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Que. provincial police spent $7 million on Montebello summit: One of a number of police and security forces ensuring protection at the Montebello summit bringing together North American leaders this year, the Quebec provincial police spent over $7 million on the event alone CanWest News Service has learned. One of a number of police and security forces ensuring protection at the Montebello summit bringing together North American leaders this year, the Quebec provincial police spent over $7 million on the event alone CanWest News Service has learned.
On Aug. 20 Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon convened in the Quebec town some 80 kilometres east of Ottawa for a two-day summit as part of the Security and Prosperity Partnership. The initiative aims to deepen the integration of Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Security was both tight and expensive, especially as a three-metre high fence was raised to surround Chateau Montebello where the meetings took place, to keep hundreds of protesters away.
A number of local, provincial and federal police forces participated in the security effort on land, water and in the air, and for just one of them the bill climbed over $7 million according to an audit obtained by CanWest News Service through Quebec's access to information legislation. Figures for the others are not yet available.
According to documents obtained from the audit bureau of the Surete du Quebec, $7,192,635 was spent by the provincial police force to help secure the event, most of it to make sure enough manpower was available. A total of $4,589,965 went to cover overtime during the summit and another $1,416,303 covered lodging, transportation and catering costs. (Canada.com)
Prime Minister Harper officially endorses North American Union with Council of Foreign Relations visit Prime Minister Stephen Harper's appearance at the New York City based Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) on 25 September 2007, was an official endorsement and expression of solidarity on the North American Union agenda. Harvard University educated CNN Veteran anchor Lou Dobbs, has further confirmed the official endorsement of the Stephen Harper Minority Conservative government on North American Union, or "New America".
Mr. Harper has been apparently directed by the principal funders of the Conservative Party of Canada, which are ideologically linked to the CFR, to assimilate Canada into a new "Fortress North America" which is controlled by the U.S. political-military-industrial complex by no later than 2010.
Indeed, the Stephen Harper government has been reported to be in the process of getting various Canadian government departments and agencies to "harmonize", with U.S. governmental agencies, to expedite the assimilation of Canada into the neo-conservative vision of a "Fortress North America". (The Canadian)
U.S., Canada and Mexico Take Lead to Manage Industrial Chemicals The United States, Canada and Mexico are strengthening their efforts to ensure the safe manufacture and use of industrial chemicals by developing a regional partnership for assessing and managing potential risks. This regional partnership, announced today in Montebello, Quebec, is the result of discussions between President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America Leaders' Summit.
As part of the regional agreement, the three countries' top environmental officials agreed that their agencies would coordinate efforts to assess and take action on industrial chemicals. The United States, by 2012, will complete risk characterizations and take action, as needed, on more than 9,000 chemicals produced above 25,000 pounds per year. It also provides for the sharing of scientific information and technical understanding, best practices and research on new approaches to chemical testing and assessment. The agreement establishes goals to be met by 2020, which includes creating and updating chemical inventories in all three countries, as well as coordinating the management of chemicals in North America as outlined in other international agreements.
This U.S. commitment to complete assessments and take needed action on 9,000 chemicals will apply the results of EPA's work on High Production Volume (HPV) chemicals and extend its efforts to moderate production volume chemicals. The 2012 goal is to ensure that these chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize risks to health and the environment. (News Blaze)
N American trade, security meet wraps up North American leaders wrapped up a two-day summit here on Tuesday, trumpeting consumer protections and other joint efforts, while dismissing charges of plotting to erode national sovereignty.
The trilateral talks were "as cordial as they were constructive," said host Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, flanked by US President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon at a closing press conference.
Canada, the US and Mexico are "independent and interdependent," Harper said. "And we're committed to working together on mutual security, continued economic growth and expanding our unique North American relationship."
The partnership was launched at the first "Three Amigos" summit in Waco, Texas, in March 2005, but has been attacked by activists, labor groups and academics critical of its business focus. (Taipei Times)
Security and Prosperity Partnership Of North America home page (archive) Joint Statement
Prime Minister Harper, President Bush and President Calderón North American Leaders’ Summit
April 22, 2008
The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) was launched in March of 2005 as a trilateral effort to increase security and enhance prosperity among the United States, Canada and Mexico through greater cooperation and information sharing.
This trilateral initiative is premised on our security and our economic prosperity being mutually reinforcing. The SPP recognizes that our three great nations are bound by a shared belief in freedom, economic opportunity, and strong democratic institutions.
