Trump and Trudeau

Trudeau’s imminent meeting with Trump carries substantial political risk

By Chris Hall, CBC News Posted: Jan 31, 2017 5:00 AM ETLast Updated: Jan 31, 2017 7:49 AM ET

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is preparing to meet as early as this week with U.S. President Donald Trump, a visit intended to underscore the deep economic and security ties between the two countries.

But it also carries substantial political risk.

While the date and location have yet to be confirmed, Canadian sources say the prime minister wants to sit down with Trump as soon as possible to explain the importance of the cross-border trade relationship that’s worth more than $660 billion annually and supports millions of American jobs.

Trump, as anyone who follows the news will know, is a free-trade skeptic. He’s said the Keystone XL pipeline should be built, but only with American steel. He’s made it clear that companies looking to expand or build should do so in the U.S. or face stiff tariffs.

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Trump addresses the ‘Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration’ at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Jan. 19. He and Trudeau have already spoken three times by phone. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

But economics is only one of the course requirements Trudeau needs before his first face-to-face encounter with Trump. National security and values are the other big ones.

The prime minister will have to convince Trump that Canada’s decision to admit 40,000 Syrian refugees doesn’t pose any security risk to the U.S.

That task took on far more importance on the weekend when Trump signed an executive order banning all citizens from Syria and six other predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

The decision created chaos for travellers and has been condemned by many around the world. On Saturday, Trudeau tweeted, “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith.”

It was retweeted more than 420,000 times, the kind of activity that might very well have caught the eye of a U.S. president who uses Twitter to take on his critics and make policy announcements.

“The prime minister will have to tread very carefully,” says former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson, a vice-president and fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

“He has to make it clear that Canada is a reliable ally and important trading partner, but at the same time Canadians will expect him to be the champion for progressive policies.”

The risks

Trump invited Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to Washington this week for separate, bilateral meetings, to be followed by a Three Amigos summit to discuss North American issues.

But the Pena Nieto visit was cancelled after Trump signed an executive order to begin the design and construction of his promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mexican government officials tell CBC News they understand Canada will go ahead with its meetings to defend its own interests. Mexican newspapers have been less charitable. “Canada abandons Mexico in NAFTA negotiations” was a headline in El Excelsior.

Officially, the Mexican officials remain hopeful that Canada will continue to stress the importance of NAFTA and Mexico’s role as a partner.

USA-TRADE/NAFTA-MEXICO

Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto gestures as he delivers a message about foreign affairs in Mexico City on Jan. 23. He cancelled a visit to Washington after Trump signed an executive order to begin work on a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

There’s also a risk of alienating progressive Canadians by meeting with Trump at all.

New Democrats argue Trudeau needs to be much more forceful in denouncing Trump’s travel ban. But Conservative MP Randy Hoback says priority No. 1 is to keep the border open to Canadian goods.

“He should focus on those things that reinforce the partnership.”

In other words, when Trump talks about getting back into coal-fired power generation, Trudeau should talk up Canada’s carbon-sequestration technology.

If Trump wants to talk about border taxes, the prime minister should remind him that 35 states list Canada as their largest trading partner.

Whatever he does, Trudeau is sure to be criticized.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, the first foreign leader to meet Trump at the White House, is under considerable pressure to withdraw an invitation to have him visit the U.K. The Independent newspaper reported Monday that a petition calling on the government to cancel the state visit has a million signatures.

US Trump Britain

Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May walk at the White House on Jan. 27. May invited Trump to visit Britain, but a million petitioners have reportedly asked her to cancel. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

Greg MacEachern, a former Liberal staffer who runs the Ottawa office of Environics Communications, says Trudeau has a duty to meet with Trump even if the president’s statements about women, Mexicans and other groups are so at odds with his own commitment to inclusiveness and equality.

“The prime minister can still stand up for Canadian values,” he says. “But the U.S. is just too important a trading partner, and Trump’s campaign was so heavily focused on jobs and trade, that there’s no other choice.”

The goal

Trudeau and Trump have spoken on the phone three times since the president’s election victory in November, most recently on Monday when Trump called to offer his condolences and support following the shooting at a Quebec City mosque that killed six and left five others with critical injuries.

Key cabinet ministers like Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr and Transport Minister Marc Garneau are planning visits to Washington, as soon as their American counterparts are confirmed by the U.S. Senate, to discuss energy and infrastructure priorities and to show how Canadian and American interests in these areas intersect.

And Andrew Leslie, the new parliamentary secretary for Canada-U.S. relations, who knows a number of Trump’s cabinet ministers from when they were all ranking military officers, has already been several times.

The goal here is to show Trump that Canada is a safe, dependable and valued partner. Even when, as last weekend shows, there are issues on which the two will disagree.

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Joe Biden Visit

Joe Biden drops in for a visit without any gifts: Chris Hall

U.S. vice-president could provide insight about what to expect from next administration

By Chris Hall, CBC News Posted: Dec 08, 2016 5:00 AM ETLast Updated: Dec 08, 2016 7:57 AM ET

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden will arrive in Ottawa on Thursday for a two-day official visit.

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden will arrive in Ottawa on Thursday for a two-day official visit. (Jessica Hromas/Reuters)

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He’s just a few weeks away from becoming just another ordinary Joe. But that’s not stopping U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden from making an official visit to Ottawa, where the Canadian government will roll out the red carpet.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will play host to Biden at a dinner on Thursday night that’s being billed as an occasion to celebrate the Canada-U.S. relationship.

The next morning, the man who’s been Barack Obama’s No. 2 for the past eight years will meet with premiers and Indigenous leaders who, by happy coincidence, are in the nation’s capital for their own two-day visit with the prime minister to discuss climate change and health care.

USA-ELECTION/OBAMA-TRUMP

President-elect Donald Trump is getting ready to take over the White House from Barack Obama, which might explain why some files that concern Canada seem to have stalled. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Biden will hold bilateral meetings with Trudeau on Friday to discuss the “strong partnership” between Canada and the U.S. He’ll then join the first ministers to discuss the state of Canada-U.S. relations as well as other global issues.

