CBC on Heyman Agenda

6 Canada-U.S. issues set to dominate Ambassador Bruce Heyman’s agenda

By Susana Mas, CBC News Apr 08, 2014 1:36

U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman talks to reporters after he presented his credentials to Governor General David Johnston at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on April 8, 2014. U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman talks to reporters after he presented his credentials to Governor General David Johnston at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on April 8, 2014. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press

Bruce Heyman officially begins his duties as U.S. ambassador to Canada today, nearly nine months after his predecessor, David Jacobson, another Chicagoan, saw his four-year term come to an end last July.

Heyman’s first order of business as U.S. ambassador to Canada is a face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve been invited to go visit with the prime minister at his request,” Heyman said after he was officially welcomed by the Governor General at Rideau Hall.

“I very much look forward to that meeting. It’s his meeting and his agenda,” Heyman told reporters.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement Tuesday evening to say the government congratulated Heyman on his appointment and that it looked forward “to building on the strong economic relationship with the Obama administration.”

“We are committed to advancing shared priorities with Ambassador Heyman, including increasing trade, creating jobs and enhancing the security of our residents on both sides of the border,” the statement said.

Heyman, the first U.S. ambassador to Canada to use Twitter, wore his “lucky” Obama cufflinks and an American-Canadian flag pin given to him by his predecessor when he presented his credentials to David Johnston — a formality that each ambassador must go through before getting started on the job.

Since his arrival in Ottawa, Heyman and his wife Vicki, who are both active on Twitter, have had coffee from Tim Hortons, purchased cookies made famous by U.S. President Barack Obama during his first foreign trip in 2009, and attended Politics and the Pen — an annual fundraiser that brings together a who’s who of politicians, diplomats, journalists and business leaders.

Heyman was hand-picked by Obama to be the top American representative to Canada on Sept. 19, but it took six months for his nomination to work its way through the political process.

A top fundraiser for Obama and a 33-year veteran of Goldman Sachs, Heyman was sworn in during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on March 26, after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 12.

Heyman passed his first test as ambassador on Tuesday when he declined to comment on Monday’s election in Quebec, saying it was a domestic issue.

“I represent the United States in its relationship with Canada. I congratulate the victors and look very much forward to meeting the new premier, as well as all the premiers,” Heyman said.

There is no doubt the ambassador will have his work cut out for him with most of his time focused on the economy, energy, the environment, trade and security.

Here is a list of six issues set to dominate Heyman’s agenda:

1. Keystone XL

No issue has dominated or soured the relationship more than the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry Alberta’s oil to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

“Top of the prime minister’s list is the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline that has been stretched on into its sixth year,” said Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat and current vice-president at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.

In his first public comments on Tuesday, Heyman said he was on the same page as the Obama administration but that he came bearing “no news” other than saying “the process is underway and a decision is forthcoming.”

While the decision could come at any time, it is also possible that it could be punted again due to the U.S. midterms.

“This will be a political decision rather than a decision on its merits,” Robertson said. “If it was a decision based on its merits, we would have had an answer years ago and it would have been affirmative.”

A U.S. State Department report published in January was the most recent in a handful of studies showing that the Keystone XL pipeline would not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions.

2. Energy and the environment

The discussion around the Keystone XL pipeline will give Heyman the opportunity to breathe new life into the energy dialogue, Robertson said.

Heyman addressed the issue when he was asked by reporters on Tuesday whether Canada ought to move forward with legislation to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

‘I think today you can be pro-economy and pro-energy and considerate of the environment.’– Bruce Heyman, U.S. ambassador to Canada

“The president has made it clear, so has the secretary of state: global warming is real. We all have to be cognizant that it’s real and that we’re all affected by it.”

“The United States looks forward to working with the Canadian government and working on these issues.”

Heyman said what concerned him most is the notion that a strong economy would have to come at the expense of the environment.

“I think today you can be pro-economy and pro-energy and considerate of the environment. And we have to work together to accomplish a strong economy but we have to work together to protect the environment,” Heyman said.

