The Big Six Goals: Canada’s priorities in the U.S.

| June 28, 2012 | 0 Comments
Gary Doer, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., meets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird outside Mrs. Clinton's office in Washington.

Gary Doer, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., meets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird outside Mrs. Clinton's office in Washington.

Canada and the U.S. have the closest and most integrated partnership in the world. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on a recent visit, “We are partners, neighbours, allies and, most of all, we are true friends.” A recent Gallup poll found that the American public agrees, with 96 percent of Americans having a positive view of Canada, the highest of any country in the world.
This relationship is underpinned by the largest bilateral trading relationship in history, with more than $1.9 billion worth of goods and services crossing our borders every day. This trade and investment is so important to the prosperity of Canadians that ensuring its continued growth and avoiding protectionist measures is always an absolute priority in Canada-U.S. relations. However, this trade is equally important to the U.S., as Canada is its largest customer of goods and services, purchasing more than the entire European Union combined.


The Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor is heavily trafficked. The new Detroit River International Crossing project would add a second bridge to the region.

The Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor is heavily trafficked. The new Detroit River International Crossing project would add a second bridge to the region.

Canada and the U.S. also work closely together across a broad spectrum of issues, including the defence of our continent, the security of our shared border and the joint stewardship of our common environment, including the more than 300 lakes and rivers that flow across our borders.
On the world stage, Canada and the U.S. cooperate in pursuing our shared goals, both bilaterally and through multilateral institutions such as NATO, the OAS and the UN. All of which means that staff in our embassy are engaged on issues ranging from the specific and local to some of the most complicated geo-political questions of the day.


Canada and the U.S. share "common cause" on many issues, including the Arctic.

Canada and the U.S. share "common cause" on many issues, including the Arctic.

While each of these issues merits attention, I’d like to focus on a few specific priorities that occupy much of my time — and which are crucial to advancing our partnership even further:

1: Beyond the Border
In February, Prime Minister Harper and President Barack Obama issued the Beyond the Border Declaration, which established a renewed long-term partnership built upon a perimeter approach to security and economic competitiveness. This approach aims to accelerate the legitimate flow of goods, services and business travellers through a new focus on cooperation both at, and away from, our border.
The leaders also created the Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) to better align our two countries’ regulatory approaches. While regulations are important, there are many examples where different regulations lead to additional costs for businesses and consumers, while offering no additional protection for health, safety or the environment. As my friend, U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson, is fond of saying, why should the Cheerios he eats in Ottawa be any different than those available in the United States?
After 10 months of intense effort by officials in both countries, the president and prime minister announced twin action plans in December.
The Perimeter Security and Economic Competiveness Action Plan sets ambitious, but achievable, goals in four areas: addressing threats early; trade facilitation, economic growth and jobs; integrating cross-border law enforcement; and critical infrastructure and cyber-security. In total, our two countries are working on more than 30 initiatives that will be implemented over the next three years.
An early success has been the mutual recognition of air cargo security, meaning that air cargo now needs to be screened only once, at the initial point of origin, thereby reducing delays and the economic costs of screening the same cargo twice.
The Action Plan on Regulatory Cooperation will help reduce barriers to trade, lower costs for consumers and business and create economic opportunities on both sides of the border. As a starting point, the RCC identified 29 initiatives in four sectors: agriculture, transportation, health and personal care products and the environment.
In both cases, these action plans are practical roadmaps for joint efforts to make our border more secure and our economies more productive. Together, these plans represent the most significant steps forward in Canada-U.S. cooperation since the North American Free Trade Agreement.

2: Detroit River International Crossing
The Canada–U.S. relationship is built on trade and nowhere is that more pronounced than in the Detroit-Windsor corridor, part of the economic and manufacturing heartland of North America.
Approximately 25 percent of U.S.-Canada trade in goods, worth more than $120 billion, crosses the Ambassador Bridge, the only one linking Detroit and Windsor, every year. And, while the Ambassador Bridge has served the region well, it has increasingly become a bottleneck, creating significant congestion in both Windsor and Detroit. In addition, the economic implications of any closure of the 83-year-old bridge would be devastating.
To alleviate these problems, Prime Minister Harper and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently announced an agreement between Canada and the State of Michigan to build a new publicly owned bridge between Windsor and Detroit. This bridge will connect to the highway systems in each country and lead to greater efficiency, security and ease of travel at the border, as well as creating thousands of construction jobs in Ontario and Michigan.
With the strong support of businesses, unions and all levels of government on both sides of the border, this project will ensure there is sufficient border-crossing capacity to allow the continued economic growth of this vital region, and we will work with the State of Michigan and the U.S. government to ensure construction begins on the new crossing as soon as possible.
3: The Energy Partnership
Canada and the United States have the closest energy relationship in the world, with Canada the leading supplier of all forms of energy to the United States.
The electricity grid in Canada and the U.S. is completely integrated. Canada supplies a significant portion of the electricity to the U.S. Northeast, Upper Midwest and Pacific Coast. With renewable hydroelectricity counting for more than 60 percent of Canadian production, clean Canadian electricity is a key element in ensuring energy security and addressing climate change.
There have also been significant increases in Canadian oil sands production over the last 20 years, which has found its way to U.S. markets beyond the traditional upper Midwest, helping to displace offshore imports. With continued expansion of Canadian production, as well as U.S. production in Montana and North Dakota, new pipelines, such as Keystone XL, are needed to reach refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. While disappointed in the decision to delay construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, we are confident the new route proposed in Nebraska will allow for its approval in due course.
Americans readily understand the economic and energy security benefits that result from expanded oil sands production and transportation — not least because more than 1,000 U.S. companies directly supply oil-sands producers. This is why every poll indicates that a substantial majority of Americans favour building the Keystone XL pipeline. A recent Pew Research Centre report put support at 66 percent.
There are environmental concerns about oil-sands production that remain and need to be addressed. However, many claims about the oil sands are “frozen facts,” which are at least 10 years old and fail to take into account recent improvements in environmental performance. In fact, when evaluated on a full life-cycle basis, emissions from Canadian oil sands products compare favourably to other forms of heavy crudes consumed in the United States, and are even less GHG-emitting than some, such as California Heavy Crude.
That said, there is more that must be done, which is why Canada and the U.S. are working together to reach our common target of reducing GHG emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. We are coordinating through the Clean Energy Dialogue, and Canada and the U.S. have both made substantial improvements through aligning our light- and heavy-duty vehicle emissions standards. This is particularly important for Canada, where transportation is the leading cause of emissions.

