NATO Summit

What To Expect From This Week’s NATO Summit: A Discussion with Elinor Sloan

July 9, 2018

On today’s Global Exchange Podcast, we sit down with CGAI Fellow and Carleton University professor Dr. Elinor Sloan to discuss this week’s NATO Summit, and what it means for the future of the transatlantic alliance. Join Colin and Elinor as they consider Canada’s future within NATO, Donald Trump and NATO’s 2%-of-GDP defence funding bar, the alliance’s revamped command structure, and the role of NATO in a world of shifting power dynamics and growing nationalism.

Participant Biographies

  • Colin Robertson (host): A former Canadian diplomat, Colin Robertson is Vice President of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.
  • Dr. Elinor Sloan: A professor of international relations in the department of political science at Carleton University, a former defence analyst with Canada’s Department of National Defence and a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

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A Canadian Primer to the NATO Summit in Brussels July 11-12, 2018

by Colin Robertson
CGAI Vice President and Fellow
July 2018

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Table of Contents


Introduction

Presidents and prime ministers will meet in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday (July 11-12) in a summit meeting of the 29 partner nations. Initiatives on the table include increasing Alliance readiness to counter Russian aggression in NATO’s east; implementing military command structure reform; introducing a new training mission in Iraq; counterterrorism support to Afghanistan, Jordan and Tunisia; and a Black Sea regional security initiative.

But the elephant in the room will be U.S. President Donald Trump.

The conference takes place against unsettled and unsettling times: divisions within the NATO Alliance and threats on its eastern and southern flanks. The recent G7 Charlevoix summit was upset by Mr. Trump’s belligerence, especially towards his host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Trump-inspired trade war with China has begun. Mr. Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum have met with retaliatory tariffs from Canada, the Europeans and Mexico. In the European Union there are deep divisions within and between member countries challenging EU unity on issues of migration and the Eurozone. Then there are the Brexit negotiations that have now splitBritish Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet.  While southern allies are focused on migration and border concerns, northern and eastern allies are concerned about Russia.

Russia continues to occupy parts of Ukraine and meddle in Syria and the Middle East. The death of a Briton from Soviet-made Novichok toxin will only exacerbate the strain caused by the Sergei Skripal affair and Ms. May will continue to press for sanctions on Russia. Meanwhile, Russia continues to apply the techniques of hybrid warfare against NATO members – cyber-, fake news and interference in elections – while reinvesting in its military capacity and conducting exercises with the Chinese. The North Korean puzzle is more complicated in the wake of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit. He described it as “productive” while North Korea’s Foreign Ministry accused the Trump administration of pushing a “gangster-like demand for denuclearization”.

Attention will be focused on Mr. Trump: will he disrupt the meeting? And amid concerns about what concessions he may offer the Russian leader, will he share his plans for his July 16 summit in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin? Former U.S. ambassador to NATO Victoria Nuland observes that these back-to-back summits “will either restore American global leadership or kill it off, depending on how he plays our hand.”

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What is NATO?

NATO is a military and political alliance constructed around the principles of collective security, democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. It has 29 members including Canada, the United States and most European nations, as well as a host of Euro-Atlantic partner nations. NATO represents half of the world’s economic and military power. As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg observes, “no other superpower has ever had such a strategic advantage.”

In the wake of the Second World War, the victors set up a series of international institutions. The foremost was the United Nations, with universal membership designed to advance human progress and prevent the “scourge of war”. Responding to what Sir Winston Churchill described as the “iron curtain” descending “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic”, the western alliance set up a collective security agreement called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In the words of its first secretary general, Lord Ismay, NATO was to “keep the Russians out, the Germans down, and the Americans in”. Most importantly, it’s a collective security agreement – an attack on one would be considered an attack on all (Article 5). NATO was also designed, at Canadian insistence, to have an economic dimension to promote trade, investment and commerce among its members (Article 2).

The agreement was signed in Washington on April 2, 1949. Its original membership included 12 countries – the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. In signing the agreement then-Canadian External Affairs minister Lester Pearson said that Canadians “feel deeply and instinctively” that the treaty is “a pledge for peace and progress”.

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The Alliance expanded: Turkey and Greece joined in 1952, West Germany in 1955 and Spain in 1982. France left the military alliance in 1967 but rejoined in 2009. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, NATO membership is now 29 countries – including Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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NATO Today

NATO is headquartered in Brussels, where Mr. Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister, leads its Secretariat with Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller, a former U.S. undersecretary for arms control and international security

NATO military operations are headed by two commanders: the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) based in Brussels is currently U.S. General Curtis Scaparrotti; and the Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation (SACT) based in Norfolk, Virginia is currently French General Denis Mercier.

Member nations are represented in both the NATO council and military committee. A Canadian has never held the post of secretary general but Canadians have twice served as chair of the Military Committee; General Ray Henault, a former chief of defence staff, was chair from 2005-2008. The current chair is Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach.

Legislators from NATO nations meet annually in the NATO parliamentary assembly and in November Canada will host the assembly in Halifax. Ontario MP Leona Alleslev, a former RCAF officer, chairs the Canadian NATO interparliamentary delegation.

Defence Expenditure as a Share of GDP (%)
(based on 2010 prices and exchange rates)

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What has NATO done?

NATO is the classic defensive alliance with Article 5 of its charter declaring that “an attack on one is an attack on all.” Arguably the world’s most successful military alliance, alliance unity and its deterrence capacity contributed significantly to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, the reunification of Germany and the demise of the communist threat in Europe.

NATO has three core tasks: collective defence, crisis management and co-operative security. For its first 40 years NATO’s purpose was to deter Soviet aggression. With the end of the Cold War, NATO shifted to help the former Soviet bloc countries embrace democracy and the market economy. Today, it deters Russian aggression.

NATO forces were involved in bringing peace to the Balkans (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo) in operations that continue today. NATO forces, under the umbrella of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), have been present in Afghanistan since 2003. There have been operations around Iraq (1990-1991) and a training mission (2004-2011). In 2005, NATO assisted in the relief efforts following the Pakistan earthquake. In recent years, NATO has also provided support to African Union peacekeeping missions in the Sudan and Somalia. NATO led the UN-sanctioned Libyan campaign (Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR in 2011), maintaining a no-fly zone and conducting air strikes against the Gadhafi regime. Canadian Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard directed the air campaign.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2014 presented NATO with a renewed challenge. Conflicts within and between states have created failing states and mass migration on its southern flank – in North Africa and the Middle East – that require ongoing attention.

Since 1989, NATO has also become involved in a series of out-of-theatre missions. Over 150,000 troops served under NATO command in six different operations on three continents, including counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.

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President Trump and NATO

Attention once again will be focused on President Trump as he attends his second NATO summit. There is no denying that the U.S. provides the muscle for NATO. At a South Carolina rally last month, Mr. Trump said that America is “the piggy bank that (NATO) likes to take from” and at the Charlevoix summit he is said to have called it “as bad as NAFTA”.

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Mr. Trump subsequently wrote letters to Prime Minister Trudeau and other NATO leaders from Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Germany telling them that the U.S. was losing patience with them for investing too little in their militaries and not meeting their collective security obligations. He concluded that it will “become increasingly difficult to justify to American citizens why some countries continue to fail to meet our shared collective security commitments.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has also written to his British counterpart, Gavin Williamson, warning that British influence is “at risk of erosion … A global nation like the U.K., with interests and commitments around the world, will require a level of defence spending beyond what we would expect from allies with only regional interests. Absent a vibrant military arm, world peace and stability would be further at risk”. And, “… it is in the best interest of both our nations for the U.K. to remain the partner of choice. In that spirit, the U.K. will need to invest and maintain robust military capability”.

The Washington Post also reported that, surprised at the size and cost of the U.S. presence in Germany, Mr. Trump is considering withdrawing its 35,000 troops although the White House has since denied that this is in the works.

During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Mr. Trump called  NATO “obsolete” and while he has relented somewhat and confirmed that his administration would honour Article 5, he has consistently declared that “NATO members meet their financial obligations and pay what they owe”. While his manner is obnoxious, when it comes to burden-sharing within the Alliance, Mr. Trump does have a point.

