Canada-US Relations after Obama

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

Justin Trudeau prépare l’après-Obama

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

Agrandir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

«C’est une excellente stratégie»

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

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

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

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

Comments Off on Canada-US Relations after Obama

Trudeau Obama Summit

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

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

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 6.17.43 PM

Comments Off on Trudeau Obama Summit

Trudeau and Obama Washington meeting

Trudeau’s challenge in Washington? Think beyond Obama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advancing the ‘green’ agenda

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

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

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

Assuaging concerns on security

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

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

Making progress on trade

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments Off on Trudeau and Obama Washington meeting

Obama and Trudeau summit

What will Trudeau and Obama get done at their meeting in March?

John Ibbitson The Globe and Mail

Justin Trudeau’s state visit to Washington March 10 will be impressively ceremonial, with the Prime Minister and President Barack Obama walking side by side in black tie into a glittering room, accompanied by their wives. But whether anything actually gets done during the visit depends on how badly the new Liberal government wants action on the border question, and how willing Mr. Obama is to oblige.

By the time of the visit, the 44th President will be a pretty lame duck, with the election of his successor less than eight months away. There is little or nothing he will be able to get through the Republican-controlled Congress. But Colin Robertson, a former diplomat who specializes in international relations, believes there is one key area where Mr. Obama could act on his own. “A preclearance agreement is certainly within his grasp,” Mr. Robertson said Tuesday . “There’s a deal there to be fixed, and it would certainly be in our interest.”

“Preclearance” is an initiative that came out of the Beyond the Border agreement signed in 2011 between Mr. Obama and then-prime minister Stephen Harper. The accord was intended to improve continental security while easing congestion at the Canada-U.S. border. Under that accord, goods entering either Canada or the United States could be jointly inspected and cleared, and could then cross the Canada-U.S. border without further inspection.

But the Department of Homeland Security has been blocking implementation, Mr. Robertson said. If the Trudeau team really wanted to see action on this file, they could lay the groundwork over the coming months that could lead to a March 10 announcement on new plans to advance the agenda on implementing preclearance protocols. If, that is, Mr. Obama is willing.

“He could do that by simply giving the regulatory guidance to the Department of Homeland Security,” said Mr. Robertson. “We could move ahead on this.”

Adam Barratt, a spokesman for the Department of Global Affairs, said that the Liberal government is committed to making “substantial progress” in reducing impediments to trade and commerce. “To this end, we will be taking a close look at files, such as preclearance, that could facilitate the movement of people between our countries,” he said by e-mail. The effort will be led by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

The press release announcing the visit stated that the Prime Minister and the President planned to discuss “energy and climate change, security, and the economic relationship.” In the matter of security and the economy, action on preclearance, harmonizing regulations and making it easier for people to cross the border on business are all Beyond the Border initiatives that could be advanced in 2016, Mr. Robertson maintained.

Whether any movement is possible on energy and climate change could depend on another planned meeting of Mr. Obama and Mr. Trudeau. Though nothing has been confirmed, the two leaders and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto are expected to have a “three amigos” meeting in Canada in April or late March, preceded by meetings of the foreign and energy ministers. A common approach to safety and environmental standards for fracking oil and natural gas is one possible outcome, Mr. Robertson speculated, while the Americans might also push Canada for environmental action in the Arctic.

Mr. Trudeau will doubtless be tempted to meet with Hillary Clinton, should she be in Washington. By then, the former secretary of state is likely to have trounced Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, thus becoming the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Liberals and Democrats generally get along, and Ms. Clinton, a former New York senator, knows Canada well. Should she win the presidential election in November, Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Clinton could be expected to work co-operatively on a number of files until at least 2019, when Mr. Trudeau’s first term will expire. But such a meeting would violate the unwritten code of neutrality that Canadian prime ministers must adhere to during American elections. At the least, Mr. Trudeau couldn’t meet with Ms. Clinton without also meeting with the presumptive Republican nominee. And it is far from clear whether we will know who that is by March 10.