But, given the season and all, anyone expecting Biden to come bearing gifts will be disappointed. There’s been no deal brokered in the final days of the Obama administration to resolve the softwood lumber dispute. No new measures to co-ordinate climate change policies. No pipeline approval wrapped up neatly with a bow.

What to expect from Trump

“It’s really a salutary visit intended to make Canadians feel good about the relationship with the U.S.,” says Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington. “There’s not much of substance for him to offer when he’s unconnected to the incoming administration of Donald Trump.”

That’s not to dismiss the visit as merely the first stop of a Biden farewell tour. As vice-president, and before that as a two-time chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, he’s well-positioned, as one Canadian diplomat put it, “to showcase the bilateral relationship.” Perhaps most importantly, he can at least explain what Canadian politicians should look for when Trump becomes president next month.

“There are a lot of concerns about the Trump election and what it means for trade and the border,” says former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson, who’s now a vice-president and fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

“As a former longtime senator, Biden can underline that while presidents have a lot of power, the checks and balances inherent in the U.S. system mean that major legislative changes require congressional approval.”

Even though the Republicans control the House of Representatives and the Senate, that doesn’t necessarily mean Trump will always get his way.

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Some of Trump’s statements and tweets have caused real concern in Canada. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

It all speaks to the ongoing uneasiness caused by what Trump’s been saying (and tweeting) on any number of issues that directly affect Canada, and the growing uncertainty about whether the president-elect actually means what he says.

There’s no shortage of these pronouncements. Trump’s going to scrap NAFTA, withdraw U.S. support for the Paris climate accord, roll back the number of Syrian refugees, tighten the border and end the days when freeloading members of NATO could simply count on American military might.

Dawson would add the near-certainty that Trump’s trillion-dollar infrastructure pledge will re-insert Buy American provisions that would exclude Canadian manufacturers and producers.

“Canada needs to be vigilant to avoid becoming collateral damage,” she says. “That’s something on which the vice-president can offer some reassurance that the deep ties between the two countries, at the operational and regulatory level, will remain intact.”

Reputation for plain talk

Biden’s own reputation for plain talk and straying from talking points may not rival Trump’s. But it could benefit Canadian politicians who want an unvarnished view of where this critical bilateral relationship is heading. Biden’s the one most likely to deliver it.

The visit even offers an opportunity for ordinary Canadians to contribute their own Joe Biden memes. The collection of captioned photos in which the vice-president concocts all sorts of plans to sabotage Trump’s arrival at the White House has flourished online since the Nov. 8 election. It’s helped burnish what The New Yorker has called Biden’s “singular place in the pop culture of American politics.”

Trudeau, of course, is no slouch as a pop culture icon.

The prime minister’s closeness to Obama is well-documented on both sides of the border. It goes beyond the shared ideologies of Liberal and Democrat to the kind of working relationship between a prime minister and president that, in the past, produced treaties on free trade and acid rain.

It doesn’t seem likely that Trudeau and Trump will forge that bond.

So the Biden visit, at least, reinforces the connection with the outgoing administration, and could help nail down decisions on outstanding issues, such as mutual co-operation in the Arctic and the legislation to expand the number of locations offering customs pre-clearance for U.S.-bound travellers, before Trump sits in the Oval Office.

It’s not much. But these days, it’s all the soon-to-be ordinary Joe really has to offer.

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Trump: the morning after

The American people have made their decision but what does that mean for Canada?
Nov 9, 2016

http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/ottawa-morning/segment

Canada/U.S. relations under Trump  CBC National 

Air Date: Nov 09, 2016 9:33 PM ET

Canada/U.S. relations under Trump2:21

The two countries are close partners. Is a Trump presidency going to strain that?

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Congress and the US Election

Forget Clinton and Trump — it’s Congress that matters most to some Canadians

A border deal, a trade deal, climate change co-operation all hang on partisan makeup of next Congress

By Matt Kwong, CBC News Posted: Nov 07, 2016 5:00 AM ETLast Updated: Nov 07, 2016 6:59 AM ET

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan speaks to the assembled House after being elected as the new Speaker in Washington in October 2015.

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan speaks to the assembled House after being elected as the new Speaker in Washington in October 2015. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

Repeal this, legislate that, nominate them.

U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump can make all the campaign promises they want, but they won’t be able to accomplish much without Congress.

While the fight for the White House gets all the sizzle in this fiery election season, Canadian interests are also watching the down-ballot races as our superpower neighbour to the south — our biggest trading partner  — shuffles seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives. More than 400,000 people flow back and forth across the Canada-U.S. border each day.

At stake for Canada? Anything from trade pacts to ease of cross-border travel, taxes on goods, a potentially lucrative project for Hydro-Québec and climate change co-operation.

Border Crossing Fee 20130422

Traffic makes its way from Windsor, Ont., to the Ambassador Bridge that connects Canada to the United States. In the dwindling days of the current Congress, a border pre-clearance agreement has stalled. (Mark Spowart/Canadian Press)

Whoever takes over the Oval Office, just as important to Canadians will be what the partisan composition is in the U.S. chambers.

“It’s what I’ve been telling Canadians for a long time,” says Maryscott Greenwood, senior advisor with the non-partisan Canadian American Business Council. “I know everybody’s obsessed with Trump-Clinton, but really, let’s also think about the Congress.”

Colin Robertson, a former diplomat and vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, notes that as a general principle, “Democrats are less sympathetic on trade and bring in more Buy America legislation.” But both Clinton and Trump have offered protectionist views on trade policies.

Either way, it’s a moot point “because you work with whoever’s there,” he says.

How Congress approves future judicial appointments will matter because the U.S. Supreme Court, while not holding jurisdiction in Canada, often makes decisions that are of interest to Canada.

‘How we approach things is so closely linked — because of our economy, our environment — that we tend to move in tandem.’ – Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute

“How we approach things is so closely linked — because of our economy, our environment — that we tend to move in tandem,” Robertson says.