In a February letter to the U.S. State Department, Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S. Gary Doer said Canada was “committed to further action including regulations for our oil and natural gas sectors.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in December, the government was “certainly prepared to work with the United States on a regulatory regime that will bring our emissions down.”

3. Windsor-Detroit Bridge

As CBC News reported last week, the Canadian government has been urging the Obama administration to pay for its share of the costs of building a customs plaza on the U.S. side of a planned bridge linking Detroit and Windsor.

Canada has been working under the assumption the U.S. would pay $250 million to build the customs plaza, but a lack of money allocated in the U.S. federal budget in March has sent a signal that funding for the project could be at risk.

Heyman said Tuesday he was familiar with the issue but would not comment further until he had the opportunity to discuss it with the federal government first.

“This is an issue that I look forward to sitting down with members of the Canadian government and just getting a better understanding of where we are,” Heyman said.

Robertson thinks that a possible compromise could be for the two countries to have a shared customs.

“If we’re thinking outside the box and more innovatively, and how we can save taxpayers money, why don’t we just have one plaza?”

“This is a serious but unnecessary irritant,” said John Manley, former deputy prime minister and current president and CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

4. Beyond the border

While there is much work left to do around the joint U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border initiative, Manley said “Canada will need to get its act together on oxycodone.”

Several U.S. officials, from the U.S. drug czar to more recently U.S. senators, have urged the Canadian government to stop the production of a form of oxycodone which has been pouring south into the U.S., where it is banned.

The issue has become an increasing nuisance for the U.S. government, which is taking steps to address the problem domestically, only to see their efforts compromised by Canada’s lax prescription drug strategy.

If Canada wants to address border fees and other irritants to improve border congestion, it will have to address U.S. concerns around oxycodone.

5. Intellectual property

Heyman has already said that intellectual property will be “a priority.”

The U.S. will push Canada to give it the same IP protections for pharmaceutical innovators that are included in the Canada-EU free trade agreement.

“They want to ensure that everything from the films they make to the drugs that they patent are protected,” Robertson said.

“In Canada we tend to give less time for absolute patent protection before we open it up to competition from generics. This is something that the Americans are pushing us on.”

These protections may be important in future negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

6. Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a free-trade deal aimed at further expanding the flow of goods, services and capital across borders between a dozen countries including Canada and the U.S.

The American are pushing Canada hard on supply management with U.S. trade representative Michael Froman recently calling on Canada to put more on the table in its negotiations.

The Americans would like greater access for its dairy and poultry products, but what Canada can get in return is not yet clear, Manley said.

“Moving on supply management is not an easy thing to do,” he said.

‘True friends’

In a speech Heyman gave during his swearing-in ceremony in D.C. last month, the U.S. ambassador described the relationship between the U.S. and Canada as “special but also enduring.”

“The relationship remains strong,” he said

“I believe that individual disagreements enhance the enduring strength of this bilateral relationship, as only true friends have the courage and trust to be honest with one another,” Heyman said.

He spoke about the $2 billion in goods that flow across the shared border, shared resources and military co-operation with the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD.)

“There is more we can and will do together. I look forward to working to drive outcomes,” Heyman said.

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Border Infrastructure delays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Slower than anticipated’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Canada and St. Petersburg G20

Harper needs to play the ‘reliable ally’ card at the G20


The Globe and Mail Wednesday, Sep. 04 2013

Prime Minister Stephen Harper goes to the Constantine Palace in St. Petersburg on Thursday for the G20 summit. He has three roles to play: To be a good friend; a reliable ally; and, always, to be our chief diplomat in advancing Canadian interests.

The backdrop to this summit is Syria, especially now that U.S. President Barack Obama has delayed an armed response until he has the sense of Congress.

In Britain, last week’s House of Commons defeat has left a diminished Prime Minister David Cameron. Mr. Cameron will appreciate the advice of the like-minded Mr. Harper, who also understands the challenges of parliamentary government.

Mr. Cameron and his foreign minister William Hague are Mr. Harper’s staunchest foreign friends and supporters. They are also our steadfast advocates within Europe for the stalled Canada-Europe trade agreement.

