Emphasizing the positive

| June 23, 2015 | 0 Comments
With U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden looking on, Ambassador Heyman delivers remarks at his swearing-in ceremony. (Photo: State Department)

With U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden looking on, Ambassador Heyman delivers remarks at his swearing-in ceremony. (Photo: State Department)

His first year as U.S. ambassador has just passed. How has former investment banker and Goldman Sachs executive Bruce Heyman adapted to highly public life in his new job? “I guess you just do,” he says. “It’s the Bruce Heyman world of Darwinian thought: It’s not the smartest that survive. It’s not strongest that survive. It’s those who are most adaptable to change. I feel that I’m not the strongest or the smartest. But I’m pretty adaptable to change and that’s served me well over time.”
Heyman agreed to an interview in the ambassadorial residence’s informal living room, with its black leather sofas and chairs, fireplace and bookshelves filled with photos and mementos. Presiding over the room with a wall to itself hangs a giant picture of President Barack Obama.
Heyman ranged from smooth sailing (seven U.S. cabinet secretaries, seven governors and 11 trade delegations have come to Canada — and counting) to rough patches, to his favourite dessert.

“I try to take advantage of every minute of every day.”  (Photo: Dyanne Wilson)

“I try to take advantage of every minute of every day.” (Photo: Dyanne Wilson)

Ambassador Heyman likes to walk around Ottawa. His RCMP security detail also gets a workout while the ambassador gets to unwind and think. Taking a break to walk is the exception to his work-driven, meeting-heavy and travel-intensive life.
Or, as he puts it: “I have a limited amount of time as an ambassador. I try to take advantage of every minute of every day and every opportunity I possibly can take — make every minute count.”
With a background in finance, Heyman is unusual, in that politically appointed ambassadors rarely arrive with previous work experience in Canada. He spent eight years as regional manager for Goldman Sachs’ Midwest private wealth management business. His territory covered 11 states, from Montana through Ohio, and from Alberta through Toronto. He retired last year from the Chicago office as partner after 34 years, in order to become ambassador.

“[The U.S. and Canada] have the largest trading relationship in the world.” (Photo: Dyanne Wilson)

“[The U.S. and Canada] have the largest trading relationship in the world.” (Photo: Dyanne Wilson)

A snow-shovelling, lawn-mowing entrepreneur from ages 11 to 17, he moved right into his sales career, honing his skills at Ohio department and surplus stores. In Nashville, Tenn., he made submarine sandwiches, did more retail work and earned a BA at Vanderbilt University. The following year (1980), he graduated with an MBA and started work at Goldman Sachs in New York City.
He was born in Elmira, N.Y., just three hours away from Niagara University,  where he delivered a keynote speech in May to the graduating class. He also received an honorary doctorate in humane letters. “This doctorate has made my mother back in Arizona very proud.”
It also “fulfilled a secret lifelong dream of mine,” he joked. He was finally a doctor. He actually enrolled at Vanderbilt to become a medical doctor. Despite “endless hours of studying and altogether too little sleep — I opened my grade report, and to my dismay and shame, I had received a D in chemistry.” He changed his major to business.  “Be open to change,” he told the students in his acceptance address. “Embrace it.”

“The U.S.-Canada relationship is a $1.4-trillion relationship.” (Photo: Dyanne Wilson)

“The U.S.-Canada relationship is a $1.4-trillion relationship.” (Photo: Dyanne Wilson)

These days, he’s embraced the biggest sales job in the world — increasing trade between Canada and the U.S. It’s No. 1 on his list of four ambassadorial priorities. The other three are energy and environment, which are significantly linked, cultural diplomacy and global affairs — “almost in that order.”
He is definitely a numbers guy.  “We have the largest trading relationship in the world between two countries — and ever — in the history of the world.  We had last year $759 billion worth of trade. That’s $2 billion a day. That’s $1.4 million a minute. That’s $23,000 a second. So every second we’re here, every second, that’s $23,000, $23,000, $23,000.”
More numbers: Add to the trade figure an investment total of $650 billion. “So I think of the U.S.-Canada relationship as a $1.4-trillion relationship. When I mention this number to other ambassadors, they literally stop me and say ‘I’m sorry — could you repeat that please?’”
In between marking off numbers on his fingers, he reaches down to the floor to sip a hot drink he set there — always green tea. Decaffeinated? He laughs. “This tea (he lifts his large takeout cup, containing a long-soaking teabag) is pretty caffeinated.”
Green tea also played a starring role he was in charge of recruiting hundreds of sales staff for Goldman Sachs. For many aspiring job-seekers, it was a make-or-break topic. “Sell me on a different beverage,” he’d ask his applicants.
As a manager then, and manager of the embassy and its seven consulates now, he still believes in “overcommunication — communicate, communicate, communicate,” he told The Chicago Tribune in 2009. He credits this approach for allowing him and his team to weather the 2001 dotcom crisis and the 2009 stock market crash. “The stock market bottomed out on March 9, 2009. I happen to know that very well, because it was my birthday.”