The SPP provides the framework to ensure that North America is the safest and best place to live and do business. It includes ambitious security and prosperity programs to keep our borders closed to terrorism yet open to trade.
The SPP builds upon, but is separate from, our long-standing trade and economic relationships. It energizes other aspects of our cooperative relations, such as the protection of our environment, our food supply, and our public health.
Key Accomplishments Since August 2007
April 22, 2008 (Security And Prosperity Partnership Of North America)
Stop, Stop! A North American Union! As Some Stoke Fears of 'Dangerous' Partnership, Reality Takes a Detour Those who celebrated immigration reform's defeat last month as "a glorious victory for the American people" have a new issue to exploit. Their target: the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, or SPP, launched in March 2005 by the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Haven't heard of it? Well, those merchants of fear and exaggeration wish you had. According to them, the SPP will lead to a host of undesirable consequences, from a 10- to 12-lane highway splitting America's heartland from Mexico to Canada, to the elimination of America's borders and an "end (of) the United States as we know it," according to CNN's Lou Dobbs. One Web site, StopSPP.com, depicts the ramifications with a graphic of North America in flames.
Dobbs and others believe that the SPP is a "blueprint for the North American Union" and that next month's summit in Montebello, Canada, between President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon will further consolidate the agreement and lead to the dissolution of U.S. sovereignty.
As it turns out, the agenda for that meeting isn't so apocalyptic. The three North American leaders are expected to announce an integrated strategy to combat pandemics, with avian flu one of the central motivations. Also finalized should be what organizers call a "trilateral regulatory cooperation framework meant to enhance competitiveness, while maintaining high standards of health and safety."
As far as an attempt to dissolve the U.S. and establish a North American Union, don't look for it in the summit's plans. There is no mention of erasing borders and establishing a separate legal system, adopting a single currency or creating a secret police. Unless, of course, the team of disease-fighting scientists somehow takes a wrong turn in Kansas City and transforms into a revolutionary army for the North American Union. In sum, the SPP doesn't pose much of a threat. (Washington Post)
OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR; The Center Shouldn't Hold IT'S just a red stake stuck in an anonymous spread of pasture 20 miles north of Belle Fourche, S.D., a rodeo town of about 5,000 inhabitants. But it is also the geographical center of the United States of America, as defined by the National Geodetic Survey in 1959. Or at least it is for now.
To find it, says Teresa Schanzenbach, executive director of the town's chamber of commerce, ''you have go into a ditch, cross a barbed-wire fence and maneuver amongst the cactus and cow pies.'' So, plans are that in August, the center of the nation is to be moved 20 miles south, and an eye-catching granite monument will be unveiled in Belle Fourche itself so that visitors can see it more easily.
This may seem like a high-handed way to treat both geography and the United States itself. Certainly the implications reach well beyond Belle Fourche. Is the balance of the nation going to be affected? Will there be a seismic tilt towards Canada? And can we be sure that the center won't shift again? History certainly suggests that it will -- and within the foreseeable future.
The event that made Belle Fourche the focal point of the nation's land mass was the admission of Hawaii and Alaska in 1959. Never have the frontiers of the United States remained fixed for so long. - Unlike the European Union, where six large nations jostle for power with 21 others of varying size, any North American model would inevitably be dominated by the partner whose population and economy are respectively almost three and six times bigger than those of the other two put together. It is significant that even at this early stage, all Security and Prosperity Partnership agreements have involved the United States, although often excluding one of the other two partners, and that American regulations are the norm for most of the partnership's 24 existing bilateral and trilateral agreements covering trade and security.
In other words, folks like Mr. Dobbs and Representative Goode are facing in the wrong direction. The partnership is increasing rather than diminishing the scope of United States sovereignty. History is resuming its normal course. It may be slower than invasion or purchase, but the regulations and agencies needed to enforce them will pull Canada and Mexico within the reach of United States jurisdiction as effectively as any means that Seward envisioned. Meanwhile, the citizens of Belle Fourche would be well advised to make the new geographical center of the United States transportable. It may eventually need to travel to somewhere near Omaha. (New York Times)
North American leaders do little to advance NAFTA Two years ago, President Bush agreed with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to set up a so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership to look at ways of deepening the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that links their countries.
Some detected a conspiracy to create a North American Union. They can relax: Talks last week at Montebello, a Canadian resort near Ottawa, among Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderón were "practical," according to the host. For example, Harper revealed that time had been spent discussing standardizing labels for jelly beans.