A Liberal government in Ottawa could do business with a Republican administration led by Florida Senator Marco Rubio or former Florida governor Jeb Bush, both of whom are mainstream candidates. But both men are currently trailing in the polls. The thought of either businessman Donald Trump or Texas Senator Ted Cruz – even if he was born in Canada – as president would appall Mr. Trudeau as much as it would appall most Canadians. Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz are currently first and second in the Republican race, even though Mr. Cruz is an extreme right-winger and Mr. Trump is, to put it gently, a xenophobe. No more state dinners for Mr. Trudeau if either of those two men becomes president.

Comments Off on Obama and Trudeau summit

Canada and NATO

Collective security comes at a cost. Canada should pay its way

Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Jun. 23, 2015

NATO defence ministers meet tomorrow in Brussels to confront continuing conflicts on their eastern and southern flanks. Complicating their deliberations is the knowledge that big chunks of their populations oppose using military force if Russia attacks a fellow NATO member. For NATO leaders, making the case for why we fight is as important as having the capacity to fight.

From fir trees to palm trees, NATO forces are engaged. Simulated conflict exercises on NATO’s eastern frontier respond to what Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg describes as President Vladmir Putin’s “unjustified nuclear sabre-rattling”. The U.S.-led coalition in Syria and Iraq engages in daily, deadly sorties against ISIS.

The takeaways from Afghanistan and Libya for NATO are that while armed force can bring temporary stability, enduring peace and security requires continuing diplomacy, development assistance and some means of preserving order. Call it peacekeeping for the 21st century.

NATO forces also play a key role as the first responders to humanitarian crises, such as rescuing migrants crossing the Mediterranean and helping to contain Ebola in West Africa.

Despite the NATO leaders agreeing in Wales last September to “reverse the trend of declining defence budgets” only five – U.S., U.K., Estonia, Poland and Greece – meet the NATO guideline to spend 2 per cent of their GDP on defence.

Canada has committed whole-heartedly to NATO missions. It took a disproportionate number of casualties in Afghanistan and were at the sharp end of the campaign in Libya. Canadian forces are actively engaged in Syria and Iraq. Canada is training Ukrainian troops and during a visit to Warsaw earlier this month Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada will station troops at NATO’s new command centre at Szczecin, Poland.

Canada’s defence spending, however, falls short of NATO’s benchmark. Despite the Canada First Defence Strategy and a refined procurement policy, former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page observes that with the Harper government “spending in real terms is even lower than when they came into office in 2006.” April’s federal budget will lift Canada’s contribution to slightly more than 1 per cent of GDP.

As the country prepares to enter its election campaign in earnest, it needs a healthy debate over its defence capacity and capability, especially around the made-in-Canada naval procurement policy.

Canada accepts the rationale of supply-chain economics for almost everything else it manufactures. Auto and aviation industries, civilian and defence, are specialized and integrated. Canada buys tanks from Germany and fighter planes from the U.S., with significant offsets creating jobs for Canadians. Why is shipbuilding different?

At the Wales summit, leaders reaffirmed that the “greatest responsibility” of the Alliance is to “protect and defend our territories and our populations against attack.” But when the Pew Foundation recently asked major NATO nations if they would use military force if Russia “got into a serious military conflict” with another NATO member, the findings revealed troubling divisions.

Most Americans (56 per cent) and Canadians (53 per cent) would support intervention. So would a plurality in the U.K. (49 per cent) and Poland (48 per cent). But, more than half in Germany (58 per cent), France (53 per cent) and Italy (51 per cent) would oppose intervention. The Spanish divided 48-47 per cent for intervention. Together these nations collectively account for 88 per cent of NATO’s GDP and 78 per cent of its population.

NATO leaders reaffirmed at Wales their willingness to “act together” and “decisively to defend” freedom, liberty, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. They have work to do in persuading their citizens that the collective defence of our shared values obliges a willingness to use armed force.

Equally troubling for the Alliance was that only 49 per cent of Americans view NATO favourably. The U.S. pays 74 per cent of NATO’s costs. President Barack Obama says the U.S. “can’t do it alone” and this plea is repeated by successive U.S. defence secretaries.