Mr. Obama is likewise afflicted by Syria. He comes to St. Petersburg seeking allies. He will welcome Mr. Harper’s assistance in building international support to enforce the norm against the regime of Bashar al-Assad for using poison gas.

When blunt language is required, Mr. Obama can count on Mr. Harper, especially during the almost-certain debate on Syrian intervention with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the lead-up to the Lough Erne G8 summit, Mr. Harper condemned Mr. Putin’s support of the “thugs of the Assad regime” and underlined the “G7 plus one” divide between the West and Russia.

The Harper-Obama relationship is not that of Harper-Cameron, but Mr. Harper understands that the dynamic of a successful Canada-US relationship depends on being a reliable ally.

The Keystone XL pipeline permit process is frustrating but Mr. Harper will recognize that the Canadian ‘ask’ has evolved into another pawn in the polarized world of Washington politics. Mr. Harper can help our cause by giving the President a preview of our forthcoming oil and gas regulations and their contribution to abating climate change.

A useful contribution to collective trade liberalization would see the two leaders recommit to their initiative on border access and regulatory alignment. We need to match the progress we have made on perimeter security with an expedited flow of people, goods and services.

Mr. Harper should push Mr. Obama on country-of-origin labelling, a noxious piece of U.S. protectionism that is effectively blocking Canadian beef and pork exports. It is also an issue on which he and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto can make common cause.

Curbing protectionism is a constant challenge. In the last year, the Global Trade Alert has catalogued a record 431 new protectionist measures with the majority imposed by G20 nations. With our economic growth dependent on trade, Canada has vital interests in further trade liberalization.

In his separate meetings with fellow leaders, Mr. Harper needs to advance the Canadian case for the Canada-Europe trade agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Trans Pacific Partnership would cover 40 per cent of global economic output and about a third of world trade. It aims to become the gold standard for other trade pacts. With key leaders present in St. Petersburg, side conversations can help set up progress at the next round in Bali. Canada and the U.S. have both committed to concluding the TPP negotiations this year.

If only the Canada-Europe talks could progress that quickly: Now into their fifth year of negotiations, the Europeans are increasingly skeptical that Mr. Harper wants a deal.

The Europeans thought it would be done by the end of January. The British were ready to run interference for us in Lough Erne but the offer was apparently declined. The European leadership from Brussels will be in St. Petersburg.

Mr. Harper should seize the moment and conclude the deal. When it comes to trade liberalization, half a loaf is much better than none.

European attention is rapidly shifting to the potential deal with the United States, while the EU leadership who have invested in this deal, will change next May with the EU elections.

Credit Paul Martin, Mr. Harper’s predecessor, as the architect of the G20. As Finance Minister, Mr. Martin showed foresight in recognizing that globalization obliged a new, more inclusive forum to act as the clearing house for global financial and economic issues.

The worth of summits is rarely reflected in their communiqués. More will draft that document than will read it. The utility of summitry is the process of consultations leading into the summit and then in the frank talk between leaders when they meet. What happens at the main table is usually less relevant than in the corridor discussions. It is there that things get done.

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Trilateral Summit in Washington

From Ipolitics April 2, 2012:  The North American idea

by Colin Robertson,

When Barack Obama welcomes Stephen Harper and Felipe Calderon into the Oval Office on Monday, the leaders will smile and the cameras will click.

But will there be anything more to report than the usual bromides about the need for greater cooperation and collaboration at this latest iteration of the three amigos?

Probably not.

Sadly, the idea of closer economic integration creating an uber-North America — effectively a customs union between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico that would marry resources, labour and market — is on life-support.

For Stephen Harper, the first priority is on making the Canada-U.S. border more accessible, while enthusiastically embracing a ‘Trade R Us’ approach through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal with the European Union and a smorgasbord of bilateral agreements. For Barack Obama, the priority is on creating jobs against what is shaping up as another polarizing election. For Felipe Calderon, the focus continues to be on battling the drug cartels. Calderon is in his last months as president and the July election will likely see the defeat of his party and the return of the long dominant establishment PRI.

