Canada-US Relations after Obama

Publié le 31 mars 2016 à 05h00 | Mis à jour le 31 mars 2016 à 05h00

Justin Trudeau prépare l’après-Obama

Justin Trudeau a rencontré des étudiants de l'Université... (PHOTO PC)

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Justin Trudeau a rencontré des étudiants de l’Université américaine, à Washington, le 11 mars dernier. La veille, le premier ministre canadien a été reçu en grande pompe par le président américain Barack Obama à la Maison-Blanche.

(Ottawa) Le premier ministre Justin Trudeau multiplie les visites aux États-Unis. L’objectif est de préparer tranquillement le terrain pour l’après-Obama en tissant des alliances avec les décideurs américains, mais aussi avec le monde des affaires.

M. Trudeau effectue aujourd’hui une troisième visite chez nos voisins du Sud en moins d’un mois après avoir été reçu en grande pompe par le président Barack Obama à la Maison-Blanche le 10 mars et après s’être rendu au siège des Nations unies, le 16 mars, afin d’annoncer que le Canada tentera de décrocher un des sièges temporaires au Conseil de sécurité pour un mandat de deux ans à compter de 2021.

Officiellement, M. Trudeau se trouve dans la capitale américaine aujourd’hui afin de participer au sommet international sur la sûreté nucléaire organisé par le président américain. Le scénario d’une «bombe sale» qui pourrait tomber entre les mains de djihadistes du groupe État islamique (EI) alimentera les travaux de ce sommet.

M. Trudeau profitera tout de même de l’occasion pour prononcer un discours devant les membres de la puissante Chambre de commerce des États-Unis. Même s’il évitera comme la peste de s’immiscer dans les primaires américaines, M. Trudeau rappellera l’importance des relations canado-américaines.

Dans les rangs libéraux, on soutient que les nombreuses visites du premier ministre sur le sol américain – il sera de nouveau à New York le 22 avril afin de signer l’accord de Paris sur les changements climatiques – s’inscrivent dans une volonté de tisser rapidement des liens avec les décideurs de la scène politique et du monde des affaires.

Car les autorités canadiennes auront éventuellement besoin de ces nouveaux liens pour faire avancer les dossiers qu’elles jugent prioritaires une fois que Barack Obama aura terminé son mandat.

«C’est une excellente stratégie»

Selon l’ancien ambassadeur du Canada aux États-Unis Raymond Chrétien, il est tout à fait avisé pour le premier ministre de tisser de tels liens avec les leaders politiques et les gens d’affaires afin de préparer l’après-Obama.

« C’est une excellente stratégie, après sa très belle visite à la Maison-Blanche. M. Trudeau fait d’une pierre deux coups. D’abord, il participe à un sommet international important sur la sécurité nucléaire. Ensuite, il profite de l’occasion pour s’adresser aux gens d’affaires. Il ne reste plus que huit ou neuf mois au président Obama », a affirmé à La Presse M. Chrétien, aujourd’hui associé et conseiller stratégique chez Fasken Martineau.

L’ancien diplomate aux États-Unis Colin Robertson a abondé dans le même sens. «Cela est tout à fait logique. Les gens d’affaires aux États-Unis sont conscients de l’importance de la relation commerciale entre les deux pays. Mais le protectionnisme est à la mode dans les deux partis. Normalement, on peut compter sur le Parti républicain pour défendre le libre-échange. Mais il y a eu un revirement important dans l’attitude des républicains qui appuient Donald Trump, qui évoque l’imposition de tarifs», a affirmé M. Robertson, vice-président de l’Institut canadien des affaires mondiales.

La Presse a rapporté hier que des regroupements de gens d’affaires du Canada s’inquiètent du discours résolument protectionniste qui domine les primaires américaines depuis plusieurs semaines. À la Chambre de commerce du Canada, on soutient que les propositions de certains candidats pourraient bien provoquer le chaos économique si elles étaient mises en oeuvre.

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Canada and the Nuclear Security Summit

Why this week’s nuclear summit is an opportunity for Trudeau

The Globe and Mail

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Belgium and Pakistan, this five-minute video narrated by former U.S. secretary of defence William Perry should be required viewing for the world leaders gathering this week for President Barack Obama’s nuclear security summit.

The video describes the delivery, detonation and grim aftermath of a nuclear bomb set off in Washington, D.C. The central message is that a nuclear incident – whether through accident or design – is a “nightmare scenario” worth considering.

Mr. Perry, along with fellow public servants George Shultz, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn, created the Nuclear Security Project in 2007 after writing about the threat posed by nuclear weapons. Their ongoing work through the Nuclear Threat Initiative sets the context for this week’s summit.

For Canada, once the world’s biggest producer of uranium, there is an important role to play in helping to secure the materials needed to make a nuclear bomb.

Shortly after taking office in 2009, Mr. Obama set out his ambitious agenda for reducing the risk of nuclear weapons. During a speech in Prague, he boldy declared his goal of “a world without nuclear weapons,” and promised to press for congressional ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to negotiate a new arms-reduction treaty with Russia.

Progress has been modest. An arms-reduction treaty with Russia took effect in 2011; sanctions continue to be applied against North Korea over its nuclear and missile-testing programs; a dozen countries, including Ukraine, no longer have weapons-usable nuclear materials; and in 2015, after long negotiation, an Iranian nuclear deal was negotiated.

But challenges and threats remain. The U.S. Congress has yet to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Russian President Vladimir Putin has mused about using tactical nuclear weapons and the Russians have cut off most security co-operation with the United States. And, perhaps most important, a series of nuclear summits aimed at securing, within four years, all vulnerable nuclear materials has come up short.

With this context in mind, a comprehensive agreement covering all nuclear materials should be the leaders’ goal this week. This means the global logging, tracking, managing and securing and eventual disposal of all fissile nuclear material.

For Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who described nuclear terrorism on Tuesday as “one of the gravest threats to international security,” there is a leadership opportunity.

For many years, Canada was the top uranium producer, but it’s now Kazakhstan. Together with Australia, the three nations account for more than two-thirds of global production. What if the three agreed to become permanent stewards of used uranium products?

They would permanently “own” their uranium and ensure that its waste, including radioactive and fissible material, was properly disposed of, perhaps in mines no longer in production. While this doesn’t solve the problem of existing nuclear waste, it would control most new supply.

The International Atomic Energy Agency would provide on-site accounting oversight and supervise the transportation of all uranium. Rates would reflect risks to make it commercially and politically viable.

Given their secure geography, Canada and Australia would have to take the lead in long-term global disposal, but this requires leadership and persuasion.

Saskatchewan is home to Canada’s uranium mines and the industry is one of the largest employers of indigenous people. People in Saskatchewan strongly support their industry. They recognize the value of nuclear medicine research, but they oppose nuclear waste storage. They will need to be convinced about the safety, security and economic returns of long-term stewardship.

Nuclear energy, which emits no carbon, is also a key piece of the solution to climate-change mitigation. China is betting heavily on nuclear energy in its migration from coal. France derives about 75 per cent of its electricity from nuclear energy. Nuclear power supplies 50 per cent of Ontario’s electricity.

The nuclear genie is out of the bottle. We have to do a better job of handling its waste and curbing nuclear proliferation. As both a producer and user, Canada can take the lead in the control and containment of our own uranium.