Officials in all three countries have worked on similar attempts to harmonize rules on everything from food to how to respond to health scares and tainted imports. This is useful, no doubt, but so small-scale as to be almost invisible, which worries some people. (Star Tribune)
North American Leaders Conclude Talks About "NAFTA On Crack" A summit of North American leaders has concluded in Montebello Quebec. On Tuesday President Bush praised NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.
* President Bush: "And I think we made some good progress towards eliminating barriers and to harmonizing regulations to a point where more prosperity will come to be."
President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon met in Montebellow to discuss an expanded version of NAFTA known as the Security and Prosperity Partnership. Canadian activist Jaggi Singh said "The Security and Prosperity Partnership is, in brief, NAFTA on crack combined with the fear and paranoia of Homeland Security policies." The three leaders also discussed border issues.
* Mexican President Felipe Calderon: "We all want secure borders. We all also want efficient borders, borders that will allow a border crossing of those who build, who contribute and of course prevent border crossings of those who damage our societies, organized crime, drug trafficking and and illegal markets."
In other news from the Canadian summit, protesters are accusing police of using undercover agents to provoke violent confrontations during the meeting. (Democracy Now)
In Depth Security and Prosperity Partnership: SPP FAQs To hear some people talk, the Security and Prosperity Partnership meetings are nothing to get worked up about.
Thomas D'Aquino, of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, has said the issues discussed at the SPP are "quite important but frankly quite boring. They're not terribly exciting."
David Bohigian, the American assistant secretary of commerce for market access and compliance, told the magazine The Nation that the SPP is mostly concerned with bureaucratic minutiae and standards harmonization.
"For instance, in the U.S., we sell baby food in several different sizes; in Canada, it's just two different sizes," he told the magazine.
But if it's all boring bureaucracy and baby food jars, why are thousands of protestors expected to show up in Montebello, Que., a small town halfway between Ottawa and Montreal, for the third leaders' meeting under the SPP? - Who is opposed to the SPP?
Opposition to the SPP exists in all three countries and on either end of the political spectrum.
Progressive groups, particularly in Canada, say the SPP amounts to Canada's deep integration with the United States.
The Council of Canadians says the SPP is anti-democratic, makes Canadians less secure and ties Canada to the U.S. "war on terror." The Council is also concerned about the SPP discussions about bulk water exports from Canada to the U.S.
The NDP has said it has concerns about the SPP's "lack of transparency and democratic oversight." NDP trade critic Peter Julian has tabled a motion calling for public consultations and full Parliamentary oversight of the SPP.
- On the Canadian government's website about the SPP, some of the agreement's accomplishments are listed:
* Initiatives that make it easier to ship goods across the border.
* Strategies to limit the impact of disasters and allow for a more co-ordinated international response and a faster recovery.
* International co-operation on intelligence, law enforcement, transportation security and border management to help reduce criminal activity and terror risks.
* Reduction of transit times by 50 per cent at the Detroit-Windsor gateway, the largest border crossing point between Canada and the U.S.
Not listed is a planned "harmonization" of pesticide limits between Canada and the U.S., which would raise the acceptable level of pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables.
The SPP's 2006 prosperity report identified "differences in pesticide maximum residue limits" as "barriers to trade." (CBC)
Analysis: Border issue to dominate summit Business leaders from the United States and Canada hope the North American summit in Montebello, Quebec, this week will put efforts to integrate the two nation’s border control systems back on track.
“The issue” of talks about a pilot project for a single frontier checkpoint where both U.S. and Canadian entry and exit formalities can be completed “will be part of the conversation,” Steven Nesmith, a former U.S. Commerce Department official now working as a lobbyist on border issues, told United Press International. He said the information came from U.S. officials involved in preparations for the summit.
A Canadian official, Susan Cartwright, confirmed to reporters at a pre-summit briefing last week that the pilot -- called the land pre-clearance project -- was one of several border issues that “would likely be discussed” at the bilateral meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President George W. Bush Monday.
The breakdown last April of talks about the pilot, mooted for the Peace Bridge -- which joins Fort Erie in Canada and Buffalo in New York state and is one of the busiest border crossings in the world -- has become something of a lightning rod for critics of the Department of Homeland Security, which pulled the United States out of negotiations on the issue after almost three years of talks. - Christopher Sands, an analyst at the Hudson Institute, said that the “very aggressive” U.S. attitude to security was also evident in the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership -- the trilateral process of keeping “our borders closed to terrorism yet open to trade,” according to its Web site.