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Big Ticket Items

1. NATO Readiness to Reinforce Collective Defence (including investing in capabilities)

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and intervention in Syria underline the need for NATO readiness. In practical terms this means a rapid combat-ready expeditionary force with attention to cyber-defence and maritime security. As NATO scholar Julian Lindley-French and Admiral (ret’d.) James Stavridis, former SACEUR, argue: “Article 5 collective defence must be modernized and re-organized around cyber-defence, missile defence and the advanced deployable forces vital to contemporary defence.”

Recent military exercises have demonstrated shortcomings in NATO’s ability to move forces across Europe, because of bureaucracy (customs officials asking to see passports at borders) and inadequate infrastructure (the bridges, roads and railways that have to handle military transports). In June, NATO defence ministers agreed to the “Four Thirties” initiative, a military readiness plan that would see the Alliance have — by 2020 — 30 land battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 navy vessels, ready for deployment in 30 days or less.

Assuming it is adopted, NATO allies will need to designate troops, establish a reporting mechanism and plan for readiness exercises. There are also plans to create  two new commands — one in Norfolk, Virginia to ensure U.S. maritime access across the Atlantic and the other in Ulm, Germany, focused on logistics in Europe.

2. Defence Spending

The United States shoulders nearly three-quarters of the Alliance’s operating budget. U.S. presidents and cabinet secretaries have consistently encouraged NATO members to spend more.

Defence spending in 2000 for eight of the 18 NATO members was two per cent of GDP but it steadily declined. At their Wales summit (2014) allies agreed to meet two per cent of GDP spending on defence “within a decade.” According to NATO figures (March 2018), only five of the 28 members meet NATO’s target of spending at least two per cent of GDP on defence – the U.S., the U.K., Poland, Greece and Estonia. The U.S. spends 3.57 per cent on defence and the U.K. 2.12 per cent, while Canada spends 1.29 per cent, Germany spends 1.24 per cent, France 1.79 per cent, Italy 1.12 per cent and Spain 0.92 per cent.

The combined defence budget of NATO nations has grown by US$14.4 billion since the Wales summit (2016) with all but one of 28 allies increasing spending, and 26 sending more troops for NATO missions. Sixteen – but not Canada – are on track to spend the NATO target of two per cent of their gross domestic product on defence by 2024. Those allocating at least 20 per cent of their defence budget to major equipment ­(another pledge from a summit in Wales in 2014) have risen from 14 to 24 (including Canada).

The U.S expects more from its allies. Mr. Mattis has said, “America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defence.” The U.S. argument was best expressed  in the valedictory remarks to NATO (June 10, 2011) of former U.S. defence secretary Robert Gates who warned, “The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the U.S. Congress — and in the American body politic writ large — to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.”

3. Relations with Russia

With the end of the Cold War, there was some expectation that Russia would eventually become a NATO partner. In 2009, NATO and Russia signed an accord to “build together a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic area on the principles of democracy and co-operative security.” The NATO-Russia Council, created in 2002 and suspended in 2014 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has resumed with seven meetings over the past two years.

President Putin’s objectives are clear: he wants an end to sanctions and an end to U.S. military exercises in Europe and the scaling back of U.S. forces there. Mr. Putin is also seeking to create a sphere of influence on his frontiers and, through the creation of his Eurasian Union (a free-trade customs union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus), a counter-weight to NATO. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and continuing incursions into Ukraine violate the UN charter, the Helsinki Final Act and Russia’s own commitment “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine”. Ukraine is not Mr. Putin’s first incursion into a neighbour’s territory. In 2008, at his instruction, Russian forces occupied southern Georgia.

Russia also retains a “longstanding desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order” and is acting on it, according to a declassified report from U.S intelligence agencies on hacking during the U.S. election.

4. NATO Partners and NATO Expansion

NATO’s partnerships, born out of its 1990 London summit, focused first on the former Soviet bloc nations (many of whom are now full members), then on crisis management in the Balkans, and, since 9/11, on wider partnerships now including more than 40 nations around the world – Australia, New Zealand and, as the latest addition, Mongolia. At its peak, the ISAF mission in Afghanistan included 22 partner nations. Partnership does not include the security guarantee of Article 5.

Ukraine and Georgia want membership in NATO and, at the Bucharest summit in 2008, NATO encouraged this. But NATO enlargement is controversial and there is discussion of different architecture to guarantee security. With the name dispute over Macedonia resolved, Mr. Stoltenberg expects Macedonia will soon join NATO.

A wise persons’ report (2016) commissioned by the Finnish government concluded that Finland and Sweden should stick together, whatever the decision, but that membership would provoke Russia. It described Russia as an “unsatisfied power” that “has made unpredictability a strategic and tactical virtue, underpinned by an impressive degree of political and military agility.”

5. Afghanistan

NATO continues to lead a non-combat mission – Resolute Support – involving 13,576 troops and 39 nations (but not Canada) to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions. NATO and its partners are already committed to providing financial support to sustain the Afghan forces until the end of 2020.

NATO has been involved in Afghanistan since the UN Security Council authorized the NATO-led ISAF that operated from August 2003 to December 2014. ISAF is NATO’s longest mission, employing more than 130,000 troops from 51 NATO and partner nations, including Canada.

Canadian Forces left Afghanistan in March 2014 after a 12-year campaign and the loss of 161 men and women. Yet Canada continues to support a number of programs and activities.

6. Countering Terrorism

Mr. Stoltenberg says NATO will do even more to combat terrorism, with continued commitments to Afghanistan and a new training mission in Iraq. NATO is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and supports it through AWACS intelligence flights. Its Counter-Terrorism Policy Guidelines focus Alliance efforts on three main areas: awareness, capabilities and engagement.

7. Migration

NATO and the EU are working together on migration, seeking to tackle the root causes and to help stabilize the source countries, including training local forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. NATO is also assisting in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean, and providing help to the EU’s Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean, with 10 ships and maritime surveillance aircraft currently in the region.

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What Results Can we Expect from the Brussels Summit?

President Trump wants the Allies to meet the NATO norm, originally set by NATO in 2002, of two per cent of GDP spending on national defence. While the Allies are spending more and more on equipment, the pace of increase is slower than Mr. Trump wants.

Rather than spend their time debating defence spending, leaders should focus on actual capability requirements and how quickly these resources can be made available for combat. The Afghan and Libyan missions were handicapped by the caveats some NATO members imposed on use of their personnel and equipment.

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Canadian Involvement at the Summit?

As a founding member of NATO, Canada has stood with its NATO Allies since 1949. Mr. Trudeau will be pressed on Canada’s financial commitment to NATO. The government’s Strong, Secure, Engaged defence policy (2017) commits Canada to increasing its defence spending to 1.4 per cent of GDP by 2026-2027, well short of the NATO two per cent norm. But as Mr. Trudeau has said, “there are many ways of evaluating one’s contribution to NATO”, noting that Canada has “always been amongst the strongest actors in NATO.”

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This includes Canada’s leadership of a multinational NATO mission in Latvia (and Mr. Trudeau will visit Latvia before going to the NATO summit). The 450-strong Canadian Forces contingent represents the commitment Mr. Trudeau made at the Warsaw summit in 2016, as part of broader Canadian support to Operation REASSURANCE, and notes the “significant procurement projects” – especially the ongoing construction of new warships and the purchase of fighter jets – and Canada’s renewed activist internationalism.

As part of Canada’s commitment to NATO’s Operation REASSURANCE, Canadian fighter jets patrol the Baltic skies. Since April 2014, Canada has deployed our Halifax-class frigates, most recently HMCS Charlottetown and HMCS St. John’s, in support of NATO reassurance measures. HMCS Windsor, one of our Victoria-class submarines, recently returned from five months in the Mediterranean where its mission included tracking Russian submarines. Canada is providing humanitarian and Special Forces support to a U.S.-led multinational effort to support pro-Iraq forces battling the Islamic state.

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In terms of readiness, Canadian forces already have achieved significant interoperability on land, air and sea with the U.S. through NORAD, our bi-national aerospace and maritime surveillance agreement, and through both joint exercises and active operations in theatres like Afghanistan, Libya and now in Latvia. Mr. Trudeau can also point to Canada’s new mission, as part of the UN peacekeeping operation in Mali, involving 250 Canadian soldiers and eight helicopters.

