statism watch

Laying the Foundation for a North American Security Perimeter

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
June 11, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently unveiled a northern border strategy which seeks to address security concerns, while at the same time facilitating the flow of lawful travel and trade. The new plan promotes enhanced shared intelligence and joint law enforcement integration with Canada. It further builds on initiatives included in the Beyond the Border agreement and is part of ongoing efforts to lay the foundation for a North American security perimeter.

On June 5, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the Northern Border Strategy (NBS) aimed at deterring and preventing terrorism, smuggling, trafficking and illegal immigration. In a press release she explained how the new plan, “provides a unifying framework for the Department’s work focused on enhancing the security and resiliency along our northern border while expediting legitimate travel and trade with Canada.” In order to accomplish these objectives, the NBS seeks to, “improve information sharing and analysis within DHS, as well as with key partners. The Department will also enhance coordination of U.S.-Canada joint interdictions and investigations, deploy technologies to aid joint security efforts along the border, and continue to update infrastructure.” The NBS parallels the National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy issued in January. It also supports goals outlined in the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border action plan which focuses on addressing security threats early, facilitating trade, economic growth and jobs, integrating cross-border law enforcement, as well as improving infrastructure and cyber-security.

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U.S. and Canada Implementing Beyond the Border Perimeter Security Initiatives

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
May 14, 2012

Through the Beyond the Border agreement released in December 2011, the U.S. and Canada are implementing initiatives that are working towards establishing a North American security perimeter. This includes expanding trusted traveler programs, as well as enhancing integrated law enforcement and information sharing cooperation which has raised many privacy concerns that have yet to be properly addressed.

There are questions surrounding the Conservative government’s Bill C-38, the Budget Implementation Act that also contains changes related to the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border action plan. This includes ratifying and making the Shiprider a legal and permanent program which will require amending the Criminal Code, along with the RCMP and Customs Act. The joint initiative officially known as the Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations first began as a pilot project. It allows RCMP and U.S. Coast Guard officers to operate vessels together and pursue criminals in the waters of both countries. The Council of Canadians reported that the NDP is demanding that the Shiprider policing program be taken out of budget implementation bill. Brian Masse, the NDP border critic is pushing for separate legislation and pointed out that, “it’s totally irresponsible to have it as part of the Budget Implementation Act.” He added, “There’s significant policing issues that really warrant a standalone bill. If it was so important that they did all the fanfare for it, why doesn’t it warrant its own process?” The proposed changes could have serious sovereignty implications with regards to accountability, due process and civil rights and therefore, need to be fully scrutinized.

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NAFTA Partners Take Steps to Boost Trilateral Relationship

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
April 9, 2012

While bilateral initiatives have dominated North American issues over the last couple of years, the trilateral relationship has suffered. With a series of high-level meetings, the U.S., Canada and Mexico are taking steps to boost the NAFTA partnership. First, the defense ministers met to discuss shared continental security threats. This was followed by a leaders summit which pledged to deepen trade, regulatory, energy and security cooperation. The recent meetings have caused some to once again take notice of the incremental efforts to merge all three countries into a North American Union.

In what was hailed as an historic event, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay, Mexican Secretary of National Defense Guillermo Galvan, and Mexican Secretary of the Navy Mariano Mendoza recently held the Inaugural Meeting of North American Defense Ministers. As part of a framework they agreed to, “ Develop a joint trilateral defense threat assessment for North America to deepen our common understanding of the threats and challenges we face. Explore ways to improve our support to the efforts of civilian public security agencies in countering illicit activities in our respective countries and the hemisphere, such as narcotics trafficking. Explore how we can collaborate to increase the speed and efficiency with which our armed forces support civilian-led responses to disasters. Continue to work together to strengthen hemispheric defense forums.” The ministers also committed to enhancing cooperation in the fight against transnational criminal organizations. The trilateral defense meeting is part of the ongoing efforts to establish a fully integrated North American security perimeter.

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The North American Leaders Summit and Reviving Trilateral Integration

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
March 26, 2012

With the demise of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, the U.S. has essentially put Canada and Mexico on separate tracks. It has pursued dual-bilateralism with both its NAFTA partners as the primary means of advancing continental integration with regards to trade, regulatory and security initiatives. The upcoming North American Leaders Summit, which will be held in Washington, D.C. on April 2, could be used as a means of reviving the trilateral cooperation model.