Since NAFTA, the continental association has seldom gone beyond a pleasant conversation on aspirations, with a couple of notable exceptions including pandemic planning in the wake of H1N1 or, as it was initially known, the Mexican swine flu. Unfortunately, the substance of the ‘trilateral’ summits quickly descends first into the U.S. relationship with Mexico, because Mexican issues are top of mind for the American president, and then, time permitting, the U.S. relationship with Canada.

This dual bilateralism has left Canadian practitioners with the view that Canadian interests are better advanced dealing directly with the United States. They are mostly right although, as we’re learning yet again in the latest initiative to expedite border access, if getting the framework agreement is difficult, achieving measurable results is an even bigger hurdle. It requires consistent effort and continuing high-level instruction to shift a post 9-11 bureaucratic mindset that has still to understand that you can have both secure frontiers and economic integration.

NAFTA, the anchor for trilateralism, has never enjoyed the popular acclaim that it deserves.

Canada was initially a reluctant partner – we signed on for reasons similar to what is taking us into the Trans-Pacific Partnership – so as to avoid becoming a spoke in the American hub.

For the Americans, the decision was strategic: give Mexico a hand-up that would create jobs, a market and keep Mexican migrants at home. It worked, but only to a degree. Many of the maquiladoras that initially sprung up across the U.S. border have long since been dismantled and reassembled in China. Mexico’s northern states are now a war zone. In the USA, NAFTA has become a synonym for job loss and outsourcing.

It’s too bad because NAFTA did what was intended for all three partners. From 1994-2001, NAFTA trade tripled and foreign investment quintupled among the partners. Intra-regional trade accounted for 46 per cent of the three amigos international trade — up from 36 per cent in 1988.

Then came 9-11.

America reasserted its borders and a combination of the rise of China, slowing economies and the existential war with the cartels saw intra-regional trade slide back towards its pre-NAFTA levels.

At Waco in 2005, George W. Bush tried to revive the trilateral idea with the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). But the SPP suffered from too many little objectives (over 400) without focus or political will. While the North American Competitiveness Council did good work, its pro-business orientation made it an anathema to the new Obama regime and the SPP process petered out.

It’s too bad because a key feature of globalization is the successful development of intra-regional trade – Europe showed the way and now Asia and Latin America are following suit. With labour, resources and the biggest market in the world, North America is well placed.

But it requires a willingness to look at the kind of bold ideas outlined in Robert Pastor’s vision of a continental future, The North American Idea (2011). A tireless champion of the North American idea, Pastor makes a solid argument for a customs union involving labor mobility and coordinated infrastructure, with a special focus on energy and transportation.

The energy dimension is further explored by the Peterson Institute’s Jeff Schott and Meera Frickling. In their useful NAFTAand Climate Change (2011), they recommend harmonized renewable energy standards, regional cap-and-trade regimes, and a coordinated mapping of carbon capture and storage sites.

The ideas are there. So is the potential for growth.

Canadians are well aware of the importance of the U.S. market, but we sometimes forget that Mexico is more than a cheap winter holiday. The World Bank and International Finance Corporation’s Doing Business 2011 report declared this NAFTA partner as the easiest place in Latin America to run a company. The International Monetary Fund says Mexico’s economic growth will eclipse that of the U.S. and Canada from now until 2015, and Goldman Sachs predicts that in 40 years Mexico will be the world’s fifth-largest economy — bigger than Russia, Japan or Germany.

Canadian companies, like Bombardier, RIM and Magna, already have a significant manufacturing presence in Mexico as part of their North American supply chain. Walk down any main street in Mexico City and you are likely to see the red and white signature of Scotiabank, now Mexico’s sixth largest retail bank.

We have opportunities in Mexico and a useful outcome of today’s meeting would be an announcement that we are lifting the visa requirement for Mexicans that was clumsily imposed in July 2009. Designed to assuage our refugee determination system, a made-in-Canada problem, it has since been corrected by legislation.

Alas, in current circumstances there is neither the political will nor popular support for the North American idea. This is why at today’s trilateral summit we should not expect much beyond a photo and aspirational declarations of good intentions.

But, after a two year hiatus, that it is even happening at all is cause for cheer. While we await more propitious circumstances, the North American idea remains alive.