But we could do more. That means spending more, not because Mr. Trump says so, but because Canadian sovereignty requires it.

The Canadian Forces are having trouble with recruitment, so why not increase the reserves and bring in more young people who will learn a trade and, inevitably, be involved in useful community work around natural disasters?

We could also do much more to assert our Arctic sovereignty – picking up the pace for construction of the icebreakers by using all of Canada’s shipyards and building more Arctic offshore patrol ships and supply ships. We should also invest now in the next generation of submarines – they are the ultimate stealth weapon to deter unwelcome intrusions. And why not invest in a hospital ship to provide humanitarian relief in the increasing number of climate-related disasters that beset coastal nations?

Given the changing nature of threats, Canada should seek membership in the EU/NATO Centres for Excellence:

  • hybrid threats in Helsinki, Finland (current membership is Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S.)
  • cyber-threats in Tallinn, Estonia (current membership includes Austria, Belgium, the Czechia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States)
  • strategic communications in Riga, Latvia (current membership includes Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Finland and Sweden have become partners. France and Canada have seconded staff)

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Does NATO Still Matter?

Yes. But collective security means collective contributions. Despite his bullying manner, Mr. Trump is right – the Allies do need to share the burdens. As former president Barack Obama repeatedly told Canada’s Parliament: “NATO needs more Canada”.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland gets this, telling a Washington audience recently (June 2018) that:

Since the end of the Second World War, we have built a system that championed freedom and democracy and prevented regional conflicts from turning into total war. Canada for one is going to stand up in defence of that system … America has been the leader of the free world. We Canadians have been proud to stand at your side and to have your back. As your closest friend, ally and neighbour, we also understand that many Americans today are no longer certain that the rules-based international order of which you were the principal architect and for which you did write the biggest cheques still benefits America.

At the centre of that defence arrangement, as Ms. Freeland told parliamentarians (June 2017) in laying out the Trudeau foreign policy: “NATO and Article 5 are at the heart of Canada’s national security policy.” We now need to up our defence contribution.

NATO still matters. As the New York Times recently editorialized:

Born after World War II, NATO linked America and Europe not just in a mutual defense pledge but in advancing democratic governance, the rule of law, civil and human rights, and an increasingly open international economy. The alliance was the core of an American-led liberal world order that extended to Asia and relied on a web of international institutions, including the United Nations and the World Bank. It remains the most successful military alliance in history, the anchor of an American-led and American-financed peace that fostered Western prosperity and prevented new world wars. No one has proposed anything credible to improve upon it.

But NATO also needs to be continuously improving to adapt to changing world conditions.

A good starting point is the recommendations of the GLOBSEC NATO Adaptation Initiative, led by General John Allen and including CGAI Fellow Julian Lindley-French. In the spirit of the Harmel Report (1967) and “to better prepare NATO not only to meet the many technology and affordability challenges but to master them  –  from hybrid warfare to hyperwar” they recommend a strategic review in time for the 70th anniversary summit so that NATO is “prepared, fit and able to act across the seven domains of grand conflict: air, sea, land, cyber, space, information and knowledge.”

Defence Expenditure as a Share of GDP (%)
(based on 2010 prices and exchange rates)

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Public Opinion and NATO

In a spring 2017 Pew Research Center survey of six EU nations (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom), the U.S. and Canada find positive views of the military alliance.

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Asked whether their own country should militarily defend a NATO ally (i.e., Article 5) if embroiled in an armed conflict with Russia, there is strong support in the Netherlands (72 per cent), Poland (62 per cent), United States (62 per cent), Canada (58 per cent) and France (53 per cent) for living up to their country’s mutual defence commitment as a member of NATO.

Two-thirds of Canadians hold NATO in high esteem, a rise of 10 per cent since 2015, with rising support across demographic groups and with strong support among the major parties: Liberal Party (75 per cent), Conservative Party (74 per cent) and New Democratic Party (65 per cent).

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Germany has the fourth largest defence budget in NATO, but only 40 per cent of Germans believe they should come to the aid of an ally. More than half (53 per cent) do not support such aid.

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A Gallup survey in February 2017 revealed 80 per cent of Americans support the Alliance. When Gallup first asked Americans about their views on NATO in July 1989, 75 per cent thought the alliance should be maintained. This percentage dropped to 62 per cent in 1991, months before the Soviet Union’s formal collapse, staying at that level during NATO’s 1995 intervention in the Bosnian War.

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Further Reading

NATO has a comprehensive website. The Canadian Global Affairs Institute produced a series of papers on NATO in advance of parliamentary hearings by the House of Commons National Defence Committee into NATO that recently tabled its report Canada and NATO: An Alliance Forged in Strength and Durability. See also the GLOBSEC NATO Adaptation Initiative report, One Alliance: The Future Tasks of the Adapted Alliance.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on April 4, 2018. Stoltenberg says recent Russian missile tests do not pose any direct threat to the Canadians or their allies, but they underscore the importance of a strong NATO presence in Latvia and the rest of Eastern Europe.  

 

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Canada and UN Security Council seat 2021

Canada is facing a UN battle — with Bono

OTTAWA—U2 frontman Bono might think the world needs more Canada but he’s singing the praises of his Irish homeland now as Ireland launches a bid for a spot on the UN Security Council — marking a formidable competitor to Ottawa’s own aspirations for a council seat.

Ireland rolled out Bono’s star power as it kicked off its campaign in New York on Monday to win a seat on the influential body for the 2021-22 term.

U2’s Bono has been drafted by Ireland into the fight for a Security Council seat.
U2’s Bono has been drafted by Ireland into the fight for a Security Council seat.  (MICHEL EULER / AP)

Ireland’s attempts to win over the UN crowd began the night before when U2 played to a packed house at New York’s Madison Square Garden — with more than 150 UN diplomats invited as special guests.

Bono pointedly took a few minutes during the performance to lavish praise on the United Nations.

“If the United Nations didn’t exist, we would have to invent it. That is the truth. It’s the one place we can all meet. It’s the one place that puts peace on the negotiating table first,” he said.

The Irish rocker said that at a time when international institutions are under attack, the United Nations is needed more than ever and his country — with its history of conflict and violence — is well-suited to help.

“If you look at the agenda of what the Security Council will be called on to address over the coming years, doesn’t it look a lot like us? We’d like to think Ireland’s experience of colonialism, conflict, famine and mass migration give us a kind of hard-earned expertise in these problems. And, I hope, an empathy and I hope humility,” Bono said.

The singer acknowledged that UN diplomats could vote for Canada and its “truly remarkable leader … That Canada is nice is the worst thing I can say about them.”

People gather at the General Assembly, prior to a vote on Dec. 21, 2017, at United Nations headquarters in New York. Canada is setting its sights on a seat at the UN Security Council.
People gather at the General Assembly, prior to a vote on Dec. 21, 2017, at United Nations headquarters in New York. Canada is setting its sights on a seat at the UN Security Council.  (MARK LENNIHAN)

Bono has sung Canada’s praises in the past.

But now Canada finds itself in a tough competition with what Bono calls a “tiny rock in the Atlantic Ocean” and Norway, too, in a three-way race for the two seats that will come open on the 15-member council.

Justin Trudeau declared in 2016 that Canada would seek a Security Council seat, part of the Liberals’ vow to “restore Canadian leadership in the world.”

Democracy, inclusive governance, human rights, development and international peace and security were the among the priorities highlighted at the time.

“We are determined to help the UN make even greater strides in support of its goals for all humanity,” Trudeau saidduring a visit to UN headquarters that year.

Canada has served six times on the Security Council, the last time ending in 2000. The vote will be held in June 2020, after the October 2019 federal election.

The council has five permanent members — China, United States, France, United Kingdom and Russia — and 10 elected members. Each year, the general assembly elects five of the 10 spots for a two-year term.

Canada’s own campaign has been low-key so far. Cabinet ministers raise the topic in their meetings with politicians from other countries. And foreign affairs officials are plotting now how best to officially launch its bid.

But the campaign carries risks.

Losing would be humiliating for the Liberals — if they are still in power after the 2019 election.

The Liberals castigated Stephen Harper’s Conservatives for their failure to win a Security Council seat in 2010. At the time Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff called it a “clear condemnation” of the Conservatives’ foreign policy priorities.

But winning carries risks, too.

Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat, cautions “be careful what you wish for,” noting that a spot on the Security Council would put Canada in the hot seat for the world’s most difficult crises.

“Being on the Security Council there are going to come a whole pile of complications,” said Robertson, a vice-president and fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

That could include being at loggerheads with the U.S., one of the council’s permanent members, and President Donald Trump, if he seeks and wins re-election in 2020.

“It’s going to require an awful lot of effort. Is that effort worth it?” he said.

Robertson speculates that with Ireland and Norway in the running, Canada is unlikely to garner many European votes. So it will have to look for support in other parts of the world — the Asia-Pacific region, the Caribbean, the Americas and Africa.

“I think we’ll run as a constructive middle power but there aren’t enough middle-power votes to carry the day so we have to appeal to smaller places,” he said.

Canada has the advantage of being a G7 and G20 country but otherwise, he said, the three countries in the running are almost “interchangeable” in terms of their priorities and vision for the world.

“It’s like campaigning against mirrors of yourself,” he said.

Indeed, at the campaign launch, Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Taoiseach or prime minister, highlighted themes that could easily be Canada’s own goals.

“We support a rules-based order in international affairs. We have acted as a voice for the disadvantaged and defenceless, promoting freedom and defending human rights,” Varadkar said.

“In areas such as peacekeeping, disarmament, sustainable development, human rights and humanitarian assistance we have matched our words with our actions,” he said.

NDP MP Hélène Laverdière predicts the campaign will be “very difficult.

Canada already has a lot of strikes against its bid,” said Laverdière (Laurier-Sainte-Marie).

She noted Canada lags behind Norway and Ireland in foreign aid. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canada’s aid spending in 2016 was 0.26 per cent of gross national income, compared to 0.32 for Ireland and 1.12 per cent for Norway.

Canada also lags behind both countries in military personnel deployed on UN peace missions. According to UN data to May 31, Canada had just 40 personnel assigned to peace missions compared to 542 for Ireland and 66 for Norway. But Canada’s numbers are set to rise as it deploys 250 military personnel to Mali on a yearlong mission to provide helicopters to support the UN mission there.

Conservative MP Erin O’Toole said Canada’s priority should be to help reform UN institutions, such as peace operations, even if it means forgoing a seat on the Security Council.

“We should never sacrifice taking principled positions at the UN for the sake of garnering votes. That becomes the challenge,” O’Toole said.

He said Ireland will be a challenge and will likely win the support of other European nations. “I’m not sure we can compete with Bono … He’s a hard brand to compete with so the Irish are certainly going for it,” O’Toole said.

“Maybe we should trot out Drake,” he said, referring to the Canadian superstar rapper.

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Charlevoix, Trump and Canada

Donald Trump Shifts the West’s Focus to Protectionism

Last week’s G7 summit was eclipsed by the president—and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Credit: Flickr/Public Domain

It was supposed to be the summit where gender became a permanent issue on world leaders’ agenda, the way that climate change did at the 1988 Toronto G7. That was the personal goal of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as the World Bank reported that 130 million girls worldwide never get the opportunity to go to school. And while gender did get both attention and money at last week’s G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Quebec, it was mostly obscured by Donald Trump and growing concerns about a global trade war.

The G7 met amidst what the IMF assesses to be continuing strong economic performance in the Euro area and in Japan, China, the United States, and Canada, all of which grew beyond expectations last year. Still, there are plenty of challenges. G7 countries face aging populations, falling rates of labor force participation, and low productivity growth. They’re unlikely to regain the per capita growth rates that they enjoyed before the global financial crisis of 2008. All of that underscores the importance of the G7 as an institution. Now in its 44th year, the organization—consisting of America, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom—functions as a management board for the big liberal democracies.

Finance ministers before the summit were already expressing “concerns…that the tariffs imposed by the United States on its friends and allies, on the grounds of national security, undermine open trade and confidence in the global economy” and warning that G7 “collaboration and cooperation has been put at risk by trade actions against other members.”

That was in anticipation of Donald Trump, who managed to deliver on expectations. Arriving late and leaving early, he effectively set the real agenda of the Charlevoix summit through a series of tweets, pre-and post-summit, about “unfair Trade Deals with the G-7 countries.”

That led Trudeau to remark at the conclusion of the G7 that “Canadians did not take it lightly that the United States has moved forward with significant tariffs on our steel and aluminum industry…. For Canadians who…stood shoulder to shoulder with American soldiers in far-off lands and conflicts from the First World War onward…it’s kind of insulting.” Canada, Trudeau said, would “move forward with retaliatory measures on July 1, applying equivalent tariffs to the ones that Americans have unjustly applied to us.” He also observed that “if the expectation was that a weekend in beautiful Charlevoix…was going to transform the president’s outlook on trade and the world, then we didn’t quite reach that bar.”

All of this annoyed Trump who had left to fly to his Singapore session with Kim Jong-un. In a fit of pique, he characterized Trudeau on Twitter as “meek and mild…dishonest & weak” and rescinded America’s signature to the traditional communique that ends the conference.

Senior advisors Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro then doubled down on the president’s remarks. Kudlow told CNN that Trudeau “really kind of stabbed us in the back,” while Navarro, who later sort of apologized, told “Fox News Sunday” that “there’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump.”

For Canadians, President Trump’s “blame Canada” campaign is curious.

According to the president’s annual Economic Report from 2018, the United States enjoys an $8.4 billion surplus with Canada. Canadians buy more American agricultural exports ($24 billion) than any other nation. Our steel trade—we are each others’ biggest customers—is in virtual balance ($7 billion both ways). Canada supports its dairy farmers through supply management that restricts the milk supply but neither gives direct subsidies nor competes with the United States. In fact, Canada is one the few countries where America runs a substantial manufacturing surplus, with the U.S. importing energy—less than the global benchmark price—and other Canadian resources.

Trump also created G7 controversy with his comment that Russia, booted out of the group after its invasion of Ukraine in 2014, should be reinstated: “They should let Russia come back in,” he said, “because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”

European Union Council President Donald Tusk spoke for the other leaders when he rejected the readmission of Russia because it would upset the “rules-based international order.” British Prime Minister Theresa May underlined the “unified” G7 response, pointing to the new “rapid response unit” that will counter hostile activity by states such as Russia that are aimed at the democratic process.

But it was Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland who issued the most concise and clarion call for the United States not to abandon the rules-based international order for a “might makes right” approach. Accepting the Foreign Policy Forum’s “Diplomat of the Year” award, she said: “You may feel today that your size allows you to go mano-a-mano with your traditional adversaries and be guaranteed to win. But if history tells us one thing, it is that no one nation’s pre-eminence is eternal…the far wiser path—and the more enduring one—is to strengthen our existing alliance of liberal democracies.” As the West’s relative might inevitably declines, Freeland said that “now is the time for us to plant our flag on the rule of law—so that the rising powers are induced to play by these rules, too.”

The G7 is admittedly Eurocentric. It probably needs to be enlarged to include other democracies—India, Indonesia, Korea, Australia, and Mexico would be obvious candidates and their inclusion would give more weight to the Indo-Pacific. But for over 40 years, its summits have been a rare forum for frank discussions and informal diplomacy. Its members sustain the rules-based system and its multilateral institutions.

As the top table of the leading democracies, the G7 visibly demonstrates that talk on the big issues—protectionism, populism, extremism, climate, and gender—continues to be essential. Winston Churchill popularized the word “summitry.” He also reflected that “jaw-jaw” among leaders is better than “war-war.” Churchill had learned well what happens when major world powers don’t sit down with each other and engage in dialogue.

Summits usually culminate in a consensus communique. Weeks in preparation—it probably has more drafters than readers—it is part record of decisions and part declaration of intent.

The Charlevoix communique, one of the more concise at slightly over 4,000 words, still covered the urgent and the important: artificial intelligence, global trade, middle-class growth, innovation, girls’ education, and defending democracies from foreign intrusions. But it was impossible to miss that the leaders also underlined the “crucial role of a rules-based international trading system” and their pledge to “continue to fight protectionism.” That this was a rare shot at a fellow G7 member should need no explaining.