Managing the nuclear genie will depend on technological innovation and the kind of multilateral policy creativity that we hope to see in Washington this week. The alternative, as Mr. Perry’s video portrays, would be a nightmare.

 

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Canada Seeks UN Security Council Seat

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially launched Canada’s campaign for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council In the lobby of the United Nations headquarters in New York on March 16, 2016.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially launched Canada’s campaign for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council In the lobby of the United Nations headquarters in New York on March 16, 2016.
Photo Credit: ICI Radio-Canada

Prime minister seeks UN Security Council seat

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went to United Nations headquarters to officially launch Canada’s campaign to get a two-year temporary seat at the Security Council for the 2021-22 term. Among his arguments for were Canada’s leadership at the Paris summit on climate change, its acceptance of 25,000 Syrian refugees, and what he called “Canada’s pivotal role” in peace and security.

ListenLeader promises to revitalize historic peacekeeping role

He emphasized Canada’s role as a peacekeeper and vowing “to revitalize Canada’s historic role as a key contributor to United Nations peacekeeping, in addition to helping advance current reform efforts…

“And Canada will increase its engagement with peace operations, not just by making available our military, police, and specialized expertise, but also by supporting the civilian institutions that prevent conflict, bring stability to fragile states, and help societies recover in the aftermath of crisis,” said Trudeau.

Previous bid lost, an embarrassing defeat

Canada’s previous government had withdrawn from United Nations activity and was seen to have made a lacklustre run for a seat on the Security Council in 2010. It withdrew when it became evident Portugal would win the vote instead.   It was the first time in 50 years that Canada lost a bid to win a seat on the council.

‘Time for Canada to step up once again’

After that government was defeated, newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “Canada is back” as a player on the UN stage. Echoing the same message in the lobby of the UN Trudeau said, “It’s time. It is time for Canada to step up once again.”

Canada’s chances of winning the vote for a temporary seat on the UN Security Council are good, in the opinion of Colin Robertson, former diplomat and vice-president and fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. He notes the Canadian public is proud of Canada’s pioneering role in peacekeeping and is likely to approve of Trudeau plan to take a more active role in international affairs.

 

Reality check: Is securing a seat on the UN Security Council necessary for Canada?
By Monique Muise National Online Journalist, Politics Global News

WATCH: Global News chief political correspondent Tom Clark discusses what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s strategy is for raising Canada’s influence on the world.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau began a two-day trip to New York City on Wednesday, and kicked things off with what will likely prove to be the centerpiece of his visit to the United Nations.

The prime minister confirmed that Canada will seek to re-join the powerful UN Security Council after failing — for the first time ever — to secure a seat around the table in 2010.

The upcoming bid for a two-year term starting in 2021 is part of a broader rapprochement between Canada and the United Nations that began with Trudeau welcoming UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to Ottawa in February.

Observers have noted that the warming trend may be politically advantageous for Trudeau as he attempts to position himself as a champion of UN priorities like refugee resettlement, tackling climate change and stabilizing the situation in the Middle East.

READ MORE: Trudeau at UN promotes parental leave for fathers, gender parity

But beyond the politics, what, if anything, would a seat on the Security Council really achieve for Canada?

WATCH: Canada lost its last bid for a seat on the UN Security Council in 2010, something Justin Trudeau is looking to change with a trip to New York. Jacques Bourbeau reports.

According to Paul Heinbecker, who served as Canada’s UN ambassador during a period when it sat on the Security Council in the early 2000s, membership will allow Ottawa to influence policy at a high level, and that can be critical when dealing with health emergencies like the Ebola crisis, or mass refugee migrations.

“Canadians are looking at the world now and they’re seeing a lot of upset, a lot of instability, a lot of risk that they didn’t think that they faced before from terrorism,” said Heinbecker.

“These things come to your doorstep … so I think it’s very important that we have the opportunity to influence events.”

Colin Robertson, another former Canadian diplomat and now vice president at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, agreed with that assessment.

“If you think of, say, the House of Commons, you move from the back-bench to sitting in the cabinet. The Security Council is essentially the cabinet for the United Nations,” Robertson said.

Canada is also one of the major beneficiaries of stable international trade, added Robertson, and by securing a seat, the country “can take an active role in helping to create and preserve that system. Instead of being a watcher, we would become an active participant.”

Additionally, membership on the council fits in with the longstanding tradition of having Canada at the table, Robertson noted, and that’s not as small a consideration as some might think.

“It’s part of what our self-identity is about, more so than other places. Britain and France have long histories, this country doesn’t have a long history. But the history we do have is, in part, as a player on the international scene.”

Conservatives will support bid

Conservative foreign affairs critic Peter Kent said his party will support the Liberal government’s efforts to regain a seat on the Security Council in 2021, but “we would hope that the government doesn’t compromise the principled foreign policy positions that our government took, and which contributed in large part to our lack of success in 2010.”

The Conservatives have always contended that Canada lost out to Portugal because the Harper government took unpopular stands on gay rights in Africa, staunchly defended Israel and flagged human rights issues in countries like Sri Lanka.

“There were a number of countries who … in the end, on the day of the vote, those votes when elsewhere,” Kent said.

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Trade, Canada and the US Election

Why trade is taking a beating in the U.S. presidential race

Liberalized trade was once American orthodoxy, but in this volatile and unpredictable U.S. presidential campaign things are different: trade is taking a beating.

Where trade was once welcomed by free-market Republicans and union-backing Democrats, economic nationalism has suddenly united both Republicans and Democrats. Why? The trade issue intersects at the four corners of anti-globalization, anti-immigration, anti-Wall Street and anti-Washington.

Both Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders have made criticism of trade deals central to their campaigns, forcing their opponents to play defence or to shift their stand on trade.

That’s why it’s worth watching carefully what happens in today’s primaries, especially in Ohio and Missouri. The takeaway from last week’s Michigan primary was that both Republicans and Democrats believe trade agreements are costing Americans their jobs.

For Canada, the stakes couldn’t be higher. America is our biggest market – and it’s essential that we tell Americans that we are also their biggest customer.

There have been critics of free trade in past presidential elections – Democrat Dick Gephardt, Republican Pat Buchanan, and independents Ross Perot and Ralph Nader all spoke out against trade – but they were crucified as flat earth types by editorialists and economists and ultimately spurned by voters.

Today, editorialists have little influence and the economists are split. Robert Reich, who served as Bill Clinton’s labour secretary, calls the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) the “worst deal you’ve never heard of” and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman says the “elite case for ever-freer trade is largely a scam.”

Why voters think trade favours the ‘elite’

Following a long fight, President Barack Obama got the Trade Promotion Authority (the necessary enabling legislation for an up or down vote on the TPP) through Congress last year with the votes of Republicans. But that support is now heading south. Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who served as George W. Bush’s U.S. trade representative is now against the deal. And any congressional vote on the TPP is unlikely until after the November elections.

Most Americans say they know very little about the TPP, an attitude that is shared by most Canadians. The difference is that in the U.S., the more Americans learn about the TPP, the more they oppose it. This is especially true for Republicans.

Concern about trade and the TPP has expanded, Democrat pollster Pat Caddell said last week in Washington, because voters think trade favours the elite, not them. In short, Americans think they are getting “screwed” by their leadership on trade and immigration, says Mr. Caddell. And this backlash against the elites explains, in part, why the GOP establishment candidates are flaming out.