While it appears to be an increasingly distant possibility that the Democrats will be able to flip the Lower House to their control — requiring at least 30 seats from the Republicans — a Democratic-majority Senate looks within reach.

Were that to happen, Greenwood notes that the Upper House would have two members from Washington State, Democratic senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, in powerful committee positions.

As for why that matters to Canadian trade policy?

Both senators have played active roles in matters to do with the Port of Seattle, arguing that Canadian ports have unfair advantages over U.S. ports.

The senators have tried to introduce legislation to slap a fee on all containers entering the U.S. via Canadian and Mexican ports.

“A border tax on all cargo,” as Greenwood describes it. “And it hasn’t seen the light of day or been passed in[to] law so far because Murray and Cantwell weren’t senior enough” to be able to broker the kinds of deals they might have coveted.

Apple Dumping

Container ships sit moored at the Port of Seattle, which is in the constituency of two Democratic senators for Washington state who say Canadian ports have an unfair advantage over U.S. ports. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

TPP up in the air

Then there’s the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The largest regional trade pact in history includes Canada, the U.S. and 10 other signatories, but if Washington doesn’t want anything to do with it, Canada probably won’t want to either.

“It would be in Canada’s interests not to try navigating the Asian trade pond by itself,” says Geoffrey Hale, a policy expert on U.S.-Canada relations with the University of Lethbridge. “It’s a lot easier to slipstream behind the Americans in these waters than to try to cobble together alliances” with the Pacific Rim countries involved.

Clinton has denounced TPP, which she at one time hailed as a “gold standard” in trade agreements. Trump exhibits a rather un-Republican opposition to free trade, slamming it as “the death blow for American manufacturing.”

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Delegates protesting against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement hold up signs at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 25, 2016. (Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters)

Obama’s fast-track on TPP was achieved with Republicans in the House and Senate, not within his own party.

Greenwood isn’t betting on the prospect that Obama will be able to push its passage through a lame-duck Congress, believing TPP will instead “wither on the vine.”

Border bill stalled

Likewise on the climate change front, Hale says the likelihood of coherent climate change legislation coming out of Congress in the coming session is slim. Hale says the “modest Democratic majority” projected for the Senate wouldn’t give Clinton much room to manoeuvre.

“The [Canadian] government would be absolutely insane to take a very aggressive, unilateral approach on climate change if the United States was doing absolutely nothing,” Hale says.

A Canada-U.S. border pre-clearance agreement also has been stalled. Passage of the bill, which in Canada received first reading in the House of Commons in June, would expedite commerce and allow pre-cleared travellers to skip long customs lines.

Although the deal has bipartisan support in the U.S., there’s precious time left to pass the law. And once the new session of Congress begins, “you’ve got to get started from go again,” Greenwood says.

Canadian interests are hot topics in local congressional races this year.

In New Hampshire, voters worry about the “Northern Pass,” a $1.7-billion joint proposal from Hydro-Québec and New England’s Eversource to export 1,000 megawatts of hydro power to the northeastern U.S. The controversial 309-kilometre high-transmission line would cut a swath through idyllic New Hampshire landscapes. Republican Senate candidate Dolly McPhaul opposes the plan, which would run through her district, and has focused her campaign on the issue.

In Alaska last month, Senate candidates on public radio debated how B.C. mineral mining upstream was affecting water flowing into southeast Alaska and threatening the state’s fishing industry. Republican senator Lisa Murkowski faced a grilling from independent Margaret Stock on creating an international commission to look into the matter.

Robertson, the former diplomat, notes that when the U.S. election ends, Canada’s wheeling and dealing only just begins.

“We have permanent interests for whoever’s there. We work with whoever we can to find our way in,” he says, adding, “For Canada, it’s a permanent campaign.”

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Justin Trudeau goes to China

Trudeau visits China: 6 things to watch

Prime minister leaves today for his first official visit to Beijing

By Susan Lunn, CBC News Posted: Aug 29, 2016 5:00 AM ETLast Updated: Aug 29, 2016 12:48 PM ET

Media placeholder

Trudeau departs for China and G20 1:20

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau departs for his first official visit to China, Canada’s second-largest trading partner, here are six things to watch.

How warm a welcome?

When Stephen Harper first went to China in 2009, the prime minister received a frosty reception and was famously chastised by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao for not visiting sooner.

And that was when journalists were still in the room.

A senior official quipped afterwards that the reception was so frosty, icicles nearly formed on the mirrors in the room at the Great Hall of the People.

Trudeau has been critical of the Harper government’s handling of the relationship.

“Over the past government’s mandate, unfortunately, relationships with China were somewhat inconstant. They went from hot to cold depending on the issue, depending on the day, it seemed,” Trudeau said Monday.

TRUDEAU CHINA TRIP 1973

Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai toasts Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau during a banquet held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct. 11, 1973. (Peter Bregg/Canadian Press)

By all accounts, Trudeau should receive a much different welcome.

“The name Trudeau is almost as good as being [revered Canadian doctor Norman] Bethune, because it was, after all, Pierre Trudeau who took the step to recognize China in 1971,” said former diplomat Colin Robertson, who at one point was posted in Hong Kong.

Robertson noted Justin Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping also have something in common: they are both sons of famous fathers.

“So he starts off well past first base, whereas Stephen Harper was still working his way to first base even when he got there.”

Progress on a free trade deal?

As Canada’s biggest trading partner behind the United States, China would like a free trade agreement with Canada.

The previous Conservative government produced studies on the idea that were positive, but not much has been done since.

What will Canada agree to during this visit? Exploratory talks? Or more study?

Robertson said he doesn’t think the Trudeau government has decided yet, and that could be a problem as officials get ready to sit down with the Chinese.

“When you negotiate with the Chinese, despite the tea and buns, they are much more dragon than panda.”