Colin Robertson is a former Canadian diplomat and vice president and fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

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Canada US Relations after Charlevoix

After the diplomatic disaster of the Group of Seven summit in Charlevoix, Que., it is now clear that for Mr. Trump it is not about leading – the traditional role of the U.S. President – but about winning at any cost. Relationships are not for cultivating, but only for using to Trumpian advantage.

Canada and like-minded countries need to stick together, act in tandem and push back against Trumpist protectionism. It means taking it to him where it hurts and targeting his base: in particular the farm community. At the same time, we need to tell Americans, who will suffer job loss and higher prices, that they have only their president to blame.

For more than 500 days now, Justin Trudeau has made nice to Mr. Trump. The advice from former prime minister Brian Mulroney was correct – that the relationship with the president is the most important relationship for a prime minister and that Canada-U.S. relations, alongside national unity and national security, are the files that require a prime minister’s constant attention.

Among liberal democratic leaders, Mr. Trudeau was seen as the one who had the best relationship with Mr. Trump. He was the Trump whisperer. But Mr. Trump’s behaviour at Charlevoix, Que., was abominable.

The tweets before Charlevoix, Que., took personal shots at both Mr. Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron, the other leader who has cultivated Mr. Trump. The tweets afterward, insulting Mr. Trudeau, are beyond the pale. As Mr. Trudeau said, we are a polite people but we are not pushovers.

Canadians are justly outraged, but we have deep interests at stake, so we need to proceed with care and planning.

First, we need to get our act together domestically. Mr. Trudeau needs to consult with the premiers and business to get their advice on our retaliation list. What is their assessment of increased protectionism on their province and industries? What about life after the North American free-trade agreement? We will be hurt. We will need to provide adjustment assistance for the afflicted. But how would Americans like it if Canadians began to spontaneously boycott American goods, especially U.S. farm produce, and stopped travelling south for holidays?

Second, we need to take advantage of the free-trade deals that we already have in place and put real effort into matchmaking; business with business. As a matter of our national security (two can play this game), we should quickly pass the implementing legislation to bring the new Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership into effect. With Canada’s implementation, the agreement would immediately come into force.

If this means keeping parliamentarians at work into July so be it. Provincial legislatures may also have to be recalled. While they are at it they should pass their enabling legislation for the Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. This is a matter of grave national economic urgency. Canadians need to see that their legislators are acting in the national interest.

Third, we need to act in tandem with our G7 partners and like-minded countries, such as Mexico, as we collectively retaliate to the recently imposed steel and aluminium tariffs. Canada and Mexico learned the value of acting collectively when they worked together to persuade the U.S. Congress to rescind its protectionist country-of-origin labelling requirement in 2015.

American legislators respond to local pressure. They need to feel the heat of retaliation. Canada has a lot of allies, especially in the Republican congressional caucus. They don’t like Mr. Trump’s direction and are already moving to curb the trade powers that were ceded to the executive branch during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration. Hopefully, we will see then the beauty of the checks and balances at work. The U.S. founding fathers designed their system to prevent a president from becoming a king.

The more Mr. Trump attacks his fellow G7 and fellow democratically elected leaders the more difficult it makes it for them to go along with him when it counts. That includes, however unlikely, a deal with North Korea.

The road that Mr. Trump is going down makes no economic sense. George W. Bush reluctantly imposed limited steel tariffs in 2002 (Canada was exempt) and lifted them a year later because it was costing American jobs, not creating them.

Canadians are used to compromise and consensus, especially in how we handle the relationship with Uncle Sam. Manage it well and we can tell them when their breath is bad. Mr. Trump has a bad case of halitosis. We need to tell him so and serve him the bitter medicine he has brought on himself.

CPAC Prime Time Politics Monday, June 11, 2018

Colin Robertson and Christopher Sands on Canada–U.S. Relations00:10:34Quick View

PRIMETIME POLITICS

Colin Robertson and Christopher Sands on Canada–U.S. Relations

 The G7 Summit in Charlevoix ended in dramatic fashion on Saturday with U.S. President Donald Trump directing strong criticism at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over Canada’s response to U.S. tariffs. CPAC’s Martin Stringer is joined by two experts in foreign affairs and diplomacy to assess the current state of the Canada–U.S. relationship. Colin Robertson is vice-president and fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a former Canadian diplomat. Christopher Sands is director of the Center for Canadian Studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. (June 11, 2018) (no interpretation)

 

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Prepare for the Worst

US officials back Trump’s outraged G7 remarks as Canada struggles to mend relationship with its largest trading partner

Chrystia Freeland will travel to Washington this week for a visit which will focus on trade talks – but also attempt to reset US-Canada relations.
 Chrystia Freeland will travel to Washington this week for a visit which will focus on trade talks – but also attempt to reset US-Canada relations. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

Canadian diplomats are scrambling to mend a deteriorating relationship with its largest trading partner after senior US officials maintained the rhetorical barrage first unleashed by Donald Trump at the G7 meeting in Quebec.

Foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland will travel to Washington this week for a visit which will focus on trade talks – but also attempt to reset relations between the two countries, which have been pushed to their lowest point in recent memory amid an increasingly bitter row over trade.

In television appearances over the weekend, two senior Trump advisors said that Justin Trudeau “stabbed the US in the back” after the prime minister spoke out against the US president’s aggressive trade policies.

In an appearance on Fox News on Sunday, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said: “There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door.”

The sharp escalation has shocked experts and fuelled worries of a devastating trade war, one which Canada, a middling economic power, would likely lose.

“There have been moments of tension in various times in the history of Canada-US relations, but I’ve never seen or heard of anything like the type of language the US administration has used towards Canada,” said Roland Paris, an international affairs scholar and former advisor to Trudeau.

Canadian officials hoped the G7 summit in Quebec over the weekend would be an opportunity to reset discussions around trade after Trump imposed punitive tariffs on the EU and Canada.

But the gathering concluded on a sour note after Trudeau told reporters Canada “will not be pushed around”. Trump responded via social media calling the prime minister “very dishonest and weak”.

“We have to prepare for the worst now,” said Colin Robertson, a former diplomat and head of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. “There’s a lot of damage control going on today and for the next few days,” he said.

The US remains Canada’s largest trading partner, a relationship valued at $673.9bn, but Trump has claimed Canada has a trade surplus with the US, a statement not backed up by any evidence.

A recent report from the CD Howe Institute finds that the tariffs will cause significant economic pain in both countries: Canada could lose as many as 6,000 jobs and a 0.33% GDP reduction, whereas the US would lose 22,700 jobs, but only a 0.02% disruption to the GDP.

Last week, Canada introduced more than $16bn in retaliatory tariffs against the United States, meant to inflict targeted pain on politically vulnerable industries, such as whisky, orange juice, frozen pizzas and soy beans.

“There are plenty of people in the United States, including in positions of influence, who were just as outraged at those remarks as Canadians were,” said Paris.

Although there is little to suggest that his aggressive trade policy has spirited support within his party, analysts say Trump has seized on the duties as a weapon he can wield without needing congressional approval.

“He’s discovered these weapons and he’s using them for maximum effect to further his ‘American First’ bellicose trade and political agenda,” said Lawrence Herman, a former diplomat and international trade lawyer. “I think the lesson has come home that as a strategic objective: be less dependent on the unreliability of the United States … What Trump is showing is that the United States is an unreliable treaty partner.”

The recent spat has backed Canada into an uncomfortable position: while attempting to remain steadfast against a belligerent trade partner, it must also reckon with the fact that much of its economic productivity is tied to seamless free trade with its southern neighbour.

Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau, famously likened the relationship with the United States to a mouse next to a sleeping elephant. “No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt,” the former prime minister said.

Justin Trudeau, Donald Trump, Angela Merkel and other world leaders at the G7 summit.
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 Justin Trudeau, Donald Trump, Angela Merkel and other world leaders at the G7 summit. Photograph: Justin Trudeau/JT

Justin Trudeau amended his father’s metaphor at a gathering of American governors last year. “While you, my American friends, may be an elephant, Canada is no mouse. More like a moose: strong and peaceable – but still massively outweighed.”

Trudeau’s firm stance towards the US administration has resulted in a rare unified front amongst current and former political leaders.

Over the weekend, his conservative predecessor Stephen Harper appeared on Fox News to appeal for calm. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer tweeted his support for the prime minister.

