Celebrating Canada Day and Independence Day

From the Waterton Daily Times, Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York

Two nations have much to cherish, many opportunities to share more

By COLIN ROBERTSON
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 2013

When we raise our glasses to celebrate the Dominion of Canada on July 1st and the United States of America on July 4th, there is much to celebrate.

First, by this time next year Canadian troops and most of U.S. troops will be home from the Afghan war.

The Allied effort in the long war of liberation and counter-insurgency in Afghanistan has cost us much blood and treasure. While not the victory we envisaged, al-Qaeda has been displaced, justice meted out to Osama bin Laden and most of his gang and security for Afghanistan is passing to Afghan forces, after training by Canadian and U.S. forces.

Perhaps the most important lesson learned in this exercise is that while democratic institutions can be planted, they do not easily take root. With the best of intentions on gender equality and respect for minorities, cultures and attitudes are not changed overnight.

Inculcating the habits of law and order including representative government, a free press, independent judiciary and an honest civil service is measured not in months or years but decades if not generations.

We have learned, the hard way, that we cannot fix every situation notwithstanding the chorus cry that intervention will solve the problem, that is sung by those on the right and left. Strong in arms we must be but as soldier-statesman Colin Powell observed: “You break it, you own it.”

We do not bear the primary responsibility for tragic situations not of our making, especially where our interests are not directly at stake. Too quickly the “liberator” is transformed into the occupier and, in Islamic nations, labeled a latter-day “crusader.”

Those who pontificate about our “responsibility to protect” should visit Walter Reed or any of our hospitals of rehabilitation and see with their own eyes the human cost of sending young men and women into harm’s way. In his farewell address to the nation, George Washington cautioned: “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible.”

Our principal responsibility is to our own people and security at home. The alliance forged by Franklin Roosevelt and MacKenzie King at Kingston, Ogdensburg and Hyde Park between 1938 and 1941 remains evergreen and the defense umbrella over our skies now extends to our seas.

The tragedy of the Boston Marathon and the recent arrests, involving close collaboration with U.S. authorities, in Montreal and Toronto of those who wanted to bomb Via Rail, is a reminder that, together, we must remain vigilant on the home front. But this does not mean building walls around a Fortress North America.

Our greatest resource is our people. Our openness to new people and the ideas and skills that they bring to our countries is our continuing strength. The Lady holding Liberty’s torch in New York harbor is symbol of a bond that unites both our nations. Long may it shine.

Second, after enduring the longest recession since the Great Depression, our economies are recovering.

We still need more jobs — especially for those graduating from colleges and universities. Reshoring of manufacturing will help. So will continued investment in “smart” infrastructure.

The U.S. Society of Engineers estimates that we need to make a $3.6 trillion reinvestment in the renovation and rebuilding of our roads and bridges, ports and air terminals.

These projects will not just generate jobs but better position our economies to handle the growing supply-chain dynamics that constitute the foundation for future North American (including Mexico) competitive advantage.

Third, we stand on the cusp of a manufacturing renaissance made possible by newfound energy resources.

Thanks to research and technological innovation, we are able to develop our energy resources, notably in the oil sands and through the fracking of natural gas. In combination, they guarantee North American energy interdependence.

There are those who argue that we should leave these resources untouched. To not use what nature has given us would defy our frontier can-do spirit and deny our children the bounties that we have enjoyed. Thanks to innovation and research we know how to preserve the balance between exploitation and conservation.

Stewardship does not mean turning the top half of North America into “one giant national park” as Prime Minister Harper put it.

But it should mean exercising leadership in environmental protection and using the power of regulation to enforce good behavior. This is the formula behind the International Joint Commission. For over a century it has overseen our shared waterways and continues to be a model for joint stewardship.

In August 1938, Franklin Roosevelt, the U.S. president who best understood the strategic importance of Canada, received an honorary degree at Queen’s University. Later in the day, Roosevelt would meet with MacKenzie King, a prime minister who recognized that friendship with the U.S. did not mean subservience.

Together they dedicated the Thousand Islands Bridge to expedite the flow of people and commerce across our border and this year it celebrates its 75th anniversary.

In his remarks at Queen’s, Roosevelt observed that “We as neighbors are good friends because we maintain our rights with frankness, because we refuse to accept the twists of secret diplomacy, because we settle our disputes by consultation and because we discuss our common problems in the spirit of the common good.”

This is the spirit in which we should celebrate our respective national days.

