Border Infrastructure delays

Agreement covers a range of trade and security measures meant to ease flow of goods and people

By Laura Payton, CBC News Posted: Nov 29, 2013 5:30 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 29, 2013 9:24 PM ET

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama shook hands on a Beyond the Border deal in Washington in December 2011. But a new report by Public Safety Canada says Canada is behind in implementing parts of the deal. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

A project meant to make it easier for trade and travel across the Canada-U.S. border is behind schedule, and can’t even spend the millions of dollars allocated to it, according to a status report released today.

The Beyond the Border program was so important that Prime Minister Stephen Harper flew down to Washington, D.C., to announce it standing next to President Barack Obama.

But the report, released today, suggests major IT problems are leading to delays. With more than $117 million budgeted for 2012/13, only $49 million has been spent to streamline regulations and eliminate border delays.

Under one heading, “Addressing threats early,” more than $47 million was reallocated from one department to another.

The agreement covers a range of trade and security measures meant to make it easier to get people and goods across the border. It set a number of deadlines over several years. The report refers to delays for implementing several of the measures, blaming IT problems.

“Delays occurred in spending on information technology requirements needed to be consolidated to address program requirements and streamline solutions,” the report said, a sentence repeated under several headings.

“This necessitated a review across the solutions, which in turn delayed the start of certain projects.”

A spokeswoman for Public Safety Canada acknowledged the delays but said the government is committed to delivering on the goals set out in the agreement.

‘Slower than anticipated’

“The Beyond the Border Action Plan continues to be a priority for the Government of Canada. While some initiatives have been implemented slower than anticipated, we are committed to fulfilling the Action Plan vision, delivering on a range of strategic initiatives and building upon key accomplishments,” Josée Picard said in an email to CBC News.

The Single Window Initiative, which is supposed to make it easier to clear products by cutting the paperwork, is one of the programs that’s been delayed.

“As the schedule for the Beyond the Border Action Plan is aggressive with the first major SWI commitment being planned for December 2013, [Canada Border Services Agency]… moved the major development of this commitment from 2012-2013 to 2013-2014,” the report said in a footnote.

“As well, there is added complexity in relating to co-ordination and integration of the [nine] participating government agencies and the top [four] priority departments.”

Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat who spent years in Washington, says it isn’t all bad news for the government.

Some of the programs seem to be working well, he said, although the Trusted Traveller program, meant to pre-clear people to move them faster across the border, hasn’t had strong pickup.

The prime minister and the ministers of each department involved may need to get more involved in the file, he said.

“What you need is probably greater ministerial directive to say this is important, you’ve got to move this thing along,” Robertson said.

Treasury Board rules require annual reports for program spending budgeted for $100 million or more a year. Canadians should get more details on program delays next month, when the two countries release a joint implementation report.

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Economic Diplomacy: Foreign Policy Shift

Nov 29, 2013

Canada’s big foreign policy shift

CBC Power & Politics panel discusses trade minister’s new direction Rosemary Barton interviews former ambassador Michael Bell and former diplomat Colin Robertson

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Economic Diplomacy Debated

Canadian foreign policy will pivot around economic opportunities and trade, according to a new government strategy. CPAC’s Prime Time host Peter van Dusen discusses with former diplomats Gar Pardy and Colin Robertson.

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Economic Diplomacy: Viewpoints

Globe Debate: Six experts weigh in on Canada’s shift to the ‘dollar diplomacy’

The Globe and Mail Wednesday, Nov. 27 2013, 11:11 AM EST

A range of opinion on Canada’s global pivot

Six former ambassadors or foreign affairs officials debate the merits of Canada’s new shift of its foreign relations to a focus on trade and commerce. “… All diplomatic assets of the Government of Canada will be marshalled on behalf of the private sector.”

Jeremy Kinsman

A ‘dreadful mistake’

Jeremy Kinsman

This is a proven dreadful mistake. Foreign relations for democratic nations have three thrusts: economic interests; international peace and security; and value-driven support for human rights and democracy development. Their content is increasingly more people to people than state to state.

