statism watch

Canada-U.S. Deep Integration Agenda Continues Unabated

Monday, March 28th, 2011

By Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
March 28, 2011

Canada and the U.S recently issued a joint threat and risk assessment as part of ongoing efforts to further enhance security on the northern border. This initiative supports a declaration by the leaders which will work towards facilitating the movement of travel and trade between the two countries. The Canadian government has announced that they are seeking online public consultation on the security perimeter arrangement. Meanwhile, the country has been thrust into an election with the defeat of the ruling Conservative party in a non-confidence vote. During the campaign, sovereignty concerns associated with the proposed trade and security deal could become a hot-button issue.

On March 10 of this year, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews unveiled a Joint Border Threat and Risk Assessment. The report focuses on national security, criminal enterprises, migration, agriculture and health threats to the border. A press release described how the joint initiative, “is a part of a shared vision for border security that Secretary Napolitano and Minister Toews outlined during meetings held throughout 2010, and reflects their mutual commitment to working together to safeguard both nations’ vital assets, networks, infrastructure and citizens.” The assessment addresses common threats to the border such as, “terrorism and transnational crime articulated by President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in February. Their historic declaration — ‘Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness’ — sets forth how the United States and Canada will manage our shared homeland and economic security.”

A North American Security Perimeter Threatens National Sovereignty

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

by Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
February 10, 2011

Canada and the U.S. have officially launched negotiations on a trade and security agreement which would take continental integration to the next level. A declaration issued by the leaders follows months of secret preliminary talks. The deal would work towards facilitating the movement of travel and trade across the northern border. This includes pursuing a perimeter approach to security in an effort to better address common threats. The agreement sets in motion an agenda with the aim of going beyond NAFTA and further expanding on the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), but in the context of a bilateral framework.

On February 4, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a declaration which, “establishes a new long-term partnership that will accelerate the legitimate flows of people and goods between both countries, while strengthening security and economic competitiveness.” Beyond the Border: a Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness will, “focus on four areas of co-operation: addressing threats early; trade facilitation, economic growth and jobs; integrated cross-border law enforcement; and critical infrastructure and cyber-security.” According to the declaration, both nations will, “develop a joint action plan on perimeter security and economic competitiveness that will set out a range of initiatives in the four key areas to improve both countries’ ability to manage security risks, while facilitating the flow of people, goods and services.” The newly formed Beyond the Border Working Group will, “report to their respective Leaders in the coming months, and after a period of consultation, with a joint Plan of Action to realize the goals of this declaration.” The agenda set forth is nothing more than a rehashing of some of the SPP’s security priorities, but without Mexican involvement.

President Obama and Prime Minster Harper also addressed ways to coordinate and harmonize regulations in order to ease red tape for businesses that do trade on both sides of the border. They announced the creation of a United States-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) which will, “promote economic growth, job creation, and benefits to our consumers and businesses through increased regulatory transparency and coordination.” According to a joint statement, the leaders, “are committed to working through the RCC to provide early notice of regulations with potential effects across our shared border, to strengthen the analytic basis of regulations, and to help make regulations more compatible.” Both countries will also, “work through the RCC to determine sectors on which to focus its work that are characterized by high levels of integration, significant growth potential, and rapidly evolving technologies.” Improving regulatory cooperation was a key element of the SPP’s prosperity agenda. Its stated goals are laid out in the SPP Regulatory Cooperation Framework.


Deepening Canada-US Security and Military Ties

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

by Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
January 29, 2011

A recent North American defense ministers meeting was originally scheduled to be a trilateral gathering, but Mexico’s Secretary of Defense was unable to participate in the summit. Canada-U.S. talks focused on continental, hemispheric, as well as global defense issues. The meeting went a long way to further deepen bilateral security and military ties. It was also significant considering that Canada and the U.S. are currently negotiating an agreement that would work towards establishing a perimeter approach to security.

On January 27, Canadian Minister of National Defense Peter MacKay hosted a bilateral meeting with his American counterpart U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, which centered on security issues of common interest. MacKay characterized the bilateral talks as an opportunity to, “build a better understanding of the threats facing our countries, as well as discuss the most effective ways to address them.” He added, “Our objective is simple: we will work to build on our defence and security cooperation with coordinated and sustained action.” Gates and MacKay addressed security issues facing Mexico and Central America. They discussed expanding cooperation in the Arctic, along with efforts to counter piracy, narcotics and human-trafficking. Also on the agenda was Afghanistan. Canada was set to pull its troops out in July of this year, but now its mission has been extended. It will transition from a combat role to training members of the Afghan military and police forces until 2014. In the coming years, Canada could be asked to play a bigger role in the war on terrorism, including participation in any future U.S.-NATO military operations.