And always, we should remember to cultivate the three qualities that Roosevelt described in his convocation remarks’ as essential to keep our foothold in life’s shifting sands: humility, humanity and humour.

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Canada Europe Trade Agreement

Inside the Canada-Europe trade talks: How politics are undermining the deal

Special to The Globe and Mail Wednesday, Jun. 19 2013

A man on a mission, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is using his European tour and the G8 summit to advance the Canada-Europe free-trade agreement – known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the national leaders who constitute the European Union’s ‘board of directors.’

CETA was the central message in his meetings with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President François Hollande, and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny. He urged the Europeans to take what he described as a ‘monumental’ and ‘historic step’ that promises to increase two-way trade by 20 per cent.

We both want a deal.

The Europeans thought we should have had a deal in January. That we do not has left both sides frustrated.

The Europeans see this agreement as laying an opening framework for their trade negotiations with the United States – “the biggest bilateral deal in history” – that begin next month in Washington.

For Canada, the EU deal would also be a trampoline to potential progress in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations.

For Mr. Harper, a deal would help change the channel on domestic travails. Better for the Tory caucus to be defending the trade deal on the barbecue circuit this summer than running defence on Senate follies.

But by publicly raising the ante on CETA, Mr. Harper risks leaving the impression with the EU that, for Canada, this deal is a necessity. For the Europeans, it is merely desirable. It enjoys nowhere the level of public attention in Europe as it attracts in Canada.

The Europeans carefully studied our system before entering into negotiations and, because trade and commerce is a shared federal-provincial power, they insisted that the provinces be at the bargaining table. As a result, joke the Europeans, when the Canadians come to Brussels they could fill a European Airbus, while the Europeans would fit comfortably into a Canadian Challenger.

The Europeans are surprised at our stubbornness and inflexibility on key issues. There is also a sense we tried to do an end run around their negotiators during the spring visit to Canada of French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, and and again with Prime Minister Cameron during Mr. Harper’s visit to London for the funeral of Margaret Thatcher.

The Europeans argue that if we succeed with a deal through such an end run, then negotiations will be doubly difficult with United States. The EU is requiring a guarantee in the form of congressionally-approved Trade Promotion Authority from the Obama Administration to ensure an up-or-down congressional vote passage of any deal.

The EU system was designed to prevent end-runs, in part to insulate leaders from such pressure. They say we need to understand that in their process the route to a deal runs only through Brussels.

But does it? Even Europeans will tell you that key decisions are still made in Berlin, Paris and even London and that the eight presidents of the various European institutions are not in the same league as the national leaders.

The presumption was that European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, a former tough-minded Belgian Foreign Minister, held the EU negotiating mandate. He does, but he operates within the European Union system.

Too often in the negotiations there has been a sense on the Canadian side that the decisions are made within the rival directorates within the labyrinth of the Brussels bureaucracy. Canadians have ruefully experienced the reality of Henry Kissinger’s jibe about European unity: “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?”

But, given our own federal system, complexity in governance is something that we should have figured out beforehand.

The outstanding issues are difficult but not impossible. It is now down to a give-and-take on these key points:

  • How far do we give in terms of patent protection for pharmaceuticals?
  • How much access do we get for our pork and beef?
  • How much access do we give to cheese and dairy imports?
  • How much are both sides willing to give in terms of government procurement, especially for local and sub-state purchasing?
  • Can we use the agreement to push back threatened restrictions on oil sands products?
  • How do we establish rules on financial services, with Canada holding the moral upper hand?
  • Can we define the rules of origin on everything from cars to beef to chocolate. Supply-chain integration means much of what is ‘Made in Canada’ includes parts from the United States. The EU doesn’t want to give away now what will be negotiable with the Americans.
  • What are obligations in the Strategic Partnership Agreement that the EU insists upon will be part of the package?
  • What are the exemptions that inevitably will reduce the potential benefits of the agreement?

Mr. Harper could do with advice from someone who appreciates his situation. He should call Brian Mulroney. The architect of the Canada-US free-trade agreement, the North American free-trade agreement and the Acid Rain Accord, Mr. Mulroney understands the sensitivities of the end game and how to manage the caucus, the provinces and the public.

After four years of negotiation, we should be popping the corks on the Champagne (or the Canadian ice wine). It would be a terrible shame if this deal goes flat, not on policy differences, but because of the mechanics of the negotiating process.

A member of the teams that negotiated the FTA and NAFTA, Colin Robertson is vice president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and a senior advisor to McKenna, Long and Aldridge, LLP.