The GOP race is beginning to narrow to a race between two insurgents – Mr. Trump, the populist outsider, and the ideological evangelist Texas Senator Ted Cruz – both of whom are pushing messages around economic anxieties and political alienation. Trade is also the major theme in Mr. Sanders’ campaign and key to his upset victory last week in Michigan over Hillary Clinton. As a result, Mrs. Clinton is now calling for a “trade prosecutor” to enforce other nations’ trade commitments.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz, along with Mr. Sanders, are all tapping into this discontent. Mr. Trump says he will “Make America Great Again” while Mr. Sanders promises a “New American Revolution.” If these forces unify behind a presidential candidate, and find a voice in state and local candidates in the November election, Canada could get sideswiped in a wave of nativism and protectionism.

Why Canada needs to speak up

The Trudeau government needs to do two things: explain trade to Canadians – and then remind Americans why our trade serves their interests.

We should also take full advantage of the promise from Mr. Obama and Mr. Trudeau to try and get a softwood lumber agreement settled in 100 days. Its resolution will only get more difficult when Mr. Obama leaves office. And we need to think about a Plan B should the U.S. not ratify TPP.

The government should use its promised cross-country TPP consultations to explain how Canadians benefit from trade. One in five jobs depends on trade and trade is equivalent to sixty per cent of Canada’s GDP. Training and adjustment for those whose jobs are affected must be part of the equation. Increasingly, trade deals are less about tariffs than regulations. These regulations should expedite trade while raising environmental and labour standards.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the story in Washington last week of the benefits of the Canada-U.S. relationship. Canada is the largest or next largest export market for 45 states. Nine million American jobs depend on trade with Canada.

We need to parse this down to each district then take it to every state legislator and to those who do business with Canada. Our federal, provinical and municipal leaders need to spend more time getting this message out with their American counterparts. We should also make a common cause with Mexico, our North American partner.

Americans need to understand that trade with Canada serves their interests. If Canada fails to deliver that message, the political voices of protectionism and nativism that are now tempting many Americans are likely to win out – leaving Canada as roadkill in the process.

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Trudeau in Washington

Washington rolls out red carpet for Justin Trudeau

White House prepares to fete Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with Oval Office visit and state dinner, the first in almost two decades for a Canadian prime minister.

The two leaders had a formal meeting in November on at the APEC summit in Manila. It was a relaxed meeting and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke effusively about Justin Trudeau, praising the “incredible excitement” the prime minister stirred with his election campaign.

Susan Walsh / AP file photo

The two leaders had a formal meeting in November on at the APEC summit in Manila. It was a relaxed meeting and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke effusively about Justin Trudeau, praising the “incredible excitement” the prime minister stirred with his election campaign.

OTTAWA—Washington is preparing to roll out the red carpet for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau to fete a Canadian leader in a way that hasn’t been done for almost two decades.

Thursday’s state dinner at the White House — a chic and relatively rare event — promises to grab the spotlight when Trudeau visits with U.S. President Barack Obama.

But it’s the symbolism of the state dinner and the substance of Trudeau’s Oval Office meeting with Obama scheduled for earlier that day that together signal the president’s interest in making the visit a success, observers say.

“It’s really clear that the president has invested in this visit,” said Paul Frazer, a former Canadian ambassador who now works as a consultant in Washington.

“He wants this to be a success for the prime minister and for Canada-U.S. relations.”

Indeed, Trudeau’s first visit to the U.S. capital since winning office last fall is seen as a chance by both sides to repair the strained relations that marked the latter years of Stephen Harper’s time as prime minister.

In his short time as prime minister, Trudeau has created a buzz south of the border, appearing in a photo shoot with Vogue magazine, being declared as the “anti-Trump” by the Washington Post and doing a sit-down interview with 60 Minutes that aired Sunday night .

“There is a real curiosity in the best sense of the word,” Frazer said. “This is rare. It’s an opportunity.”

———————–

The president and prime minister

Trudeau and Obama “click,” says former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson.

The two leaders first met at the G20 meeting in November in Turkey and had a formal sit-down several days later on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Manila.

It was a relaxed meeting and Obama spoke effusively about Trudeau, praising the “incredible excitement” the prime minister stirred with his campaign and predicting he would bring “energy and reform” to Canada.

Both are family men, both rode a message of hope and change to electoral success. Trudeau, 44, is a decade younger than Obama. Robertson speculates that Obama feels a kinship with the new Canadian leader.

“I think he sees in Trudeau someone who was not unlike himself eight years ago before the hard realities of governing,” Robertson said.

The upbeat mood of the coming visit stands in stark contrast to the chilly ties under former Harper, when the Keystone XL pipeline came to dominate the relationship.

The White House’s refusal to approve the energy project to carry Alberta oilsands crude through the American Midwest came to overshadow the Canada-U.S. relationship, sparking a bitterness on Harper’s part that he could not mask.

Trudeau is trying to stay clear of the politics of the current presidential race, even the prospect that Donald Trump could be in the White House.

“We have to remember that ideology can’t drive our relationship. It has to be pragmatic, focused on the things where we do agree and making sure we are creating jobs and opportunities for Canadians,” he told Vancouver’s News 1130.————————

Policy: Climate change, trade and security

Those are issues are certain to top discussions when Trudeau and Obama meet.

With Trudeau’s government adopting climate change and the environment as a top priority, the Obama administration now feels it has a willing partner on the issue north of the border.

The two leaders will be keen to showcase their co-operation on the file — forged at the climate change conference in Paris last December — with the promise of joint action to keep momentum going.

Canada’s priorities have traditional centered on trade and border access while the U.S. remains focused on terror and security issues.

“Our ask is always to get goods and people across the border because especially with the American economy in recovery, that will do more for Trudeau’ electoral fortunes four years from now if our economy recovers,” former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson said.

He says Washington is certain to push Canada on security issues, such as sharing information on travellers crossing the border.

Discussions are certain to extend beyond bilateral issues to touch on topics such as the joint efforts against Daesh, the group also known as ISIS and ISIL. Canada’s efforts to welcome Syrian refugees could come up, given the resistance south of the border to a similar move.

Insiders caution that the true measure of the meeting will about the tone of the conversation and resetting the relationship.

“There are obviously joint deliverables that we are talking about but there isn’t a wish list going into the meeting. It’s really about how do we repair the relationship at this point and move forward,” one senior government official told the Star.

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The Pomp: One dinner. Months of planning

On Thursday, Trudeau will join the ranks of other leaders, from Queen Elizabeth to Indira Gandhi to Mikhail Gorbachev who have been feted at a White House state dinner.

The invites are done in careful calligraphy. The centerpiece floral arrangements are overseen by the White House floral designer. The china settings selected — there are seven to choose from for a full state dinner.

The meal will run four or five courses and feature a personal touch to acknowledge the visiting leader.

In a town well-accustomed to the trappings of power and influence, these dinners still stand out. “They are not held very often so they are stand-out events from the usual receptions and other events that can take place at the White House,” said a historian with the White House Historical Association.

There will be members of Congress, cabinet members from both countries, the respective ambassadors — Bruce Heyman, the U.S. ambassador in Ottawa and David MacNaughton, Canada’s newly installed diplomat in Washington. There’s likely to be a sprinkling of celebrities.

