Justin Trudeau’s internationalism after six months

What Trudeau needs to do to sustain international momentum

In most countries, a shift from the right to a centre-left government would mean significant policy change.

But this is Canada, a place where the political spectrum runs from F to M as opposed to A to Z, as a former U.S. ambassador once observed.

This is especially true in the broad arena of international policy, where the biggest change wrought by the Liberal majority victory has largely been in style and personality – from the dour and secretive Stephen Harper to the optimistic and open Justin Trudeau.

Actual policy – whether foreign, defence, trade or immigration – is mostly unchanged. The shifts, especially on climate and in the embrace of the 25,000 Syrian refugees, represent more of a restoration of traditional Canadian policies than real policy change, including a return to cabinet government and first ministers’ meetings.

There is also the promise of re-engagement with China – and the likelihood of a free trade agreement there – as well as re-establishing relations with Russia – beginning with our shared interests in the Arctic. It is clear that this government is progressive but pragmatic – as witnessed by its willingness to forge ahead with the $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Mr. Trudeau, more so than Mr. Harper, will be constantly gauging the public mood and appetite for change.

More than most nations, the Canadian sense of self depends on what we do and how we are seen to do internationally. About to mark six months since its election, the Trudeau government and its “sunny ways” enjoys broad support partly because of its visibly activist multilateralism.

But sustaining this momentum will require three things: care, commitment and cash.

The “bromance” with U.S. President Barack Obama should yield dividends on climate, border access and regulatory collaboration and, hopefully, a resolution on softwood lumber. But the Trudeau team’s outreach to congressional leadership must continue if we are to deflect the rising voices of protectionism.

Restoring a dialogue with Canada’s premiers should help advance our trade and climate goals. But deepening North American integration increasingly depends on initiative from state and provincial governments. Mr. Trudeau should invite premiers and governors to the upcoming North American leaders’ summit to showcase his commitment to both trade and climate change.

Before the summit can take place, the government has to deliver on its promise to lift visa requirements for Mexicans or President Enrique Peña Nieto will not come.

Similarly, international agenda overload is also a significant risk. Recognizing that what brings accolades internationally does not necessarily serve Canadian interests requires tough-minded decision-making. And then there is the ambitious domestic agenda: electoral reform, reconciliation with our indigenous peoples and, eventually, balancing the budget.

Getting this done will require considerable discipline and a senior civil service that is innovative and results-oriented. While there was no love lost between the Harper government and senior officials (mutual contempt best describes the relationship with the foreign service) there was comfort in compliance. Mr. Trudeau should not hesitate to make changes if he is to deliver on his agenda.

Finally, the Pearsonian internationalist reputation Mr. Trudeau aspires to restore depends on investments in hard power as well as soft power. We have yet to live down the reputation, as former foreign minister John Manley observed, of excusing ourselves to go to the washroom when the bill arrives.

For a new government, things have gone very well on the international circuit.

As a public relations device, Mr. Trudeau’s post-election message to the world that Canada is back as a “compassionate and constructive voice in the world” was catchy and clever. It clearly differentiated him from Mr. Harper’s mantra, that Canada would no longer “go along and get along with everyone else’s agenda.”

Mr. Trudeau’s multilateral meetings – G20, APEC, the Commonwealth, and then COP21 – went well, and the reviews from foreign chanceries were good, particularly for Canada’s “helpful fixing” during the Paris climate negotiations. At Davos, Mr. Trudeau impressed the plutocrats with his energy and his artful remarks about wanting Canadians to be known as much for our “resourcefulness” as our resources, although it is our resources that pay the bills.

From flattering profiles in Vogue and on 60 Minutes to the accolade of APEC “hottie,” no Canadian leader has enjoyed this kind of attention since Pierre Trudeau.

Justin Trudeau’s celebrity status will fade. If he wants to leave a legacy, he needs creative initiatives buttressed by solid investments in defence, development and diplomacy. As his friend Barack Obama will tell him, the sands of time run quickly.

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Paris Climate Talks

How Paris can bend the curve on climate change

Meanwhile, global temperatures keep rising with the World Meteorological Organization predicting 2015 will be the warmest on record. U.S. President Barack Obama warned last week in Paris that “more and more and more” of economic and military resources are devoted to adapting to the “various consequences of a changing planet.”

Paris is the 21st in an annual series of meetings. The conference of the parties (COP) began after the Rio de Janeiro “Earth Summit” (1992) produced the UN Framework Conventions on Climate Change and Biodiversity. Rio established climate change as a global problem requiring global action.

Rio also acknowledged that because of different stages of industrialization, there would be “common but differentiated responsibilities.” The Kyoto Protocol (1997) interpreted this principle by having developed nations, but not developing nations, taking on specific commitments to reduce their carbon footprint.

Kyoto didn’t fly, largely because of this differentiation. The U.S. Senate rejected Kyoto 95-0. Others, including Canada, withdrew with the result that Kyoto commitments only cover around 14 per cent of global emissions.