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Canada’s Foreign Service needs fixing

No wonder diplomats are on strike: The foreign service needs fixing

Colin Robertson Special to The Globe and Mail, Wednesday, Jun. 12 2013

For a nation whose prosperity and growth depends on a strong, active internationalism, it makes no sense for our government to be at war with our foreign service.

The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, the bargaining agent for Canada’s diplomats, is now into a second month of active protest. This has included a series of rotating walk-outs that have affected visits abroad by the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and ministers.

The PAFSO complaint is a growing pay gap between foreign service officers and more highly paid economists, commerce officers and lawyers who are doing the same job, often working side-by-side.

As the smallest of the public-service bargaining agents, PAFSO has gotten short shrift from the Treasury Board Secretariat. Treasury Board has probably made the calculation that there is not a lot of public sympathy for bureaucrats, especially those perceived to lead a ‘glamorous’ existence on the international cocktail circuit, courtesy of the Canadian taxpayer.

That this perception is a myth is beside the point. The foreign service does not have a natural constituency. Yet its work is crucial to the government and the public it serves.

Get into trouble through injury or with the local authorities and need help? Want a lead on selling or buying a product? Want to sponsor your fiancée or parents for immigration to Canada? Call our embassy and who responds: a foreign-service officer.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government have developed an ambitious international agenda. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is actively recruiting new Canadians; this requires careful screening and issuance of immigration visas. International Trade Minister Ed Fast is negotiating a series of trade deals. Foreign Minister John Baird is determined to advance the ‘dignity’ agenda.

The foreign service often designs and always delivers these initiatives. Without its active effort and involvement, government objectives would be difficult to achieve.

Within the civil service, the foreign service has traditionally been the closest to the Prime Minister. The foreign service was effectively an adjunct of the Prime Minister’s Office from its inception in 1909 until 1945, during which time successive prime ministers from Robert Borden to William Lyon Mackenzie King also held the portfolio of Secretary of State for External Affairs.

The foreign service was housed with the prime minister in the East Block until they moved into the Pearson Building in 1973. Even then, foreign service officers traditionally served on the staff of the prime minister and a senior foreign service officer accompanied the PM on travels abroad.

Pierre Trudeau once complained that he could read all he needed to know in the New York Times, but he came to rely heavily on the foreign service, especially in the promotion of his valedictory ‘Peace Initiative.’ Brian Mulroney promised ‘pink slips and running shoes’ in his first months of governing, but before long his chief of staff, lead speechwriter and communications director were all from the foreign service.

Today, there is a perception that, after seven years, the Prime Minister and the international portfolio ministers have no confidence in their foreign service even if they trust individual officers. If so, then now is the time to reform the foreign service rather than continuing to rubbish it.

The last serious look at the foreign service was a Royal Commission conducted by Pamela McDougall between 1979-80.

Prime Minister Harper has had success with task forces, such as that on Afghanistan, with clear objectives, a short time-frame, and designed to produce practical recommendations.

Mr. Harper should mandate a task force to determine what kind of foreign service we need for the future. Terms and conditions of service – including a more flexible approach to postings, improved language training, and better recognition of spousal contributions – should be a part of the inquiry. It would complement ongoing work on the government’s Global Commerce Strategy.

Both efforts need to bring us into the 21st century by also allowing our foreign service to use social media. If the foreign services of our U.S. and European allies can use the tools of public diplomacy – to blog, tweet and speak out in support of their national interests – why can’t we? Today’s foreign service long ago embraced the tenets of guerrilla diplomacy, exchanging pinstripes for a backpack.

For its part, PAFSO should lift its guild-like grip on lateral entry into the foreign service. In the future we are going to need the best talent we can find and this will require a creative approach to appointments.

In the meantime, the Treasury Board should look carefully at the PAFSO case and provide compensation commensurate with what it pays those doing the same kind of work. We need our foreign service back on the job.

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Excerpted from

Lee-anne Goodman, The Canadian Press
Sun, 30 Jun 2013

“There certainly seems to be no sign of any inclination from the government to find a resolution,” Colin Robertson, a former diplomat who was once the head of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers union, said in an interview.

“You’re also getting into a situation now in which good people are leaving, they’re just fed up and saying it’s not worth it because this government doesn’t value us. And so the government, by holding out, may win this battle but it’s likely to be a Pyrrhic victory, because they’re leaving a very unhappy group.”

