EU Elections

European voters favour integration over disintegration

Colin Robertson

BERLIN — Globe and Mail Monday, May. 26 2014

In a united Europe, Henry Kissinger asked, who do you call for answers and action?

If taking into account the elections of the European Parliament, as the last EU reform recommends, then Europe’s national leaders will likely name Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission later this fall. Mr. Juncker’s centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) won the largest bloc of seats in the EU parliamentary elections.

The elections, that spanned three days, represent the biggest exercise in multi-national democracy in the world. This year’s campaign included a series of debates, broadcast on 49 television channels throughout Europe, in which the Spitzenkandidaten – the parties’ “lead candidates” – discussed jobs, immigration and EU powers.

EU voter turnout (43 per cent), appears to be about the same as in 2009. Low by Canadian standards (61 per cent in our 2011 election), it varied country by country.

The success of Euroskeptic parties in the United Kingdom, Greece, Denmark and in France (where the far right National Front polled first) raises natural concerns. But the protest vote probably has more to do with national discontents than the direction of Europe. Pundits will debate its affect on the Scottish referendum this fall.

What is clear is that the majority of European voters cast their ballots not for the extremes but for those who favour European integration whether EPP, socialist, Green or liberal.

The centre-right and centre-left socialist parties remain the two largest parties, holding over 400 seats in the 751 member European Parliament.

Laws are produced by the European Commission (the executive branch) but Parliament has the right to amend, reject or approve these laws, including, for example, the Canada Europe Trade Agreement (if we can ever finish negotiations).

Calamitous wars in the first half of the twentieth century created collateral damage for the rest of the world as the European war graves of tens of thousands of Canadians demonstrate so movingly. Leadership in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg determined to turn swords into ploughshares or, more precisely, coal into steel.

Then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman presciently observed of the 1951 Paris accord that “Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.”

Gradualism has created a European Union that now embraces over 500 million people in 28 countries.

A price of Mr. Schuman’s gradualism is a complex and often cacophonous EU governance that helped inspire Mr. Kissinger’s question of who to call. There is confusion, understandable, as between the European Council and the Council of Europe or the Parliamentary Assembly and European Parliament.

Then there are the presidents: one each for the European Parliament, European Council, European Commission as well as the presidency of the EU Council. Supporting them are seven institutions, 40 agencies and, in Brussels, over 50,000 bureaucrats.

Standard decision-making procedure is called “codecision.” Working in 24 languages, legislators produce 1.76 million pages of translation annually.

Europe has problems. The recovery from the financial crisis is incomplete. There are growing gulfs between rich and poor and inequities between northern and southern Europe. There is the demographic deficit – not enough babies and an aging population.

The Ukrainian crisis and Russian aggression in Crimea has focused attention on European security. A EU common defence arrangement is still more farce than force. The EU can technically call on 1.5 million men and women at arms but its expeditionary capacity is marginal. NATO is still the default with the United States carrying most of the cost.

The European experiment has lifted millions of Europeans from poverty and authoritarianism. Africans risk their lives daily crossing the Mediterranean seeking the European lifestyle. Ukrainians took to Maidan Square for closer links to Europe.

A generation of millennials is growing up European.

European passports and programs like Erasmus allow them to work and study throughout the EU.

Then there is Germany.

Successive German leaders, from Konrad Adenauer to Angela Merkel, are realizing Thomas Mann’s dream of a “European Germany” not a “German Europe.” Remembrance and atonement for the past is now part of its DNA. A tour of the Reichstag dome is both lesson and celebration of democracy. The foundations of Germany’s political parties – called stiftung – promote democracy abroad; this is something Canada could emulate.

Despite the gravest economic crisis in generations, European voters favoured integration over disintegration. By any comparison in European history the Schuman vision of a federal union is succeeding. The European idea is still more Ode to Joy than Sonata Pathétique.

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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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Canada and Seapower

Why Canada needs to look to the seas

The Globe and Mail Tuesday, May. 13 2014

Lest we forget. On Parliament Hill last week we marked the end of our Afghanistan mission. We also remembered the Battle of the Atlantic.

In what Winston Churchill described as the “dominating factor” of the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Navy and our merchant marine kept open the sea lanes, carrying the vital flow of food, energy and arms to Britain.Today, Canadians look increasingly to the sea as passage for our own prosperity. Consider:

  • 70 per cent of the world is covered with water.
  • 80 per cent of the globe’s population lives near water.
  • 90 per cent of what feeds, clothes and fuels us travels by water; an ‘invisible industry’ of a hundred thousand container ships.

With three oceans at our back and the longest coastline in the world, Canada and its economy, observed Prime Minister Stephen Harper, “float on salt water.” On any given day, one third of the inventory of enterprises like Canadian Tire is at sea.

Increasingly, we export more of our resources and food by sea. Potash is shipped to more than 100 markets. Pulse, a multi-billion dollar Canadian industry, ships to 150 markets. Its production has increased fivefold in the last 20 years and it is our biggest export to India.

Once we have east-west pipelines and LNG terminals we can truly be 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.

Canadians have long plied North Atlantic and Pacific waters. Now the Arctic is opening. Last September, the Danish-owned Nordic Orion – laden with B.C. coal for Finland – became the first bulk carrier to navigate the North West Passage. That trimmed a thousand miles off the normal Panama Canal route.

