemption as a tool for leverage, as such behaviour typically backfires for a smaller trading partner, he said.

How big is the job?

Commentators disagreed over how large of a burden checking for counterfeit would be for CBSA officers, who already examine goods in transit for contraband and dangerous contents.

“If they’re already checking, why aren’t they taking the extra step and checking for counterfeiting?” said Lorne Lipkus, an intellectual property lawyer, in an interview. He testified in front of the House industry committee on behalf of the Canadian Intellectual Property Council.

The more thorough inspection for counterfeiting would slow down trade and reduce the resources border agents have to inspect goods destined for Canada, said NDP industry critic Peggy Nash in a phone interview.

Ms. Nash said while she understands Mr. Heyman’s concerns with the bill, her party will support it in Parliament. Cuts each year to the Canada Border Services Agency’s budget have left it without the resources to take on the added burden, she said.

Ms. Sgro agreed, and said limited resources constrain the border agency’s ability to do a proper inspection of goods in transit.

The Liberal Caucus has decided that voting against the bill would be “obstructionist,” and will support it and press for improvements going forward, said Greg McClinchey, Ms. Sgro’s chief of staff.

The Canada Border Services Agency’s budget has been cut by more than $140 million since 2011-12, though some funding has been added for Beyond the Border program initiatives. The cuts are slated to continue into 2016-2017, where planned spending will be nearly $300 million less than the agency’s 2011-2012 expenditures, according to the CBSA website.

Mr. Moore told the House industry committee in November that the CBSA has enough resources to put in place the current counterfeiting bill.

Martin Lavoie, director of manufacturing policy for the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, opposed the exemption in front of the committee. The law, as proposed, would not eliminate all the hurdles faced by intellectual property rights holders looking to stop counterfeit copies of their goods from getting to market, he said in a phone interview.

Bill C-8 has drawn the wrath of some in Canada’s intellectual property law community for overhauling Canada’s trademarks regime, they say for the benefit of foreign multinationals. Some intellectual property law experts have also criticized the bill for failing to adequately clarify the legal status of parallel imports, legitimate goods that are imported and re-sold against the wishes of the manufacturer.

The EU dropped a requirement to inspect goods in transit at the last minute from intellectual property regulations introduced earlier this year, said Ralph Cox, an intellectual property lawyer in Fasken Martineau’s London office.

The provision was dropped, despite heavy pressure from large multinational rights holders, out of fear it would be too onerous for border officers to inspect for all forms of intellectual property violations, he said, and because European case law provides other avenues for rights holders to pursue counterfeiters.

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Ballistic Missile Defence

Time to join U.S. missile defence, say two former Liberal defence ministers –

The Canadian Press
May 26, 2014 11:25 AM

OTTAWA – Two former Liberal defence ministers have told a Conservative-dominated Senate committee that Canada should participate in the contentious U.S. ballistic missile defence program.

Bill Graham, who served in defence under Paul Martin until 2006, says it’s good that the 2005 decision to stay out of the plan is under review by Parliament, but cautioned the issue is emotional and filled with misunderstanding.

“I argued at that time that we should be involved in BMD, and I still think we should,” Graham testified Monday.

“Participating in BMD would help preserve Norad (North American Aerospace Defence Command) and Canada’s overall security relationship with the United States.”

There was a fundamental misunderstanding in the public that missile defence would lead to the weaponization of space, said Graham.

In declining to take part, Graham also said he believes Canada has allowed the role of Norad to be diminished and resulted in the U.S. paying more attention to its own interests.

“Is it feasible for us here in Canada to watch from a distance while fundamental decisions about the security of this continent are made in Washington without our input?” he said.

The Liberal government spurned an opportunity to join the program under U.S. President George W. Bush, but the issue has resurfaced with committees in the House of Commons and Senate studying the notion.

The Harper government has remained silent except to say there’s no change to the current policy.

