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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Ballistic Missile Defence

Ottawa examines merits of U.S. missile defence program

Steven Chase

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Monday, May. 12 2014

The governing federal Conservatives appear to be trying to gauge the Canadian public’s appetite for joining the U.S. ballistic missile defence program, defence watchers say.

Conservative-dominated committees in both the Senate and Commons are examining the merits of the U.S. missile defence program, which former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin opted against joining in 2005. Both committees are studying broader security matters but have been hearing witnesses on missile defence as part of their research.

The Conservative government is saying little. A spokeswoman for Defence Minister Rob Nicholson repeatedly declined to answer whether Ottawa is considering changing Canada’s policy on missile defence.

Johanna Quinney, press secretary to Mr. Nicholson, would only say the policy is still intact.

“No decision has been made to change this policy. We will continue to monitor international developments and ensure the safety and security of Canadians both at home and abroad,” Ms. Quinney said.

The minister’s office said it looks forward to what the Senate’s national security and defence committee report will say on the U.S. missile defence program.

James Bezan, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Defence, told a defence summit last week that Ottawa “hasn’t made any decision” on the matter.

Last Thursday, Agence-France Presse reported Mr. Bezan saying there is concern about the “accuracy” of missiles being developed by some rogue countries that could target Canada’s neighbour, the United States, and end up striking Canada. In the same comments, the parliamentary secretary expressed concern that under the current arrangement Canadian officials would be “sidelined” in the decision-making on the response to any missile threat incoming to North America.

Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat who recently testified in support of joining the U.S. missile defence program, said he believes the Conservative government is weighing this during a promised review of Ottawa’s defence strategy.

He said the United States isn’t pushing Canada to join but that Ottawa is concerned about the rising threat from countries such as North Korea.

“I think the government is testing the waters to see whether the conditions are right,” said Mr. Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute.

He called the missile shield an “insurance policy” and said it “makes a lot of sense.”

David Perry, a senior analyst with the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, who also supports joining the U.S. system, said he thinks many of the 2005-era arguments against ballistic-missile defence have been proved immaterial. He thinks Ottawa is curious whether Canadians agree.

“I kind of get a sense they’re floating a trial balloon,” Mr. Perry said.

Philip Coyle with the U.S. Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, testified against Canada joining the U.S. program at Senate hearings Monday.

He said U.S. missile defences remain ineffective. “Shooting down an enemy missile going [24,140 kilometres per hour] out in space is like trying to hit a hole-in-one in golf when the hole is going [24,140 kilometres per hour],” he said. “The hardware being deployed in Alaska and California has no demonstrated capability to defend the United States, let alone Canada, against enemy missile attack under realistic operational conditions.”

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Ballistic Missile Defence

Star wars, the sequel

Canada is reconsidering joining the controversial U.S. missile defence plan it rejected in 2004

Luiza Ch. Savage

May 8, 2014

AFP/Getty ImagesAFP/Getty Images

It was in a speech in Halifax in December 2004 that a newly re-elected George W. Bush—worried about the nuclear threat from North Korea, Iran and from terrorists—pitched Canadians on a continental missile defence shield “to protect the next generation of Canadians and Americans from the threats we know will arise.” Paul Martin, then the prime minister, rebuffed him, to the relief of his fractious caucus.

Now Stephen Harper’s government is reconsidering whether Canada should join in the controversial program as part of its national defence strategy.

Since 2005, 30 interceptor missiles—the 17-metre-tall infrared-guided rocket built to collide with enemy warheads 150 km above Earth—have been installed in America, most in Alaska with a handful in California. Barack Obama’s administration has said it’s studying the addition of a third cluster in the eastern U.S. (This is not Ronald Reagan’s 1980s’ “strategic defence initiative,” known as Star Wars, that envisioned the weaponization of space. Today’s system relies on ground- and sea-based interceptors that do not carry nuclear material.)

Already through the binational command at NORAD, Canadians share information in early warning and attack assessments with the U.S. But advocates of the system complain Canada doesn’t have a say in responding to a potential missile attack. “It seems ludicrous, but when it comes time to make the critical launch decisions, our officials literally have to leave the room,” says Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat in Washington and a fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, who plans to testify on the subject before the joint committee on defence in Ottawa on May. 8. Robertson says Canada should benefit from the U.S. security umbrella. “The algorithms developed by U.S. Northern Command to protect the American homeland do not include Canadian cities like Edmonton or Saskatoon.” (Some Canadian cities benefit from proximity to large U.S. centres.)

Canada has already endorsed missile defence internationally. In 2010, all 28 countries of the NATO alliance agreed to “develop the capability to defend our populations and territories against ballistic missile attack as a core element of our collective defence.”

The vulnerability of North America, however, is open to debate. In 2013, North Korea boasted it could attack the U.S. mainland. “They probably can’t—but we don’t like the margin of error,” said Obama, who responded by ordering up 14 new interceptors by 2017. As Iran acquired short and medium-range missiles that could reach Europe or the Middle East, Obama placed interceptors aboard navy warships that could be closer to Iran.

Now Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has renewed interest in bolstering missile defences in Europe, including demands to speed up the deployment of missile interceptors in Poland and Romania.