The Canadian delegation gets 20 tickets. That delegation will include Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion; International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland; Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan; Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Hunter Tootoo, minister of fisheries, oceans and the Coast Guard.

Jean Chrétien was the last prime minister to enjoy a state dinner, then hosted by U.S. president Bill Clinton in 1997.

Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau, was the guest of honour at three state dinners – in 1969, with President Richard Nixon as host; in 1974 with President Gerald Ford; and again in 1977 with President Jimmy Carter.

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Trudeau Visit

Obama on growing friendship with Trudeau: “What’s not to like?”

Reuters

U.S. President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau laugh as they meet in the Oval Office following an official arrival ceremony for Trudeau at the White House in Washington

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U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau laugh as they meet in the …By David Ljunggren

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Thursday turned the page on years of shaky ties with Canada by staging a lavish White House welcome for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, making clear the new leader is a man after his own heart.

Trudeau, 44, the left-leaning Liberal Party leader and son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, took power last November. He already enjoys a closer bond with the Democratic president than his right-of-center predecessor, Stephen Harper of the Conservatives, managed in more than six years of dealing with the Obama administration.

“He campaigned on a message of hope and of change. His positive and optimistic vision is inspiring young people,” Obama said after meeting with Trudeau in the Oval Office.

“So, from my perspective, what’s not to like?” he added, also noting Trudeau’s commitment to the environment.

Keeping good relations with the United States is critical for Canada, which sends 75 percent of its exports to its southern neighbor. Trudeau brought along six Cabinet ministers in a sign of how seriously he took the visit.

Obama struck a warm, informal tone from the start and told Trudeau at a state dinner he “may well be the most popular Canadian named Justin.” Singer Justin Bieber is from Canada.

The White House dinner was the first for a Canadian leader since 1997. Obama never did the same for Harper, who irritated the administration by insisting it approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Obama blocked the project last year.

At an arrival ceremony on Thursday morning, Obama teased Trudeau about the failure in recent years of Canadian hockey teams to win the sport’s top honor.

“Where’s the Stanley Cup right now?” he asked. “I’m sorry. Is it in my hometown with the Chicago Blackhawks?”

Trudeau replied there was a high U.S. demand for Canadian exports, including three of the star players who helped the Blackhawks win the National Hockey League championship last year.

In Ottawa, Conservative Party foreign affairs spokesman Tony Clement said Trudeau’s visit had little deeper meaning, given that Obama would out of office in January 2017.

Even so, the next few months could be crucial for Canada, said Colin Robertson of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, a former senior diplomat with two U.S. postings.

Encouraged by Obama’s tone, American officials are starting to re-examine important elements of the bilateral relationship in a favorable way, Robertson said.

“The next administration is not going to have Canada on their radar,” he said in a phone interview. “But their reference point when they do … will be this review conducted under the best possible auspices.”

 

CPAC Prime Time Politics host Peter Van Dusen previews the prime minister’s trip to Washington with  Colin Robertson (Canadian Global Affairs Institute), Christopher Sands (Johns Hopkins University).

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 9.17.47 PM

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A Canadian Agenda for the USA: Obama and Beyond

“A Canadian Agenda: Obama and Beyond” by Colin Robertson

For Immediate Release

07 March 2016 – Ottawa, ON – The Canadian Global Affairs Institute today released, “A Canadian Agenda: Obama and Beyond”.

The study by CGAI Fellow Colin Robertson argues that the upcoming Washington summit between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama is a “big deal” and an opportunity to advance Canadian objectives around climate and the North, trade and border access, and security cooperation.

Encouraging the Canadian side to “go for broke”, the study says the next US Administration is likely to be “more susceptible to protectionist and nativist impulses around trade and security” and that “the more we can do in the remaining months of the Obama Administration to inoculate ourselves, the better.”

The study sets out an agenda for action on continuing the work of regulatory and border efficiencies with specific recommendations including:

  •  Developing a North American Green Competitiveness Strategy
  •  Implementing North American Carbon Pricing, recognizing one-size does not fit all
  •  Adding climate to the International Joint Commission mandate
  •  Establishing Joint Commission for Border Infrastructure
  •  Appointing point persons to negotiate a new Softwood Lumber agreement

The complete report, “A Canadian Agenda: Obama and Beyond”, is available online a

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/cdfai/pages/835/attachments/original/1457390173/A_Canadian_Agenda_for_the_USA.pdf?1457390173

Executive Summary                                                      

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can use this week’s Washington Summit to advance Canadian interests with the Obama Administration. Successful outcomes in Washington will also help to set both the agenda and right mood for the upcoming North American Leaders Summit and, next January, for opening discussions with the next U.S. Administration.

 

A Canadian action agenda is outlined below followed by background and historical analysis. Specific initiatives are grouped in four baskets: Security; Trade and Economic; Climate and the North; and Getting It Done.

 

A Canadian Action Agenda

 

 

I – Security

Reaffirm our international security partnership and alliance:

 

  1. Expand NORAD’s mandate to include cyber-threats and changing conditions in our Arctic region.

 

  1. Join ballistic missile defence to give Canadian coverage.

 

  1. Upgrade the Canadian Forces and move toward 2% GDP spending to demonstrate Canada’s continuing commitment to continental defence and collective security.

 

  1. Create a framework, with appropriate protocols on privacy and confidentiality, for a reciprocal sharing of data to include cross-border travel, including no-fly lists as another step towards the implementation of Entry-Exit.

 

 

II – Trade and Economic

Reaffirm our economic collaboration through the Regulatory Cooperation Council and border action:

 

  1. Expand Canada’s representation into every state by 2018 through use of honorary consuls and new diplomacy.

 

  1. Develop a North American Competitiveness Strategy by December 2016 and address intellectual property and investor-state relations.

 

  1. Take advantage of our continental labour pool:
    • Renew the Tri-lateral NAFTA working group to modernize the list of TN Professions and permit easier short-term cross-border movement of professionals.
    • Establish a Known Employer program building on the Trusted Traveller program to permit employers to more easily move servicing and training personnel across the borders.

 

  1. Renew regulatory cooperation:
    • Harmonize cross-border regulations and policies on items like truck size and weight.
    • Harmonize industry certification standards for skilled professionals
    • Continue the regulatory partnership between Canada and the U.S. on the trade of agriculture and agri-food products.
    • Situate the Canada-USA Regulatory Cooperation Council in the Privy Council Office and the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to ensure executive oversight.

 

  1. Renew the border action plan:
    • Legislate pre-clearance in both countries.
    • Pilot technology to improve cross-border freight flow.
    • Establish pre-inspection at manufacturing facilities.
    • Expand “cargo strategy” and inspect goods at their first point of Canada/U.S. entry.
    • Establish a ‘single window’ for business reporting to streamline processing of goods and services.
    • Establish point-of-entry inspection for in-transit goods and counterfeit cargo.

 

  1. Create better infrastructure collaboration:
    • Improve permit process for cross-border infrastructure projects including bridges and tunnels, hydro-transmission, pipelines, road and rail access.
    • Create a Joint Border Infrastructure Commission. Provide annual recommendations on joint infrastructure priorities and identify opportunities.

 

  1. Work with regional organizations, notably the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, the Council of the Great Lakes Region and the Cali-Baja Region, to develop best practises in border management, clean energy, and cross-border infrastructure and labour efficiencies.