While much of my focus has been on the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border and the Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) action plans, the U.S. is also pursuing a similar agenda with Mexico. This includes working towards a common security perimeter. In 2010, the U.S. and Mexico issued the Twenty-First Century Border Management declaration. This established the Executive Steering Committee (ESC) to implement joint border related projects to enhance economic prosperity and security. In December of last year, the ESC adopted its 2012 action plan which sets goals in areas of binational infrastructure coordination, risk management, law enforcement cooperation, along with improving cross-border commerce and ties. A press release explained that through the ESC, “we are developing and managing our shared border in an integrated fashion to facilitate the secure, efficient, and rapid flows of goods and people and reduce the costs of doing business between our two countries.” The ESC meeting also acknowledged bilateral accomplishments in expanding the use of trusted traveler initiatives such as the Global Entry Program.

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A Perimeter Approach to Security and the Transformation of the U.S.-Canada Border

Monday, March 12th, 2012

by Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
March 12, 2012

Through a series of bilateral meetings, U.S. and Canadian officials are busy working out the details of the perimeter security action plan. This includes a recent joint crime forum that dealt with border and law enforcement issues. These various discussions are part of the implementation process which when finished would bring about the complete transformation of the northern border and another step closer in the creation of a fully integrated North American security perimeter.

In early March, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano met with Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews as part of the Cross-Border Crime Forum. On the agenda was, “transnational crime issues such as organized crime, counter-terrorism, smuggling, economic crime and other emerging cross-border threats.” Both countries also signed a memorandum of understanding on the Dissemination and Exchange of Information to combat human smuggling and trafficking. The meetings were used as an opportunity to further advance U.S.-Canada cooperation in areas of law enforcement, criminal justice and intelligence. This ties in with my previous article which detailed the Obama administration’s new counter-narcotics strategy for the northern border that includes closer collaboration with Canada in the war on drugs. Much of the joint crime forum discussions focused around the progress being made on the Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan, announced in December 2011.

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Strengthening U.S.-Canada Military Integration in North America and Around the Globe

Monday, February 6th, 2012

by Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
February 6, 2012

The U.S. and Canada recently signed several bilateral agreements that will further strengthen continental security and defense cooperation. Deeper military integration between both countries is part of efforts to establish a North American security perimeter and better address common global threats.

Following the recent Permanent Joint Board on Defense (PJBD) meeting which took place in Ottawa, the Commander of Canada Command, Lt.-Gen Walter Semianiw and the Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), Gen. Charles Jacoby, Jr. signed three military documents. The first was the Combined Defense Plan which a backgrounder described as a, “planning framework between Canada Command, its counterpart USNORTHCOM, and NORAD for enhanced defense cooperation between Canada and the U.S. should governments require each other’s assistance.” The second is the Information Sharing Memorandum of Understanding, “an arrangement between Canada Command, its counterpart USNORTHCOM and NORAD to identify and provide for ease of sharing information amongst the three organizations.” The Civil Assistance Plan, which was originally signed in 2008 and allows the armed forces of one nation to support the other during an emergency was also renewed for two years.

Lee Berthiaume of Postmedia News reported that, “The Combined Defense Plan has been under discussion for several years and would further integrate cross-border military co-operation at a time when the Harper government is trying to reassure Washington it has a reliable partner in Canada when it comes to security.” Defense Minister Peter MacKay is quoted as saying, “This agreement provides a framework for the combined defense of Canada and the U.S. during peace, contingencies, and war.” He added, “The plan describes the authorities and means by which the two governments would approve homeland military operations in the event of a mutually agreed threat, and how our two militaries would collaborate and share information.” In his speech in front of the PJBD, Minister MacKay also called for, “increased military involvement implementing the Beyond the Border strategy, saying the Canadian Forces and its American counterparts should be supporting civilian agencies monitoring the cross-border security.” Also on the agenda at the defense forum was security cooperation in the Arctic, along with Canadian and U.S. engagement in the Western Hemisphere.

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The Pretext for a North American Homeland Security Perimeter

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

by Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
December 14, 2011

After months of negotiations, the U.S. and Canada have unveiled new trade, regulatory and security initiatives to speed up the flow of goods and people across the border. The joint action plans provide a framework that goes beyond NAFTA and continues where the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) left off. This will take U.S.-Canada integration to the next level and is the pretext for a North American Homeland Security perimeter.

On December 7, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Beyond the Border Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan. The new deal focuses on addressing security threats early, facilitating trade, economic growth and jobs, integrating cross-border law enforcement, as well as improving infrastructure and cyber-security. It will act as a roadmap with different parts being phased in over the next several years. This includes the creation of various pilot projects. Many aspects of the agreement will also depend on the availability of funding from both governments. In addition, the two leaders issued a separate Regulatory Cooperation Council Action Plan that sets out initiatives whereby the U.S. and Canada will seek greater regulatory alignment in the areas of agriculture and food, transportation, environment, health, along with consumer products.