Canada-China Relations 20160127

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he wants to set “a very clear and constructive relationship with China.” (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Canadian investment in Asian infrastructure

Beyond free trade, China would also like Canada to invest in its $100-billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The AIIB was created to support the development of infrastructure in China. Countries that invest in the bank give their country’s firms preferential access to projects funded by the AIIB.

Canadian firms are keen to get a piece of this business and are hoping Trudeau will send a positive signal during this visit, said former Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day, now a vice-president with the Canada-China Business Council.

“I think there’s a huge opportunity for Canadian firms; large firms, mid-size firms. We’re very well acquainted with issues related to developing infrastructure in cold weather and in extreme climates. We’ve got so much to offer there,” Day said.

David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China, disagrees.

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David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)

“I actually think we made the right decision in not joining,” said Mulroney, who’s now president of the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto. “China is, in my view, far from ready for hosting a major multilateral financial institution.

“As they were announcing the launch of the bank they were shutting down the website for Reuters, which is one of the premier financial media outlets in the world.”

Asked about potential investment in the bank, senior Canadian government officials would only say, “We will have more to say on the trip.”

Human rights and global security

Trudeau has promised to balance economic interests with human rights.

“What we want to do is set a very clear and constructive relationship with China that yes, looks at the potential economic benefits of better trade relationships, while at the same time ensuring that our voice is heard clearly on issues of human rights, of labour rights, of democracy, environmental stewardship,” Trudeau said.

He will get a chance to raise thorny issues like human rights, canola exports and the espionage case of Canadian Kevin Garratt when he meets with the Chinese premier and president Wednesday in Beijing.

Garratt family

Kevin and Julia Dawn Garratt, flanked by their son Peter and daughter Hannah, were detained in August 2014 near the border with North Korea. They were accused of stealing Chinese military secrets. Julia Garratt was released on bail on Feb. 5, 2015. (Simeon Garratt)

Day accompanied Harper on two of his visits to China, and he has no doubt Trudeau will raise these issues as well, in the appropriate way, behind closed doors.

“You can make headway sitting down around a table, eyeball to eyeball, and without trying to make political points,” Day told CBC.

Mulroney adds the Chinese are very used to foreign leaders raising these issues.

“You want to address it in a non-confrontational way because you want the conversation to continue. And you want to nudge and move the Chinese system into a direction that’s going to be helpful for Canada,” he said.

Canada and the G20

China has promised to ratify the Paris Accord to fight climate change in advance of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, which begins Sept. 4.

There are media reports the U.S. will also sign, with China, two days before the international summit.

Canada has promised to ratify the accord by the end of the year. There have been no such reports it plans to do so in China.

Canadian officials are also expected to talk with European delegations about the Canada-EU free trade deal.

Reasonable expectations

The general advice for Trudeau seems to be to not rush into anything with China, but rather to focus on building a long-term relationship.

Day said both parties have an “assured sense” they’ll be dealing with each other for at least the next several years, “so it gives some opportunity to build some types of relationships and decision-making that can have long-term effects and prosperity for Canadians.”

How Trudeau’s visit to China could help the case of a Canadian jailed for spying
Head By Andrew Russell National Online Reporter Global News

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WATCH ABOVE: Justin Trudeau hopes to reset relations with China on 1st official visit
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As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to China on his first official visit, two issues that could be on the agenda as he meets with Chinese president Xi Jinping are human rights and the case of Canadian Kevin Garratt who has been charged with espionage.

Ahead of the official visit, Trudeau said his government would balance strengthening business ties between the two countries with concerns over human rights issues in China.

“What we want to do is set a very clear and constructive relationship with China that yes, looks at the potential economic benefits of better trade relationships, while at the same time ensuring that our voice is heard clearly on issues of human rights, of labour rights, of democracy, environmental stewardship,” Trudeau told reporters last week in Sudbury, Ont.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau hopes to reset relations with China on 1st official visit

The Chinese regime has been accused of targeting activists and dissidents, persecuting people for religious beliefs, and using torture. But China’s ambassador to Canada, Luo Zhaohui, made an attempt to quell fears of his government’s troubled human rights record ahead of Trudeau’s trip.

WATCH: PM Trudeau heads to China to talk trade, human rights. Shirlee Engel reports

“You say you’re concerned about human rights issues? I think this is understandable,” Luo told the Canadian Press. “Every country has their own problems with human rights issues. No country thinks that their human rights situation is perfect.

“(In) China, we’ve got a long way to go to improve the human rights situation, but at the same time we have also made a lot of progress in the past many years.”

READ MORE: Chinese official angered by question from Canadian journalist

Who is Kevin Garratt?

Trudeau will also get the chance to speak with Chinese officials about the case of Kevin Garratt – a Canadian man who was charged with spying and stealing Chinese state secrets. Garratt and his wife Julia — who have lived in China for 30 years — were arrested in August 2014 by the state security bureau. Julia Garratt was released on bail in February 2015.

Their son Simeon Garratt, who lives in Vancouver, has previously denied his parents were involved in any wrongdoing.

Former Canadian ambassadors who spoke with Global News said Trudeau could send a strong message just by raising the issue when he sits down with Jingping on Wednesday.

“Just by raising the arrest of Mr. Garratt he flags to the Chinese authorities that this is something the Canadian government puts some priority on. That alone sends the message.” said Colin Robertson, a former diplomat and vice-president with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Gar Pardy, the former head of Canada’s consular services, said in rare cases China has been known to release prisoners based on high-profile representation. Garratt’s case was also raised by the former Conservative government.

Pardy said releasing Garratt would be an “easy” gesture for Chinese officials looking to improving the relationship between the two countries.

“Whether or not they will do it no one can hazard any sort of a definite answer,” Pardy said.

Robertson added that Trudeau will be closely watched by the press on the issues following a visit in Juned from China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

WATCH: China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs blasts Canadian journalist over human rights question

Tension over China’s jailing of the Garratt’s boiled over after Minister Yi publicly berated a Canadian journalist for asking about the case.