“The security part is a little different (from the prosperity agenda), it’s very U.S.-driven,” he said. “It’s basically just a matter of the U.S. setting the standards and then getting the Canadians and the Mexicans to sign up.”
“That’s why they feel a little pushed,” he added, of Canada and Mexico. (United Press International)
Canadians in the Dark About SPP Union with the USA and Mexico The purpose of the Canada-USA-Mexico meeting in August, at Montebello, Quebec, is to ratify the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America
In less than a month’s time, on August 20, the most powerful president in the world will be arriving in Montebello, Quebec, for a two-day conference. President George W. Bush will be meeting with Stephen Harper and their Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon. So far, the silence from the Canadian and American media has been deafening.
Talk to 90 percent of people on the street and they won’t know about this upcoming conference, and if by a slim chance they do, they won’t know the purpose of the meeting or why the leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico are meeting in the dog days of summer under what amounts to a veil of secrecy. (Mexidata.info)
Watching the waistline--the thickening of the Canada-U.S. border: the difficulty of convincing the United States that Canada can September 11, 2001, was a seminal date in the young 21st century. The attacks on and collapse of the World Trade Centre in Manhattan was the seed from which grew America's preoccupation with the security of its homeland above all other national policy objectives. Canadians were justifiably proud of their immediate response to this crisis faced by their neighbour and closest ally. They opened their homes to thousands of air travels forced to land on Canadian soil and rallied in impressive numbers on Parliament Hill that same week to visibly demonstrate our nation's support. Within three months of the attacks, both countries issued the Canada-U.S. Smart Border Declaration, leading to the Canada-U.S. Smart Border Accord in 2002--aimed at improving security and border efficiency. In the aftermath of 9/11, however, Canada acquired a new imperative in its vitally important relationship with the United States--trust in a secure 49th parallel is a condition precedent for trade and further trade liberalization between both countries.
Almost seven years later, it is clear that the historical low-maintenance approach to managing the border is over. Security trumps trade for Canada's largest trading partner. This has contributed to what is commonly referred to as the "thickening" of the Canada-U.S. border, characterized by increased wait times, direct border crossing fees, additional and duplicative border programs, inconsistent regulations, and increased inspection times. (Entrepreneur)
What Trumps What in the White House? President Bush's hasty embrace of federal intervention in the Terri Schiavo case -- followed by yesterday's partial retreat -- has some folks trying to ascertain the relative importance to the White House of such factors as the "culture of life," state's rights, activist judges, the gun culture, global catastrophes and brute political calculation.
Here's how one reader put it in my Live Online discussion yesterday: "Now we learn that the Republicans have a trumping order of issues. The sanctity of marriage trumps the rights of gays and state's rights, but the 'culture of life' trumps the sanctity of marriage and state's rights. . . . (Washington Post)
Hands Across North America FOR all its bureaucratic faults, the European Union represents an important advance in the relations between nations, transforming once bitter and war-prone rivals into a model of cooperation, prosperity and community. The United States, on the other hand, blessed with two stable and peaceful neighbors, has no need for such a tight regional alliance. Or does it?
The meeting last week among the three North American leaders -- President Bush, President Vicente Fox of Mexico and Prime Minister Paul Martin of Canada -- at Mr. Bush's Texas ranch may have represented the beginning of serious discussion of that question. In their joint statement, the participants said their goal was a ''security and prosperity partnership'' for the continent. This shows a recognition that an absence of military conflict is not a good enough reason to avoid tighter regional alliances, particularly in a globalizing world where competition comes not only from other nations, but increasingly from other blocs of countries.
The idea that political stability could be a building block of economic prosperity and improved quality of life was something that Jean Monnet, the architect of the European Union, understood when he brought his long-term vision out of the ashes of a bitter war. And in 50 years, what was once simply a trade area has turned into a real political community, fostering peace and advancing the economic development of all its members.
By the time North Americans got serious about even limited continental cooperation, at the end of the cold war, it was enough to think solely in economic terms. Thus the North American Free Trade Agreement seemed sufficient to bring about prosperity and draw our countries closer together. But 11 years after it came into effect, Nafta is clearly an insufficient response to the 9/11 attacks, the strengthening of the euro, the rise of China as an economic and political power, and many other major challenges. We need to shut off the automatic pilot under which the countries of North America have been flying for the last decade. - We must move beyond just managing trade and into constructing a new relationship that has four principal goals: enhancing security cooperation; further strengthening economic ties; closing Mexico's development gap; and, certain to be the most controversial, building an institutional architecture to bring a North American community closer to reality.