 

  1. Expand the 2010 state and province agreement on procurement.

 

  1. Appoint point persons to report by June 2016 on resolving softwood lumber dispute.

 

  1. Travel North America: Use tourism – ‘the two (and three)-nation vacation’ – to foster closer people-to-people engagement and boost economic development.

 

 

III – Climate and the North

Reaffirm Environmental and Clean Energy Cooperation:

 

  1. Expand the mandate of the International Joint Commission to include climate-related issues.

 

  1. Develop a North American pricing carbon strategy recognizing that one-approach-does-not-fit-all and embrace regional and state/provincial experimentation.

 

  1. Host a North American Climate Jamboree as part of our sesquicentennial celebrations.

 

  1. Develop an Arctic strategy including shared plans for search and rescue, cooperation on icebreaker capacity, safety for northern communities, climate adaptation, telecommunication infrastructure and joint stewardship of the Beaufort Sea.

 

 

IV – Getting it Done

 

  1. Reinvigorate legislator-to-legislator relationships, including continuous outreach to Congress by Canadian ministers.

 

  1. Improve collaboration by tasking:

 

  • Foreign Ministers to resume the practice of quarterly meetings on Canada-US issues and shared international agenda, with specific attention to shared issues of environment, safety, and security in the North American Arctic.

 

  • Environment Ministers to meet annually in stock-taking session as we fulfill our Paris COP21 commitments and to complement the regular North American energy ministers forum.

 

  • High Level Economic Dialogue, modeled on the US-Mexico dialogue, bringing the lead economic ministers together to look at Canada-US (and North American) competitiveness.

 

  • Chiefs of Staff to work with our ambassadors and ministers to keep leaders personally informed of progress on Canada-US issues.

 

 

Background and Analysis

 

This week’s visit by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Washington is a big deal.

 

Canada does not get a lot of attention in the USA (not a bad thing as problems are sometimes treated with a hammer). This is the most sustained attention that the White House has given to Canadian issues since President Obama visited Canada in February, 2009 and the auspices are good: Barack Obama likes Justin Trudeau and a prime minister can have no better friend than the occupant of the White House.

 

The next administration, Democrat or Republican, will be susceptible to protectionist and nativist impulses around trade and security. When the US sneezes, Canada catches a cold. The more that we can do in the remaining months of the Obama Administration to inoculate ourselves, the better.

 

Mr. Trudeau has taken to heart Brian Mulroney’s dictum that a prime minister’s most important relationship is that with the US president.

 

The State Dinner – the first since 1997 when the Clintons hosted the Chrétiens – is tangible evidence of Mr. Trudeau’s ability to quickly develop a good relationship with the US President. It also underlines Mr. Trudeau’s appreciation that in a social media world, statecraft requires stagecraft – the public in public diplomacy. The profile and cachet is important for a new leader. It also accords with Canadians desire to have their prime minister do good at home and do them proud internationally. Nor will face time with President Obama be lost on other international leaders.

 

The Leaders’ deliberations will set an agenda for the remaining ten months of the Obama Administration. It will prime the upcoming North American Leaders Summit. It will also become the reference point for the next Administration when it takes office on January 20, 2017.

 

Be Bold

 

There is sometimes a Canadian tendency to start from a position of what we think the other side is prepared to give, rather than what our side really wants. This makes Canadians good diplomats in multilateral negotiations, but when negotiating with the USA, we need to play by their rules and go for broke. Going into their meetings with the US side, the Canadians should take inspiration from Chicago architect Daniel Burnham:

 

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work…”

 

The Oval Office Discussion

 

The White House discussions will likely begin with a tour d’horizon of global tensions – the Middle East and ISIL, Iran, Russian aggressiveness in Ukraine, North Korea, and a rising China. Mr. Trudeau will likely speak to Canada’s experience in processing the 25,000 Syrian refugees.

 

President Obama will likely speak to the Nuclear Security Summit that he will host at the end of March, the forthcoming North American Leaders’ summit. They will probably speak about other issues in the Americas, notably developments in Brazil and Venezuela and President Obama’s visit this month to Cuba.

 

The President will be interested in the implications of Mr. Trudeau’s re-commitment to UN peace operations. Doubtless, he will press Canada to spend more on defence.

 

There is no quibble with the quality of the Canadian Forces but the Americans want Canada and the rest of the Alliance to pick up more of the load. Canadian defence spending is just one percent, the least of any member of the Arctic Council, and significantly less than Australia (1.8 per cent), Britain (2.07 per cent) and the United States (3.07 per cent). Without greater commitment, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates told NATO member, the Alliance faces “a dim if not dismal future.”

 

Cybersecurity is the greatest threat to the USA according to National Security Intelligence Director James Clapper and, given the integration of our grids and pipelines, it should be added to NORAD’s mandate.

 

Innovation, especially when it comes to climate and following through on the Paris COP21 commitments, is an area where both leaders share equal enthusiasm and a willingness to be bold. The President’s Alaska trip last summer put climate on the forefront and greater collaboration in our shared Arctic waters would make sense.

 

Mr. Trudeau will want President Obama’s assessment of congressional approval of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), an early Obama initiative. The TPP effectively updated the NAFTA. Do we have a plan B if it does not succeed?

 

Improving North American competiveness is a shared objective. This should lead to a discussion on how we can bring some convergence to the anticipated trans-European agreements that Canada (through CETA), the USA (through TTIP) and Mexico (through updating their existing agreement) are negotiating with the European Union.

 

Bilateral issues, including energy and the environment, the border and regulatory issues, softwood lumber, will be discussed, but essentially for the leaders’ sign-off, as they will have already been either considered or negotiated by cabinet officers and senior officials. Congress is moving on preclearance while the Department of Homeland Security is moving on a Known Employer program. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the record-sharing challenges that would enable Entry-Exit are close to resolution and there is progress on enabling pre-inspection at manufacturing plants.

 

Complex and Complicated but Mutually-Beneficial Relationship

 

Ours is a very complex relationship built, as John F. Kennedy remarked, on ties of history, geography, economics, security and deep people-to-people relationships.

 

The broad contours of the modern Canada-US relationship were established by Mackenzie King and Franklin Roosevelt. The bargain was straightforward and served the interests of both nations. Canada got access to the US market, now the biggest in the world, and the USA got a reliable security partner (notwithstanding John Diefenbaker’s tepid response during the Cuban Missile Crisis or Pierre Trudeau’s partial withdrawal of Canadian troops from NATO).

 

Former Ambassador Allan Gotlieb observed correctly that our overriding national preoccupation has been about deriving maximum advantage from our geographical proximity while limiting U.S. power over our national destiny. We do that through developing counterweight relationships, pursuing multilateralism and creating institutions that level the playing field.

 

The relationship is mutually-rewarding: over $2.4 billion in trade crossing the border daily. But it is asymmetrical: over 75 percent of Canada’s trade is with the USA while only 19 percent of US exports are destined to Canada.

 

About a third of Canada-US trade is intra-firm through big manufacturing enterprises like GE or GM and now digital economy firms like Microsoft and Google. North America (and this now includes Mexico) is fast becoming one big supply chain, such that it is less about classical ‘trade’ than making things together – notably trains, planes and automobiles but also everything from soup to computers.