“Your question is full of prejudice against China and arrogance … I don’t know where that comes from. This is totally unacceptable,” Minister Yi said through a translator at a joint news conference with Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion.

Dion, who was sharply criticized for staying silent during the incident, has said that both he and Trudeau raised Garratt’s case with Wang and discussed human rights.

China admits human rights concern ahead of Trudeau visit
China admits human rights concern ahead of Trudeau visit

Canadian prime minister aims to strengthen economic ties with China

World Bulletin / News Desk

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left on Monday for his first official visit to China, in a bid to better relations between the two countries.

But one sticking point has already been addressed – that of human rights.

“[In] China, we’ve got a long way to go to improve the human rights situation, but at the same time we also made a lot of progress in the past many years,” Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaohui told the Canadian Press wire service in an interview prior to Trudeau’s trip.

The admission could be considered a preemptive strike to ease tensions since Canada has chastised China on its human rights issues many times in the past. Trudeau had promised to revisit the issue during his week-long visit.

But better economic ties between the two countries is the major objective, Canadian media reported.

Next to the United States, China is Canada’s largest trading partner and China would like to negotiate a free-trade agreement with Canada.

It is not always easy to broker deals with China, according to former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson, who was at one time was posted to China.

“When you negotiate with the Chinese, despite the tea and buns, they are much more dragon than panda,” he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada’s state media.

Relations between the two countries was frosty when Stephen Harper was Canada’s prime minister. Trudeau’s Liberals took over government after winning election in the fall of 2015.

“Over the past government’s mandate, unfortunately, relations with China were somewhat inconstant,” Trudeau told reporters Monday. “They went from hot to cold, depending on the issue, depending on the day, it seemed.”

But Robertson said Trudeau has a better chance of reaching deals with China because the prime minister’s father, who is also a former prime minister of Canada, was one of the first Western leaders to recognize communist China in 1971.

Economics again is slated to dominate the visit.

China also wants Canada to invest in its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to the tune of CAN$100 billion.

China is more likely to look favorable on countries that have invested in the bank when it comes to awarding contracts for various projects within China and Canadian businesses are eager for a piece of that, according to the CBC.

On Sunday the G20 Summit in Hangzhou convenes and Trudeau’s stated goal of improving economic ties with China will have a chance to strengthen – leaders are expected to discuss ways to advance global economic co-operation and development, the Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest newspaper, reported.

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Obama Speech to Parliament

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Mexico Canada: Visa and Beef

Beef industry celebrates ‘symbolic’ re-opening of Mexican market

Normalization of trade in Canada’s 3rd-largest beef export market a ‘high priority’

By Janyce McGregor, CBC News Posted: Jun 28, 2016 3:28 PM ETLast Updated: Jun 28, 2016 3:28 PM ET

The North American beef industry soon will be fully integrated once again, following Tuesday's announcement that Mexico will lift its remaining restrictions on Canadian beef imports Oct. 1.

The North American beef industry soon will be fully integrated once again, following Tuesday’s announcement that Mexico will lift its remaining restrictions on Canadian beef imports Oct. 1. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Mexico will fully re-open its market to Canadian beef imports on Oct. 1, offering Canada’s farmers valuable new customers for their mature cattle this fall.

The resumption of full trade in beef was part of a suite of announcements as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held bilateral talks with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Parliament Hill Tuesday.

Canada announced it will lift its visa rules for Mexican travellers on Dec.1, removing another longstanding irritant between the two countries.

Mexico was among dozens of countries that suspended beef trade with Canada after a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was detected in 2003.

While imports of some products later resumed, live cattle and meat from animals over 30 months of age (referred to as OTM products) were still restricted, cutting off trade in ground beef and other specialty meats.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association says that normalized trade with Mexico marks the removal of one of Canada’s few remaining BSE-related restrictions: only China, Taiwan and Indonesia continue to block certain Canadian beef products.

Fall change timely

CCA president Dan Darling said the reopening gives Canadian farmers the confidence they need to expand their herds in the future.

“When our production increases to previous levels, I believe that Mexico could again import more than $250 million per year, like it used to,” he said in a statement. Between one-quarter and one-fifth of that used to be OTM beef.

The Oct. 1 effective date is timely.

“The months of October and November are traditionally the time of year when Canadian beef farmers send most of their mature breeding cows to market,” Darling said.

Even with the limited access, Canadian beef exports to Mexico have averaged over $130 million annually for the last five years, according to the Canadian Meat Council.

Mexico is seen as a growing market, with expanding middle-class appetites for beef that exceed domestic production.

“The full normalization of trade in beef products with Mexico has been a high priority,” said Canadian Meat Council President Joe Reda.

Signal to other new markets

Mexico is considered a high-value market for certain beef products that don’t sell as well elsewhere.

In a release, the council estimated incremental sales worth $10 million annually from Tuesday’s announcement. (Incremental sales value results when a new export market is prepared to pay more than current customers for the same products.)

But beef producers are also celebrating the signal this market restoration sends to other potential customers, as the North American industry becomes fully integrated once more.

“The concession by Mexico on beef is really symbolic,” former diplomat Colin Robertson told CBC News. 

“We’re very anxious to get into other markets — the United Kingdom as well as Asia — and having a clean bill of health from the Mexicans was something that was holding us back a little bit when we were trying to sell into places like Korea, China, Japan and Europe.”

Carlo Dade from the Canada West Foundation called the announcement great news, especially for Western Canada.

But he noted “a huge disconnect” in the fact that many Albertans supported keeping the visa restrictions against Mexico despite its industry benefiting from the beef deal.

“What happened with beef and the visas is an object lesson that will be completely lost on the people of Alberta,” he said.