Communiques at the end of summit meetings are usually mind-numbing bromides and aspirations of good intentions. What really counts is each nation’s interpretation of the collective commitments. Success in this week’s meeting depends on each NATO defence minister saying some variation of the following:

  • First, we commit to meeting NATO’s 2-per-cent defence spending target by 2017, recognizing that, when your neighbourhood is combustible, investing in defence is smart insurance. Only when our armed forces have sufficient capability and the readiness to react, can we be confident in their deterrent capacity. The trendline is moving in the right direction with 18 allies expected to increase their defence spending.
  • Second, we commit to a national public education campaign on the meaning and responsibilities of collective security. To its credit, Germany’s leadership has begun their debate on the need for greater engagement.

Attitudinal shifts take time and constant reinforcement.

Courage, resolution and endurance are qualities not always associated with democracies or their leaders. But they are essential.

Comments Off on Canada and NATO

Arms for Ukraine

Why the West should listen to Merkel on Ukraine

Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Feb. 17 2015

Do we arm Ukraine? Economic sanctions have not dissuaded President Vladimir Putin from continuing Russian aggression.

At the Brisbane G20 summit in November, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Mr. Putin to “get out of Ukraine.” For Western leaders, the question is what do they do next.

How long will the new ceasefire endure? Few put much credence in Russian assurances. An earlier ceasefire unravelled as Mr. Putin’s “little green men” pushed forward.

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko wants Western help, specifically lethal arms. Brandishing captured Russian military IDs at the recent Munich Security Conference, Mr. Poroshenko asked what further evidence is required of Russian aggression.

The UN estimates the conflict has killed more than 5,000 and displaced a million. Mr. Putin has the escalatory advantage and he ruminates about the use of nuclear arms.

For Mr. Putin, the campaign is a “holy war’ protecting the Russian diaspora, as well as a development that rights the 1989 dismemberment of greater Mother Russia. While there have been some Russian protests over Ukraine, anti-Western attitudes there are at a 25-year high.

A recent report, authored by members of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment, argues that the West’s strategy to restrain Mr. Putin has failed. They recommend significant military assistance: radar, drones and short range anti-armor weaponry to enable Ukraine to counter the Russian offensive.

They argue that “to deter and defend” will raise the cost of aggression and bring Mr. Putin back to the bargaining table. If Russia is not stopped now, they argue that the Kremlin will believe it can get away with this form of hybrid warfare. The next Russian intervention could be in Estonia or Latvia – NATO members with security guarantees.

NATO’s top commander is calling for the use of “all tools” and, at his recent confirmation hearing, U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter favoured arms for Ukraine. Non-intervention by the West during the Spanish Civil War, evocatively captured in Alan Furst’s novel Midnight in Europe, only advantaged Franco’s fascists.

But providing arms bring multiple challenges. It takes time to transport equipment and even more time to train Ukrainians in its use. There is the risk of escalation. Surveys in the United States are consistent: There is no appetite for American boots on the ground.

For now, the West negotiates. U.S. President Barack Obama preaches “strategic patience and persistence” in the newly updated U.S. National Security Strategy, but it is German Chancellor Angela Merkel who is demonstrating both qualities.

Ms. Merkel, who hosts the G7 summit in June, is leading the negotiations with Mr. Putin. Ms. Merkel has Mr. Putin’s number. Her leadership underlines Germany’s geopolitical re-emergence, the only silver lining in this crisis.

Ms. Merkel argues for continued engagement and, for now, she is against arms for Ukraine. This was her message at the recent Munich security conference and in meetings last week with Mr. Obama and Mr. Harper. Ms. Merkel deserves our continuing support.

Providing arms raises many questions:

  • How do we control for their distribution?
  • Who will be in charge of then?
  • Who will train the Ukrainians?
  • What and where are the firebreaks?
  • Will arms increase casualties and risk a proxy war?

Economic sanctions and the drop in oil revenues have been brutal on Russia; its GDP may fall 5 per cent this year. At some point the bite of sanctions will have to diminish Mr. Putin’s appeal to Russian patriotism.

Like it or not, Ukraine is not a NATO member and the reasons why we did not militarily intervene in Mr. Putin’s Crimean conquest still apply. We are already engaged in a widening conflict with the Islamist militants of ISIL. This week, world leaders convene for a White House summit on counterterrorism. Meanwhile, there are the negotiations with Iran, with Mr. Obama declaring that there must be a nuclear deal by the end of March.

