Canada EU agreement

excerpted from Ottawa Citizen, August 31, 2011 EU snubbed free-trade offer from Canada By Jordan Press, Postmedia

The European Union had no interest in negotiating a freetrade agreement with Canada nine years ago, despite heavy lobbying from the federal government, according to a newly leaked diplomatic cable.

That cable from the U.S. embassy in Ottawa and posted on the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, says the EU did not see any sound economic argument for the two parties to enter into a freetrade agreement.

“The European Commission did not see an economic/commercial case for a full-fledged FTA, and did not want to risk detracting from multilateral negotiations,” then U.S. ambassador Paul Cellucci wrote in the leaked cable.

“There was some difference of opinion regarding the value of a FTA among EU member states . The EU Trade Policy Body, however, remained unified in their position against a FTA.”

Instead, the government and EU decided on a trade agreement a step below free trade, which was put on permanent hiatus in 2006.

Now, eight years after the EU’s initial trepidation, officials from Europe and the federal government are on the verge of hammering out the last remaining details of a free-trade agreement.

The difference in eight years?

In 2003, the EU was in the midst of incorporating eastern European states into its organization and working on smaller trade agreements, said former diplomat Colin Robertson, a fellow at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa.

“At that point, we’re just not on their scope,” he said.

Now, he said, the EU and other governments around the world are seeing Canada as a valuable trading partner because of its abundance of natural resources.


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In Defence of Tradition

and also in the Halifax Chronicle Herald August 20, 2011 under the title ‘Forces to be Reckoned with’

In defence of tradition

The restoration of traditional names for Canada’s military honours our past and sets the stage for a proud future,

By Colin Robertson, Ottawa Citizen August 17, 2011

Nations draw their character from their history. We draw our shared memories especially during times of conflict, stress and challenge. National cohesion and character are put to the test when the nation faces real trials – during national emergencies or armed conflict. Canadians look with pride to our uniformed men and women and to the service they have performed for our country.

Today, our Rangers are in the midst of this year’s Operation Nanook, actively demonstrating Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic. After a decade at the sharp end in Kandahar, the Canadian Army is helping Afghans learn to defend themselves. Our pilots are flying guard over the skies of Libya, and HMCS Charlottetown recently came under fire fending off an attack on Misrata.

For a great deal of our history, our military performed under the identities of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force. The restoration of these identities is a moment for reflection in the importance of memory and the value of tradition.

During the valiant years of the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Navy secured the vital North Atlantic sea-lanes, while the RCAF training of thousands of Commonwealth and allied crew would earn for Canada the title “aerodrome of democracy.” By war’s end, our army had helped to liberate Europe and we possessed the world’s third largest navy. Our three services would enhance their reputation whether wearing the UN blue beret or under NATO command in Korea, Suez, Cyprus, the Balkans, Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan.

There were many positive features to the Pearson government’s decision to reinforce Canadian identity, most notably our maple leaf flag, but the erasure of the three distinct services was not one of them. There was about that decision too much of the central planner.

Doing what works to best stand guard for Canada requires constant effort and investment, with special attention to morale and the men and women who serve. Conditions of service have improved, distinctive uniforms and ranks were restored, bolstering recruitment and confidence in the individual services. The RCAF logo resurfaced as the design for popular clothing and, most recently, on the uniform of the resurrected Winnipeg Jets.

Now we need to ensure our armed services can live up to their distinguished heritage.

The world is a dangerous place. Canadians do not live in a “fireproof” house or waters free of peril. We spend a little over one per cent of our GDP on national defence. The British spend about two per cent and the Americans nearly five per cent. We will need to do more because our principal allies can no longer afford to constantly take up the slack.

Why do we need to spend more?

The Seven Seas are global highways for 80 per cent of world commerce. They are also inherently lawless. We export about half of what we manufacture as part of supply chain dynamics that date back to the Second World War. We have a record number of trade discussions under way – notably with Europe and India – as we seek to sell our goods and services. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has just returned from opening doors in Latin America and he visits China again this fall.

Trade by sea is vital to our prosperity. We also have the longest coastline in the world, enough to circle the equator six times. This has special implications for the Royal Canadian Navy.

The Canada First Defence Strategy provides a solid blueprint for the future that includes high recruitment targets and new kit; the Chinook helicopters and Hercules aircraft have already proven their worth in battle and in disaster relief. In the coming years, major projects will range from satellites to ships. We must now develop a coherent industrial defence strategy if we are to meet the procurement timetable.

The challenge for the Harper government will be to deliver on their commitment for new planes, new warships and, for the North, icebreakers. Getting this done will enable the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Army – all proud partners in the Canadian Forces – to build on their distinguished reputations.