4: Trans-Pacific Partnership
The Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA fundamentally changed the Canadian economy, fuelling growth in the world’s largest economic relationship and resulting in annual two-way trade of more than $700 billion. Building on this success, Canada is pursuing an aggressive pro-trade strategy around the world, which includes an effort to join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership (TPP). The nine members seeking to negotiate the TPP, including the U.S., represent a market of more than 505 million people and a GDP of more than $17 trillion.
Of the submissions made to the U.S. federal register in relation to Canada’s application, 90 percent were in support, which makes sense because of the integrated nature of our economies. Canadian and U.S. companies don’t just sell things to each other; they make products together — with some products crossing the border several times before completion. Because of these integrated supply chains, it is important that both countries are included in the TPP to gain full advantage of new markets.
We continue to discuss this issue with both the Obama Administration and members of Congress to make sure they understand the benefits of Canada joining the TPP, for both Canadian and U.S. businesses.


5: Transboundary Water
Canada and the United States share three oceans and thousands of miles of fresh water, including the Great Lakes, which contain approximately 21 percent of the world’s supply. This shared resource means that trans-boundary water cooperation has always been a key part of our relationship. In fact, one of the fundamental treaties guiding Canada-U.S. relations is the Boundary Waters Treaty, which has provided the principles and mechanisms to jointly manage our shared waters since 1909. Over the past couple of years, Canada and the U.S. have worked closely together to manage a number of issues, successfully protecting the Flathead River Basin and working towards long-term solutions for flooding in trans-boundary areas.
A key focus this year has been modernizing the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, which has a 40-year legacy of bi-national success in restoring and maintaining Great Lakes water quality. This agreement outlines Canada’s commitment to work with the United States to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem, and we are working closely with the U.S. to both renew and modernize the agreement to address current and emerging issues. One particular threat is invasive species, and Canada has recently announced $17.5 million to be spent over the next five years on prevention, early warning, rapid response and management and control of Asian Carp, to ensure they do not enter the Great Lakes.


6: Canada and the U.S. in the World
Canada and the U.S. share “common cause” on a wide spectrum of critical foreign policy issues, including in the Middle East, Afghanistan, the Arctic and the Americas, at multilateral institutions such as the UN, NATO, the G8 and the G20 and on important themes such as non-proliferation and disarmament, human rights and democratic development. Approaches and nuances between our two countries differ from time to time. It is in our mutual interest, however, to work together in advancing our common agenda, whether bilaterally, in small groups of like-minded countries, or through organizations such as NATO and the UN.
This need to work closely together has been evident over the past tumultuous year in the Middle East and North Africa. Canada has worked closely with our partners, providing both military assets and the leadership of Lieutenant-General Joseph Jacques Charles Bouchard to an unprecedented coalition charged with protecting civilians in Libya. The situation in Syria has proven more challenging. Despite the best efforts of many, the international community has failed to respond with the same unanimity of purpose. Despite these challenges, Canada has worked actively with the U.S. and others to implement sanctions and isolate the Syrian regime, demanding with one voice that the Assad regime must end. Canada and the U.S. also share a common concern with Iran’s nuclear program and its persistent violations of human rights, and have worked closely with our partners to put in place a tough sanctions regime.
Closer to home, the Arctic is an important part of Canada’s foreign policy, and strategically engaging partners such as the U.S. is an important part of our approach. Our work with the U.S. includes issues related to the Beaufort Sea, the continental shelf, a mandatory code for polar navigation, arctic science and Aboriginal issues. Canada will chair the Arctic Council starting in 2013, followed by the U.S. in 2015, which may be a further opportunity to pursue issues of a common agenda.
While Canada and the U.S. play different roles on the world stage, the shared values that guide our approach to international affairs, most notably those of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, ensure that we will continue to work together in the pursuit of our common goals on a wide range of issues.

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