The moment any one emphasis excludes one or both of the others is the moment things go off the rails; eg., thirty years of the United States supporting a dictator in Egypt for (false) security reasons alone; or for Canada, sucking up to the Gadhafi family to help out SNC/Lavalin.

The United States is now pursuing just such a composite strategy – for Iran, Russia, China; supporting a strategic partnership in the interests of economic and political security, while also supporting civil society’s legitimate aspirations.

Why is this Canadian government so blindly committed to a mercantilist policy without the other thrusts? It’s a proven loser. It is not what Canadians want.

Jeremy Kinsman was Canadian ambassador in Moscow from 1992 to 1996

A ‘refreshing’ pivot

Derek Burney

The “Global Markets Action Plan” announced Wednesday by Trade Minister Ed Fast is a refreshing statement of the obvious

Trade is the lifeblood of the Canadian economy and should be a major instrument of Canadian foreign policy, not to the exclusion of others, but because it is the one on which our scope for influence is actually commensurate with our strengths, hence our relevance and our leverage.

The objective is to enhance and safeguard our economic prospects. While much of the emphasis in the latest plan seems to be on trade promotion – support for small and medium-sized enterprises, etc. – the essence will flow from trade negotiations, as was the case in the past with the U.S. free-trade agreement and the North American free-trade agreement and, most recently, CETA – the most significant accomplishment on trade since NAFTA.

The focus should now most definitely switch to specific emerging markets, notably those in Asia which are today delivering much of global, economic growth. The real action will be at the negotiating tables.

Not a policy for the real world

Gar Pardy

Poor Willy Loman. Arthur Miller’s archetypical salesman died more than sixty years ago  by his own hand.  He is now revived by the government of Canada in a play of desperation to give new energy and life to the Canadian economy on the backs of the Canadian Foreign Service. Never have public servants been loaded with such an onerous responsibility; and before we get carried away with the rhetoric of the government and the clapping flippers of its trained seals, Canadians should take a walk in the real world where the Canadian coin is of less value than the CFA franc of the Central African Republic.

The antecedents of this policy are not hard to find. The dismantling of the Canadian International Development Agency, putting the International Development Research Centre on life support, the bad-mouthing of the Commonwealth and threats to cut Canadian support funding, the back-of-the-hand treatment for the United Nations and a visceral disdain for the Foreign Service have all been large signposts of the illusory world this government has created.

Now Canadians are expected to accept that “All diplomatic assets of the Government of Canada will be marshalled on behalf of the private sector.” This is more than just changing the channel.  It is throwing out the television and expecting the world to accept the ethereal messages this prone government receives from its self-created cosmos.

It has been evident for some time that this is a government that lives in an illusory universe where science plays on role and reasonableness has been eliminated from its DNA.  As such, not surprisingly, it can today with a face straight say to a complex world that Canada cannot be counted on to do anything more than to “marshal” its foreign service in support of its business community.

It is a policy that is constructed on the shifting sands of ignorance of the international scene and sleigh-of-the-hand illusions to fool Canadians. To suggest that there is a “Canadian” business community is to deny a central Canadian illusion.  There is hardly a large Canadian company that is today not controlled by foreign interests and supported by hidden Canadian subsidies of policy and money.  Even more insidious is that many of these foreign interests are the products of foreign governments whose interest in things Canadians do not go beyond their wallets and their own national interest.

So today we resurrect Willy Loman from his long forgotten garage and give him new life as the guardian of Canadian foreign policy.  With apologies to Joe Clark we now will “lecture, peddle and leave.”

Gar Pardy is a former ambassador who comments on public policy issues from Ottawa.

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We are a nation of traders

Colin Robertson

‘Economic diplomacy’ is nothing new – we opened our first foreign offices to promote trade and attract talent to Canada. Canada has always been a trading nation.

With the pivotal 1988 free-trade election, when we opted for competition rather than protection, we are becoming a nation of traders. We have shown ourselves that we can compete successfully around the globe drawing on our natural endowments and the skills of our people.