 

What counts is the assurance of on-time delivery of the pieces that go into the final product and, increasingly, assured passage for the people who service this process, through training, repair, maintenance, sales and planning. Our trade in services – engineering, banking and insurance – now accounts for 70 percent of Canada’s GDP. The USA accounts for over half of our services export trade.

 

Yet our border has thickened: in 2000, 90 million cars and 7.1 million trucks transited the border; in 2014 the numbers were 59.6 million cars and 5.8 million trucks.

 

When borders become chokepoints because of security concerns or poor infrastructure, the supply chain breaks down. We lose the competitive advantages of North America: a big market; abundant capital for investment; an educated, competent workforce; and secure and abundant resources, especially energy.

 

Even though it is asymmetrical – the USA matters more to Canada than Canada matters to the USA, it continues to be the biggest bilateral trade relationship in the world. This brings irritants, especially on the trade side.

 

These generate headlines that often obscure the realities of our relationship. Canadian trade sustains over 9 million US jobs. Trade in goods and services are worth over $US760 billion (2014), accounting for almost ¼ of Canada’s GDP. There is a constant, mutually-beneficial flow of people – 400,000 criss-cross the border daily.

 

Institutions

Our relationship is reinforced by institutions.

The USA can be an awkward Gulliver. While we are not Lilliputians, finding ways to tie the US to bilateral institutional mechanisms levels the playing field. Institutions create rules for coordination, networks of collaboration and establish norms for the conduct of good neighbourly relations.

 

Those on the security side include the bilateral Permanent Joint Board of Defence (1940) and Defence Production Sharing Agreement (1956), the binational North American Aerospace Defence Command (1958) and the multilateral North Atlantic Treaty Organization (1949).

 

Trade and investment ties were strengthened by the Autopact (1965), the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (1989) and the North American Free Trade Agreement with its labour and environmental accords (1993-4).

 

Infrastructure projects were also addressed beginning with the US construction of the Alaska Highway (1942-3) and the joint collaboration through the St. Lawrence Seaway Agreement (1954).

 

Canada and the USA also pioneered international environmental cooperation through the Boundary Waters Treaty and the International Joint Commission (1909) regulating the waterways that make up close to one third of our shared border. Environmental cooperation has been strengthened by a series of agreements including the Columbia River Treaty (1964) that is once again up for renewal, Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (1978) and its subsequent iterations, the Air Quality (Acid Rain) Agreement (1991) as well as cooperation on various international environmental agreements including the Montreal Ozone Protocol (1991) and the Paris Climate Change Agreement (2015).

 

Tending the Garden

 

Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who understands statecraft thought effective diplomacy started with the neighbourhood because if you couldn’t get the neighbourhood right how could you manage the rest of the world?

 

Shultz likened diplomacy to gardening, believing that “the way to keep weeds from overwhelming you is to deal with them constantly and in their early stages.” Shultz began the practice of quarterly meetings with his Canadian counterpart Allan J. MacEachen and then Joe Clark, a practice worth renewing.

 

We are different from the Americans, but no other nation comes as close to understanding the American temperament. When we are on our game, our interpretation of the world to the U.S. and of the U.S. (especially during Republican administrations) to the rest of the world is appreciated and gives us some leverage.

 

Astute Canadian leaders, from Mackenzie King through Jean Chrétien, appreciated that this interpretative capacity gives Canada international leverage. It also underlines why a first-class diplomatic service is a very good Canadian investment — and why vigorously embracing multilateralism gives Canada additional place and standing.

 

Being there also underlines why we should have representation in every American state to promote trade but also to push back on protectionism that, unchecked, finds a ready ear in Congress.

 

The main market for 35 US states is Canada (we are number 2 for another 10 states). Canadians are major investors in the USA. This supports US jobs. But to make our case and check the protectionist instinct we need to be there.

 

We should be creative. For a fraction of what it costs to establish a classic diplomat we should engage expatriate Canadians as our honorary consuls acting as our eyes, ears and voice. State representation would be our early warning system on the drift (or push!) to protectionism that will come no matter who gets elected this fall.

 

Look to the work of Canada’s Honorary Consul in Arizona and the work of the Canada-Arizona Business Council. Their efforts have contributed significantly to increasing Canadian trade and investment with the Grand Canyon state.

 

We should develop within our foreign service a US-oriented career stream. We need to expose a new generation of Canadian diplomats to the relationship, harnessing ‘millennial’ energy to bring change to how we manage the relationship especially given the bilateral trade potential of the clean energy economy

 

It’s all about the Border

 

During the past fifteen years much has taken place to further integrate the relationship around border access:

  • Chrétien-Clinton Canada-US Shared Border Accord (1995);
  • Chrétien-Clinton Canada-US Partnership (CUSP 1999) with its focus on bottoms-up input from the border communities;
  • Manley-Ridge Smart Border Accord after 9-11 (2001);
  • Bush-Martin-Fox trilateral Security and Prosperity Partnership (2005);
  • Harper-Obama Beyond-the-Border and Regulatory Cooperation Council initiatives (2011);

 

Of the various previous plans, the ‘Smart Border’ approach worked best and it should be the model for the Trudeau-Obama initiatives.

 

The Smart Board Accord was transparent, specific and the list of deliverables (30+) was accomplished in just over a year. There was serious and continuous oversight from by political heavyweights Deputy Prime Minister John Manley and Homeland Security Advisor (and later Secretary) Tom Ridge with executive coordination through the Pricy Council Office and National Security Council to ensure inter-agency coordination and compliance. Updates were regularly posted on the web.

 

By contrast the Security and Prosperity Partnership lumbered along and eventually sank under the weight of its 300+ initiatives and because there was no clear mechanism to operationalize what was on the table.

 

The Issues: Security

 

Security cooperation has several dimensions: military, intelligence, policing and border.

 

Our military collaboration dates back to the famous World War II Devil’s Brigade and now through NATO and NORAD as well as Canadian officers serving with or alongside the US Forces. Our interoperability brings us many benefits, not least of which are the personal relationships between our senior commanders.

 

Our intelligence, police and border services also work closely together. We are both part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, USA) and our policing agencies and border services work well together.

 

The long shadow of 9-11 and terrorist threats means that, from the US perspective, security is the priority in expediting all cross-border movement, whether people or goods.

 

CSIS acknowledgement that it is tracking 180 Canadians engaged with terrorist organizations overseas, including 50 who have returned to Canada. It exacerbates US security concerns. It also plays to the mythology that some of the 9-11 terrorists came from Canada.

 

Giving sanctuary to the 25,000 Syrian refugees was the right thing to do but it sparked hearings by the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee.

 

Any incident involving Canada would be catastrophic for cross-border travel and trade. Cross-border security sharing of data makes sense. Privacy concerns can be addressed with appropriate protocols for transmission and distribution of data, looking for example to the recent EU-US Privacy Shield. Security can be abused and we need to ensure it is not abused as a protectionist device under the guise of ‘health and safety’.

 

The US wants our no-fly list and for Canada to implement the ‘Entry-Exit’ system originally promised in the ‘Smart Border’ accord. We should do both because it will also enhance our own security.

 

The Issues: Climate -‘Science the Sh*t out of it’

 

The leaders share common cause on climate and they agree on carbon pricing, recognizing the vital role that states and provinces play and that what counts is outcomes rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

 

But carbon pricing alone will not reach our Paris targets.  We need big technology breakthroughs beyond, for example, engineering improvements creating more efficient solar panels.