Even Doug Ford, the newly-elected populist premier of Ontario – who has pledged to fight Trudeau on a number of policy initiatives – backed the prime minister’s position.

That support reflects a cold economic reality: Ontario is particularly vulnerable to America’s protectionist policies as more than 80% of the province’s exports are sent south of the border, said Robertson.

More recently, Trump has reiterated his threat to impose a 25% tariff on Canadian-made automobiles – a move that would devastate the $80bn industry.

Experts say that as discussions enter uncharted territory, it’s critical that the issues of trade remain the central of focus.

“Trudeau will not personalize this with Trump – and he will not let any of his cabinet or caucus do so. He’ll let public opinion do that for him,” added Robertson.

Meanwhile, Canada should push to ensure two large trade deals – the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement – are finalized in the coming months to hedge against further uncertainty.

“We’ve got these open doors to Europe and the Trans Pacific Partnership. We’ve some housekeeping to do to show we’re serious,” said Robertson.

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Harper to White House

Harper blindsides Trudeau PMO, plans visit to White House

CTV National News: Email tipped off Harper visit

Rachel AielloOttawa News Bureau Online Producer

@rachaiello

Thursday, June 28, 2018 10:40PM EDT

OTTAWA — Former prime minister Stephen Harper is planning a trip to the White House next week, and hasn’t notified the current Canadian government of his visit, CTV News has learned.

According to emails obtained by CTV News, American officials are expecting Harper to visit D.C. on July 2, the day after Canada’s retaliatory tariffs on imports of U.S. goods and American-made steel and aluminum are set to come into effect.

It is unclear what the purpose of Harper’s visit is, and how long it has been in the works, but officials say he is planning to meet with American National Security Adviser John Bolton, who was the U.S. ambassador to the UN when Harper was prime minister. It is possible that Harper could also be meeting with Larry Kudlow, Trump’s economic adviser.

In planning his visit, the former prime minister has effectively blindsided the current Canadian government, bucking convention by not notifying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or his office about the visit. Harper also did not reach out to the Canadian embassy in D.C., Global Affairs Canada, or the Privy Council Office.

Canadian officials only learned about the expected visit after Bolton’s office contacted the Canadian embassy in Washington to inquire about who would be coming with the prime minister to the meeting.

The unanticipated Trudeau visit was news to them, so the embassy contacted the PMO.

Eventually, U.S. officials realized it was a case of confused identity and they were actually expecting the former prime minister, Harper.

CTV News has reached out to Harper’s office for comment, but has not received an answer, leaving uncertainty about whether the visit will actually happen.

Neither the White House nor Bolton’s office is commenting at this time, and sources close to the former prime minister say Harper currently has no trip confirmed, though he is said to be pursuing meetings in D.C.

The sources pointed to the former prime minister’s travel related to his work as Chair of the International Democrat Union (ID), or on behalf of the Friends of Israel, which Bolton is part of.

A series of tweets from Harper Thursday show him meeting with international leaders in Europe related to his work with the IDU, including the Aga Khan. In one, Harper said: “I appreciate all the interest in the #IDU this week, and as IDU Chairman I look forward to continuing to engage with conservatives globally wherever I travel.”

 

Stephen Harper

@stephenharper

Thank you to President Pastrana for his invitation to join @CDI_IDC meetings in Brussels today. I appreciate all the interest in the this week, and as IDU Chairman I look forward to continuing to engage with conservatives globally wherever I travel.

 

Former Canadian diplomat and vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute Colin Robertson said that if the trip is to happen it would be courteous given the state of relations, to notify the current administration. He said the convention among past prime ministers who make trips to meet cabinet-level U.S. officials, is to at least alert the Canadian ambassador to the U.S.

Though, Robertson said he suspects that like other past leaders, Harper would inform the current Liberal government about any intel gleaned from his meetings related to the state of the relationship, regardless of their political differences.

This move comes amid heightened tensions in the Canada-U.S. relationship with the prospect of a full-blown trade war on the horizon, including new tariffs on autos. U.S. President Donald Trump and his officials have also engaged in personal attacks on Trudeau via televised appearances and social media.

After avoiding the spotlight in the months after his defeat in the 2015 federal election, Harper has made a return to the international scene. He got international headlines in the last year over his comments about the Canada-U.S. relationship and the American administration, some of which have been in stark contrast with the current Canadian government’s policy, while other times he’s defended Canada’s position.

In October, The Canadian Press reported on a leaked memo from the former prime minister to clients of his firm Harper & Associates. In the memo, titled “Napping on NAFTA,” Harper criticized Trudeau’s approach after returning from a trip to D.C.

Then in May he raised eyebrows for being among several former international leaders and diplomats to co-sign a full-page advertisement in the New York Times hailing Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.

At that time, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan described Harper weighing in publicly as “not helpful.”

In an interview on CTV’s Power Play, Sajjan said that in his view, Canada should be speaking with one voice when it comes to U.S. policy, citing the ongoing NAFTA talks. His take was a departure from the message track of Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who said as a private citizen Harper was entitled to his opinion.

Earlier this month, Harper appeared on Fox News where he weighed in on the state of NAFTA talks. He said he understood Trump’s position, but also highlighted the American trade surplus, saying Canada was the wrong target for a trade fight.

On Wednesday, he was speaking at a Five Eyes panel discussion in London, U.K., where he said he thinks Trump’s “America First” policy will outlast the president’s tenure and that the “rapid, unorthodox, populist political change” will be part of the American fabric after Trump leaves office.

With a report from CTV News’ Ottawa Bureau Chief Joyce Napier and with files from Senior Political Correspondent Glen McGregor

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Retaliation on Trade

Republicans pressure Trump to drop tariffs after Trudeau retaliation, but it might not matter, say U.S. trade watchers

By PETER MAZEREEUW      
‘Whether or not you can pressure an administration that has no policy, no direction, and no philosophy, I don’t know,’ says ex-Democratic U.S. trade representative Mickey Kantor.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, announced plans on May 31 to bring in retaliatory tariffs on certain U.S. exports to Canada, beginning July 1, if President Donald Trump’s administration did not reverse newly-imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. The Hill Times photographs by Andrew Meade

Republican lawmakers are pushing back against U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., likely making the case that the move could pave the road to his impeachment, say a former trade adviser to U.S. politicians and a Canadian lobbyist tracking the trade battle.

“The only hope there is the Republican leadership gets inside the head of the administration to say, ‘Whatever you’re trying to achieve, you’re going to lose the House in November. And if you lose the House in November, we’re immediately into questions of impeachment,’” said Flavio Volpe, president of Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, a lobby group for an industry that relies on steel and aluminum crossing the Canada-U.S. border.

“That’s an argument they’ll certainly make,” said a former trade adviser to Republican and Democratic lawmakers, adding, “I don’t think that it will cause the president to withdraw the tariffs.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) could hardly have hoped for a better outcome after he responded to Mr. Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico, and the EU by imposing retaliatory penalties—effective July 1—on U.S. steel and aluminum, and a variety of other goods produced in U.S. swing states or the electoral districts of influential Republican lawmakers. Numerous Republican politicians have openly spoken against Mr. Trump’s decision, U.S. industry groups have done the same, and even the powerful conservative advocacy groups backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, including Americans For Prosperity, are campaigning against Mr. Trump’s tariffs.

It’s not clear to what extent the Republican backlash is related to Canada’s counter-tariffs, however. Several lobbyists and analysts following U.S. trade issues closely said the penalties brought in by Canada’s government have created some pressure on Republicans and the White House, as intended, by hitting the pocketbooks of businesses that export to Canada and are represented by Republican lawmakers. But some of the politicians who have spoken out or taken action against the tariffs—including Republican House speaker Paul Ryan, who was targeted by Canada’s counter-tariffs, and the Republican Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Corker—have already said they won’t run for re-election, theoretically diminishing the threat unhappy constituents would pose to them.

“Clearly across the country, in many places, what they have done is going to adversely affect campaigns for Republicans in the House and Senate where the Democrats have a chance, certainly to win the House, if not the Senate,” said Mickey Kantor, who served as the U.S. trade representative, the highest-ranking trade official in the government, under former Democratic president Bill Clinton.

“And that’s exactly what puts the Republicans under pressure. Now, whether that can pressure this president, is quite another question,” he said.