At a Joint News Conference, President Obama declared that, “Canada is key to achieving my goal of doubling American exports and putting folks back to work. And the two important initiatives that we agreed to today will help us do just that.” He went on to say, “we’re agreeing to a series of concrete steps to bring our economies even closer and to improve the security of our citizens.” Obama also added, “we’re going to improve our infrastructure, we’re going to introduce new technologies, we’re going to improve cargo security and screening.” Prime Minister Harper proclaimed that, “These agreements create a new, modern order for a new century. Together, they represent the most significant steps forward in Canada-U.S. cooperation since the North American Free Trade Agreement.” He explained that, “The first agreement merges U.S. and Canadian security concerns with our mutual interest in keeping our border as open as possible to legitimate commerce and travel.” Harper described how, “The second joint initiative will reduce regulatory barriers to trade by streamlining and aligning standards.”

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Canada and Mexico to Join U.S. in NAFTA of the Pacific

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

by Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
Dec 1, 2011

At the recent APEC meetings, Canada and Mexico announced their interest in joining the U.S., along with other countries already engaged in negotiations to establish what has been referred to as the NAFTA of the Pacific.

The leaders of the nine countries that are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) met at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Hawaii and agreed on the broad outlines of a free trade agreement. The current members include the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Peru and Chile. The TPP has been hailed as a, “landmark, 21st-century trade agreement, setting a new standard for global trade and incorporating next-generation issues.” Key features of the TPP are that it would provide comprehensive market access and be a fully regional agreement designed to facilitate the development of production and supply chains. Various working groups have been discussing issues such as financial services, government procurement, intellectual property, investment, rules of origin, telecommunications and trade remedies. The next round of talks will take place in December and there are hopes of concluding negotiations before the end of 2012. Apart from Canada and Mexico, Japan has also expressed interest in being part of the TPP. The door is also open for other countries to join which is why many consider it to be a building block for an Asia-Pacific free trade zone.

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North American Integration and the Ties That Bind

Monday, November 7th, 2011

by Dana Gabriel, Be Your Own Leader
Nov 7, 2011

After a two year hiatus, the leaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico are set to meet for a trilateral summit. While the push for further North American integration continues incrementally, at this time, it is unlikely that discussions will yield any grand new initiatives that involve the participation of all three NAFTA partners. Instead, the meeting could be used to build off of bilateral discussions already underway. This includes negotiations between the U.S. and Canada on a North American Security perimeter deal designed to accelerate the flow of people and goods across the border.

In an article from several months back, Robert Pastor, who has been a leading proponent of continental integration, emphasized that Obama’s jobs strategy should be a North American one. He explained how the U.S. can expand trade faster by focusing on its neighbours and also pointed out that few Americans realize just how dependent the U.S. is on Canada and Mexico. In order to facilitate this approach, Pastor recommended, “We should eliminate restrictive ‘rules of origin,’ which add a tax as high as the tariff that was eliminated by NAFTA, and combine, rather than duplicate, customs’ forms, personnel and frequent-traveler programs.” He also called on President Obama to, “expand his infrastructure fund to be a North American one, with contributions from all three countries.” Pastor went on to say, “The leaders of each nation should then instruct their transportation ministers to develop a North American plan for transportation and infrastructure that would include another trade corridor from the busiest transit point in Windsor, Ontario, to southern Mexico.” This sounds a lot like plans for a NAFTA superhighway.

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Good Intentions: Unpacking Occupy Toronto

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

by Todd Howe, WeAreChangeToronto
October 20, 2011

Optimism. More than anything, it was optimism which hung in the air as two thousand people marched through the financial district to St James Park to ‘Occupy Toronto’ this past Saturday. Decamping from the subway to the paved expanse of Commerce Court’s plaza, I was cheered by the sight of a vast crowd that had improbably ventured out on a drizzly mid-October morning. They gathered right at the geographic heart of Canada’s banking center, X marks the spot, King and Bay – it’s not the sort of thing that usually happens in Toronto. But it happened this day, and it was an unprecedented, courageous symbol – watch the video below for a brief walk-though of the day’s events. If nothing else, you had to admire the chutzpah, the obvious joy that was expressed in speaking back to power. And the celebratory mood of the demonstrators was undiminished as they sang and chanted their way up Bay and along Queen to St. James Park, united by a hope that, maybe this time, visibility might drive positive change.

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