 

We need to address biology, for example, through more efficient enzymes to convert forestry and agricultural waste into biofuels or changes in animal feed that will reduce methane emanations from cows, or a boreal forest that can capture more carbon.

 

This means continues investments and the kind of industry collaboration leading to practical innovation that we witness through the Canada Oil Sands Innovation Alliance.

 

All of this is aspirational but it is achievable and binational collaboration can establish a benchmark for global progress. We are, as the Matt Damon character in The Martian put it, going to have the “science the shit out of it”.

 

Canada should host under the patronage of Governor General David Johnston, who understands innovation, a North American Climate Jamboree as part of our sesquicentennial celebrations.

 

Building on our joint participation in Mission Innovation launched at COP21 in Paris, it would link research and development centers of excellence between our countries including joint sharing of information and ‘best practices’ in innovation, mitigation, conservation, and regulatory oversight.

 

The goal would be to collaborate and advance new clean technologies and ‘green’ solutions to energy and environmental issues. Outcomes would include creating North American standards on fracking, water use and methane emissions.

 

The Issues: Border Trade and Regulatory Cooperation

 

There is work still to be done especially on border access and regulatory cooperation. Both were initiatives of the Harper government but they suffered from the chilly relationship between Stephen Harper and Barack Obama over climate change policy and the Keystone XL pipeline.

 

We need to make the border more efficient through pilot projects using optimization algorithms on drayage, storage, congestion, accidents and the like.

 

We need flexibility in accepting worker accreditation and ensuring we can get skilled workers where we need them but regulations have replaced tariffs as the main impediment to trade.

 

The Regulatory Cooperation Council needs to be a permanent institution. Our focus should be on generating consumer and industry benefits in areas where access already exists – the unsexy but vital worlds of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, food, vehicles, shampoos, cosmetics, marine, animals, plants, et al.

 

Our two regulatory systems seek to achieve similar goals but with differing requirements. We need to look at the integrated nature of our production and manufacturing, acknowledging common consumer preferences and a common approach to risk tolerance.

 

The Canada-US relationship has always been subject to regional and sectoral protectionist interests, especially around trade in agricultural products (dairy, grains, pork, beef, sugar), and steel (on which we now need a joint approach given Chinese competition).

 

Trade and Agriculture Ministers should begin to chart a new way forward of reforms of international institutions critical to agricultural trade, including Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) and the International Plant Protection Convention.

 

Agriculture Ministers should be specifically tasked to jointly advance the promotion of science-based standards and commitment to work together on SPS Committees to harmonize sanitary and phytosanitary measures on as wide a basis as possible.

 

Softwood lumber, the Freddy Krueger of Canada-US irritants (dating back to George Washington’s administration), has returned. It underlines that managing the relationship involves active care by all orders of government – national, provincial, regional and municipal.

 

American lawmakers would like Canada to raise the de minimus level at which small packages entering Canada are exempt from duty. The United States de minimis level was recently raised to $800 in the recently signed customs bill. By comparison, Canada’s de minimis is $20 for online purchases, $200 for goods bought for trips under 48 hours and $800 for longer trips. We should align our de minimus standards to the higher level. It will make customs clearance easier and benefit consumers.

 

Getting it Done: Congress

 

Follow-through on the agenda will be crucial.

 

While it will require oversight from the leaders, their cabinets and their civil service, successful management of the relationship also depends on the ‘hidden wiring’ involving premiers and governors and legislators.

 

Canadian legislators need to devote time and cultivate relations with US legislators through reinvigoration of our participation in the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group and the regional meetings of the Conference of State Governments. Prime ministers and ministers are also our lead legislators. We need to cultivate closer relations with congressional leadership – the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders and the Speaker and Minority Leader of the House of Representatives. This should also include the chairs of congressional committees as demonstrated by the work of Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and Senate Agriculture Chair Pat Roberts in the successful repeal of Country-of-Origin-Labelling.

 

Getting it Done: Provinces and States

 

The transactions of our 63 states, provinces and territories are important if unseen. Constitutional responsibilities mean this is the order of government where the rubber literally hits the road on issues like permitting and procurement of our roads, railways, pipelines, and electrical grids. We need to broaden the 2010 agreement.

 

Beginning with the Atlantic premiers and New England governors, then in the West and now the Great Lakes, premiers and governors meet regularly to discuss and resolve shared problems, such as sharing the Superscooper airplanes to fight fires or figuring out the ‘smart’ driver’s license to expedite Americans visiting the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

 

The national leaders may set the framework and agenda but much of the follow-through takes place at the provincial, state and territorial level of government working with the regional organizations like the Pacific Northwest Economic Region and the Council of the Great Lakes Region. We need to invest more in these regional associations.

 

Getting it Done: Business

 

The Leaders should resurrect the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), an innovation of the Security and Prosperity Initiative. But it must be more than an ornamental photo opportunity with Leaders. It should be given the mandate to help forge a North American competiveness strategy.

 

Getting it Done: Social License

 

The next iteration of continental integration must also include a parallel advisory group from civil society, including labour, environmental groups and indigenous peoples. Global markets means more demand for the stuff on our beneath aboriginal land. The impetus for a renewed relationship with aboriginal people is also tied to our bilateral and global prosperity.

 

Social license is a reality of doing business and, while time-consuming, it makes for better public policy. But while consultation is vital to achieve desirable ends but it cannot endless. To govern is also to choose and to legislate.

 

And include Mexico

 

It is in Canada’s strategic interest to work more closely with Mexico. With over 35 million Americans claiming Mexican heritage (the equivalent of the Canadian population), their political heft in the USA grows daily.

 

With a middle class bigger than all of Canada, Mexico is a serious market and we are now each other’s third largest trading partner.

 

The trilateral relationship created by NAFTA was once essentially a series of dual, sometimes duelling, bilaterals with the Canada-Mexico relationship a distant third. But this has changed, especially with growing Canadian trade and investment in Mexico and the over two million Canadians who annually travel to Mexico for sun, sand and tequila.

 

Making common cause with Mexico makes sense especially when dealing with US protectionism. By working together we resolved the decade-long Country-of-Origin-Labeling dispute that curbed our meat and pork export trade.

 

In the longer term, we should explore how NORAD could be extended to embrace Mexico and help address the drug and people-smuggling challenges in Central America that afflict its southern border.

 

The imposition of a visa requirement in 2009 has significantly curtailed the appetite of Mexicans to visit Canada. This has cost Canada in terms of investment, trade and the people-to-people relationships created by tourism and study. The Trudeau Government has promised to lift the visa and it needs to happen before President Enrique Pena will come to Canada.

 

Looking Forward

 

The outcomes of the Washington summit will set the road map for Canada-US relations during the final ten months of the Obama Administration. They should also inspire the agenda for the upcoming North American Leaders Forum. Inevitably, the work in Washington will also become the reference point for the incoming Administration.

 

While meaningful progress on the issues is essential to show outcomes, as important are the relationships that will be formed and further developed at the State Dinner and the accompanying events. These endure but like a garden they need constant cultivation.

 

On the bigger scale, closer collaboration on security, trade, climate and in our shared Arctic is entirely compatible with the ‘liberal internationalism’ espoused by Justin Trudeau. Good neighbourly relations, as practiced by Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent, Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien are a condition of maximizing Canadian influence in Washington on the main issues of our increasingly turbulent global landscape. It also means, as a good neighbour and friend, that we can tell Uncle Sam when his breath is bad. Given the current dyspeptic American mood, this responsibility may become more necessary after the US election.