“Whether or not you can pressure an administration that has no policy, no direction, and no philosophy, I don’t know,” he said.

Mr. Trump took aim squarely at Canada after the G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Quebec last weekend, and a closing press conference in which Mr. Trudeau said Canada wouldn’t be pushed around by the U.S. on trade. Mr. Trump fired off a series of tweets in which he called Mr. Trudeau “meek and mild” and “dishonest and weak.” He left the G7 summit early, refusing to sign onto declarations about reducing plastic waste and climate change.

Mr. Trump’s chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, appeared on CNN Sunday that Mr. Trudeau had “stabbed us in the back.” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told Fox News “there’ a special place in hell for for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J.  Trump,” referencing Mr. Trudeau.

‘Dicey’ for Republicans to take on Trump

The Democrats are thought to have a strong chance of taking back majority control of the House from the Republicans in November’s mid-term elections, needing to win 24 Republican seats while keeping their own, with the party polling well and more Republican-held seats appearing vulnerable than those held by Democrats, according to reporting from The Financial TimesThe New York Times, CNN, Fivethirtyeight.com, and others.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump team’s possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election campaign, once completed, could produce evidence that Democrats could use to begin impeachment proceedings. If a majority of House members vote to impeach, the U.S. Senate would ultimately decide whether to accept that decision. Two-thirds of Senators would have to vote in favour of impeachment, The New York Times reported. The Republicans have a majority in the Senate, however, and are thought to have a good chance at holding it after the midterms.

“I’m not sure that he is convinced” that impeachment is a realistic outcome, said the former trade adviser, speaking on a not-for-attribution basis. “And at the end of the day, he doesn’t care about anyone but himself.”

Republicans vying for re-election are under pressure to support Mr. Trump’s actions, as the president can undermine their bids to stay in office by backing their challengers for the Republican nomination, which is not automatically awarded to incumbents, said Maryscott Greenwood, the CEO of the Canadian American Business Council, a government relations consultant at Dentons’ in Washington, and a former U.S. diplomat to Canada.

“That’s why it’s dicey to take him on,” she said.

“What [Mr. Trump] is doing is politically popular in the Republican base among Trump voters,” she added.

Mr. Trump’s White House team is digging into the “loyalty” of Republican members of Congress as it decides which races Mr. Trump should lend his support to, or not, CNN reported last week.  The White House is also considering doubling down, and imposing additional trade penalties on Canada in response to Mr. Trudeau’s retaliatory tariffs, The Washington Postreported last week.

Some Republicans may not feel pressured to react to Canada’s threat of counter-tariffs until it becomes a reality, and businesses in their district start to feel financial pain, said Ms. Greenwood.

Bill Huizenga, the Republican representative for Michigan’s second district, told The Hill Times that delay could be a reality for some lawmakers, but “for some of us it’s very ripe and we want to deal with it.”

“Some polling will say that people are in favour of this, and the population are in favour of this, but part of that might be they haven’t seen some of the ramifications of it. I’m not just talking with Canada and NAFTA. I’m talking larger scale,” he said.

“What I have expressed both publicly and privately is that I’m afraid that the actions from the [U.S.] administration, while they may be well meaning, are a misguided effort to recapture a world that really no longer exists that way that it once did.”

Republican Senator brings bill to rein in president

Sen. Corker made a splash last week by introducing a bill that would force the president to seek approval from Congress before introducing tariffs under national security provisions of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which Mr. Trump used to bring in the penalties against steel and aluminum from Canada and other countries.

That bill would apply to any decisions made in the past two years as well, essentially giving Congress a veto over Mr. Trump’s tariffs on Canada. Sen. Corker has support from nine other Senators in both parties, The Denver Post reported. The bill has a tough road ahead, however. Time to pass it before the midterms is running short, with a summer break looming. The former trade adviser said the bill was unlikely to attract enough support from Republicans—wary of a backlash from Mr. Trump—and Democrats, some of whom are protectionist, and favour U.S. trade restrictions.

Mr. Trump called Sen. Corker on the day he introduced the legislation, and the two had what the Senator described as a “lengthy” and “heartfelt” conversation, CNN reported. Mr. Trump would have the power to veto the legislation if it advanced through both chambers of Congress.

Mr. Trump’s treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, also urged the president to exempt Canada from the steel and aluminum tariffs, ABC News reported last week, after Finance Minister Bill Morneau (Toronto Centre, Ont.) and his counterparts in the G7 issued a statement urging him to do so.

Mr. Trump hasn’t shown signs of backing down yet, tweeting late last week that Mr. Trudeau was “being so indignant” and that Canada’s protected dairy sector was “killing our agriculture.”

“Trudeau has no option but to retaliate,” said Mr. Kantor. “Simply because, for domestic purposes, if not anything else, I would assume that the business community and regular folks in Canada are upset at what the U.S. has done and demand that Canada respond.”

Editor’s note: this story was updated online to include the outcome of the G7 summit that ended June 9.

peter@hilltimes.com

@PJMazereeuw

Who put Canada’s tariff list together, and how

Canada’s list of retaliatory tariffs includes 44 categories of steel and aluminum products—a tit-for-tat response to the U.S. tariffs on Canada—and 84 categories of other products, ranging from playing cards to yogurt.

Those other categories in particular were strategically selected by Canadian officials to put pressure on businesses in the electoral districts of influential U.S. Senators and representatives, particularly Republicans.

Public servants in Global Affairs Canada, including in the U.S. embassy and consulates, worked with peers in the Finance, Agriculture, and Innovation departments to assemble the list, according to Global Affairs spokesperson John Babcock. The offices of the ministers for those departments and the PMO and PCO were also involved, he said.

The government tried to ensure the products being considered for inclusion on the list were finished products, and therefore unlikely to be materials Canadian companies rely upon to make their own goods, and to ensure that non-U.S. alternatives were easily accessible for Canadian consumers, said an official from Global Affairs, speaking on background.

Staff in Global Affairs and the Canadian embassy and consulates would have brought in the knowledge of which states exported which products, said Peter Clark, a trade-focused consultant at Grey, Clark, Shih, and Associates and a former trade official for the Canadian government.

“The steel items are a no-brainer—they simply  copied the U.S. list and invited Canadians to comment to ensure they can avoid injury to Canada,” he said.

Canada has sharpened its approach to assembling these retaliatory tariff lists over the years, said Colin Robertson, a vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and former Canadian diplomat in the U.S.. Mr. Robertson said he was involved with similar efforts related to softwood lumber disputes in the 1990s and mid-2000s.

“We worked closely with Finance and Industry [Canada] and our own sector specialists. We did not reach out to consulates,” he said in an emailed statement. “We also have more data crunching capacity today to figure out where goods are produced and link it to congressional districts and states.”

Canada’s last government under prime minister Stephen Harper took a more thorough approach to assembling a list of retaliatory tariffs after the Obama administration supported Country of Origin Labelling requirements—commonly abbreviated to COOL—for Canadian meat.

Finance Canada is responsible for tariffs, and took the lead on assembling the COOL list, said Adam Taylor, a trade consultant for Export Action Global who was working as a senior staffer for then-trade minister, now Conservative MP Ed Fast (Abbotsford, B.C.).

“The bureaucracy are best equipped to know that stuff, because our embassy is supposed to track who’s influential with the administration,” and who you can “raise the ire of” if you need leverage, said Mr. Taylor.

The list of counter-tariffs included orange juice, targeting Florida, an important swing state where Republican Governor Rick Scott is challenging Democratic Senator Bill Nelson for his seat; whisky, targeting Kentucky, the home of Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell; yogurt, targeting Republican House speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin, the second-largest exporter of the product to Canada among U.S. states, after New York; and more.

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G7 Communique?

G-7 Leaders Race to Salvage Consensus

 Updated on 
  • Trump facing a backlash from leaders in Canada over tariffs
  • Meeting could instead end with less-formal chair’s statement
U.S. President Donald Trump, center left, shakes hands with Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, center right, after standing for a family photograph during the G7 Leaders Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, on June 8, 2018.

Photographer: Cole Burston/Bloomberg

Leaders from the world’s richest industrialized nations downplayed expectations they will agree on a formal statement at the end of their meeting, as a brewing trade dispute threatens to upend relations between the traditional allies.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the two-day Group of Seven summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it remains uncertain whether the talks will produce a joint communique. Instead, the host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, could issue a less-formal chair’s statement.