It’s time for the Conservative government to make some decisions about the foreign service, Robertson added, given the strike is creating a lengthy visa backlog that’s having an impact on Canada’s tourism and education industries.

Tourism stakeholders have said it may cost the industry $280 million this summer, while some students have been forced to withdraw from Canadian university courses because they didn’t get their visas on time.

“The government needs to take a look at what they want from the foreign service; it needs to use the strike as an opportunity to figure out where they want the foreign service to be in 10 years.”

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On Paul Cellucci

excerpted from

Ottawa remembers Cellucci’s outspoken contributions

By Zev Singer, OTTAWA CITIZEN June 9, 2013

OTTAWA — Paul Cellucci, the first ambassador George W. Bush sent to Ottawa, had already been serving in the post for five months by Sept. 11, 2001. So the man, whose style is rarely described without use of the word “blunt,” was not actually sent to Canada as part of the reaction to suddenly new circumstances.

Even if it felt that way.

A personal friend of the Bush family and a former governor of Massachusetts, Cellucci typified the recent shift in diplomacy between the two countries from the polite, non-partisan career foreign service officer to the more political and outspoken appointee not afraid to take a message from the Oval Office directly to the public.

Cellucci died Saturday of complications related to Lou Gehrig’s disease at the age of 65.

In his five years in Ottawa, Cellucci was not afraid to advocate publicly for greater military spending by the Canadian government. While critics saw it as meddling in Canadian affairs, he was unapologetic about his approach.

“Some people still think that we’re in a different era, where diplomacy is always done behind closed doors,” Cellucci told The Canadian Press in 2005. “For us in the United States, that’s no longer the case. We have to be speaking not only to the government, but to the people of a country where we are serving in, so that we can explain how we feel, defend the actions we take, advocate for what the United States is doing and for what it stands for.”

When he left the post, he went even further. In a book called Unquiet Diplomacy, he wrote about how the U.S. felt betrayed when Canada refused to join the invasion of Iraq. Those feelings were compounded, he said, by a subsequent doublecross.

“After Jean Chrétien announced that Canada would not join the coalition invasion of Iraq,” he wrote in the book, “the Canadian government tried to soften the blow. My embassy received assurances at a meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade that, although Canada would not participate as an active partner in the war coalition, once the war began the government would say positive things about the United States and negative things about Iraq.”

However, once the Iraqi invasion began, Chretien was publicly critical of American actions.

“Instead of saying much that was positive about my government and its decision to go to war, Prime Minister Chretien chose to emphasize the need for any such military action to be authorized by the UN. There was a suggestion — intentional or not — that what the U.S.-led coalition was doing in Iraq lacked legitimacy.”

Chrétien’s successor was also taken to task in the book for many months of dithering over whether Canada would become an active player in the Americans’ planned missile-defence system.

The ex-ambassador wrote that Martin made the “perplexing, astounding” and “disappointing” decision to nix the missile scheme against his own best instincts only because it might help him win votes in Quebec otherwise destined for the Bloc Québécois. He also called Martin’s handling of the file “clumsy” and “inept.”

Whether Cellucci’s direct style produced results has been questioned, with critics pointing to the Canadian decisions on both the Iraq war and missile defence as examples of failure to sway the country.

Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat who worked with Cellucci and was in touch with him as recently as the last few months, said there were results down the road. Robertson cited Canada’s now expanded military lift capacity, in the form of Globemaster planes, as something for which Cellucci advocated that did materialize.

“He wasn’t particularly well received necessarily by the government of the day, but in retrospect it’s made a signal contribution to what we’ve been able to do abroad,” Robertson said of that file.

Robertson also said Cellucci, who understood the nuts and bolts of cross-border issues from experience as a governor, was very important in getting U.S. customs clearance into Stanfield Airport in Halifax, which he said was crucial for economic development in the Maritimes.

Robertson added that while Cellucci’s style was memorable, it didn’t come out of nowhere in cross-border relations. He said diplomats, even relatively direct American ones, are always mindful of where they are and what they think the public can handle. In a way, Robertson said, the presence of Cellucci was an indication that the Americans thought Canadians were becoming ready for some more direct talk.

Cellucci — a car dealer’s son whose physical resemblance to Robert De Niro was said to be matched by his willingness in private to do De Niro impressions from the movie Taxi Driver — put it this way in his book, when talking about that fact that he was sometimes described in Canada as “Rambo Cellucci.”

“As I told my embassy staff, this was nothing. And at all times I felt confident that most people would realize that I had paid Canadians one of the best compliments that you can pay a friend. I told them the truth, as I saw it.”