Global growth in emissions now comes from large emerging economies as developed nations’ emissions are flattening.

China recently passed the U.S. as the world’s biggest emitter. Any breakthroughs in Paris will owe much to the agreement (2014) by President Obama and President Xi Jinping on targets for their emissions’ cuts. Their agreement shifted the global politics of climate change.

Determining whether Paris is more than just hot air will depend on a series of markers.

First, sufficient buy-in. The “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDC) going into Paris totalled 185 nations covering more than 95 per cent of global emissions. This significantly differentiates Paris from Kyoto and, if it holds, gives both scope and foundation for ongoing progress.

Second, a mechanism for review, verification and renewal. Regular five-year reviews should include ratcheting up provisions to take account of breakthroughs in innovation.

Third, a fund for mitigation and adaptation. Developed countries have pledged a $100-billion Green Climate Fund, with Canada contributing $2.65-billion, by 2020 to help the poorest countries with loss and damage. Some developing nations want developed nations to accept unlimited liability for climate and weather damages but, like Kyoto, this won’t fly.

There is growing recognition that while different countries face different realities and have different responsibilities, it is a problem of the global commons.

The Mission Innovation initiative announced at Paris by 21 leaders, including Mr. Trudeau, pledges to make clean energy available worldwide. Canada has pledged $300-million annually for investment in clean technology and innovation.

That the private sector is stepping up is another positive. As Canadian Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, recently told Lloyd’s of London, climate change is “the tragedy of the horizon” warning that “once climate change becomes a defining issue for financial stability, it may already be too late.”

Last week, the Breakthrough Business Coalition, including Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Alibaba’s Jack Ma, pledged to mobilize billions in investment in “truly transformative” energy solutions. At TED2010, Mr. Gates made the case for innovating our economies to zero emissions by 2050 through a combination of market and innovation incentives and help to the world’s poorest.

After Paris, the continuing process will be both top-down and bottom-up. There are many unknowns: How fast we can develop new technologies; population growth; economic growth; and, especially, political will and commitment.

Within Canada and the United States, the climate debate has got to get past the right versus left divide.

A polarized environment-versus-economy argument makes no sense. As Preston Manning has argued, “conservatives” and “conservation” come from the same root. Margaret Thatcher understood this. Conservative skeptics should read her 1989 speech where the Iron Lady told the United Nations that the “evidence is there and damage is being done.”

Paris can bend the curve on climate change. But success at Paris is not the finale. Rather it is another anchor event in a long marathon that must include changing attitudes and habits across nations and across generations. There is continuing resonance in Ms. Thatcher’s parting admonition at the UN:

“We are not the lords, we are the Lord’s creatures, the trustees of this planet, charged today with preserving life itself – preserving life with all its mystery and all its wonder.”

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Resetting Canada’s North American relationships

Why we need to reset our relationship with the U.S.

Three events last week set the stage for redefining the relationship.

First, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau re-established cabinet government. New ministers lead newly reminted departments with a very different approach to policies, notably on climate change.

Second, President Barack Obama rejected TransCanada’s Keystone XL permit application ending, for now, a seven-year odyssey that dominated and chilled relations between the Harper government and the Obama administration.

Third, coincident with the release of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, China pipped Canada to become the United States’ largest trading partner.

These events set the stage for a strategic re-examination and reset of our continental relationships.

Looking to the Paris climate change conference at the end of the month and building on work already done by our energy ministers, we should find points of convergence with Mexico and the U.S. Why not a North American statement on trilateral climate policy co-operation?

On Keystone, Mr. Trudeau expressed “disappointment” but astutely observed that the U.S. relationship is “bigger than any one project”. He has acknowledged that the most important relationship for any prime minister is that with the U.S. President. Now he needs to act on it. The challenge is to find the leverage points, as Brian Mulroney did with Ronald Reagan on free trade and with George Bush on acid rain.

Start by having his principal secretary meet with the White House chief of staff. The relationship between chiefs of staff, as former Clinton chief-of-staff Leon Panetta once observed, is underutilized. Let them identify the opportunities and risks, convergences and divergences, recognizing that differences are normal but should never become personal.

For Mr. Harper and Mr. Obama, Keystone became personal. We should have recognized that for Mr. Obama, the environment is religion. He sees climate change as critical to his leadership and legacy. As he put it, “approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.”

There are ironies aplenty on Keystone. The U.S. has built the equivalent of 10 Keystone pipelines since 2010. More Canadian oil than ever goes south. We outpace OPEC with volumes over 50 per cent more than when the original pipeline permit was filed in 2008. A record 493,146 carloads travelled by train in 2014 despite the U.S. State Department acknowledgment that pipe is safer and its carbon footprint smaller. A higher percentage of Americans than Canadians favour the pipeline.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi got it right when he said “that one pipe, nearly a metre wide, is being asked to bear all the sins of the carbon economy.”