Preserving Western consensus, within the European Union and between the EU and United States, is always difficult. But if Washington presses ahead with lethal arms, the Western consensus will crumble.

For now the West’s best choices are threefold:

  • With Ukraine: more economic support conditional on the country improving its governance. Ukraine is worse than Russia in Transparency International’s’ corruption index. As a start why not advise on Canadian-style federalism and language rights?
  • With Russia: continuing engagement with biting sanctions. As costs rise, Mr. Putin’s calculus of actions without consequences will change.
  • Within NATO: Honour the pledges made at the Wales summit to reverse defence cuts and make the alliance fitter, faster and more flexible.

Whatever the West does, we need to do it collectively, or Mr. Putin wins. Before adding more arms to the Ukraine crisis, trust Chancellor Merkel and double down on patience and diplomatic engagement.

More Related to this Story

Video

Video: ‘Glimmer of hope’ for Ukraine after deal at Minsk peace summit

Video

Video: Putin and Poroshenko shake on ceasefire

Video

Video: Ukraine peace talks overshadowed by fighting

Video

Video: Ukraine launches counter-offensive ahead of peace summit

Video

Video: Obama, Merkel meet to discuss Ukraine crisis

Comments Off on Arms for Ukraine

Cyberspace, North Korea and Sony

North Korea is only part of the story about cyberthreats

Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Dec. 23 2014

What should have been another mindlessly entertaining, forgettable holiday flick is now cyberfuel for a much bigger story.

That the Seth Rogan comedy, The Interview, with its Kim Jong-un assassination sub-plot would unleash the hacking of Sony Pictures; that the studio would cancel the picture; that the FBI would name North Korea as the perpetrator; and that U.S. President Barack Obama would vow to “respond proportionately”; has moved it from Hollywood farce to national security crisis.

The first takeaway is the continuing menace posed by North Korea’s Kim dynasty.

Now into its third generation, this rogue regime is characterized by murder, mayhem and ongoing abuse of human rights. In addition to its cyberarsenal, it possesses nuclear arms. An erratic missile capacity means that it threatens Canada (making the case as to why we need ballistic missile defence).

Defining a “proportional response” to “cybervandalism” will be a challenge for the Obama administration. The hermit kingdom is isolated from global financial and commercial markets and there is already a slew of UN sanctions on it.

The Chinese – providing most of North Korea’s food and energy – are best placed to exercise leverage but they are complicit, in league with Russia, Syria, Iran and North Korea in mutual development of their cybercapacities. Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department indicted members of the People’s Liberation Army for corporate cybertheft. These activities included hacking into a Canadian company responsible for protecting North American pipelines and grid systems.

Like dandelions, cyberthreats continue to spread.

Intel Security’s McAfee Labs detect five new threats per second in mobile malware. Malware attacks surged 76 per cent in 2014. McAfee’s 2015 forecast estimates more attacks on mobile devices and the Internet of Things.

McAfee warns of long-term “stealthier information gatherers.” New players will look for new ways to disrupt and steal money. They warn that criminals are beginning to act more like state actors watching and waiting to gather intelligence.

Meanwhile there is continuing debate around technology, threat and privacy.

The revelations from U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden around data harvesting, including the private conversations of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have highlighted privacy concerns about security agencies’ overreach.

In a world of meta-data mining, we all leave a trail of behavioural patterns whenever we go on the Internet.

President Obama rightly described Sony’s decision to pull The Interview as a “mistake.” Bowing to intimidation, Mr. Obama said, is “not who we are.” For enduring satire, Sony executives should watch Charlie Chaplain’s The Great Dictator (1940), parodying Adolf Hitler.

But privacy is different from intimidation. Sony executives’ e-mails are salacious reading but should the media have publicized them? Adam Sorkin, creator of The West Wing, argues that the hackers – “demented and criminal” – do it for a cause, but the press do it “for a nickel.”

Business needs to protect itself and its customers. Credit-card information and intellectual property are main targets but the Canadian Security Intelligence Service warns state-sponsored attackers seek information to give their companies a “competitive edge” over Canadian firms

By design, the Internet is open, dynamic, transparent, interoperable and adaptable to continuous technological improvement. It accesses and ensures the rapid, seamless flow of data and information. Security and identity protection were secondary objectives and this, observed former U.S. deputy defence secretary Bill Lynn, gives attackers a “built-in advantage.”