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Three Amigos Summit

Justin Trudeau rolling out the Liberal red carpet for Mexico and U.S. presidents

Barack Obama will address Parliament, Enrique Pena Nieto gets state dinner with Mexican art

By Chris Hall, CBC News Posted: May 05, 2016 5:00 AM ETLast Updated: May 05, 2016 12:28 PM ET

U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, will attend the so-called Three Amigos summit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa at the end of June.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, will attend the so-called Three Amigos summit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa at the end of June. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

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Justin Trudeau came to office promising to restore Canada’s relations with its North American neighbours. If dinner and speaking invitations are your measure well, then he’s off to a great start.

Trudeau will play host in the final week of June to U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto at the first gathering of the so-called Three Amigos to be held in Canada in nearly a decade.

This shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s Canada’s turn after all.

But the leaders were supposed to have gathered here last year. Instead, former prime minister Stephen Harper postponed the summit amid disputes with the U.S. over the now-rejected Keystone XL pipeline, and with Mexico over his government’s decision to require all Mexicans to have a visa to travel to Canada.

Harper knew there was no recipe for success if the summit went ahead.

Pena Nieto, in particular, already cancelled a 2015 visit with a delegation of business leaders in protest against the visa requirement. It was unlikely he would even have come if invited. But he is now, in large part because Trudeau has promised to lift the requirement.

Dinner and a speech

And the summit isn’t really the main political event when the three leaders arrive in Ottawa next month.

The prime minister has also invited Obama to address Parliament, an invitation he extended when the president feted him in Washington two months ago.

And, not to play favorites, Pena Nieto will be in Ottawa ahead of the summit for a state visit of his own. It includes a formal dinner hosted by the prime minister at the National Gallery of Canada where a special exhibit of Mexican art is planned.

So. A summit. An address to Parliament. A gala dinner.  Amigos de nuevo. Friends again. Even if friendship only goes so far in politics.

‘Dirty words’

The real measure of the relationship, as always, is what gets done.

“I think they need to make a new commitment to North America,”  Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington, DC, said Wednesday on the podcast edition of CBC Radio’s The House.

“If you listen to any of the U.S. election coverage right now: North American trade. Immigration. Canada. Mexico. These are all dirty words in the campaign.”

Just listen to Donald Trump. He’ll build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and make the Mexicans pay for it if elected president. He’ll rip up NAFTA.

It’s the kind of rhetoric that grabs headlines and dominates political talk shows. Breaking through with discussions of harmonizing regulations or reducing trade barriers are hardly the tools to do it.

Midweek pod: return of the Three Amigos

25:58

A legacy address

“Trump is going to be the elephant in the room,” says former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson.

“Part of what this exercise is going to be about at the end of June, is to shore up and provide insulation for both the Canadians and Mexicans against what might come, and to take full advantage of Obama’s desire for a legacy which includes North America.”

Obama US Canada

U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and Prime Minister Justin shake hands following the conclusion of a joint news conference March 10 at the White House. The two leaders asked officials to report back within 100 days on how to address the softwood lumber issue. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

Obama, no doubt, will say all the right things in his Parliamentary address about Trudeau’s shared commitment to address climate change. He’ll pledge to continue to work cooperatively on border security and harmonizing government regulations. But there’s no escaping that his time in office is rapidly running out. His ability to get any new initiatives through Congress, may already have.

For example, softwood lumber. Obama and Trudeau gave their senior trade officials until June 12 to work out a way to prevent another trade war over softwood lumber. Sources say a solution is unlikely.

Ditto on efforts to update NAFTA to reflect new trading realities.

Mexican travellers looking for reprieve

Trudeau takes a sunnier view.

“One of the things any U.S. president and Canadian PM will always agree on is the need to create economic growth and prosperity for our citizens,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “We all know that trade is an important part of creating that.”

Fair enough, but both Robertson and Dawson believe the real opportunities in June rest with Mexico, at least in the short-term as Americans choose a new president.

The first step is to address the visa requirement imposed in 2009 by the Harper government after a spike in refugee claimants arriving from Mexico.

That will take time. As an interim, Dawson expects Canada to accept Mexican travellers who hold a U.S. visa, and for Canada to include Mexico among the first countries to qualify for the Electronic Travel Authorization introduced in March for visa-exempt travellers arriving in Canada.

But Robertson says there’s much more that can be done without the U.S..

“We should go and recruit 500,000 Mexican students to Canadian universities. Mexico has a middle-class population of 40 million. They’ve got students looking for places. Why not bring them to Canada? We’ve got university capacity. That would make a profound difference in the Canada/Mexico relationship.”

It’s one of a number of measures where progress can be made in the North American relationship, especially when the biggest of the Three Amigos is pre-occupied at home.

Wednesday May 04, 2016

Return of the Three Amigo

Then, after more than two and a half years, the leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico will convene next month in Ottawa for a summit.

So what does the return of the Three Amigos mean for the state of the North American relationship?

“It’s tremendously significant,” says Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.

“I think this is a new commitment from Canada to the whole North American project.”

Former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson agrees, telling Chris Hall the upcoming summit is a signal that Canada is back in the game in North America.

“We’ve been a dog in the manger on the North American side — it’s been really Mexico and the United States, and we’ve been sor tof an unwilling partner,” Robertson says.

“Certainly the Mexicans see in Mr. Trudeau someone who understands the broad concept of the Americas, but now we have to deliver and that’s what [the meeting] is all about.”

Both Dawson and Robertson share their insights into the trilateral relationship and their hopes for what the summit will achieve, including a North American climate framework and a boost to Canada-Mexico relations — no matter who occupies the Oval Office after the U.S. presidential election.

“We need to encourage Canada and Mexico to align together on many, many more issues,” Dawson says. “Canada and Mexico have not had a united front. Canadians and Mexicans need to speak much more about what their common objectives are in North America.”

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Trudeau and International Summits

CBC Power and Politics host Rosie Barton interviews CIGI Director Fen Hampson and CGAI VP Colin Robertson on PM Trudeau’s upcoming summitry

Find at 1 hour and 15 minute mark

http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2678713362

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On CBC The National on Trudeau’s international series of summits interview with Catherine Cullen

http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2678760522

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Analysis

Justin Trudeau’s travelling, week-long world leader seminar: Chris Hall

Bilateral meetings already set up with Obama, China’s Xi

By Chris Hall, CBC News Posted: Nov 13, 2015 5:00 AM ETLast Updated: Nov 13, 2015 9:29 AM ET

Off to see the world. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads out today for a week-long stretch of international summiting, beginning Saturday in Turkey and finishing up next week in Manila.