First, security: the attacks of Sept. 11 and the rise of global terrorism show the need for a safety perimeter around the continent. The Mexican and the United States governments are deeply troubled by intelligence reports that Al Qaeda might be laying plans for an attack across America's southern border. But simply putting more guards and towers in the Arizona desert won't keep America safe. In place of the inefficient borders between the countries today, we need a policy on a strong external continental border.
Each country would of course keep sovereignty over the edges of its own territory, but each would have to meet border security requirements agreed upon by all three parties to ensure there are no weak links. This wall around the continent would, in turn, allow us to make internal North American crossings more flexible; the European model, with its uniform visa requirements, is worth following. - Finally, the key to achieving all these goals is creating permanent three-party institutions. Meetings like the one last week should be made annual, and the nations' defense, justice and intelligence chiefs should also meet every year to develop a common plan to fight terrorism, drug trafficking and immigrant smuggling. In time, the idea would be to create a permanent North American commission with cabinet-level representatives from each country; it would be charged not only with firming up nuts-and-bolts agreements on trade and security, but also with working toward an eventual goal of a true North American union.
Undoubtedly, this level of cooperation would be a hard sell to Americans, who would assume they would have the most to lose. But simply maintaining the status quo will not help the United States maintain its dominance in a changing world. Just as the Bush administration has articulated a radical strategy of military pre-emption in its national security strategy, it needs a similarly bold approach for defending the country's economic future.
Maybe, just maybe, the men gathered at the Crawford ranch could some day be seen as the Jean Monnets of their age, the founding fathers of the North American Community. (New York Times)
Transcript: Bush, Fox, and Martin Joint Press Conference: The following is a transcript of the joint press conference by President Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin BUSH: Thank you all for coming. It's my honor to welcome two friends to Baylor University.
First, I want to thank the Baylor University family for providing these facilities for us. Your hospitality is awesome.
I appreciate the meetings we've just had. Our relationships are important today. We intend to keep our relationships strong. Our relationships will be equally important for the years to come.
And so we had a good discussion about prosperity and security. Turns out the two go hand in hand. It's important for us to work to make sure our countries are safe and secure in order that our people can live in peace, as well as our economies can grow.
We've got a lot of trade with each other. We intend to keep it that way. We've got a lot of crossings of the border, and intend to make our borders more secure and facilitate legal traffic.
BUSH: We've got a lot to do. And so we charged our ministers with the task of figuring out how best to keep these relationships vibrant and strong. (Washington Post)
Canada's International Policy Statement Securing access to markets through trade agreements remains important, but there is increased recognition that investment is a much more significant driver of economic growth.
The forthcoming International Policy Statement (IPS) is likely to highlight a broad set of measures that can make the country more competitive (for instance, in attracting and keeping human capital). Moreover, investment agreements, such as the one being negotiated with the EU, will probably be emphasised as models for engagement with new economic partners. (Forbes)
Task Force Urges Measures to Strengthen North American Competitiveness, Expand Trade, Ensure Border Security North America is vulnerable on several fronts: the region faces terrorist and criminal security threats, increased economic competition from abroad, and uneven economic development at home. In response to these challenges, a trinational, Independent Task Force on the Future of North America has developed a roadmap to promote North American security and advance the well-being of citizens of all three countries.
When the leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States met in Texas recently they underscored the deep ties and shared principles of the three countries. The Council-sponsored Task Force applauds the announced "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America," but proposes a more ambitious vision of a new community by 2010 and specific recommendations on how to achieve it.
Pointing to increased competition from the European Union and rising economic powers such as India and China in the eleven years since NAFTA took effect, co-chair Pedro C. Aspe, former Finance Minister of Mexico, said, "We need a vision for North America to address the new challenges." The Task Force establishes a blueprint for a powerhouse North American trading area that allows for the seamless movement of goods, increased labor mobility, and energy security.
"We are asking the leaders of the United States, Mexico, and Canada to be bold and adopt a vision of the future that is bigger than, and beyond, the immediate problems of the present," said co-chair John P. Manley, Former Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. "They could be the architects of a new community of North America, not mere custodians of the status quo." (Council on Foreign Relations)
Our Sad Neglect of Mexico Whether you believe Mexican immigrants help or hurt the United States, there is one truth you have to accept: Work here pays much, much better. A low-skill Mexican worker earns five to six times as much in this country as back home, assuming he or she could find a comparable job there.