Rather than getting mad we need to be smarter in managing what will always be an asymmetrical relationship. It means that we must take the initiative, especially on economic issues.

For too long we hid behind the conceit that being the U.S. top trading partner gave us special privileges. It didn’t work. Now China occupies top spot and, eventually, Mexico will pass us.

The reality is that we account for just 15.5 per cent of U.S. trade while the U.S. accounts for 75 per cent of our trade. But with over 60 per cent of our GDP dependent on trade, the U.S. is our preponderant market and the easiest market for Canadian business to gain export confidence.

We need to up our game.

Prime Minister Trudeau’s first ask of President Obama should be to reinvigorate better border access for goods and people and accelerate regulatory co-operation. The Canada-U.S. cabinet committee should be renamed North America and focus on a continental competitiveness strategy. Canada is to host the next North American Leaders summit – to better prepare, delay this until the spring.

Given the critical role of states and provinces for trade and infrastructure, the next first ministers’ conference should focus on trade and getting our goods to market – continental, trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific.

With everything we produce, when we only have one market we are price-takers, so finding new markets is vital.

Take softwood lumber. Like Halloween’s Freddy Krueger, it threatens again with the U.S. termination of the 2006 agreement. We have a year to work out a new deal. Appointing special envoys to find resolution, as we once did with fisheries and acid rain, would make sense.

Closer collaboration with Mexico is essential.

Despite U.S. perfidy, working together during the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations improved our auto deal. Staying united around retaliatory sanctions is the only way to persuade the U.S. Congress to pass remedial country-of-origin labelling legislation.

Pierre Trudeau once described living next to the United States “like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly or temperate the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” As Justin Trudeau is now learning, managing the twitches and grunts is what defines a successful relationship with the U.S.

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Canada and Peacekeeping

Canada can and should do more to support peacekeeping

In an age of displacements created by protracted conflicts, increasingly within states rather than between states, there is an urgent need for peacekeepers. The core principles of peacekeeping – voluntary contributions, consent of all parties, impartiality – still apply. But peace operations are now more complex.

The UN is increasingly mandated where there is no peace to keep. The UN must operate where there are no identifiable parties with which to negotiate. Peacekeepers face asymmetric and unconventional threats requiring them to be flexible, adaptable and mobile.

As first responders, peacekeepers work closely with humanitarian and relief organizations. Peacekeepers set up camps for the displaced, organize fresh water and sanitation, and get civilians out of harm’s way. Peacekeepers police crime, including traffickers and smugglers of people and illicit goods.

Twenty years after the Srebrenica massacres and the Rwandan genocide, hauntingly captured in Romeo Dallaire’s Shake Hands with the Devil, these experiences have taught lessons. Peacekeepers are now given clearer mandates to protect civilians and clearer authority to use force. For UN commanders, decisiveness and good local relationships are critical elements in peacekeeping.

There are currently 16 UN sponsored peacekeeping missions, involving more than 120,000 personnel, including 90,000 troops and more than 13,000 police. Two-thirds of UN peacekeeping missions operate in conflict zones. An additional 22,000 are involved in the African-Union-led peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

Secretary-General Ban says the requirement for peacekeepers will only increase.

Canada may not have invented peacekeeping but we were instrumental in its development. Canadians monitored the truce in Palestine (1948) and Kashmir (1949). During the 1956 Suez crisis, we helped broker the creation of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF). For his efforts Lester Pearson earned the Nobel Peace Prize. Between 1956-2006, more than 120,000 Canadians served in over 50 missions from Cambodia to Congo. More than 25,000 Canadians rotated through Cyprus from 1964-1993.

Our peacekeeping commitment has declined. Today 112 Canadians are involved in various operations including an officer in the Sinai and Cyprus.

Critics, with some justification, argued that peacekeepers had become long-term band-aids to what should be diplomatic solutions. Fair or not, white soldiers confronting angry Africans or Asians also evokes complaints about neo-colonialism. Others argue that our military should first defend the homeland, then our continental and collective security obligations. They are right and peacekeeping complements all of these goals.

Then there is the cost argument.

The UN peacekeeping budget this year is $8.27-billion (U.S.), less than a half of one per cent of the $1.75-trillion that nations spend annually on arms. Developed nations – USA, Japan, France, Germany, U.K. – are the top peacekeeping financiers with Canada in 9th place.

The UN compensation for peacekeepers is about $1,100 a month. It costs considerably more for developed nations to field troops overseas. To keep a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan cost $525,000 (Canadian) annually.

Developing nations now supply most peacekeepers. Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Rwanda and Nepal field more than 5,000 each. At a summit on UN peacekeeping hosted last September by U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden (Canada did not participate) Mexico announced it will now join peace operations.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told defence chiefs “when peacekeeping missions are deployed in post-conflict situations, countries are 50 per cent less likely to experience renewed conflict.” Representing all 193 member states, the blue berets possess unique legitimacy.