Apple and Google have recently added encryption features onto their operating systems to make our phones and computers less susceptible to hacking.

They are programmed in such a way as to protect these same companies from decryption, even under court order, to the concern of the FBI and national security agencies.

Next year, the U.S. Congress will debate sun-setting key provisions of the Patriot Act allowing bulk data collection by the National Security Agency. We cherish our privacy but what if there is good reason to believe a terrorist group is planning another attack?

Cybertheft, cyberesponage and cybervandalism are going to get worse. The bad guys: terrorists, criminals and rogue states.

Governments and businesses need to act in tandem. Detecting, tracing and identifying sources requires constant vigilance. Deterrence depends on continuous innovation and collaboration between and amongst business and governments.

The standards of international law in time of war are laid out in the Geneva and Hague conventions addressing, for example, a ban on chemical and biological warfare. Groups like the Global Commission on Internet Governance are helping prepare the ground for international norms on cyberbehaviour .

Keeping cyberspace open and safe for commerce and personal use is vital but it won’t happen without constant effort.

More Related to this Story

Video

Video: Sony hack not ‘an act of war,’ Obama says

Video

Video: North Korea says it did not hack Sony, wants joint probe with U.S.

Video

Video: Sony hack cause for ‘growing concern’: John Baird

Video

Video: More reaction to Sony’s decision to pull ‘The Interview’

Video

Video: Benedict Cumberbatch calls Sony hack ‘tragic’

Video

Video: Stars take to Twitter to express anger over cancellation of ‘The Interview’

Comments Off on Cyberspace, North Korea and Sony

Obama and Canada: the Final Two Years

What does Canada want during the last two years of the Obama administration and what we can reasonably expect to achieve?

Jean Charest, Partner, McCarthy Tétrault and a former premier of Quebec joined Scotty Greenwood, Senior Advisor, Canadian American Business Council; and John Manley, President and CEO, Canadian Council of Chief Executives and a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Finance at a special panel and reception held Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at the River Building.

Colin Robertson, Vice-President of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and a former diplomat posted to New York, Los Angeles and Washington, moderated the discussion.

More than 160 Members of Parliament, Senators, staffers, senior government officials from PMO, PCO, DFATD, NRCan, Agriculture and Agri-food, Industry and Transport Canada registered along with Ambassadors, High Commissioners and other diplomats, business and non-governmental organizations plus students and faculty.

This event was organized with the support of Randy Hoback, M.P., chair of the Standing Committee on International Trade; Don Davies, M.P., Official Opposition critic for International Trade; and Scott Brison, M.P., Liberal critic for Finance.

CPAC taped the panel for broadcast at a later date.

power point presentation is available here from Colin Robertson, Vice-President of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.

A summer of the discussion from Carleton student note-takers is available here.

Focus on Republicans as Obama’s presidency nears end, say Charest, Manley

From Embassy Magazine

http://www.embassynews.ca/chatter-house/2014/12/03/for-the-love-of-sushi/46458

Hot trade talk at Carleton

Former Quebec premier Jean Charest says that Canada’s visas for Mexicans make no sense; Mexico is our partner country and we should remove them right away. John Manley, head of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, agrees but thinks that accepting Mexicans with American visas is a way to lift the visas without actually lifting them. Mr. Charest thinks the United States-European Union free trade agreement will go through because both players want to set the terms of trade rather then let growing powers like China set them. Mr. Manley predicts softwood lumber will explode again in the fall of 2015 and supply management is at the top of the hit list for the TPP negotiations.

All these hot trade talking points and more were batted around on Nov. 25 at Carleton University where a panel of experts came together to talk about the Canada-US relationship during US President Barack Obama‘s last two years. The event was hosted by Maureen Boyd, director of Carleton University’s Initiative for Parliamentary and Diplomatic Engagement, and before things kicked off panelists set out the deals negotiated in the past by Canada and lame-duck US administrations. These deals included the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement, which was negotiated during the final two years of the Reagan administration, as well as the Acid Rain Agreement and the NAFTA, which were achieved in the final two years of the George H.W. Bush administration.