One of the keys to success is finding our niche in the supply chain dynamic that now characterizes global trade. We generate half our income from commerce by selling what we make in our factories or harvest from the land. Increasingly we sell our services as engineers and bankers to the world.

Our ability to keep our edge in global competition will largely determine our future prosperity. ‘Economic diplomacy’ is important but it is only one element in sustaining our economic health.

First, we need to put more emphasis on practical skills and training. This means recognizing the vital contribution of those who use their hands as well as their heads and giving greater weight to community colleges and technical schools that train tomorrow’s plumbers and welders, electricians and machinists.

Second we have to sustain a healthy population through an affordable, universal health care system.

Third, we need to nurture our pluralism through smart immigration. We are peopled by the world. In Toronto, our biggest city, half were born outside of Canada.

As we approach our sesquicentennial remember the words inscribed over the Canadian Pavilion at Expo 67: “Rights are the Rewards of Responsibility.”

Economic diplomacy makes sense but as one piece in a larger design of an active, pragmatic internationalism. This requires a ‘best in class’ Foreign Service that can deliver ‘economic diplomacy’.

The strife that led to this year’s six-month strike has been settled but the relationship between the Government and its Foreign Service can be characterized as ‘mutual contempt’.

If the Government is to deliver on its economic policies then it needs to devote some attention to rejuvenating its Foreign Service. Invest in training and trust it to use the new tools – twitter, blogs and Facebook. Open up recruitment at all levels from the private sector and the provinces.

The practical success of economic diplomacy will depend on creating mutual trust with those who have to deliver on its promise.

Our economic diplomats should also take their inspiration from one of our greatest Trade Ministers, George Hees. He sent forth an earlier generation of Canadian salesmen and saleswomen with the instruction: “You can’t do business sitting on your ass.”

A former diplomat, Colin Robertson was a member of the teams that negotiated the Canada-US FTA and NAFTA agreements.

The world won’t allow for a simple focus on trade

Paul Heinbecker

The world will not let us focus on economics and trade even if it were a good idea for us to do so.

From natural disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan and the Haitian earthquake to man-made calamities such as 9/11 and Syrian civil war, events will force us to respond. Further, Canadians’ interests and our values will demand we pay attention to, for example, the Iranian nuclear program, cyber security, pandemics and the spread of communicable diseases, international crime and the drug trade, climate change and Arctic sovereignty, the alleviation of hunger and promotion of human rights and religious freedoms as well as improving global governance notably preserving Internet freedom.

To say nothing of assisting Canadians abroad who are sick and need help. Mercantile policy will not get Canadia tourists out of hell hole jails or repatriate the deceased.

Nor will it alone burnish Canada’s reputation as a constructive, responsible global citizen.

Paul Heinbecker is now with the Centre for International Governance Innovation

A not-so-simple shift

Derek Fraser

If the government is serious, then what it proposes would amount to a revolution, for this government has up until now often given priority over trade and investment prospects to its support for human rights, humanitarian aid, and international security.

Canada’s support for the Western humanitarian intervention to get rid of Colonel Gadhafi harmed the commercial interests of a leading Canadian engineering firm. Canada’s criticism of the Sri Lankan government and Canada’s boycott of the Commonwealth Heads of State in Colombo cannot have helped Canadian business prospects in Sri Lanka. Canada’s support for international sanctions against Iran and North Korea because of their nuclear ambitions has not helped Canadian commercial interests in either country, notably those of the Canadian nuclear industry.

Canada’s support for Israel cannot further our business possibilities in the Arab world, which are probably larger than those in Israel. Canadian support for democracy, human rights and national independence in Eastern Europe, notably Ukraine, cannot endear us to the Russians. Appointing an Ambassador for Religious  Freedom and supporting women’s rights may actually harm business interests in certain countries. The commercial fallout from sending the Dart Team to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan may turn out to be disappointingly small.

If the Government does not mean what it appears to say, then it might consider embarking on a serious and balanced analysis of all the strands of our foreign policy. Such an analysis would likely recognize that other interests sometimes take precedence over commerce.

Derek Fraser is a former ambassador to Hungary, Greece and Ukraine.