The Beyond the Border Action Plan aims to cut border-crossing times as a way to boost commercial and non-commercial (tourists, visitors and shoppers) trade. (Photo: © Modfos | Dreamstime.com)

The Beyond the Border Action Plan aims to cut border-crossing times as a way to boost commercial and non-commercial (tourists, visitors and shoppers) trade. (Photo: © Modfos | Dreamstime.com)

[As background to the market crash in which Goldman Sachs itself struggled: In 2011, a U.S. Senate panel issued a report after two years’ investigation of the stock market crash. The report described Goldman Sachs as a “case study” of the recklessness and greed on Wall Street that set off the 2008/2009 financial crisis. It singled out Goldman and Deutsche Bank as examples of Wall Street companies that sold their clients, as safe investments, securities backed by subprime mortgages — even as the two companies sold those same securities short and reaped enormous profits.]
He laughs easily — especially at himself, clearly enjoys conversation and gets trade technicalities across with down-home examples. The real story, though, always comes down to this: Enormous potential for trade, more trade, more trade.
In what, specifically? Everything on both sides of the border, he says. Whatever consumers want. Probably disruptive technology — that is, game-changing innovations — will give the biggest boost on both sides of the border, he predicts.
He adds that trade between the two countries is “just about balanced.”  U.S. goods and services exported to Canada in 2014 totalled $376 billion US and Canadian exports to the U.S. totalled US $383 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.
“So how do you increase that when you’re already talking here about the largest trading relationship in the world?” he asks. “By breaking down impediments to trade. I just sat down and went through these numbers and said: ‘Well it is large, but the U.S. has about a $17-trillion economy and so the opportunity to continue to grow is still fairly significant to Canada.’”

Vicki Heyman has embraced the culture side of her husband’s portfolio. She spearheads the Ottawa portion of the Art in Embassies program that exhibits work from U.S. artists and encourages dialogue about the issues the works raise. (Photo: Dyanne Wilson)

Vicki Heyman has embraced the culture side of her husband’s portfolio. She spearheads the Ottawa portion of the Art in Embassies program that exhibits work from U.S. artists and encourages dialogue about the issues the works raise. (Photo: Dyanne Wilson)

The strategy rests on two pillars that President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper established in 2011 to boost trade. The first is the Regulatory Cooperation Council.
“To avoid people’s eyes glazing over at this point,” he laughs, he calls on soup cans, children’s car seats and lipstick to show the problem of trading items made under different regulations. With soup cans, it’s the size, labelling and packing differences. With children’s car seats, it’s safety regulations, even though people on both sides of the border obviously want their children to be safe. And with lipstick, it is the SPF content.
Work is underway to iron out regulatory differences for a vast number of products and services. The “extraordinary,” but under-credited, success regulators look to as an example is the auto industry’s efforts to meet higher-mileage standards. It is easier to regulate new products, he concedes, while the longer-term project is to create regulatory standards in both countries for existing products.
Border-barrier fixes