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Ottawa+remembers+Cellucci+outspoken+contributions/8501595/story.html#ixzz2WrrN3hT9

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John Baird’s Dignity Agenda

John Baird’s ‘dignity agenda’ an idealistic notion that just might work
Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail Wednesday Jun 05 2013
Despite other Ottawa distractions, Foreign Minister John Baird’s ‘dignity agenda’ is slowly taking shape. It might just become one of the Harper government’s lasting contributions to Canadian foreign policy.
Framed last fall in speeches delivered in Montreal, in the United Nations General Assembly in New York and in Quebec City, the message is clear and tweetable: people deserve the “dignity to live in freedom, in peace and to provide for one’s family.” It specifically defends women, children and gay people. Its simplicity recalls, not without coincidence, Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms.
It neatly avoids the tiresome argument between values and interests by underlining that “doing what is morally right is in our national interest.”
Its roots are bipartisan, openly acknowledging both Louis St. Laurent, who laid the foundations for modern Canadian foreign policy, and Brian Mulroney for his work in Africa, especially South Africa. The dignity divide is not left versus right but rather between open and closed.
If it is to succeed, the dignity agenda will need to demonstrate the kind of tangible accomplishments that former foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy’s human security agenda achieved, notably the landmark Treaty on Land Mines and the creation of the International Criminal Court.
For now, the dignity agenda is a combination of policy instruments – such as the creation of the Ambassador for Religious Freedom – and actions, including targetted sanctions on Iran.
Then there is ‘direct diplomacy.’
Demonstrated recently at Toronto’s Munk Centre, Ottawa’s Global Dialogue on the Future of Iran used social media – Facebook and Twitter – as both amplifier and intervenor into the conversation. Designed to encourage open discussion in the lead-up to Iran’s June elections, Mr. Baird told his audience, including an estimated 350,000 in Iran, that they “have a friend in Canada.”
If foreign policy covers a spectrum from idealist to realist, Mr. Baird’s is firmly in the idealist camp. And indeed, realists can question the efficacy of the dignity agenda.
Morality and foreign policy “is a subject much wanting in thought” observed the American historian Gertrude Himmelfarb. Of necessity, international politics depends on hard power both as last resort and as first responder in time of disaster. Soft power can too easily settle into easy, ineffectual preachiness.
U.S. Secretary of Dean Acheson once likened Canadian moralizing to the “stern daughter of the voice of God.” Our own International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (Rights & Democracy) eventually ate itself – a lesson in the best of intentions going badly awry.
But experience demonstrates that, after the fact, whether in Burma, South Africa or Central Europe, dissidents say that one of the things that kept them going was knowledge that someone – somewhere – cared about their plight.
Nelson Mandela praised Canada for having maintained our “support for the forces of democracy at a critical time in a transition whose outcome was never guaranteed.”
Mr. Mandela specifically identified the Canadian International Development Agency for having given millions of South Africans access to things that most Canadians would take for granted – clean water, housing and electricity – “but which have been only a dream to the majority of South Africans.”
The government should remember this as it re-integrates CIDA into the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
While putting the emphasis on trade as the economic engine for sustainable development is correct, dignity also includes a safety net for those who need a hand-up and for the sick, young and elderly. And any state that does not address the condition of women and girls can neither be prosperous nor secure.
It is still early days for the Baird dignity agenda. Skeptics will question whether the Canadian Office of Religious Freedom has more to do with appeasing the evangelical base of the Conservative Party.
It took months to find an Ambassador for Religious Freedom. The man they found, Andrew Bennett, has made pronouncements to date that have been pointed, targeted and frequent. He needs to go beyond the condemnatory and offer something with soul. His U.S. counterpart produces an annual evaluation of religious freedom. Why not a Canadian perspective?
We are, arguably, the world’s most successful pluralist society. We have faults. Look at Statistics Canada’s grim reports on the situation of First Nations women and children. But, comparatively, Canada works.
The Aga Khan established the Global Centre for Pluralism in Canada because he felt our national experience “made it a natural home for this venture.”
To see diversity as an opportunity rather than burden, observed the Aga Khan, is a permanent work in progress requiring concerted, deliberate efforts to build social institutions and cultural habits which take account of difference. The aim is not perfection but decency and mutual respect – in short, dignity for individuals and the collective.

Making the dignity agenda a Canadian export is a worthy objective, consistent with our values and interests. It should also serve to remind us that there is still much work to do at home.

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