Ottawa’s dollar diplomacy: It’s the end of the world as we knew it

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Canada US Relations: Flashpoints

Harper, Obama need to keep up with the speed of business

The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Nov. 26 2013

Colin Robertson

No drama. In the conduct of Canada-U.S. relations it has been the modus operandi of both Stephen Harper and Barack Obama.

They are in alignment on the big issues of peace and security, economics and trade. Differences on climate change have not interfered with getting things done.

Their big joint initiative – easing border congestion and introducing closer regulatory co-operation – is moving forward despite the countervailing forces of sequester and budget cuts. The security perimeter, necessary for U.S. confidence, has been achieved. Regulatory collaboration is working.

But business wants to see results.

We need measurable progress on getting people, goods and services quickly and efficiently across the border. Canada created a cabinet secretariat that should be made permanent and matched by the United States. As the initiative approaches its second anniversary, both leaders need to give it another personal boost.

Transactional business – problems around bridges and pipelines, roads, rail and seaways – has been handled quietly and efficiently by our ambassadors. As a team, David Jacobson and Gary Doer were especially effective. Unfortunately, the designated new U.S. ambassador, Bruce Heyman, is stuck in limbo, a victim of various senatorial holds on presidential nominations.

Not having a U.S. ambassador in Canada handicaps both countries, especially as there are some potential flashpoints ahead:

– The interim Iranian nuclear deal should be a cause for celebration. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called it an “historic mistake” and Foreign Minister John Baird said he was “deeply skeptical.” Our sanctions will remain in place until there is “verifiable implementation”. Will we break with the U.S.?

– Country of Origin Labelling (COOL). Our leading trade dispute with the USA has been quietly simmering but has taken on new urgency with the new rules now in effect. The dispute is at the World Trade Organization, where, with Mexico, we seek rescinding of the labeling rule that is upsetting century-old cross-border trade in pork and beef. How will this be resolved?

– Keystone XL Pipeline. It has been more than five years since the original application for a presidential permit. With the completion of the second environmental assessment, there was an expectation that the decision would be made this year. Will it happen?

– Windsor-Detroit second crossing. Canada and Ontario are putting up $500-million to finance the U.S.-Michigan share of this necessary bridge. The presidential permit was issued in April but without the money to build the U.S. customs plaza. When will we see the money?

All these issues require careful handling.

On Iran, reaction from the Sunni Arab nations and U.S. domestic politics has yet to play out. We can keep faith with Israel but be constructive. Re-opening our Embassy in Teheran would be a start to help assist in on-site verification.

On the Keystone XL pipeline, keep our sangfroid. The oil is flowing by rail. We will open new markets overseas through east-west pipelines.

The issue is now as much, if not more, a debate within the U.S. rather than a Canada-U.S. dispute. New EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy recently said of Keystone, “If there’s oil there, someone will find it and use it.”

We have a lot of allies – in industry, labour, and governors and legislators in the states through which the pipeline passes. With the House of Representatives onside, gaining the support of Senate Democrats is key.

On COOL, we have allies among producers. We need to convince consumers. Efforts by a team of federal and provincial legislators, working with allies in Congress, may obtain redress in the U.S. Farm Bill – but this would be a stretch. More likely, we will have to work the WTO process.

Meanwhile, with new access in Europe (through CETA) and opportunities in Asia, we should seek foreign investment (like China’s Shuanghui) to process in Canada.

On the bridge, the funding is the equivalent of the value of a couple of days commercial traffic through the Windsor-Detroit gateway. Keep working on Congress with our ally, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Meantime, look at border management using the NORAD model. Why not a joint, binational customs plaza?

These trade disputes are frustrating but we are in it for the long haul. Build on the support we already have in the US.

In the American system, as long as there is a countervailing interest, there is friction and debate. We need to better understand their system, its rules and conventions.

Identify our U.S. allies and work with them. Avoid drama. And remember, it’s a permanent campaign.

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Halifax International Security Forum: a worthwhile initiative

Debating a dangerous new age

By | Nov 21, 2013 8:55 pm

If the twentieth century was about forces competing for global predominance, today the struggle is about sustaining global order against global chaos.