Canada can and should do more to support peacekeeping.

First, revive the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre that was closed for budgetary reasons in 2013. During its two decades of operations it trained more than 18,000, representing 150 nations. As Romeo Dallaire observes, peacekeepers always face ethical, moral and legal dilemma. Training, especially on working with local populations, is essential.

Second, we bring professionalism to peace operations. We are good at logistics, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Royal Canadian Air Force lift capacity was recently used for peace operations in Mali. Our Special Forces are very good. The requirement for rapid response obliges our next government to prioritize Forces readiness.

In putting forward the UN resolution creating UNEF, Mr. Pearson told the General Assembly, “We need action not only to end the fighting but to make the peace.” Etched into Canada’s peacekeeping memorial, Mr. Pearson’s words should inspire the Canadian voice at the peacekeeping summit.

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Trans Pacific Partnership, Canada and supply manageament

Canada’s commitment to freer trade about to be tested

Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits the United States this week to talk trade and security with President Barack Obama. They will discuss access for Japanese autos and U.S. agricultural products, major sticking points in concluding TPP negotiations.

Meanwhile, the U.S. legislation giving Mr. Obama trade promotion authority to “fast track” the TPP through Congress moves closer to reality with its passage last week through the relevant House and Senate committees.

When Mr. Obama was elected, there was little expectation that trade liberalization would be part of the Obama legacy. Climate, immigration and health-care reforms were to be his signature achievements but not freer trade because it roiled labour unions and environmentalists – key elements of the Democrat base.

But in 2009, during his first trip to Asia, Mr. Obama embraced the freer trade pact, originally initiated in 2002 by New Zealand, Chile, Brunei and Singapore. With the United States aboard, Australia and then Peru, Vietnam and Malaysia signed on.

At the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Honolulu in November, 2011, Stephen Harper secured Mr. Obama’s consent for Canadian participation on the basis that supply management was negotiable. Mexico also joined the TPP talks and, later, Japan. South Korea and Taiwan have signalled their interest in TPP.

When negotiated, TPP will cover 40 per cent of world trade and promises to be “the most progressive trade agreement in history.” It will reduce tariffs, cover services, procurement and intellectual property and include enforceable standards on labour and the environment.

Strategically, TPP is the economic complement to the U.S. military rebalance to Asia. U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter describes TPP as important as “another aircraft carrier.”

The pressure is on Canada to deal with our supply management practices because, as Mr. Harper recently acknowledged “we as Canadians cannot, alone, stop a deal from happening if we don’t like it.”

For Canada, the significance of the TPP goes beyond setting the standards for future trade deals. It gives trade negotiations a boost. After 14 years, the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round is approaching zombification. The TPP also effectively updates the competitive framework for North America without reopening NAFTA. With TPP membership, we also avoid becoming just a spoke in a U.S. hub.

The U.S. threatens to exclude Canada if we don’t deal on supply management but when it comes to agricultural protectionism, the U.S. also has much to reform. We need to call the U.S. on their export subsidies for dairy products and other technical barriers.

Canada should be a world leader in dairy exports. We make our superb artisanal cheese, with Quebec alone producing more than 300 varieties. We have land, climate and an increasingly competitive industry, if only we would look at it from the right end of the telescope.

Look to New Zealand and Australia. They reformed their supply management practices two decades ago. New Zealand’s co-operatives now export 95 per cent of their milk product.

Studies by our research institutes – C. D. Howe, Macdonald-Laurier, George Morris, Conference Board, School of Public Policy – argue that supply management costs Canadian consumers and stunts industry growth. They provide road-maps for transition from our current costly protectionism to profitable export growth.

Canada was once the “bread-basket” of the world. We should aim to own the global food podium and add dairy and poultry to our export leadership in pork and beef, grains and pulse. But to do so, we need to open new markets in the Pacific and elsewhere.

The Conservatives, Liberals and NDP declare they are committed to freer trade. Each party is equally committed to supply management. Defending supply management is part of our political DNA, laments John Manley, a former industry minister and now CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. He compares it to “a dog that it is better not to poke or it will jump up and bite you.”

Rather than fear competition, we should take the muzzle off supply marketing and follow former prime minister Brian Mulroney’s advice to open our industry’s “enormous export potential.”

Will our national leaders work with our premiers to reform supply management? Leaving supply management reform to Stephen Harper’s granddaughter is not an option.

The opportunities of membership in the TPP will create benefits that our grandchildren will enjoy. It’s time for us to reform supply management.

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Keystone XL : Time to move on

Keystone XL has sucked up too much energy; let’s move on

Colin Robertson Globe and Mail Tuesday, Mar. 03 2015

It’s time to put the controversy over the Keystone XL permit behind us.

For six years – half the life of the Harper government – Keystone XL has dominated Canada-U.S. relations. It has sucked up energies better devoted to advancing our regulatory and border co-operation initiatives, including those to ease pre-clearance and to set common standards.