This truth is so obvious it seems a cliche and yet it remains mostly absent from the debate on how to reform U.S. immigration. For all the talk around the country of border enforcement, guest-worker programs, employer sanctions and driver's license restrictions, the sad fact is that none of these "solutions" addresses the root of the problem: a persistent and large income disparity between the United States and Mexico.
Even the most comprehensive and progressive immigration reform proposal in years, introduced this month by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), is more concerned with making U.S. immigration policy more humane than dealing with this income disparity. The bill crafts a guest-worker program -- creating new visa categories and quotas and a secure identification system for employers -- but provides only a vague indication that income disparity might be a problem or a responsibility to take on. (Washington Post)
U.S. EPA, Mexico, announce air quality environmental successes at Tijuana conference: Mexico to use low-sulfur diesel along border; diesel emission reductions agreement to be signed Representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and SEMARNAT, Mexico's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources met October 19 in Tijuana, Mexico, to announce significant policy changes that will improve the air quality for 12 million residents along the U.S. - Mexico border.
U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri joined Secretary Jose Luis Luege Tamargo of Mexico's environmental agency SEMARNAT to announce Mexico's plan to aggressively reduce sulfur levels in gasoline and diesel fuel beginning in 2006. Mexico is further exploring accelerated introduction of these cleaner fuels in key areas of the country including the US-Mexico border.
This announcement is the most important achievement in meeting the environment agenda developed under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America signed on March 23, 2005 by President Bush, President Fox of Mexico, and Prime Minister Martin of Canada. The SPP is an effort to address the threat of terrorism and to enhance the security, competitiveness and quality of life in North America. (Environmental Protection Agency)
Think Outside the Border FEW things infuriate Canadians more than to be told (by Americans) that their quiet, tolerant nation treats potential terrorists with kid gloves, putting their neighbors in mortal danger. Some of the wind has gone out of that argument since the arrests this month of 17 men in the Toronto area who were allegedly planning to attack Parliament buildings in Ottawa and behead the prime minister. Some of the wind, that is, but not all.
Representative Peter King, a New York Republican, warned last week that ''very liberal'' Canadian immigration and asylum laws encouraged a large Qaeda presence north of the border. Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, noted darkly that trucks carrying Canadian garbage to America receive little or no scrutiny.
The 49th Parallel is indeed riddled with security gaps. But the most high-profile solution on the table would complicate the lives of millions of Canadians and Americans, and perhaps seriously damage their closely linked economies. That solution comes out of laws passed by Congress in response to 9/11 mandating that next year Americans and Canadians crossing the border by airplane will need passports or other federal government-approved identification to get through United States customs. In 2008 similar requirements will be imposed at the 140 land-border crossings between the United States and Canada. (New York Times)
Are we safe? Unlike citizens of Great Britain, the United States and Spain, the Canadian public has remained unscathed during the so-called war on terror. Even after Osama bin Laden named Canada an enemy, we seemed unconvinced that our multicultural, tolerant and peace-loving nation could experience what others have.
It all seemed so far away.
Yet in light of last weekend's arrests and the allegations that a homegrown terror cell planned to attack Canadian targets, perhaps that perception has changed. (The Globe and Mail)
Texans fear US sovereignty will disappear down superhighway If it were built, the road would be one of the engineering wonders of the 21st century -a trade route a quarter of a mile wide, carving a path from Mexico through the heart of America to Canada.
In its most radical form, it would allow lorry drivers to travel hundreds of miles from the Mexican border deep into the US before reaching customs and immigration controls in Kansas. (London Telegraph)
The U.S. and Mexico: A Newly Courting Couple? During his first visit to Washington after being elected president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon didn't sound that different from other Mexican presidents trying to make a splash here. He frequently repeated his desire to make Mexico "one of the best places to invest in the world," and added that Mexico's prosperity would help reduce the number of illegal immigrants coming to the U.S. Instead of having "people crossing the border looking for capital ... we need capital crossing the border looking for people," he said.
If some of us who heard him speak to Washington Post editors and reporters seemed a bit skeptical, you couldn't blame us. Not only had many of us heard similar pronouncements before, but here was a man who had won the presidency on such a close vote that the runner-up tried to form a parallel government and members of Congress sought to prevent Calderon from being sworn in.