What role Canada could play in the system by “joining” it is unclear. (The U.S. has not pressed Canada to contribute and in 2004 it didn’t ask for financial support or to put interceptors on Canadian soil.) The system’s critics are still numerous. Missile defence “has yielded a dysfunctional weapon system and has set back efforts at nuclear disarmament,” says former Canadian diplomat Paul Meyer, a fellow in international security at Simon Fraser University.

When the U.S. sent a missile destroyer ship to Spain last month to “reassure allies” in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Moscow said it proved false Washington’s past assurances that the sea-based interceptors were aimed only at Iran. “It all confirms our previous estimates that the missile shield in Europe is aimed at undermining Russia’s nuclear deterrent,” said Russian deputy defence minister Anatoly Antonov.

But the clearest obstacles are technical. Only half of test launches have succeeded in intercepting their practice targets. “Neither North Korea nor Iran have [intercontinental ballistic missiles] that could threaten North America. The current interceptors would be useless against them even if they possessed such missiles,” says Meyer. Thorough testing of the system won’t be completed “until at least 2022,” according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. But the Harper government can’t wait until then to make a decision.

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Counterfeit Goods and Perimeter Security

John Ivison: Canada will do whatever it takes to ensure security of U.S. — if it doesn’t cost too much

John Ivison | May 5, 2014 8:02 PM ET

A freighter passes by the Ambassador Bridge that links Detroit on the right and Windsor, Canada on the left. Bill C-8, which is at an advanced stage in the House, cracks down on copyright infringement but makes the explicit point of exempting its provisions for goods that are in transshipment.

ROMAIN BLANQUART/ Detroit Free PressA freighter passes by the Ambassador Bridge that links Detroit on the right and Windsor, Canada on the left. Bill C-8, which is at an advanced stage in the House, cracks down on copyright infringement but makes the explicit point of exempting its provisions for goods that are in transshipment.

When Stephen Harper and Barack Obama unveiled the Beyond the Border initiative, the Prime Minister said that what threatens the security and well-being of the United States threatens the security and well-being of Canada.

Three years on, the reality is that Canada will do whatever it takes to ensure the security and well-being of the United States — as long as it doesn’t cost too much.

The most recent threat to progress on “thinning” the border is a clause in a bill currently before the House of Commons that removes the requirement for Canadian customs agents to search for counterfeit goods in transshipment — for example, arriving in Vancouver from China and bound for the U.S.

Bruce Heyman, the new U.S. Ambassador in Ottawa, raised the issue of bill C8, the Counterfeit Products Act, in a speech to the Canada-America Border Trade Alliance Monday.

The bill, which is at an advanced stage in the House, cracks down on copyright infringement but makes the explicit point of exempting its provisions for goods that are in transshipment. In his speech, Mr. Heyman said the problem is easily solved – simply remove the exemption clause. “In an integrated supply chain, the clause opens both American and Canadian consumers to risk,” said Steve Pike, spokesman at the U.S. embassy.

Sources suggest that the reason for the exemption is money: Industry Canada, which is taking the lead because it is viewed as an intellectual property (rather than a border security) file, does not want to commit to paying overtime to customs officials. No one from the departments of Industry or Public Safety returned calls or emails seeking comment.

It’s the perfect example of government by silo. It may save the Canada Border Security Agency’s overtime bill but how much is it going to cost the Canadian economy? One senior American official called the exemption sub-section, “the border thickening clause.”

Beyond the Border was launched to great fanfare. High hopes were expressed for a pilot project in Prince Rupert, B.C., where goods that landed were checked and loaded at the port, before being shipped by rail to Chicago, without being re-inspected in Minnesota. The idea was that this initiative would be rolled out to include the ports of Vancouver, Halifax and Montreal.

That will simply not happen if the transshipment exemption remains in place. For the Americans, this is a public safety issue — they’re not worried about fake watches, rather it’s things like counterfeit airbags that may or may not work.

“This is just us being stupid — penny-wise and pound-foolish,” said Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat who now writes on trade issues. “It doesn’t make any sense and flies in the face of us trying to create a secure perimeter.”

He pointed out that there has been considerable public investment in building the gateway policy to give the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert a competitive advantage in the transshipment business. “We don’t want to lose this over security concerns. This allowance for non-inspection is short-sighted and contrary to our commitment to the perimeter.”

Eric Miller, vice president at the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, said that the pilot project in Prince Rupert has achieved good results, with re-inspections in Minnesota much reduced. “The bottom line is the Americans are doing what they said they would do,” he said.

The impact of the counterfeit bill passing as drafted could be that, “You’re not going to get the same degree of expedited clearance at the border as the Americans say ‘We’re going to have to add inspections,’” he said. “It’s potentially destructive.”

The whole idea behind the Beyond the Border initiative was to reduce congestion, particularly for just-in-time delivery manufacturers on both sides of the 49th parallel such as in the auto industry.

To bring in legislation that actively works counter to that goal must be preposterous for anyone who hasn’t read Milton Friedman. The rest of us are already resigned to the fact that if government were put in charge of the Sahara Desert, within five years they would be a shortage of sand.

National Post

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