Off to see the world. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads out today for a week-long stretch of international summiting, beginning Saturday in Turkey and finishing up next week in Manila. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

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Trudeau on refugees and Premiers meeting 1:57

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He’s still flying high at home. And now Justin Trudeau takes off on his first foreign trip, a week-long journey to attend economic summits in Turkey and the Philippines that will bring him face-to-face with leaders of some of the most powerful countries in the world, each of them intent on gauging — and engaging with — the new prime minister.

For many of those leaders, Trudeau is the first Canadian prime minister not named Stephen Harper they’ll be dealing with on the world stage.

U.S. President Barack Obama has already lined up a formal bilateral meeting with Trudeau late in the week when the two are at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Summit in Manila.

Others are also setting up chats at the G20 meeting in Turkey this weekend. That list now includes China’s Xi Jinping, Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto and Italy’s Matteo Renzi, who, for what it’s worth, is three years younger than Trudeau.

What this all suggests is that beyond the grip and grin and the “family photos” that characterize these summits, there’s a strong interest in measuring the new Canadian leader through a more substantive discussion of the issues.

And Trudeau knows it, telling reporters on Thursday he intends to put the same issues before these world leaders that he put in front of Canadians.

“I’ll be talking about the fact that in order to create more global growth … that we need to be investing in our countries’ futures, we need to be investing in the kinds of opportunities that allow us to grow and continue to flourish as nations.”

The ISIS threat

But the global economy is not the only issue Trudeau will have to confront. The war in Syria, climate change and the new Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal will all be discussed.

Turkey, the host of the G20 gathering, is trying to cope with the influx of an estimated two million refugees who are fleeing the violence in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan added the conflict to the summit’s normal agenda of global economic issues, insisting the world needs to do more to respond to both the refugees crisis, while expressing concern over the coalition’s efforts to contain the ISIS threat.

Turkey believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has to be removed from office before any lasting peace can be brokered. But Erdogan’s new government is also worried that international efforts to arm and train Kurdish fighters — Canada is involved in the training — in the war against ISIS poses a threat to Turkey’s own internal security.

It’s a delicate balance for any political leader, let alone a Canadian PM whose government only took power last week.

Harper Mexico 20140219

Not always the closest of international partners, former prime minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama were nonetheless thrown together for much of the last decade. Obama’s tour of duty is almost over as well. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Trudeau’s already signalled that Canada intends to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year, and that his government will end Canada’s participation in the air strikes against ISIS targets.

“I made it very clear during the election campaign that it is Canada’s intention to withdraw from the bombing mission, but to do so in a way that is responsible and in coordination with our allies, to continue to demonstrate that Canada is committed to the fight against ISIS as a member of the coalition in the fight against ISIS,” he told reporters on Thursday.

He added the government would have more to say about that role in the weeks ahead.

China tricky

Former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson says that first pledge to help resettle refugees will be well-received. And he believes Trudeau’s decision to withdraw from the air mission in Iraq is a bigger media story than a real point of contention with the the U.S. because the Americans recognize the Canadian military’s expertise at training and in helping anti-ISIS forces identify legitimate bombing targets.

“As long as we are staying involved and helping with training — that’s a more important contribution,” Robertson says.

He also suggests that the bilateral meeting with Obama provides a chance for the two leaders to talk about climate change, North American energy security and the Pacific Rim trade deal.

“Obama is very much looking at legacy,” Robertson says. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is part of that. So is climate change. So he and Trudeau will have a lot to talk about.”

China isn’t part of the Trans-Pacific deal, and David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, says that makes the face-to-face discussions with Xi delicate.

Taiwan

China’s President Xi Jinping is hoping to have a one-on-one with Trudeau at the G20 in Turkey this weekend. They are two leaders who could share the world stage for a while. (Jason Lee/Associated Press)

His advice: “Don’t over-commit. Pick your issues, and they should be largely economic.”

The latter part is important. China is locked in a dispute with the U.S. and many of its Asian neighbours over its territorial claims in the South China Sea — claims based in part on the creation of man-made islands in a busy international shipping area.

Mulroney, who is now president of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, says that, under Stephen Harper, Canada skipped many ministerial-level meetings with APEC members, sending diplomats instead.

“You can’t just say ‘Canada’s back’ to the other leaders. Well, we can say it, but it doesn’t mean anything if Trudeau doesn’t deliver. He has to re-engage with Asia.”

Mulroney says that means building relationships, establishing the bonds and trust so you can at some point raise what he calls the difficult issues such as security and human rights.

“Justin Trudeau needs to demonstrate that he has strong negotiating skills as well as the personal qualities that attracted and excited Canadians in the last election.”

That demonstration begins this week.

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A Joint Customs Plaza for Windsor Detroit

Joint Canada-U.S. customs plaza pitched for $1B bridge

Pre-clearance, pre-inspection already exists at Peace Bridge in Fort Erie and at airports

CBC News Posted: Apr 11, 2014 12:35 PM ET Last Updated: Apr 11, 2014 3:17 PM ET

The idea of a customs plaza on just one side of a new international bridge to be built between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit has been suggested, although the U.S. has yet to commit $250 million to its own plaza.The idea of a customs plaza on just one side of a new international bridge to be built between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit has been suggested, although the U.S. has yet to commit $250 million to its own plaza.

The idea of a single mulitmillion-dollar customs plaza built on one side of the new international bridge that will connect Windsor, Ont., and Detroit has been floated and is getting support from border experts.

Two years ago, Canada and the U.S. agreed on a new crossing to be built over the Detroit River and paid for by Canada. However, Canada expected the U.S. to build its own $250-million customs plaza in Michigan.