None of the panellists, Mr. Charest, Mr. Manley, Canadian American Business Council senior adviser Scotty Greenwood and Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute vice-president Colin Robertson, had high hopes that the Obama/Harper relationship would bear any such fruit. But they felt that provinces and states could still get a lot done in the next few years.

Comments Off on Obama and Canada: the Final Two Years

Midterm Elections 2014

The top task for Canadian politicians: Get to know the new U.S. legislators

Globe and Mail Tuesday, Nov. 11 2014

The United States’ political players and their priorities shifted last week. We need to digest the changes and get to know the new players. Because Canadian interests remain the same, we also need to remember that, in the crowded American political arena, if we want something, we have to go after it.

Three observations from the exit polls stand out:

First, it was more about mood than specific issues. Two-thirds of Americans believe that their country is headed in the wrong direction. Only 20 per cent trust Washington. The Republicans cannot be cocky: The electorate likes neither their party nor their leadership.

Second, the buck does stop at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. President Barack Obama declared his policies were on the ballot and he lost this referendum. But presidents are at a disadvantage in midterms because they measure the incumbent against themselves, rather than their adversaries. Mr. Obama fared as badly as most of his recent two-term predecessors: George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower (Bill Clinton is the exception).

Third, you win by getting out the vote. The turnout (36.4 per cent) was the lowest since 1942, but the Republicans did the better job. The GOP is now the dominant governing party in Congress and in the states. The demographics are mostly unchanged: Republicans won 60 per cent of the white vote, Democrats won 89 per cent of the black vote and 62 per cent of the Latino vote.

The results matter for Canada.

In listing their priorities, the Republican leadership included legislative approval of the Keystone XL pipeline because it means “lower energy costs for families and more jobs for American workers.”

Passage of XL is not a slam-dunk. There is still an outstanding Nebraska court case to be resolved and, in the event of a presidential veto, Republicans would have to muster at least a dozen Democrat senators to achieve the two-thirds necessary for a veto override.

There is no ambiguity about where Canada stands on the XL in Washington, but we should leave the public politicking to the Republicans. Instead, we should focus on other priorities, like ensuring Canadian hydro qualifies under the renewable energy standards. In Washington, no one knows the energy and environment file better than our Ambassador, Gary Doer, armed with his formidable Rolodex.

The Republicans also promise to pass the Trade Promotion Authority that will give “up or down” congressional approval to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (the U.S. version of the Canada and European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement).

This should galvanize efforts to conclude the TPP, assuming that the 12 partner nations are ready for the end game. It will oblige deals and concessions to achieve the high standard agreement to which all are pledged.

The key will be Japan and the United States resolving their differences on agriculture and autos. If this happens, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will face a decision on the necessary and overdue reform of supply management.

In the meantime, our legislators – federal and provincial – need to get to know the new legislators in the Congress and state houses.

When federal ministers travel south to see their counterparts, they should also meet the congressional chairs and ranking members, especially those in the Senate.

Premiers should send representatives to the gubernatorial inaugurations. Scott Walker (Wisconsin) and John Kasich (Ohio), for example, could well be 2016 GOP presidential contenders.

The premiers should develop an agenda on shared concerns – border infrastructure, securing our electrical grids and pipelines, North American supply chains, invasive species like the zebra mussels – then journey to Washington for the National Governors Association February meeting.

The re-emergence of geopolitics – Russia’s intrusion into Ukraine and Middle East turmoil – reminds us that the values that unite Canada and the United States are vastly more important than our divisions on trade. The relationship between Barack Obama and Stephen Harper is not the camaraderie enjoyed by Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan/George H.W. Bush or Jean Chrétien and Bill Clinton, but they share common cause in face of shared threats.

We have a good partner in U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman. Acting on the message that we were feeling ignored, he has brought to Canada Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Secretary of State John Kerry and various agency heads. Next month, a senior congressional delegation will be at the Halifax International Security Forum, one of the Harper government’s smarter initiatives.

Divided government between a Republican Congress and a lame-duck Obama administration will be the norm for the next two years. But we can still get things done.

Neil Young says he doesn't care if speaking out against proposed pipelines and the Alberta oilsands affects sales of his records. The music icon performed in the national Blue Dot Tour fronted by activist and scientist David Suzuki.