Order on our oceans, straits and coastal waters is underwritten by international covenant. Negotiation of the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea is one of the greatest triumphs of Canadian diplomacy. Canadian jurisdiction was extended to the continental shelf, effectively doubling our ocean estate.

With 40 per cent of our land mass in our northern territories, and 25 per cent of the global Arctic, securing international recognition for Canada’s claim to an extended continental shelf and seabed rights is a national priority.

Our ability to enforce the law and guarantee safe passage depends on naval power. Navies, with air support, can project power over huge distances.

For the last two centuries, first the Royal Navy and then the United States Navy have kept watch over our sea lanes. Now, facing new threats and with domestic financial constraint, President Barack Obama has called on NATO leaders to “step up and carry” their “share of the burden”.

Canada’s armed services need strengthening. Topping the list must be new ships for our Navy and Coast Guard. We need them early and in sufficient numbers to defend our sovereignty and carry our international obligations.

The recent redeployment of HMCS Regina, from anti-piracy and anti-terror work in the Arabian Sea, to join NATO’s mission of ‘reassurance’ for Ukraine underlines the requirement for readiness. But not replacing Regina in the Gulf reminds us we lack resiliency.

To get our new fleet to sea the government has set forth its National Procurement Shipbuilding Strategy and the proposed Defence Analytics Institute.

But with delays, cost-overruns and budget-paring, when will we see our polar icebreaker CCGS Diefenbaker? Or our joint support ships – HMCS Queenston and HMCS Châteauguay? And what of our Arctic offshore patrol ships and new warships? Defence procurement involves many actors with different agendas:

  • Public Works wants due process, however protracted
  • Treasury Board wants third-party, validated costing
  • Industry Canada wants jobs and regional benefits
  • Defence wants ships and budgets to operate them
  • Industry wants clarity

Without sustained political oversight, institutional resistance can sink even the best governance model. Can ship procurement be leverage in our trade negotiations? The Royal Navy are buying their new supply ships from Korea. Other allies including the Dutch and the Australians contract offshore for hulls and do the sophisticated work at home.

Expeditious delivery of our ships must drive our procurement process. Otherwise, we risk shrunken fleets, stretched to patrol our waters or contribute to continental and NATO security.

“Enterprises might succeed or miscarry, territories might be gained or quitted,” wrote Churchill, “but dominating all our power to carry on the war, or even keep ourselves alive, lay our mastery of the ocean routes and the free approach and entry to our ports.” Churchill’s dictum still applies.

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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

May 8, 2014 7:20 pm

Ottawa quietly taking another look at ballistic missile defence

Vassy-Kapelos By Parliamentary Correspondent

Watch above: Vassy Kapelos explains how the Canadian government is re-visiting the the idea of joining a ballistic missile defence program.

It’s an age-old debate in Canada, and it’s now being quietly re-visited.

For months, the senate committee on national security and defence has been studying the possibility of joining a NATO/U.S.-led ballistic missile defense program.

The last time Ottawa looked at the possibility, in 2005, they opted out, but sources say this time there could be a different outcome.

“You can just get a sense from the questioning that this is something that the government wants to consider,” said NDP defense critic Jack Harris.

Harris questioned the government on the issue during question period on Thursday, asking directly if the government will participate in the U.S. ballistic missile defence program.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence James Bezan responded by noting in the past Canada has declined to participate in ballistic missile defence programs.

“We’ll continue to monitor international developments and also continue to ensure both the safety and security of Canadians both at home and abroad,” Bezan said.

Bezan also noted House and Senate committees are studying the issue.

“We’ll have some collaboration and discussions and make a recommendation and report back to the House of Commons,” Bezan said.

So what has prompted another look at ballistic missile defense? With threats from North Korea, Iran and even Russia, proponents say it’s not impossible to imagine a scenario where a missile aimed for the U.S. instead ends up heading towards Canada.

“From a Canadian perspective, the threat has improved such that we are potentially vulnerable, particularly cities like Saskatoon, Edmonton – the cities closer to the border,” said former diplomat Colin Robertson.

Robertson says Canada currently has a seat at the table when allies talk about potential threats.

But, “when it actually comes time to make the decision to launch a missile, unlike the Europeans, Japanese, Australians – we have to leave the room,” Robertson said.

WATCH: Responding to a report from Global News, NDP MP Jack Harris questioned the federal government over it’s willingness to re-enter a NATO- or U.S.-led ballistic missile defence program (May 08)

Critics aren’t convinced there’s a need to join a program.

Steven Staples is President of the Rideau Institute. He argues there’s little proof the missile defense technology even works. “It’s incredibly complicated – what they’re basically trying to do is hit a bullet with a bullet – in space, “Staples said.

Staples also points to cost as an issue; early estimates peg the price of joining a program at $500 million, that could always rise.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Minister of Defense Rob Nicholson told Global News “we look forward to reviewing the report from the Senate committee.”

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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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What in the world? What in the world? Pieces of global opinion 30 April 2014


Winning the Keystone battle – The Obama administration’s decision to once again delay approval for the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas is “a rebuke to a loyal ally who is also America’s biggest customer”, writes Colin Robertson in the Globe and Mail.

Rather than seek retribution, however, Canada should focus on building east-west pipelines to open up alternative markets overseas. In addition, it should increase contact with US state governments and friendly members of Congress, bypassing White House obstructionism, he concludes.

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