This paper draws from personal experience – postings in New York, Los Angeles and Washington – and participation as a member of the Canada-US Free Trade and NAFTA negotiating teams. It is informed by discussions with Canadian Global Affairs Institute fellows, and federal, provincial and state officials of Canada, the USA and Mexico. It draws on the work of associations and institutions including: Business Council of Canada, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, Pacific North West Economic Region, North American Strategy for Competiveness, Canadian American Business Council, Canada Arizona Business Council, Canadian American Border Trade Alliance, Council of State Governments, North American Forum, Wilson Center, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (Carleton University), Center for International Governance Innovation, School of Public Policy (University of Calgary), Conference of Defence Associations Institute, Borders in Globalization, North American Research Partnership, Observatoire sur les États-Unis de la Chaire Raoul-Dandurand, Belfer Center, Council on Foreign Relations, Environmental Defence Fund, Tides Canada, and Genome Canada.

 

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Trudeau Obama Summit

Discussing the potential agenda of the Trudeau-Obama White House meeting on Question Period with Laura Dawson, John Manley and host Robert Fife.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=823007

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Discussing Super Tuesday with Evan Solomon

Will Donald Trump shatter the Republican Party?

The Republican Establishment dismisses Trump—until it endorses him. Can he take hold of the party?

Evan Solomon  March 2, 2016  Macleans

Hillary Clinton is edging closer to breaking the great presidential glass ceiling, gaining critical delegates on Super Tuesday in her quest to become the Democratic Party’s first female nominee. But most eyes remain riveted on the Republican race. Donald Trump, the populist, so-called “outsider” candidate, roared closer to the Republican nomination with seven big wins on Super Tuesday—and now has the momentum to lock up the nomination. During Trump’s rambling victory speech, one-time competitor and current supporter Chris Christie stood behind him, looking lost in a political Twilight Zone, his dazed face mirroring America’s confusion. Is Donald Trump really about to win?

But still, it’s not over. Neither Ted Cruz, who won three states, nor Marco Rubio, who won one, are going away. Rubio was badly mauled on Super Tuesday and most expect him to eventually drop out. But maybe he watched Leonardo DiCaprio fight the bear in The Revenant or maybe, like so many other Republicans, he is blinded by a toxic loathing for Trump, because he insists he will remain in the race until the convention.

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Trump, though divisive, is driving huge interest in the race and huge voting numbers. Now the question is: Will he end up shattering the Republican Party?

To get a read on the most unpredictable, vexatious political race in generations, and to find out if Trump is on his way to victory, Evan Solomon spoke to Colin Robertson, a former diplomat who served in the United States and is now the vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

http://www.macleans.ca/politics/washington/will-donald-trump-shatter-the-republican-party/http:

 

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Trudeau and Obama Washington meeting

Trudeau’s challenge in Washington? Think beyond Obama

There will be glitter and glamour next week when U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau at the White House. But behind the stagecraft there will be statecraft.

For Mr. Trudeau, and for Canada, it’s a golden opportunity. The meetings between these two leaders will reinvigorate Canada-U.S. relations after a decade of decline and set an agenda that that will serve as the reference point for the next administration.

In Washington, the inter-agency effort behind the meetings around the state dinner, the first for a Canadian prime minister since Bill and Hillary Clinton hosted Jean and Aline Chrétien in 1997, is the most sustained attention that Canada has received since Mr. Obama visited Canada in February, 2009.

In the final year of his presidency and facing a hostile Congress, Mr. Obama is commonly called a “lame duck” president. But armed with executive authorities and the determination to push them to their limits, Mr. Obama has shown he wants to fire on all pistons before leaving office on January 20, 2017.

For Mr. Trudeau, the visit is an opportunity to advance shared goals on climate and energy, international security, the economy as well as border management and trade.

These meetings generally begin with a survey of the international scene. U.S. presidents are always interested in the Canadian perspective. We are different from the Americans, but no other nation comes as close to understanding the American temperament. When we are on our game, we can explain the rest of the world to the U.S. and the U.S. to the rest of the world.

Astute Canadian leaders, from Mackenzie King through Jean Chrétien, appreciated that this interpretative capacity gives Canada international leverage. It underlines why a first-class diplomatic service is a very good Canadian investment — and why vigorously embracing multilateralism gives us additional place and standing.

Advancing the ‘green’ agenda

With four international summits and Davos under his belt, Mr. Trudeau brings a fresh view, if not yet deep experience, to the table. Mr. Trudeau’s recommitment to peace operations and his vow to tout Canada’s resourcefulness over its resources will interest Mr. Obama. Figuring out an external application of Canada’s success in pluralism to fix, even temporarily, deep divides of race and religion, would be as important a contribution as Lester Pearson’s peacekeeping work.

Positioning North America as a leader in “green” manufacturing and sustainable energy development is a goal shared by both leaders and the work of these Washington meetings will also prime the forthcoming North American leaders’ summit, which was postponed by former prime minister Stephen Harper amid chilly relations.

Building on our Paris commitments, the Washington meetings can help establish a joint agenda for climate action that includes, for example, a discussion around fracking and water usage that should become the global standards. Why not broaden the mandate of the century-old International Joint Commission, the global model for trans-boundary water use, to include climate issues?

Assuaging concerns on security

When it comes to security, we live under the long shadows of suspicion, however unfair, cast by 9-11. Giving sanctuary to the 25,000 Syrian refugees was the right thing to do but it sparked hearings by the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee. At parliamentary hearings last week, CSIS acknowledged tracking 180 Canadians engaged with terrorist organizations overseas, including 50 who have returned to Canada.

For our own protection and to assuage American concerns, we need to move on our long-promised entry-exit arrangements. There should be reciprocal exchange of no-fly lists, with appropriate confidentiality provisions drawn, for example, from the recent EU-US privacy shield on data sharing.

Making progress on trade

Mr.Trudeau identified the economy, national unity and managing the Canada-U.S. relationship as prime ministerial priorities. Economic well-being underpins national unity. Trade drives our economy and the U.S. accounts for 75 per cent of that trade.

Mr. Trudeau needs to press Mr. Obama to reinvigorate improved border access because it will increase our trade in goods and services, especially with the U.S. economy in recovery.

Mr. Trudeau can remind Mr. Obama that, as their largest customer, we buy more from the U.S. than all 28 nations in the European Union, creating an estimated 9 million American jobs. Almost 30 per cent of what Canada sells to the U.S. originated there, reflecting the growing importance of supply chains.

But chokepoints still exist. We need to pass enabling legislation on pre-clearance. We can deepen the benefits of trusted traveller and trusted employer programs. A joint approach to gateway infrastructure – roads, rail, pipelines, transmission lines – should aim for common standards and a transparent permitting system.

With trade comes protectionist interests. Softwood lumber, the Freddy Krueger of irritants, is returning. The affected provinces need to get their act together before we can develop a Canadian position. Meanwhile, with careful, constant attention, starting at the top, the relationship thrives.

Next week’s meeting in Washington celebrates the friendship between our leaders and nations. It will also demonstrate to the rest of the world a model for the conduct of good neighbourly relations.

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