But Calderon has acted swiftly and confidently since his chaotic inauguration in December. He deployed thousands of troops to half a dozen Mexican states plagued by a growing and gruesome wave of drug violence. And he cleared the way for the extradition of 15 drug traffickers to the United States, including some major figures such as Osiel Cardenas Guillen, head of the powerful Gulf Cartel. - There is even talk of substantially increasing U.S. monetary assistance, a heresy to some in this country but more realistic today considering the current climate. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, has introduced a bill in the U.S. Congress to provide Mexico $850 million in aid during the next five years, including funds for helicopters and police training.
There are obstacles to $850 million worth of cooperation. Many here believe that Mexico, as a middle-income country, has enough resources to help itself or is too corrupt to properly utilize funds. Mexicans too have been traditionally suspicious of U.S. intentions in their territory and, as Cuellar says, "We cannot erase that history." If more assistance does become a reality it would likely be targeted mostly for Mexico's poorer southern regions, according to a U.S. official. (Washington Post)
Canada unveils border security plan Canada unveiled a major border security and prosperity initiative Friday, saying it would spend $431.6 million over the next five years to protect its border from terrorist, economic and environmental threats, according to the Canada Border Services Agency's website.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day made the announcement at the Canada-U.S. border crossing between Windsor and Detroit, where one-third of the $1.6 billion in daily trade between the North American neighbors passes.
"I even sometimes surprise my American friends when I remind them that the trade that comes across the Ambassador Bridge in total is greater than all of the trade that exists between the United States and Japan," Day told a news conference. (Associated Press)
North American Leaders Discuss Security Promoting prosperity topped the agenda at a gathering of U.S., Canadian and Mexican Cabinet leaders Friday, but immigration and the threat of terrorism also were key topics at the gathering.
Nine foreign and security ministers from the North American nations met in Ottawa, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
The Security and Prosperity Partnership talks were a lead-up to a meeting of the countries' leaders this August in Canada. (Associated Press)
Economic nationalism -- rest in peace It's hard to take seriously Stéphane Dion's belated championing of Canadian economic nationalism. The Liberal leader caused consternation in the financial press when he showed up at the corner of King and Bay this week to decry federal government policies that he said were eating away at the country's economic sovereignty. The financial press need not worry.
True, Dion did use a smattering of nationalist rhetoric. "Canada is not for sale," he said, in a speech that accused the Stephen Harper Conservatives of making it easier for foreigners to take over this country's companies. "I believe domestic ownership does matter ... I promise to ... protect our economic sovereignty."
All of this got The Globe and Mail in quite a lather. One editorial warned that the ghost of Walter Gordon – the one-time federal finance minister who, until his death, symbolized the nationalist wing within the Liberal party – was stalking the land. (Toronto Star)
Securing the Promise of the Western Hemisphere [Rush Transcript; Federal News Service] ANN M. FUDGE: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us on a Monday morning. I would again just like to welcome you to today's Council on Foreign Relations meeting. It's part of the C. Peter McColough Series on International Economics and is cosponsored with the council's corporate program and the Maurice Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies.
Before we begin, please remember to turn off your cell phones and other wireless devices.
I would like to remind the audience today that this meeting is on the record. And what I would like to do is very briefly introduce our speaker this morning, Secretary Gutierrez. He will be talking about Latin America, which has been a topic that has been of interest to many of the council members. So without any further delay, I will bring Carlos up and begin the program, so we will have much time for question and answers. (Council on Foreign Relations)
George W. Bush Is GOP's Bill Clinton: National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive Those of you who heard my radio program back in 2001 know that I predicted then that George W. Bush would do to the Republican Party much the same thing that Bill Clinton did to the Democratic Party. However, I must confess, I could not then realize the magnitude of that prediction.
Most of us remember that it was the election of Bill Clinton in 1992 that was the impetus for the Republican revolution of 1994. If you recall, a congressional election sweep of the magnitude of 1994 had not been seen in the previous seventy years. It is a truism that Bill Clinton helped to elect more Republicans than the Republican National Committee could ever dream about. Now, the same thing is happening with George W. Bush. In spades!
Amazingly, the two issues that I predicated my prediction on have materialized exactly as I said they would. I warned my audience in 2001 that George W. Bush had every intention of invading Iraq, and once there, did not plan to leave, but would probably seek to expand the war's theatre. I also predicted that Bush would seek to facilitate illegal immigration and create the working group to create a hemispheric government. (Canadian Free Press)
EPA Releases List of High-Volume Chemicals The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released the first set of Hazard Characterizations on 101 High Production Volume (HPV) chemicals. These characterizations are based on EPA’s scientific review of the screening-level hazard, or toxicity, data that was submitted by the U.S. chemical industry through EPA’s HPV Challenge Program or other information previously collected by the agency.