XL cast a shadow over collaboration in the Arctic where we might have followed the example of the Nordic nations and shared with the Americans a four year co-chair of the Arctic Council.

Ironically, Canadian oil is flowing into the United States as never before at volumes almost 50 per cent greater than all OPEC countries combined. Most of it goes by pipeline – by far the safest mode of transport – by tanker, barge, road and, increasingly, by rail.

The “Go With Canada” arguments in favour of the pipeline remain sound. The geopolitical argument bears repeating: Why would you treat a reliable ally, sourcing your essential strategic commodity, worse than despotic regimes that fund and furnish Islamist terrorism? Alberta, Premier Jim Prentice observed, is also the only major foreign supplier of oil with a carbon-pricing scheme. And the vast majority of the refined product stays in the United States.

As President, Barack Obama stands singular in his failure to appreciate the strategic importance of Canada to the United States. The XL veto will solidify his position with environmentalists. Those with big wallets likely will open them to his presidential library. As another Chicago South Sider, the great (and fictional) Mr. Dooley, long ago observed “politics ain’t bean bag.”

If the Obama administration has been small in its treatment of Canada, too often the Harper government has behaved stupidly in its dealings with the United States.

It starts, as Brian Mulroney well understood, with the development of a strong personal relationship with the president. Unfortunately, both Stephen Harper and Barack Obama are “cat” persons – their relationship is not the camaraderie that characterized Reagan-Mulroney or Clinton-Chrétien.

Mr. Harper should have recognized that on the environment, President Obama has religion. Apparently oblivious to the signals around potential compromises on climate from U.S. Ambassadors David Jacobson and Bruce Heyman, the Harper government forgot that ours is an asymmetrical relationship: the United States matters more to Canada, than we do to them.

The U.S. pays us little attention not because they don’t like us – they do (more than we like them) – but because they bear global responsibilities. Our contentious issues – energy and environment, trade and economics – don’t have the same weight as war and peace.

With 9/11, we both invested in a North American security perimeter based on the principle of “inspected once, cleared twice.” Faster sea and land lanes mean that our West Coast ports – Vancouver and Prince Rupert, B.C. – benefit from in-transit trade.

But despite U.S. protests, we recently passed legislation specifically preventing in-transit inspection for counterfeit goods. Particularly galling to the Americans was Industry Minister James Moore’s declaration that “it’s a bit of stretch” to ask Canadians to act as a “border filter for all goods destined for the U.S. market.” Yet that is precisely what perimeter security and “inspected once, cleared twice” is all about.

The takeaway from these incidents is that when small meets stupid we both lose.

Accommodation on all of these issues is doable – something our ambassadors, premiers and governors understand and what business expects of government.

On climate, Gary Doer, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S., has argued for establishing shared standards for emissions, fracking, hydro and the development of a North American energy portrait for strategic infrastructure investments.

To increase trade and investment, Ambassador Heyman has invited U.S. governors to visit and, in two weeks, he co-hosts a D.C. summit to increase joint investment.

Our premiers meet their American and Mexican counterparts this October in their first-ever summit. They will focus on the practical: infrastructure and supply-chain management, education and energy technology. The states and provinces are the best level to address procurement protectionism and to recognize professional accreditation, thus meeting North American labour-market needs.

The tensions afflicting our two national governments are but one level in the multidimensional chessboards of Canada-U.S. relations. We are allied on the increasingly big issues of peace and security. The only damper on the annual migration south of Canadian snowbirds is the plunging Canadian dollar.

Former U.S. secretary of state George Shultz often compares managing Canada-U.S. relations to carefully tending the garden. Mr. Harper and Mr. Obama both need lessons in gardening. Now let’s leave XL behind us and focus on making North America a sustainable, economic powerhouse.

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Keeping weapons out of the wrong hands

Air travel is difficult enough without worrying about missiles

Colin Robertson  The Globe and Mail  Tuesday, Jul. 22 2014

The tragic fate of those aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, apparently downed by a surface-to-air missile, has sparked global public sympathy for the victims and condemnation for those responsible.

Our best hope of containing this threat to air travel is to act quickly by tightening international covenants on access to weaponry that takes down aircraft.

The source of the missile and launcher that downed Flight 17 appears to be Russian but there are other potential sources for would-be copycats. The sources for the Hamas rockets against Israel likely include Iran, Pakistan and China. The arsenal of the new caliphate, declared by the Sunni-led rebellion against the Iraqi government, now includes captured weapons made in the United States.

Since Cain and Abel too many still subscribe to the quip by the amoral arms merchant, Undershaft, in George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara, that “Nothing is ever done in this world until men are prepared to kill one another if it is not done.”

The arms industry is big business. Given human nature, it’s also a necessary business.

