Advancing U.S.-Canada Economic, Energy and Security Integration – Dana Gabriel

August 30th, 2011

(BeYourOwnLeader) – Much has been made about the secretive nature and lack of transparency  surrounding efforts by the U.S. and Canada to create a North American security  perimeter. With several high-level meetings in the last month, not to mention  all the behind the scenes negotiations, it is expected that an action plan will  be unveiled at some point in September. From a U.S. perspective, it is security  which is driving the agenda, while on the Canadian side, facilitating trade and  easing the flow of goods across the border is the focal point. Any deal reached  will build off of past initiatives and be used to advance economic, energy and  security integration between the two countries.

During a bilateral  meeting in early August, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and  Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird discussed issues pertaining to the  Middle East and the Western Hemisphere. Also high on the agenda was U.S.- Canada  relations. This included the declaration, Beyond  the Border: Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic  Competitiveness issued by U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime  Minister Stephen Harper back in February of this year. At a news conference following her meeting with Minister Baird, Secretary Clinton stressed that, “it’s critical that we ensure our border remains a safe, vibrant connector of  people, trade, and energy. And today, the minister and I discussed other ways to  expand trade and investment; for example, by reducing unnecessary regulations.” It is interesting that Clinton brought up energy as this is also an intrical  part of North American integration which is being further advanced through the U.S.-Canada  Clean Energy Dialogue, as well as other initiatives.

Another issue  that came up during Clinton and Baird’s meeting was the proposed Keystone XL  pipeline. If approved, it would carry oil sands crude from the province of  Alberta and pass through the U.S. states of Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska,  Kansas to delivery points in Oklahoma and Texas, at the Gulf of Mexico. While  addressing a question at a joint news conference about delays on coming to a  decision on the pipeline, Secretary Clinton said, “We are leaving no stone  unturned in this process and we expect to make a decision on the permit before  the end of this year.” Several months back, the Environmental  Protection Agency expressed concerns about environmental impacts associated  with the project, as well as the level of analysis and information being  provided. With the State Department’s recent release of its Final Environmental  Impact Statement, the Keystone XL pipeline has moved one step closer to a  final decision. The review period will now go, “beyond environmental impact,  taking into account economic, energy security, (and) foreign policy.” While  there continues to be vocal opposition to the project, it is being touted as  important for future U.S. energy security.

In May of this year, the House  Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a series of  hearings which among other things, examined legislation concerning the North  American-Made Energy Security Act. The bill called on, “the President to  expedite the consideration and approval of the construction and operation of the  Keystone XL oil pipeline.” With regards to oil consumption, it acknowledged  that, “While a significant portion of imports are derived from allies such as  Canada and Mexico, the United States remains vulnerable to substantial supply  disruptions created by geopolitical tumult in major producing nations.” It goes  on to say. “The development and delivery of oil and gas from Canada to the  United States is in the national interest of the United States.” The bill also  stated, “Continued development of North American energy resources, including  Canadian oil, increases domestic refiners’ access to stable and reliable sources  of crude and improves certainty of fuel supply for the Department of Defense.” In other words, more Canadian oil is needed to fuel the U.S. war machine. This  all ties in with the perimeter security deal and further removing trade  barriers. It is part of U.S. efforts to secure more access and control of  Canadian resources.

The Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) was created at the same time as President Obama and Prime Minister Harper  signed the Beyond the Border declaration. The RCC aims to further advance  regulatory harmonization in a wide range of areas. While the border security and  regulatory cooperation discussions are separate, they do go hand in hand. In  June, the RCC  held its first meeting which centered around the development of a joint  action plan and the creation of working groups in key sectors. The Terms  of Reference for the RCC establishes the mandate and principles by which it  will carry forth. When an action plan is completed it, “will outline activities  for a period of up to two years. At the end of the two-year period, Canada and  the United States will review the work of the RCC and consider the adoption of a  new Action Plan.” While this is a bilateral initiative, “The United States and  Canada will seek, to the extent possible, to coordinate the RCC’s activities  with the work of the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Council when  the three governments identify regulatory issues of common interest in North  America.” At some point, these dual-bilateral councils could come together to  form a single continental regulatory body.

On August 15, 2011, U.S.  Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano met with Canada’s Public Safety  Minister Vic Toews, “to discuss the ongoing partnership between the United  States and Canada to work collaboratively on our shared vision for perimeter  security and strengthen information sharing to better combat cross-border crime,  while expediting legitimate trade and travel.” The bilateral  meeting was an opportunity to review progress being made on an action plan  that is being developed by the Beyond  the Border Working Group. The Toronto  Star reported that Napolitano and Toews also discussed increasing joint  border operations such as the Shiprider  program which allows law enforcement officials from both countries to  operate together. Secretary Napolitano explained. “We’re looking at expanding  that kind of basic concept to other areas where we can do more by way of joint  law enforcement operation, intelligence gathering and … joint policing.” This  would also further build off of the Integrated Border  Enforcement Team Program, a bi-national initiative which is comprised of  both Canadian and American law enforcement agencies. Eventually, you could see  the creation of a joint U.S.-Canada organization managing the border.

Following his meeting with Secretary Napolitano, Minister Towes also  announced that Prime Minister Harper and U.S. President Obama will meet in early  fall where they will be updated and provide further directions on plans for a  North American security perimeter. There are fears that any deal reached could  be lopsided with Canada giving up more than it gains. Over the last number of  years, Canada has already enacted many U.S. security measures. As part of a  continental security perimeter arrangement, Canada could be forced to comply  with any new U.S. requirements, regardless of the risks they may pose to privacy  and civil liberties.

Source: Be Your Own Leader

Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues. Contact: beyourownleader@hotmail.com

Related Articles by Dana Gabriel
A  North American Security Perimeter Threatens Sovereignty
Towards  a North American Energy Corridor
Indoctrinating  a New Generation to Think North American
U.S.-Canada  Perimeter Security and an Integrated North American Command

 

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