Dave Pratt, defence minister in 2003 and 2004, started the discussions with the Americans, but said missile defence was a tough sell within the Liberal caucus at the time because it was seen as cozying up to Bush and his defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

“Some members of our caucus did not want to associate themselves with those political characters in any way,” he said.

“We were also facing — I would say — a strong contingent within the youth wing of the Liberal party that was very much opposed to this. They saw this as proliferation rather than a defensive measure. Did we — at the time — do a good job of explaining that? Well, we tried as best as we could.”

Pratt also said he doesn’t believe Martin was fully behind the idea because the government was facing an election in 2004.

A former Canadian diplomat who recently testified before the committee said he believes the Harper government is weighing examination of the issue as part of its long-promised review of Ottawa’s defence strategy.

Colin Robertson said there isn’t any pressure — that he is aware of — coming from the United States to join missile defence, but there is growing international unease about the capability of rogue countries such as North Korea and Iran.

When discussions took place 10 years ago, Pratt said, it was suggested that interceptor missiles would not be placed on Canadian soil and that the only request would be for radar stations.

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Energy as Security

Editorial: Aboriginals can’t veto everything, despite best intentions

United Nations pipeline report goes too far

United Nations special rapporteur James Anaya crossed a line recently between promoting the cause of Aboriginals in this country and unhelpfully interfering in Canadian politics.

Anaya, the rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, a law professor at the University of Arizona specializing in human rights, is one of 37 unpaid UN rapporteurs who regularly examine and publicly report on human rights problems around the world.

With so many civil wars, terror activities and natural disasters rampant around the globe, it is hard to believe human rights conditions in highly developed, democratic countries would be a priority for the United Nations.

Canada already is so aware of the Aboriginals’ plight, and the courts so attentive to their aspirations.

This country is taking measures to address past wrongs, with financial redress and a truth-and-reconciliation process. The federal government is advancing legislation aimed at improving on-reserve governance and education for Aboriginal youth. It also is taking measures to improve water quality on reserves.

Anaya’s declaration, suggesting Ottawa mothball the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline through B.C. because some Aboriginal groups oppose it, was ill considered.

This is not the first time a UN official has offended. UN special rapporteur for food Olivier de Schutter visited this country in 2012 and warned that millions of Canadians “are unacceptably too poor to feed themselves decently.”

Then-immigration minister Jason Kenney responded that his comments were “a discredit to the UN” when Canada sends billions of dollars in food aid to developing countries around the world where people are starving.

Anaya, discussing Northern Gateway, said to reporters that in the absence of Aboriginal agreement, “the government probably shouldn’t go forward” with Northern Gateway.

“The way it’s supposed to work is that whenever (Aboriginal) rights are affected, there needs to be consultation and agreement about any decision that would limit those rights . . . .”

But not proceeding in the absence of such agreement would be tantamount to handing Aboriginals veto power over all economic development decisions affecting land claimed by them.

The courts, while mandating a duty of governments to consult, have given no such power to native people, asserts Rhodes Scholar Dwight Newman, who teaches law at the University of Saskatchewan and is Canada research chair in indigenous rights in constitutional and international law.

Moreover, Newman argues governments, in the interest of public welfare, must occasionally make decisions on vital transportation infrastructure — such as pipelines — that could affect several native groups who may differ in their views.

Accommodating concerns of native people, says Newman, does not necessarily mean rejecting a development outright. It could mean making revisions to the plan, or paying compensation to Aboriginals opposing it.

It is important to note that about 32,000 First Nations people are employed by Canada’s resource sector.

Former diplomat Colin Robertson wrote recently that new pipelines being proposed would help Canada become “an energy superpower, shipping our oil and gas across the Pacific and Atlantic. In Europe, our energy can be a strategic alternative to dependence on Russia and the Middle East.”

Anaya’s focus, along with his suggestion that pipelines that don’t win Aboriginal favour be scotched, is likely to be rejected by Ottawa as being unjustifiably narrow and overly doctrinaire.

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