The Stockholm International Peace Institute (SIPRI) estimates the global arms trade to be worth at least $43-billion (U.S.) and likely much higher because many states, notably China, do not release data on arms exports.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department reports that our exports of military goods and technology are worth $635-million (Canadian). Most of it goes to fellow NATO allies, but also to countries including Afghanistan, Egypt, Ukraine and Yemen.

Like most countries, we have in place elaborate export controls and safeguard agreements to ensure our weapons are “not prejudicial to peace, security or stability.” We don’t export to nations on the UN sanctions list or those with “a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights.” All goods destined for North Korea or Belarus require a permit.

Even then, no system is fail-safe.

India developed their nuclear weapons capacity in 1974, sourcing from CANDU reactors. It chilled Indo-Canadian relations for decades until Prime Minister Stephen Harper concluded a nuclear co-operation agreement in 2013 under safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In the arms bazaar, nuclear proliferation is the greatest danger.

Like his predecessors, President Barack Obama, is working to contain proliferation through negotiation, sanctions and international law. Slow and frustrating, there is discernible progress.

Notwithstanding current tensions, Russia and the United States completed a new nuclear arms treaty (START) in 2011, setting out new limits on intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads.

Sanctions have brought Iran to the bargaining table in Geneva. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has concluded there is sufficient “tangible progress” to extend discussions beyond the July 20 deadline.

North Korea remains a problem, still firing missiles and rockets, despite continuing condemnation from the UN Security Council.

A series of international nuclear security summits – Washington, Seoul, the Hague – were initiated by Mr. Obama in 2010.

They have resulted in minimizing the use of highly enriched uranium, higher security standards at nuclear facilities and measures to detect and prevent the illicit trade in nuclear materials.

Canada has pledged funds to help non-proliferation efforts, ratified international covenants on suppression of nuclear terrorism and protection of nuclear materials.

There are similar efforts to curb and control conventional weapons, like that which brought down Flight 17.

The United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, to which Canada was a founding contributor, obliges governments to voluntarily supply data on their imports and exports. Seventy nations, including Canada, have done so consistently.

The Wassenaar arrangement of 41 states, including Canada, aims at preventing transfers of conventional weapons or dual-use goods to illegitimate end-users.

As with nuclear non-proliferation, containing conventional weapons remains a work-in-progress.

Given previous Canadian leadership to curb land mines and small arms, the Harper government’s refusal to sign the UN Arms Trade Treaty is perplexing. It deserves a rethink.

Concerted international action, abetted by technology that improves detection and attribution, can work “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” the UN Charter says.

Chemical weapons killed and blinded tens of thousands during the First World War. Popular revulsion led to the Geneva Protocols proclaiming that “the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases … has been justly condemned by the general opinion of the civilized world.”

The prohibition against chemical weapons endures. When breached – most recently by the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria – there has been sanction and remedial action.

Every day, an estimated 5.4 million people board airplanes. By midday, air traffic over Canada and the United States alone reaches an estimated peak of 5,300 flights.

Confidence in global aviation safety obliges action by the international community. Air travel is difficult enough without worrying about missiles.

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Canada and Refugees

Canada got it right on immigration. Now it’s time to lead on refugees

The Globe and Mail  Tuesday, Jul. 08 2014

The international refugee system needs a hand.

“Humanitarians can help as a palliative but political solutions are vitally needed,” remarked Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in recently releasing the UNCHR annual report.

It is a challenge that fits “no longer just to go along and get along,” the Harper government’s bumptious mantra for multilateral affairs. Useful lessons can be drawn from our experience and recent reforms to the Canadian migration and refugee system.

Not since the Second World War are so many displaced peoples – 51.2 million – sloshing within national borders and streaming across international frontiers.

These unfortunates are driven by strife, famine, disease, climate changes, or hopes of better economic prospects. Their description – refugees, asylum seekers, illegal aliens – reflects the receptivity of their temporary hosts.

As part of the liberal international order constructed in the wake of the Second World War, the United Nations 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees enshrined a basic humanitarian principle in law: the right to leave one’s country for sanctuary elsewhere when facing life-threatening circumstances.

Today, their situation is complicated by the changing nature of conflict. Increasingly, in failing states like Somalia, South Sudan and Syria, they are victims of intrastate turmoil rather than inter-state war.

The traditional recipient countries face growing public resistance to refugee resettlement.

No country has been more generous to the dispossessed than the United States. But with an estimated 11 million undocumented people within its borders, the welcome mat is wearing thin. Facing an influx of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America, President Barack Obama is asking Congress for more billions to deal with the new migratory wave.

Europeans are no strangers to displacement and the original UN Convention was designed to address their post-war movement of peoples. Today, there is a pronounced anti-migrant attitude reflected in the success of nativist parties in recent national and European Union elections.

Canadians, by contrast, still see migrants as vital ingredients in our continuing nation-building. We endorse multiculturalism, but without special privileges. We expect newcomers to blend into our society.

We want a migration system that is fair but disciplined.