The challenges of conflicts – between states, within failing states, of terrorists possessing weapons of mass destruction –  have ramped up with the added threats of climate change and pandemics.

At the same time technology means that information has never been more accessible — nor privacy less secure.

Making meaning out of all this – to find trends and develop solutions – is hard work. It depends on creative thinking through understanding the forces of history and analyzing events.

We strive to develop in our diplomats, military intelligence and national security policy planners what the Germans call ‘fingerspitzengefuhl – literally ‘finger-tip feeling’ or intuition based on knowledge and experiencet

In this twilight world, bringing together friends and foes, allies and adversaries to talk informally about the big issues and to get to know one another better is very useful.

There is a history of these get-togethers.

The Munich Security conference, which began in the mid-sixties with a trans-Atlantic and European security focus, brings together political and military leaders with civil society. It was on its fringes, in 2011, that US and Russian foreign ministers exchanged the instruments that ratified the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

Defence ministers, military leaders and senior civil servants from the Asia-Pacific region have been meeting since 2002 in the Shangri-La Dialogue. This year US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel underlined the rationale behind the Obama Administration’s pivot or rebalancing to Asia.

Five years ago, at the initiative of then-Defence Minister Peter MacKay, Canada began the Halifax International Security Forum (HISF) to address the threats facing the democracies. Initially trans-Atlantic in orientation, it now has a respected global following.

This coming weekend, it will once again bring together delegates from fifty countries including defence and security ministers, generals and admirals, ambassadors, legislators, the research community and civil society.

Importantly, it draws a strong delegation of US senior legislators, including Senator John McCain. Once again, the US Defense Secretary will participate.

For two days there is discussion, formal and informal, on and off-the-record. Most of the plenary sessions, armchair discussions, usually moderated by journalists, are broadcast on CPAC. For the hardy, there is the annual run led by now-Justice Minister Peter MacKay, along the Halifax waterfront.

The Forum’s costs are borne largely by the Government of Canada, especially National Defence. Any grumblings about the price-tag are misplaced, especially when you consider that the annual cost of keeping a soldier in Afghanistan is over a million dollars.

The Forum has a quintessential Canadian feel and makes a topical and important contribution to peace and security.

This year’s conference will look at the challenges facing the West; the difficulties inherent in the Middle East; the reality of what ‘responsibility to protect’ means; cyber-threats and drone warfare. Importantly for Canada, it will also put a focus on the Arctic.

The Forum will be an opportunity to informally discuss the potential successor to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen whose term ends next year. A Canadian has never held the top job and if Peter MacKay were interested he would be a good candidate.

When we are on our game, Canada plays an admirable role as useful fixer and bridge-builder. Canadians were helpful in the construction of NATO and the other multilateral institutions that still serve international peace and security.

One of our leverage points lies in our ability to interpret Washington to the world and the world to Washington. This obliges us to sustain respect for Canada’s capacities in Washington.

This starts with a good relationship between the president and prime minister.

It also demands an activist diplomatic service confident in the support of its minister and prime minister. This needs work.

Finally, military force is demonstrable hard currency in a Washington. Sequester is brutally cutting the US defense establishment. Americans want allies that can punch their weight.

The Harper Government’s Canada First Defence Strategy would give us this capacity although, five years on, an update is overdue.

Its promised investments, especially those in our aging fleet, are essential. Globalization and the ubiquitous container makes this a maritime century. As Prime Minister Harper has observed Canada and its economy float on salt water.

Theories and grand ideas seldom unfold as planned. We need to better understand the strategic forces at work in faraway places. We also need to know the players who influence and determine events.

That’s why initiatives like the Halifax International Security Forum are a worthwhile investment.