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Restoring the Royal Canadian Navy and RCAF

excerpted from Financial Times August 16, 2011 9:18 pm Royalty restored to Canada’s armed forces By Bernard Simon in Toronto

Canada has restored a touch of royalty to its armed forces, demonstrating renewed affection for the British monarchy and underlining the military’s growing political clout.

Peter MacKay, defence minister, announced on Tuesday that the navy and air force, known for more than three decades as Maritime Command and Air Command respectively, would revert to their earlier names of the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force.

Also following the British example, the army, formerly called the Land Force Command, will again become the Canadian Army.

The switch, urged for years by veterans’ and other military groups, comes a month after a hugely successful tour of Canada by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the couple’s first foreign trip since their wedding last spring.

Colin Robertson, a former diplomat and now vice-president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, described the move as “part of a much bigger effort that touches not just the military to remind Canadians that they have a rich heritage of which the monarchy is an important piece”.

Canada’s ruling Conservatives, led by Stephen Harper, have given high priority to the military since taking office in 2006. The government has ordered a new fleet of F-35 Lightning fighters and three big C-17 transport aircraft, as well as plans for a big new icebreaker to help assert Ottawa’s sovereignty over the Arctic. Canada has no aircraft carriers.

More symbolically, the government named Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband, an honorary admiral and general on his 90th birthday in June.

At a time of public spending restraint, “this is something you can do that doesn’t cost anything”, Mr Robertson said, adding that the military’s profile has risen further since the Conservatives turned their minority government into a majority in last spring’s election.

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Restoring Canada’s Foreign Service

We must restore our diplomatic core

Monday, Aug. 08, 2011 Globe and Mail

ALLAN GOTLIEB and COLIN ROBERTSON

With his election victory, Stephen Harper has achieved a new place among world leaders. Admired for his political skills as the leader of an insurgent movement and then, as a prime minister who jockeyed a pair of minority governments into a majority, he’s also recognized for steering Canada’s economy through recessionary waters that are still threatening his fellow G7 leaders.

So what role will international affairs play in his government?

In several recent statements, he has told us it will be a major one. Foreign affairs/foreign relations, he said, “has become almost everything.” In a world where “change is the new constant,” he declared, “our party’s great purpose is nothing less than to prepare our nation to shoulder a bigger load, in a world that will require it of us.” Accordingly, “strength is not an option, it is a vital necessity.”

If these words signal the government’s intentions, then there must be a match between our aspirations and our abilities to achieve them. For too long, our capacity to be a significant player on the international stage has failed to match our rhetoric. The Prime Minister’s declarations of intent have credibility, coming, as they do, from a government that has consistently supported the strengthening of our military capabilities. The Canada First Defence Strategy, including the new command structure for the Canadian Forces, has proved itself both at home and away – in Libya, Afghanistan and in the reconstruction of Haiti.

All the more welcoming, therefore, is Mr. Harper’s recent statement that “re-equipping the military is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making Canada a meaningful contributor in the world.” The implications of this for Canadian foreign policy are profound. Mr. Harper seems to foresee a highly active foreign policy, and a very independent one. “We also have a purpose,” he said. “And that purpose is no longer just to go along and get along with everyone else’s agenda.”

Implicit in Mr. Harper’s statements is a recognition that Canada’s national interests are at the core of our foreign policy and have never been more demanding than they are today. To do so requires rebuilding our diplomatic resources to the stature they had in the postwar era when it was widely acknowledged that the impact of Canada’s contributions far exceeded its size.

The negotiation of a new accord with the United States to reverse the hardening of our border, the need to protect the access of our energy exports to American markets, the need to create new markets for our oil sands, the negotiation of a free-trade deal with the European Union and India, the strengthening of our relations with China, the protection of our interests in the Arctic – all are of the highest importance for our national interest and all deserving of the most talented of our human resources.

“To shoulder a bigger load” will necessitate a foreign service at the very top of its game. If the 1990s were a decade of darkness for the Canadian Forces, both the ’90s and the noughts were equally so for the foreign service. Process took priority over policy-making. Public diplomacy, an area Canada pioneered, virtually disappeared.

Meantime, there’s been a revolution in the way information is acquired and transcribed. Far from the information revolution shrinking the role of the ambassador, it’s enhancing it. Out of the vortex of information and communication, the ambassador emerges as chief interpreter of data and events, chief analyst, chief intelligence officer, chief advocate and chief adviser, the central player in a field with an infinite number of actors, pursuing conflicting goals and agendas.

In this age of the Internet and WikiLeaks, the role of diplomacy needs to be assessed and understood. The Prime Minister should commission a task force on the foreign service, as he did for Afghanistan. It’s been more than 30 years since the McDougall Commission looked at our diplomats. There will be no new golden age of Canadian foreign policy unless we invest in the human resources that, in the Prime Minister’s words, are necessary “to making Canada a meaningful contributor in the world.”

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