In government, Stephen Harper resisted the Reform instinct to curb immigration. Appointing Jason Kenney energized the portfolio. Not without bumps, Mr. Kenney brought innovation, reform and order, resetting citizenship and multiculturalism policy.

Canadian immigration expanded with the stress on employable skills. The Gordian Knot of backlogged applications was cut. Citizenship criteria were recast to emphasis our values, our history and the responsibilities of being Canadian.

Our refugee determination system is more expeditious, with improved tracking and information sharing.

No system is perfect. A few jihadists holding, even burning, Canadian passports fuel headlines, but our risk-management system works. One in five Canadians is foreign-born. The visible diversity of our cities defines what the Aga Khan describes as our “robust pluralism.” Mackenzie King’s “none is too many” refugee policy has been exorcised, but as historian Irving Abella reminds us: “A nation cannot move forward without recognizing the darker parts of its past.” With the courts to protect against the “cruel and unusual,” we are finding our way.

Successful integration is hard work. Settlement within Canada means continuing skills development. Acceptance of legitimate credentials earned overseas is still a major hurdle. Accreditation through out guilds is still too protectionist.

We have both research and practical experience in re-settlement.

Canada pioneered the Metropolis research project on urban integration. This network now extends to 70 countries. Community programs like Success and HIPPY set the standard for successful integration by newcomers.

In 1986 the “People of Canada” were awarded the Nansen Medal for our “major and sustained contribution to the cause of refugees.”

Key to the successful integration of successive migrant waves – Eastern Europeans during the fifties and sixties, Ugandans during the seventies and the Indo-Chinese “boat people” during the eighties – was the active involvement of all levels of government as well as churches, unions and community groups.

Marion Dewar, then mayor of Ottawa, launched Project 4000 to resettle Vietnamese refugees. As she said at the time “Four thousand. We’ve got almost 400,000 in Ottawa. Surely we can handle that.”

Ms. Dewar inspired others. Canada would subsequently welcome over 200,000 from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Let’s renew our leadership in refugee resettlement.

Kick-start our 150th anniversary by giving a home to 1.5 million refugees. Make refugees our standing issue on the international circuit.

Canadian self-definition draws from our actions on the international stage. The plight of the refugee is a cause to which Canada brings expertise and experience.


Video: UN High Commissioner Antonio Guterres asks Canada to accept more Syrian refugees

FFor a counterpoint to this piece see

Douglas Todd: Compassion for refugees means more than just letting them in

More effort should go into reducing situations that create world’s poor and desperate people

By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun columnist July 26, 2014

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Douglas+Todd+Compassion+refugees+means+more+than+just+letting+them/10063502/story.html#ixzz3AICncppq

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Keystone and Clean Energy

Why Canada wants to feel more love from the U.S.

Globe and Mail Tuesday, Jun. 24 2014 and in RealClearWorld June 25

Living beside the United States, remarked Pierre Trudeau, is like sleeping with an elephant: “No matter how friendly or temperate the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” The twitching is getting to the Harper government and it has responded with a series of pokes.

A trio of senior ministers – John Baird, Joe Oliver, Greg Rickford – travelled to New York this month to voice what Stephen Harper calls our “profound disappointment” over the delayed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline. Said Mr. Oliver: “This isn’t right, this isn’t fair.”

In Winnipeg, Agriculture Minister Gary Ritz accused the United States of behaving like a “schoolyard bully” over country-of-origin labelling.

Last week in Washington, Ambassador Gary Doer and MP Rob Merrifield delivered an invitation from House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer to Republican House Speaker John Boehner to visit Canada for discussions on KXL and other issues.

If the Obama administration wants further evidence that Canada deserves some attention it should watch the recent exchange between former ambassador Frank McKenna and U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman. “It’s like a marriage. It might be really good for you but I’ve got some problems,” said Mr. McKenna of Canadian frustration over KXL and financing the Windsor-Detroit customs plaza.

Canada-U.S. relations operate on three levels: international, intermestic and people-to-people.

Ours is a complex relationship that goes beyond the traditional diplomatic conventions. Supported by the hidden wiring of connections between provinces and states, business and civil society, it is usually a model for neighbourly relations.

In international summitry, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Harper are aligned on the big-ticket issues of peace and security, banking and finance, even if they differ on approaches to climate change.

The people-to-people relationship is solid. Americans like us more than we like them. We share much in common, at work and at play, although beating Team USA at hockey is now our main Olympic goal.

It’s on the transactional level of trade and commerce that we have problems, with KXL top of the list. For Canada, KXL is the problem with the partner. For the United States, KXL is a problem with a partner.

Hillary Clinton is right when in Toronto last week she told Mr. McKenna that KXL shouldn’t be a “proxy” for the relationship.

But KXL raises the question: Does the Obama administration have a strategic sense of Canada? We now supply more oil to the U.S. than OPEC. Increasingly, it travels by rail although, as the State Department acknowledged again this month, pipe is safer.