The HPV Challenge Program challenged companies to provide the public with basic health and safety data on chemicals that are manufactured in excess of a million pounds a year. The hazard characterizations include a summary of the data submitted, EPA’s evaluation of the quality and completeness of the data, and an assessment of the potential hazards that a chemical or chemical category may pose. EPA will combine this information with human and environmental exposure information collected from EPA’s Inventory Update Reporting to develop a risk characterization and, based on that review, determine if additional action is needed to ensure the safety of the HPV chemicals’ manufacture and use. (Web Wire)
Daily Buzz: US Airmen Give Eerie Testimony at UFO Press Conference An interesting development for UFO conspiracy theorists, a group of former US Airmen held a press conference Monday to call the US government to task for saying UFOs don't pose any national security threat.
During the press conference in Washington D.C., seven former air force officers who had been stationed at different nuclear defense bases around the country not only said they witnessed UFOs but that the UFOs were able to disable nuclear weapons.
"Nobody was injured and I don't consider it an attack but it certainly it was a national security incident and something the Air Force said has never happen in their official policy documents," said Robert Salas, a former U.S. Air Force Nuclear Launch Officer. (Woman's Day)
On the frontline of cyber warfare In the future, warfare may shift from a battlefield to a keyboard.
Superpowers might deem a nuclear exchange too destructive, but already they are developing Weapons of Mass Disruption; software viruses that are designed to cripple the operating systems of power stations, dams, traffic lights and public transport.
This is the stark warning from Datuk Mohammed Noor Amin Chairman of the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats (IMPACT).
"It's not just superpowers, even medium-powers are increasingly equipping themselves with the skills to do harm. The only issue is whether it is going to be used or not," said Amin.
If you think of computer viruses in equivalent terms to pathological viruses in the real world, then IMPACT is akin to the Center for Disease Control.
It's not just superpowers, even medium-powers are increasingly equipping themselves with the skills to do harm. (CNN)
Golden Ratio Discovered in Quantum World: Hidden Symmetry Observed for the First Time in Solid State Matter Researchers from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB), in cooperation with colleagues from Oxford and Bristol Universities, as well as the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK, have for the first time observed a nanoscale symmetry hidden in solid state matter. They have measured the signatures of a symmetry showing the same attributes as the golden ratio famous from art and architecture.
The research team is publishing these findings in the Jan. 8, 2010 issue of the journal Science.
On the atomic scale particles do not behave as we know it in the macro-atomic world. New properties emerge which are the result of an effect known as the Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. In order to study these nanoscale quantum effects the researchers have focused on the magnetic material cobalt niobate. It consists of linked magnetic atoms, which form chains just like a very thin bar magnet, but only one atom wide and are a useful model for describing ferromagnetism on the nanoscale in solid state matter. (Science Daily)
Canada Votes: Top 5 Issue Groups on Facebook
The Federal electoral campaign on Facebook is not only centered on parties, politicians and leaders – issues of common interests are also a central part of online political discussion.
Most of the prominent issue groups on Facebook were created before the start of the campaign. For instance, "I'm against the text message cash-grab", the top group in our sample with 36,855 members, was created in early July 2008. The top issues are varied, from text messaging and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, to Bill C-484, Arts funding and the release of Omar Khadr from Guantanamo. The "Department of Culture" is the only Facebook group started during the election, growing in membership as arts and culture funding emerged as a major issue in the campaign. (CBC)
Easterners could freeze in the dark At a meeting of the House of Commons' international trade committee earlier this month, Leon Benoit, the Conservative chairman, ordered me to stop my presentation as an invited witness. My remarks, he ruled, were not relevant. When his decision was successfully challenged by other members of the committee, Mr. Benoit adjourned the meeting and left the room.
I was astonished. I had spent several days preparing for my presentation, and two days in transit. Later, I learned that Mr. Benoit's behaviour may have been prompted by a secret guidebook for Conservative chairmen, designed to interrupt witnesses challenging government positions.
If so, it backfired. Suppression intrigues people. They want to know what caused the storm.
I was cut off after noting that the United States has a National Energy Policy (a NEP) that emphasizes self-sufficiency, energy independence and domestic ownership.
And while Canada, as part of our bilateral Security and Prosperity Partnership initiative, supports U.S. efforts to wean itself off Middle Eastern oil, I noted that we do not have a NEP of our own. (The Globe and Mail)
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