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Beyond the Border Deal

Weekend Anchor Brian Dunstan of SUN TV interviews Colin Robertson on cross-border shipments and the differences between NAFTA and the new Border Accord

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US Starting to work collaboratively on the border

From Embassy US starting to work collaboratively on the border, instead of alone: Experts by Anca Gurza July 21, 2010

Former diplomat Colin Robertson, now a senior research fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute…”Countries move unilaterally,” he said. “We pass legislation in the interests of Canadians, the Americans pass legislation in the interests of Americans, but it does impinge sometimes on other countries.” It is not surprising Canada is in response mode sometimes, since it is the US that was attacked and it is now taking measures to protect its homeland, Mr. Robertson said. Mr. Robertson said he has also noticed an improvement with the recent announcement of infrastructure information sharing, but said there’s always been an element of collaboration between Canada and the US after 9/11. “Even though the closed things down, there was a recognition certainly in the Bush administration and now in the Obama administration that we have to make sure we balance our security requirement with our largest security requirement, which includes economic prosperity,” he said.

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Canada’s biggest problem? America

From Macleans.ca by Luiza Ch. Savage on Wednesday, October 7, 2009  Canada’s biggest problem? America From protectionist policy to border security to environmental laws, our best friend is making our lives miserable

Better late than never, says Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat in Washington. “It’s been five years since a Canadian prime minister has been out there in a formal sense,” says Robertson, a senior fellow at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University.

“It is entirely appropriate for the Prime Minister to go to Congress—he is our legislator-in-chief. If we started doing that on a consistent basis, that will give us more credibility. It opens the conversation on future engagement,” he adds.To address concerns about border security, Robertson says the heads of Canadian security agencies such as CSIS and the RCMP, and their U.S. counterparts, should jointly educate members of Congress about the deep bilateral co-operation in law enforcement and intelligence. “If you send that information to Congress, it will make it easier on border issues,” he says. Likewise, Robertson says Canadian labour should take an aggressive role in pressing top U.S. labour leaders on protectionism that hurts Canadian unions. “A third of Canadian unions are affiliates of U.S. unions. It’s brother hurting brother,” he says. “Canadians need to work the American system the way the Americans themselves use it. You have to play by American rules.”

Myers agrees. “It’s clear Canada won’t go far just by trying to encourage the U.S. to do us favours,” he says. “We have a lot of work to do to build a stronger voice among stake-holder groups like business associations and labour associations across Canada and the U.S. to say that we are in this together.”

But when it comes to direct dealings with the Obama administration, Canada has to walk a fine line between raising bilateral issues and trivializing the relationship. “Because of the U.S.’s position in the world, the President is dealing with international issues, whether it’s Afghanistan, Iran or North Korea,” Wilkins says. “Those are the primary focus. It behooves any country dealing with the U.S. to talk about the international issues before you turn your attention to wait times at the Peace Bridge.”

Robertson has much the same message. “With the Americans we tend to focus on just the little neighborhood stuff,” he complains, noting that the Canadian emphasis on bilateral irritants came to irritate Bush’s secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. “She would say, ‘Here come the Canadians with their condominium issues.’ ” Robertson, for one, regrets that Harper raised the issue of hockey flights at his tête-à-tête with Obama, rather than leaving it to ministers and ambassadors. “It makes them wonder: are we dealing with a border state governor or a serious G8 nation? We tend to ratchet stuff up because we think this is what the public wants. But the public wants results. A lot of stuff the President can’t resolve.”

Meanwhile, Robertson says, the U.S. is strongly interested in the Canadian perspective and Canadian contacts on issues from Afghanistan to Pakistan to the western hemisphere. Indeed, the outgoing Canadian ambassador to Washington, Michael Wilson, has called Canada’s military role in Afghanistan the “best calling card I had” in Washington. When that military commitment winds down, it will not make the Canada-U.S. relationship any easier. “That’s going to be front and centre for the government, for Parliament, for some time, as to how we handle this in a way that doesn’t undermine the terrific goodwill that we have,” he told Maclean’s in a recent interview.

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