Debating a dangerous new age iPolitics Insight

By | Nov 21, 2013 8:55 pm | iPolitics Subscription Required | 0 Comments

Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, Elisa Massimino, president of Human Rights First, and General Jean-Paul Palomeros, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, left to right, conduct a session at the Halifax International Security Forum in Halifax on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

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NAFTA: Next Steps

NAFTA’s enduring lesson: Never forget your neighbours

Special to The Globe and Mail Wednesday, Nov. 13 2013

Colin Robertson

Twenty years ago, Americans and a lot of Canadians tuned in on a November evening to watch Larry King host what turned out to be seminal debate on free trade. It pitted then U.S. vice president Al Gore against Ross Perot.

Mr. Perot, the irascible Texan, was riding a wave of popular discontent with his warning that Americans should listen for a ‘giant sucking sound going south’ as jobs fled to the Mexican maquiladoras. The appeal netted him 19 per cent of the popular vote in the 1992 election, making him the most successful third party challenger since Teddy Roosevelt in 1912.

Gore dismembered Perot in debate and subsequently, support for the Clinton administration’s NAFTA legislation rose from 34 per cent to 57 per cent; the debate contributed to its passage a week later in the House of Representatives.

NAFTA worked.

All three nations enjoyed a decade of prosperity that created jobs and balanced budgets. North America’s share of world trade rose to 36 per cent before receding, in face of recession and the rise of Asia, to 25 per cent.

Unfortunately, the continued fear-mongering of Mr. Perot, Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan – described by Republican leader Bob Michel as the ‘Groucho, Chico and Harpo of the opposition’ – took root in the United States. Flaring up during presidential primaries, NAFTA became, inaccurately, a code word for job loss.

After Sept. 11, security trumped trade as the U.S. ramped up its border presence, tripling budgets to build walls on its southern border and launching drones to patrol its northern frontier.

NAFTA leaders’ meetings, when held, have become competing conversations – one between the Canadian prime minister and the U.S. president and the other between the U.S. and Mexican presidents.

By necessity, the energy for trilateral reform requires the personal leadership of the U.S. president as both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton demonstrated on NAFTA.

George W. Bush launched the Security and Prosperity Initiative, but its scope was too broad and the vigor required was too little. Barack Obama shelved it, endorsing a bigger deal with the Pacific, as part of the U.S. pivot, or rebalance, towards Asia.

Given the deep economic integration, it would have made more sense for President Obama to caucus first with his North American counterparts. If you can’t define a relationship with your neighbours, how can you define a relationship with the world?

Our political leadership sometimes fails to appreciate what our business community already understands: Our mutual competitiveness depends on working together.

Global positioning starts with getting our act together in the neighborhood.

Bob Pastor, tireless champion of the North American idea, recently hosted a conference in Washington that brought together business, legislators, civil society and the key officials from all three countries.

The conference released a survey showing that in all three countries there is strong support for trilateral free trade.

A series of practical suggestions were offered including:

– Resurrecting a high-level business advisory group that is more than just a photo opportunity.

– Given that there is no appetite or money for the new institutions, using more effectively those already in place, notably the Commission on Environmental Cooperation, and the moribund Commission for Labor Cooperation.

– Develop a North American climate strategy that the leaders can take to the international table. Why not, for example, an international price on carbon, starting with North America?

– Better high-level coordination within government and across governments (including states, provinces and cities) to maximize and sustain continental collaboration.

A coalition to inform and educate at the regional and community level will be led by the highly effective Pacific Northwest Economic Region and the Border Trade Alliance.

The recent announcement by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and International Trade Minister Ministers Ed Fast to work on a ‘constructive agenda’ is encouraging. It needs to look at better coordinating infrastructure and transportation grids, including pipelines, roads, rail and ports.

A take-away from the recent Canadian American Business Council conference in Ottawa is the requirement for a continental approach to talent, including co-ordinating training and skills development.

There are other efforts underway, including a Council of Foreign Relations Task Force led by David Petraeus and Robert Zoellick. They should start by reading the CFR’s 2005 report led by co-chairs John Manley, Pedro Aspe and William Weld.

Twenty years on, the best tribute to NAFTA’s enduring success would be a forward-looking strategy. Next spring the leaders will meet in Mexico. Their challenge: a plan to build a North American century.

Colin Robertson is a former diplomat, vice-president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and a senior advisor to McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP.

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