NATO Arctic Security and Canadian Sovereignty in the Far North

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
November 22, 2010

In many ways, the Arctic has become a geopolitical game with mixed messages being sent from all sides. There appears to be a real contradiction in what is being said and what is actually being done to safeguard sovereignty. While Arctic countries have emphasized the importance of resolving conflicting boundary claims through enhanced cooperation, at times, rhetoric has served to fuel rivalries in the resource-rich area. NATO has declared the Arctic a strategically important region with northern member nations individually or collaboratively conducting military and naval operations to showcase their capabilities.

Some have called the release of Canada’s Arctic Foreign Policy statement in August, a significant shift from the Conservative government’s often hostile approach in addressing sovereignty issues in the far north. The policy paper declared that, “Canada’s vision for the Arctic is of a stable, rules-based region with clearly defined boundaries.” It plans to pursue its interests through leadership, stewardship, diplomacy and respect for international law. Canada also seeks a more strategic engagement with the U.S. in the Arctic. Over the summer, they conducted their third joint continental shelf survey. The U.S. and Canada are gradually moving towards merging their Arctic policies and further adopting a more North American strategy. While Canada is placing more emphasis on cooperation and appears ready to resolve boundary disputes, absent is any concrete suggestion on how to engage Russia. Both have claimed the Lomonosov Ridge under the Arctic as an extension of their respective continental shelves. Any aggressive moves to enforce sovereignty in the area could jeopardize future bilateral relations and lead to a possible confrontation.


Counting the Cost: Canada’s Longest War

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Todd Howe, WeAreChangeToronto
November 20, 2010

In March 2009,  PM Stephen Harper was being interviewed on CNN when he told Fareed Zakaria that “…we are not ever going to defeat the insurgency.” The interview was remarkable not only for its candor (and Harper’s in reputable company on this point) but also because it seemed so off-message. He went on to say that  “[From] my reading of Afghanistan history, it’s probably had an insurgency forever, of some kind.” Really?

Afghanistan lies at the crossroads of of central Asia and is the intersection of empires. The windswept homeland of  independent nomadic peoples, it’s weathered waves of invaders — Alexander and the Macedonians, the Mongols, English and Russian empires, all have come seeking occupation of this geopolitical keystone and all have been repelled. The present conflict, which has been dubbed the ‘New Great Game’, has very deep roots.


The Criminalization of Dissent – The Toronto G20 Redux, Pt 2

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Todd Howe, WeAreChangeToronto
October 31, 2010

Early on the morning of Sunday June 27th, police burst into the University of Toronto’s Graduate Student’s Union. There they arrested around seventy sleeping political activists, protesters, guests from out of town that the GSU had billeted for the weekend and allowed to crash on the floor of the gymnasium. They were seized and led away (some barefooted) to waiting buses for the trip to the freezing cold, perpetually illuminated cells of Torontonamo Bay – otherwise known as the Eastern Avenue detention center. Fast forward three and a half months to October 14th, and all charges of conspiracy and unlawful assembly have been dropped. In fact, of the roughly 1,100 people arrested over the course of the G20 weekend, charges have been dropped against all but 100 detainees as of this writing.

Two other glaring instances of detention and mass arrest occurred during the evenings of Saturday June 26th, outside of the Novotel building on the Esplanade, and Sunday June 27th at Queen and Spadina. In the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s preliminary report on the summit, the authors write “it appeared that after 5pm on Saturday, the constitutional protection against arbitrary detention and unreasonable searches had effectively been suspended across downtown Toronto.”


Everything is OK – The Toronto G20 Redux, Pt 1

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Todd Howe, WeAreChangeToronto
October 14, 2010

Photo: Michael Hudson

It’s been three months since the Toronto G20 upended this city’s downtown core, and October has produced a promising crop of critical and artistic reactions to the summit. Local documentarian Adam Letalik released his new film Toronto G20 Exposed to a packed room at Ryerson University October 6th. The Hindsight’s G20/20 multimedia art retrospective of the summit was exhibited this past weekend at Studio 561. And on October the 20th, Steve Paikin is scheduled to interview TPS Chief Bill Blair on TVO’s The Agenda.