Video
Video: Neil Young says he doesn’t care if his oil sands activism hurts record sales

Comments Off on Midterm Elections 2014

Canada, Mexico and NAFTA

Canada needs to lift visa requirement for Mexicans

Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Oct. 28 2014

When it comes to statecraft, there is no better place to show the flag than the deck of a warship. This past week, HMCS Athabaskan moored at the Mexican port of Veracruz to help celebrate 70 years of Canada-Mexico diplomatic relations and 20 years of economic integration through NAFTA.

Canadians love Mexico – close to two million of us will visit this year making it our most popular foreign destination after the United States.

We do not reciprocate the Mexican welcome mat.

A visa requirement – imposed pre-emptively in the summer of 2009 after a surge in Mexican refugee claimants – remains in place. The Mexicans have since cracked down on the nefarious operators at their end, while the Harper government reformed our once-lax refugee system.

Lifting our visa requirement, or at least identifying a path to resolution, continues to be Mexico’s main “ask” of Canada.

For the Mexicans, the lack of progress on the visa situation is frustrating and poisons the relationship. It sticks in their craw the same way that the Obama administration’s rag-the-puck approach on the Keystone XL permit frustrates us.

Potential insult on injury lies ahead if Mexico is not included in the electronic travel authorization system that the Harper government will roll out in the coming months.

We need to find a way to include Mexico or to have a specific road map, resolving the visa issue, before the next North American Leaders’ summit, scheduled for Canada in the early spring.

Beyond its effect on official relations, the visa situation deters Mexicans from visiting, studying and doing business in Canada.

In 2008, the year before the visa requirement, Mexicans were our sixth source country for tourism, spending an estimated $364-million. They have since fallen to tenth place and their spending has halved. Mexican investment in Canada ($22-million) is dwarfed by Canadian investment in Mexico ($12-billion).

This hassle over getting to Canada is the biggest deterrent and led to the cancellation earlier this year of a buying mission to have been led by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. With the passage of its energy reforms opening doors to foreign investment and partnership, Mexico is actively looking for the kind of energy and engineering skills that Canada has developed.

The provinces get it and they are taking the initiative to work with Mexican states and its national government. In June, Alberta’s Energy Regulator signed an agreement to work collaboratively on best practices in hydrocarbon development with its Mexican counterpart

The conditions for North American integration have never been better even if the personal chemistry between the three leaders – Stephen Harper, Enrique Pena Nieto and Barack Obama – is such that their meetings do not require air conditioning.

Commerce has expanded significantly since NAFTA took effect 20 years ago. The goal over the next decade should be to double the current trillion dollars plus in annual continental trade.

It’s doable if we can get our act together. Together, we have a market of 500 million with the resources, thanks to technology, to fuel a new manufacturing revolution revitalizing North America’s industrial base.

Later this week, the three trade ministers – Canada’s Ed Fast, Mexico’s Ildefonso Guajardo and Penny Pritzker of the U.S. – meet in Toronto. Their meetings with the business community and beyond are designed to advance North American competitiveness discussions, begun last October in San Diego, from “vision to action.”

They should start by looking at North American auto production. Last week’s decision by Ford to site their new engine production plant in Mexico rather than Windsor is a reminder that supply-chain dynamics have long outpaced the 50-year-old Canada-U.S. Auto Pact.

The ministers should prioritize developing a North American Auto Pact and position the countries, not as competitors, but collaborators in regional and bilateral trade deals.

It is estimated that 25 per cent of the content of goods Canada exports to the United States originated in the U.S. For Mexican exports to the United States, the U.S.-originated content is 40 per cent (contrasted with China, Brazil and India at 4 per cent, 3 per cent and 2 per cent respectively).

A beggar-thy-neighbour approach will only diminish our collective economies. We have evolved from the classic trade in goods to making things together.

All three nations have a vested interest to ensure that there is convergence in the rules-of-origin in the new trading pacts in which we are involved together – like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or independently.

NAFTA worked. It’s now time to move forward with a new regime that acknowledges the realities of North American economic integration and the benefits of “Made in North America.”

Comments Off on Canada, Mexico and NAFTA