Theresa May, from left, Angela Merkel, Donald Trump, and Justin Trudeau during G7 Leaders Summit in Canada.

Photographer: Cole Burston/Bloomberg

“I cannot say whether there will be a common statement or just a summary,” Merkel said on Friday.

It would mark a rare break in protocol for the group. The consensus documents typically outline a shared vision of global affairs, where the seven countries also undertake commitments on everything from currencies, development aid and international security.Donald Trump, for his part, told reporters at his bilateral meeting with Trudeau that he thought there would be a joint statement coming out of the summit, though he didn’t specify whether he was referring to a final joint communique or to separate side agreements.

A Guide to the G-7 Communique, How It’s Done and Why It Matters

The U.S. president is facing a backlash from leaders in Canada and Europe over tariffs he imposed last week on steel and aluminum, as well as his decisions to walk away from international deals to address Iran’s nuclear program and climate change. Leaders have struggled to find ways of getting through to Trump and persuading him to budge from his pre-established positions.

“This should not come as a surprise to anyone,” said Colin Robertson, vice president at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a former Canadian diplomat, but “I wouldn’t say the walls have come down if we don’t have a communique.”

Robertson said there are other issues on which there will be agreement and the primary significance of these meetings anyhow is that “leaders get together and have those frank discussions.”

Sharp disagreements on trade are making it difficult for nations to come up with the traditional concluding statement from the agreement. French President Emmanuel Macron has said he’ll refuse to sign a formal communique if there’s no progress on U.S. tariffs and other sticking points.

One solution, Merkel said, might be for Trump to withhold his signature from a final document.

“In a culture of open discussion, it’s possible that we don’t agree on all points,”’ Merkel said. “It would be more honest to address the different viewpoints and to continue the work of overcoming these differences, rather than pretending that everything is in order.”

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, speaking to reporters at the summit, said officials are still in talks and “we’ll see where we land.” The G-7 is also working on side agreements for issues such as gender and supporting democracy.

“What we want to see is getting the substance right and in the past that has been done in a number of ways — a chairman’s statement, for example,” James Slack, a spokesman for U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May told reporters.

A senior government official meanwhile said May would warn that countermeasures from the EU would be unavoidable unless tensions were eased quickly. She would also tell other leaders that rather than imposing tariffs on each other, pressure should be increased on China to reduce its excess steel capacity, the person said.

Tariff forum

Concerned about Trump’s approach to tariffs, Merkel on Friday proposed the creation of a “shared evaluation mechanism” on U.S. trade, a forum aimed at defusing tensions between the U.S. administration and the European Union. It’s an idea that has the support of Macron and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, a French official said.

The other six nations are pushing for the G-7 to affirm “collective trade rules” in the communique, the French official said. Trump brought his hawkish trade czar, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, along for the trip.

The tariff standoff is a complicated issue for the EU — each country is exposed to different sectors, and could be impacted differently in the event of an escalation. Trump, for instance, is considering imposing tariffs on auto imports on national security grounds, a move that would hurt major foreign auto producers like Germany.

Merkel has repeatedly called for a strengthening of the World Trade Organization and for the establishment of mechanisms aimed at preventing future trade disputes. It wasn’t clear how her proposed trade forum at the G-7 would differ from the WTO’s dispute resolution functions.

“We need again a multilateral trade agreement,” Merkel said at a business summit last month. “As we all see right now, something has become unstable and the situation is quite difficult. It is therefore important to create a reliable common legal framework and mechanisms for settling trade disputes, which are accepted by everybody.”

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Trudeau and the G7

Canadian internationalism and Trudeau’s leadership in the spotlight at G7

Justin Trudeau’s leadership skills will be tested this week when G7 leaders assemble at the majestic Manoir Richelieu in Charlevoix, Quebec.

Now in its 44th year, it is easy to dismiss G7 summitry as an expensive talk fest. We should look at its  $600 million price-tag as an insurance premium for global wellbeing. And frank talk among leaders of the great liberal democracies is needed now more than ever.

The erosion of public trust in liberal democracies’ institutions – government, business, the media and NGOs –is profoundly disturbing. The public needs to see its leaders taking action on the big issues of the day. The Charlevoix agenda provides that opportunity, covering gender, work, climate, energy, the oceans, protectionism, populism and extremism.

American protectionism will be top of mind in the wake of the steel and aluminium tariffs and the threat of more to come. The G7 finance ministers and bank governors drew the lines last week in Whistler highlighting the “negative impact of unilateral trade actions by the United States.”

Donald Trump will be as welcome as the proverbial skunk at the garden party. The other leaders need to take him on but not give him an excuse to walk out. As chair, Mr. Trudeau’s task is to keep the tone civil and constructive.

In recent weeks Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron have had a go at Mr. Trump on the trade differences as well as Mr. Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal. Perhaps G7 leaders, collectively, can convince him that it is better to reform, not rubbish, the rules-based international system.

A useful outcome would be agreement on how to improve dispute settlement at the World Trade Organization. Leaders should also try to get ahead of the curve and come up with a collective approach to addressing Mr. Trump’s concerns about the auto industry. More tit-for-tat tariffs are not the answer.

The G7 summit is the pinnacle of a year-long process. The deliverables outlined in the final communique will be a measure of Canadian industry in the long process that culminates with the Leaders’ summit.

open quote 761b1bDonald Trump will be as welcome as the proverbial skunk at the garden party. The other leaders need to take him on but not give him an excuse to walk out. As chair, Mr. Trudeau’s task is to keep the tone civil and constructive.

Last week in Whistler, G7 development ministers agreed to make gender equality central to development policy and approved a slew of initiatives. It is a testament to consistent Canadian leadership dating back decades, especially on empowering women, including Stephen Harper’s focus at the UN on maternal and child health. The French promise to pick up the gender baton as they host the 2019 G7 summit.

Leaders are also expected to endorse a practical plan to rid the oceans of plastics. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that 311 million tonnes of plastic were produced in 2014. Without the kind of action proposed by the G7, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.

We can also expect blunt talk from Mr. Trump about allies paying “their fair share” of defence costs.

Canada remains at the low end of G7 nations, as a percentage of GDP spent on defence, but Mr. Trudeau can point to a series of initiatives, taken on his watch, that put Canadians at the sharp end in support of collective security. Canada leads the NATO brigade in Latvia. Our Special Forces are in the Middle East.  Royal Canadian Navy warships are in three oceans and our submarines are now into far waters. An RCAF plane is part of UN surveillance on North Korea. And Canadian Forces will soon be part of the UN peace operations in Mali.

It’s the 60th anniversary of our continental defence alliance. Mr. Trudeau needs to visit NORAD headquarters in Colorado. He should invite Mr. Trump to join him. It would visibly underline to Americans that Canada is a steadfast ally and make a mockery of Mr. Trump’s national security argument – the pernicious excuse for the steel and aluminium tariffs.

A year ago this week, Chrystia Freeland, Harjit Sajjan and Marie-Claude Bibeau spelled out the Trudeau government’s foreign policy. It is built on the themes of multilateralism and collective security with a focus on a feminist development policy and a progressive trade policy.

Each of these themes has guided Canada’s G7 stewardship. How they are reflected in the final communique will be a measure of the new Canadian internationalism and Mr. Trudeau’s standing with his peers.


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Donald Trump and G7

G7: Donald Trump versus the rest of the world

Leaders of seven of the world’s biggest economies are in Canada for what could be most acrimonious G7 summit in years.

A trade war looms as America’s allies threaten retaliation against US President Donald Trump’s trade tariffs.

The leaders of seven of the world’s biggest economies are in Canada for what could be the most acrimonious G7 summit in years.

Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium imports have caused outrage and a war of words with other world leaders.

The US president also finds himself virtually isolated on the Iran nuclear deal and climate change.

A showdown seems imminent.

So are we closer to a trade war that could derail the global economy?And will America First leave America Behind?

Presenter: Elizabeth Puranam Al Jeezera Inside Story

Guests:

Colin Robertson – former Canadian diplomat and vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute

Inderjeet Parmar – department of international politics at City, University of London

Seijiro Takeshita – dean at the school of management and information at the University of Shizuoka

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