Yet while memories of June’s G20 summit may still be fresh to political pros, activists, and residents of Toronto’s metro core, for many Canadians this memory is already fading, becoming history. The leader’s big top is dismantled, the circus long since latched on to its next international host. And why not? For those that caught the weekend’s news at home, the coverage in the aggregate presented a simple morality play of clashes between black-garbed ‘anarchists’ and police, leading inevitably to the rain-drenched roundup of hundreds of protesters, passerby and media on Sunday evening. And maybe this is explanation enough. Maybe the largest mass arrest in Canadian history was a regrettable yet unavoidable business in a nation that prides itself on Peace, Order, and Good Government.


U.S. Economic, Political, and Military Expansion in Asia-Pacific Region

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
October 4, 2010

The U.S. is stepping up efforts to gain more influence in Asia-Pacific through participation in more regional institutions and negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. U.S. foreign policy seeks to shape the future of the region in an attempt to dominate economic, political and security issues.

There are concerns over the rise of trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific by U.S. competitors that could greatly affect its interests. The TPP is seen by many as a key component of America’s trade strategy for further engagement in the region. A U.S. government fact sheet describes the TPP as a, “potential platform for economic integration across the Asia Pacific region. The United States will engage with an initial group of seven like-minded countries, Singapore, Chile, New Zealand, Brunei, Australia, Peru, and Vietnam, to craft a platform for a high-standard, comprehensive agreement – one that reflects U.S. priorities and values – with these and additional Asia-Pacific partners.” The TPP is open to other countries with Canada, Malaysia and the Philippines, among some of the nations that have shown interest in joining. It has been suggested that the U.S. may want the current eight partnership countries to reach an initial high-quality agreement before bringing others into the pact. In an effort to play a more dominant role, the TPP could be a means to address long-standing U.S. economic interests in Asia and be used to counter increasing Chinese trade in the region.


Expanding US-Canada Security and Economic Partnership

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
September 13, 2010

In recent years, U.S.-Canada border issues have been overshadowed by concerns surrounding illegal immigration and drug violence on the southern border. Earlier this summer, both countries agreed to work towards a more joint approach to border security aimed at addressing common threats and promoting economic cooperation.

In July, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, “met to advance a strategic dialogue on developing a shared vision for border security for Canada and the United States–one that will enhance security and resilience against common threats, while bolstering competitiveness and job creation.” A number of initiatives were announced, including an agreement to complete a joint threat and risk assessment which, “addresses drug trafficking and illegal immigration, the illicit movement of prohibited or controlled goods, agricultural hazards, and the spread of infectious disease.” In addition, a memorandum of understanding on cross-border currency seizures and information sharing was signed that, “will help to identify potential threats and assist in money-laundering and terrorist-financing investigations and prosecutions.” Increasingly, Canada is being pressured to further take on U.S. security priorities in an effort to keep trade flowing across the northern border.


NORAD-Russian Joint Air Drill, Bomber Incursions and Canada’s F-35 Jet Purchase

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
August 22, 2010

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Russian Federation Air Force conducted a cooperative air defense exercise from August 8-11 that focused on combating terrorism.

Vigilant Eagle was hailed as a milestone exercise between the Cold War era rivals. It included Russian, U.S., along with Canadian Air Force personnel operating from command centers inside Russia and the United States directing fighter jets, as well as civilian air traffic controllers. It took several years to stage the drill which centered around, “an international air terrorism scenario exercised over the Pacific Ocean consisting of forces from the U.S. and Russia responding to the simulated hijacking of a B-757 en route to the Far East.” The joint exercise was, “designed to establish clear communication processes that would allow the two forces to work together during a real crisis.” Russian Air Force Col. Alexander Vasilyev emphasized the importance of cooperation in combating the dangers of air terrorism. He stated, “Terrorism is something that affects all our countries. So it is very important that we work together to develop procedures and bring the relationship between our countries closer together to unite our countries in the fight against terrorism.”

In April, it was announced that, “NATO and Russia have begun a testing phase of a joint system for air traffic coordination. This will be the first NATO-Russia system of this kind to be fielded. The system focuses primarily on the fight against terrorism and will provide a shared radar picture of air traffic and early notification of suspicious air activities.” The report entitled the Moscow Metro Bombings and Terrorism in Russia also addresses the possibility of developing further practical NATO-Russia cooperation in regards to terrorism. President Barack Obama has called for Russia and the U.S. to further deepen collaboration on security and anti-terrorism matters. In May, the Associated Press reported that, “Obama told a Russian television station that no single country can defeat terrorists who have attacked targets throughout the world. He said he looks forward to ‘increasing cooperation between the United States and Russia’ on fighting terrorism.” Despite any past or present tension between the two countries, the seemingly endless shadowy war on terrorism has provided a common enemy and demonstrated how the global conflict can at times make strange bedfellows.