While Canada has moved ahead on the project, building a $1.6-billion, four-lane highway leading up to the site of the proposed bridge and acquiring land in Michigan, the U.S. has yet to announce funding for a plaza.

Canadian officials had hoped U.S. President Barack Obama would have earmarked money for the project in his federal budget last month. He didn’t.

‘Why don’t we just have one plaza?’– Colin Robertson of Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute

On Tuesday, Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat and current vice-president at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, suggested the answer may be one customs plaza to serve both countries.

“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?” Robertson asked.

One of Canada’s leading border experts says the idea is “intriguing.”

“I think it’s an interesting idea. It’s consistent with the new spirit of co-operation on border issues between the U.S. and Canada,” said Bill Anderson, Ontario research chair in cross-border transportation policy at the University of Windsor.

Similar programs, circumstances exist

Two years ago, the Canada-U.S. Ship Rider Program was unveiled. The joint program underway in the Windsor-Detroit area allows law enforcement officers from Canada and the U.S. to ride together on the Detroit River, patrolling and chasing down criminals on both sides of the international boundary.

That joint initiative between the RCMP and U.S. Coast Guard essentially eliminates the imaginary border on the Detroit River and Great Lakes.

Meanwhile, at Pearson International Airport, for the majority of U.S. flights, guests leaving Toronto go through U.S. customs in Toronto, which allows them to arrive in the U.S. as a domestic passenger.

Sweetgrass-Coutts Alberta Border CrossingA shared port of entry already exists between Sweetgrass, Mont., and Coutts, Alta. (U.S. Government)

On the ground, a shared customs complex, also known as a shared port of entry, exists in in Alberta at the Coutts-Sweetgrass land crossing.

In Fort Erie, Ont., U.S. Customs officials already work on Canadian soil, “pre-processing” U.S.-bound trucks in Fort Erie.

In January, the Buffalo and Fort Erie Peace Bridge Authority finished a $1-million U.S. Customs and Border Protection pre-inspection pilot pad, inspection booths, offices, parking and secure access on Canadian soil. Pre-inspection is designed to increase traffic flow.

“Pre-inspection is an important component of ongoing efforts to advance several important projects at the Peace Bridge, all of which will lead to a more functional and efficient border crossing,” PBA vice-chairman Sam Hoyt said.

Trucker Robert Thorne, who was filling up in Windsor, Ont., on Friday said he likes the pre-inspection in Fort Erie and that it speeds up the customs process.

“They should have that at all of them,” Thorne said.

He doesn’t support one common customs plaza though.

“They should leave one on each because it would make too much congestion with just one,” Thorne said.

A spokesperson Canadian Trucking Association told CBC Windsor the association had “no comment during such an embryonic stage.”

The move in Fort Erie was made because of “available staging space” on the Canadian side of the peace bridge, according to the authority’s website.

The Canada Border Services Agency said it does do not operate in any co-located facilities at bridge crossings.

“The CBSA engages in regular discussions with partners to ensure that new CBSA facilities are a pillar of modern border management that meet the needs of both the Government of Canada and the local communities in which they are situated,” CBSA spokesperson Esme Bailey wrote in an email to CBC Windsor. “As construction of the New International Trade Crossing is a number of years away, no final designs or plans are yet in place for this facility.”

‘This is the best opportunity’

Anderson said Windsor has “a great deal of land of the Canadian side” of the proposed bridge.

“If you were going to do something like this, this is the best opportunity to ever come along to do it,” Anderson said.

Robertson said a single plaza would be “probably on the Canadian side.”

Anderson called the single plaza “difficult,” but “not necessarily insurmountable.”

He questioned “what’s legal to do in Canada versus the United States?”

Bill Anderson University of WindsorBorder expert Bill Anderson of the University of Windsor says a single plaza would not be impossible, but would be difficult to do. (University of Windsor)

“You’re going to either have CBSA officers on the U.S. side imposing their own laws, or the other way around,” he said. “What happens if you have the plaza in Canada and you have an American officer that wants to arrest somebody and bring them to the United States?”

Even Robertson said some issues would have to be ironed out, including U.S. borders guards carrying guns in Canada.

There were similar questions surrounding the Ship Rider program, but they were answered.

If a chase on the water leaves Canada and enters the U.S., the American law kicks in, but the Canadian officers would have arresting authority on the U.S. side of the river.

Canadian officers undergo a 10-day training course at the USCG Maritime Law Enforcement Academy in Charleston, South Carolina, where they learn U.S. law. Americans are trained in Canadian law.

The RCMP said Canadian and U.S. officers have the authority to go ashore on each other’s country if they deem it necessary.

MP calls single plaza ‘very complicated’

Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse, the party’s border critic, said a single plaza “sounds simple, but it actually is very complicated. It has been done in other areas. There’s actually joint border crossings across Canada and the United States, but this is very unique because of the volumes that we have and the types of things that we have going back and forth.”

The Ambassador Bridge, the privately owned international bridge currently connecting Windsor and Detroit, is one of North America’s busiest border crossings.

In 2010, it was reported that 28,814 trucks crossed the privately owned Ambassador Bridge on a daily basis.

DRIC Artist renditionU.S. President Barack Obama did not put money in his federal budget proposal for a customs plaza on the Detroit side of the planned bridge between the city and Canada, shown above. (File Photo)

The new crossing has been called “critical” by both Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and new U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman.

“Right there in Windsor, you have a signature automotive manufacturing capability and a transition of goods across the border. How do we keep enhancing that?” Heyman said.

“That might be something that would appeal to and Heyman could really champion,” Robertson said of the single customs plaza. “In the nuts and bolts of the relationship [between Canada and the U.S.] the ambassador plays a critical role.”

Anderson said the single plaza should be built for the right reasons, though.

“I would hate to see it done because there isn’t money to build the American plaza. I think it should be done because it’s a good way to operate the border,” he said. “Ultimately, I think the Americans should be expected to build a plaza on their side.”

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