Ms. Clinton calls Canada an “indispensable partner,” but we aren’t feeling the love. Any serious White House study should result in renewed appreciation of Canada’s strategic importance. Pushing forward the border and regulatory initiatives would be welcomed.

Franklin Roosevelt set the framework through a series of trade and security agreements. This approach – Canada as a reliable ally; the U.S. as a trusted trade partner – has been followed by most subsequent administrations.

Its logic holds. The emerging international order is looking more like that of Roosevelt’s era – a multipolar system of sovereign states pursuing national interests. It will put a premium on reliable allies and trade partners.

Last month in Montreal, Ambassador Doer outlined a North American clean energy strategy, one that includes water. Water, says Mr. Doer, will make the debate about going from 85 to 86 pipelines “look silly.”

First: energy efficiency – sharing best practices on oil and gas, wind, solar and other alternatives. We’ve already adopted harmonized standards on tailpipe emissions for cars and trucks. Oil patch collaboration is improving environmental performance, especially on water.

We’ve three carbon-pricing experiments under way: British Columbia’s carbon tax; Alberta’s emissions reduction fund; Quebec’s cap-and-trade. Saskatchewan is experimenting with carbon capture and storage.

Second: energy reliability and renewability. Complete the hardening of our pipelines and electrical transmission grid systems and recognize hydropower within renewable energy standards.

Third: oil and gas development. Together, Canada and the U.S. produce more oil than any nation. Add natural gas and we’re positioning for a North American manufacturing renaissance.

Having led the world in shale development, North American energy ministers should develop continental fracking standards for next year’s leaders’ summit in Canada and then present them at the Paris climate talks.

Mr. Doer’s constructive approach underlines another lesson in managing Uncle Sam: We do best when, through initiatives advancing our shared interests, we make their agenda “our” agenda.

On becoming prime minister, Mr. Harper promised a “new tone” in the U.S. relationship, banishing the drama of the later years under Paul Martin.

Twitches and grunts notwithstanding, Mr. Harper’s initial instinct for a constructive approach to the United States is still sensible.

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

More Related to this Story

Safety regulators have placed two extra conditions on TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. One of the conditions requires TransCanada to hire a third-party contractor to monitor the construction. Jameson Berkow has more.

Video: U.S. imposes new conditions on Keystone construction
Video: Joe Oliver on why Ottawa is so dedicated to Keystone
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Preview YouTube video Vidéo CORIM – S.E. Gary Doer

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On the Keystone XL punt

April 20, 2014 9:27 am

Canada should focus on next U.S. administration for Keystone: former diplomat

By Staff  Global News

After the United States, yet again, pressed the pause button on rendering a decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, the time has come for Canada to start focusing its efforts on the people who might form the next administration, said Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat.

“Let’s start targeting who’s likely to be the next president of the United States,” he said in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark. “It’s not that you ignore this administration — there’s still work we can get done with this administration — but we need to look forward. We know who the likely candidates will be. We need to educate them on Canada so we don’t have a president again who doesn’t appreciate the strategic importance of Canada.”

READ MORE: Keystone XL pipeline hit by another delay

The proposed pipeline hit yet another delay this long weekend, when the U.S. State Department effectively paralyzed the project, saying it needs more time to prepare its recommendation to President Barack Obama.

Officials said they need to assess the impact of a court battle in Nebraska that could force a change in the pipeline’s planned route, and so extended the deadline for government agencies to comment, punting the decision past the November mid-terms.

The Prime Minister’s Office was quick to voice its disappointment of the decision, saying the decision was politically motivated.

Robertson, who was at the State Department two days before the move was announced, agreed, saying he has no doubt the move was taken under direction from the White House.

READ MORE: Albertans invited to testify at US hearings on Keystone XL pipeline

“They made the political calculation that as they go into what’s going to be a very difficult November election for the Democrats and the president,” he said. “Everybody understands, the positioning is pretty clear on both sides. This is a political decision, made for political reasons, everything to do with the mid-terms.”

The news from the State Department came just two days after 10 Nobel laureates, including former president Jimmy Carter, signed a letter urging Obama to reject the pipeline proposal.

While ex-presidents and Nobel laureates can try with all their might to influence the president’s decision, their attempts won’t likely be successful, said David Jacobson, former U.S. ambassador to Canada.

“You’d be a fool not to respect Nobel laureates, but I think everybody understands that the only Nobel laureate that’s really going to have a voice in this is one of the last winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, and that’s Barack Obama,” Jacobson said in an interview with Tom Clark.

“There’s a process that’s going on … and I’m not sure letters like the one that came from President Carter and the other Nobel laureates is really going to have all that much impact on the process.”

Signing that letter, Carter became the first former president to come out against Keystone XL.

The Prime Minister’s Office quickly swung back, cautioning the United States to remember 1979, when the oil supply dipped following the Iranian revolution, sparking global panic.

With files from The Canadian Press

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