The two countries have moved onto regulations for railcars. In December 2014, Heyman attended meetings with Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Gary Doer, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. They discussed their similar priorities: safety of railcars, transporting hazardous materials and, especially after Lac Mégantic, derailments. “The U.S. is experiencing derailments as well, so we were able to come together and set a standard.” (Sadly, a week after this interview, a Philadelphia derailment in May injured 200 and killed eight travellers.)
The second pillar is the Beyond the Border Action Plan to cut border-crossing times as a way to boost commercial and non-commercial (tourists, visitors and shoppers) trade. Pre-clearing cargo vehicles well before they reach the border has been tested at two sites: the Peace Bridge crossing between Fort Erie, Ont., and Buffalo, N.Y., and the Blaine, Wash.,/Surrey, B.C., Pacific Crossing. A review of the results is now under way and may lead to an expansion to other border crossings.
The U.S. Border Protection Agency,
according to a U.S. government website, is looking at regulatory changes requiring “filing of an eManifest in advance of all truck arrivals, instituting automated pay as you go or payment of user fees in advance, and updating the technology connectivity at the Peace Bridge.”
Already well under way, of course, is pre-clearing people via the NEXUS Trusted Traveller Program, available to citizens and permanent residents of Canada and the U.S. As of December 2014, a total of 1.1 million people — Canadians and Americans — had become NEXUS card-holders, an increase of 80 percent since 2011.
Showing a NEXUS card can greatly speed security and customs clearance at borders, airports and marine ports of entry. Eight airports in Canada, including Ottawa’s, have pre-clearance, Heyman notes, “so you can enter the U.S. right here in Ottawa.” The U.S. may increase the number of Canadian airports offering pre-clearance.
“As I travelled around the country, Canadians, when asked ‘What is the No. 1 thing you think about with Canada and the U.S.,’ say ’the border.’”
With close to 80 percent of Canadians living within 150 kilometres of the border, he says, “the border experience is important, really important. In many ways, the relationship is judged by these individual interactions that people have, and they think about it. So if they have a bad experience at the border, that bleeds through to a bad experience with the U.S.”
Both countries deal with the same problems, he says: customs at the border, wait times or the need to move freely “while taking into consideration security issues we both face.”
With 77 percent of Canadian exports — all exports — going to the United States, “we value that relationship,” he says. “It is incredibly important to us, but we also recognize how important it is to Canada.”
To highlight the huge trade tie, he wrote a piece in February in The Globe and Mail that included facts from customized outreach letters he wrote to all 50 governors.
U.S.-Canada trade in his home state of Illinois reaches nearly $59 billion —  “greater than Canada’s trade with Germany, Japan and South Korea combined.”
British Columbia’s total value in goods exported to the U.S. is greater than the province’s next five largest export markets together.
Canada exports more goods to Michigan than to the European Union.
“A lot of governors were new — just recently elected. I don’t know if they fully appreciated the Canada-U.S. relationship to their state.” The dual-purpose letters invited them to Canada and laid out statistics on trade between their state and Canada.
“In 2014, alone, we had 11 trade missions. We’re in touch with about a dozen more states this year, some of which will send governors directly, and the rest will send state trade missions.” The governor of Kentucky [Steve Beshear] visited in May, with two or three other governors’ visits expected to be announced this summer.
“In two thirds of the states, their No. 1 trading relationship is with Canada. I didn’t know, I honestly didn’t know. Some governors really know this well, but my guess is that there were some number of governors who read the letter and paused and said, ‘We have an opportunity here.’”
On a parallel course, he’s phoned and met with many provincial premiers from Canada and offers U.S. government services in facilitating trade missions to the U.S. And then there’s Select USA, a program run by the Commerce Department through which, he says, “we invite businesses from a foreign country and help them understand how to do business in the U.S. In March, I brought a delegation of more than 80 individuals, more than 60 separate entities, from Canada to Washington to the Select USA Conference.”
Invitees ranged from pension funds considering investments in infrastructure, and corporations wanting to expand their U.S. customer base, to very small businesses. Besides “great lofty and wonderful speeches” by Obama, Commerce Secretary Foxx and Secretary of State John Kerry, among others, there were break-out sessions to meet with representatives of prospective state and city partners. The result, he says, was more than 500 individual meetings, networking and educational sessions.
“I think life is filled with learnings,” he says. “I came from the financial side and from a background where we set specific goals and tried to drive outcomes to achieve those goals. We had strategy and tactics. The strategy [here] is to increase trade and enhance the relationship. I’ve just listed a number of tactics and I’m holding people accountable to having outcomes in each of these areas. When I was working with Select USA, every single week I asked: ‘What companies have we signed up? How many have we signed up? Who are they? Where are they coming from? What business are we doing with them? Now, I have weekly meetings to talk about governor outreach. What are we doing? Whom are we contacting? What do the trade missions look like? What cities are they going to? Who are we setting these meetings up with?
“This is very different from what’s typically been driven on the government side. So I think that’s the benefit of having a political appointee with business experience who can come in and take those individual experiences and help enhance trade, for example.”

Iran’s supreme leader, Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei (Photo: SaMin)

Iran’s supreme leader, Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei (Photo: SaMin)

Energy and environment in sync
He labels his second priority “energy and environment.” On the subject of heavy crude from the Alberta oilsands and the limbo status of the Keystone XL pipeline, he did not discuss the touchy trade side issue in favour of talking about the Obama administration’s environmental goals.
“I think one of the things I wanted to make really clear when we first arrived, one of the most important words was ‘and.’ I think a lot of people were using the word ‘or.’ And they think of the word ‘or’ when they think of energy OR the environment. Or they think economy OR the environment.
“I believe we can have an enhanced quality environment with energy, but climate change is real. I believe it’s real and as a result of that, I believe, and the president believes, and the secretary of state believes, that energy policy is the best way to deal with climate change.”
The U.S. is the largest purchaser of energy, such as oil and natural gas, from Canada in nearly all categories. In 1980, less than 4 percent of imported oil was Canadian, he says, or 200,000 barrels a day. Today, the U.S. buys more than three million barrels a day from Canada — more than 40 percent of its imported oil.
“We’re your No. 1 customer. And we buy more oil from Canada than the next five countries added together. But we’re also buying your hydro, which is supplying electricity into New England and New York City.  We’re buying a large portion of renewable energy — solar, wind. We’re also buying hydro that’s going into Minnesota from Manitoba.

U.S. President Barack Obama (Photo:  © Lucidwaters | Dreamstime.com)

U.S. President Barack Obama (Photo: © Lucidwaters | Dreamstime.com)

“It’s a very strong energy relationship,” he adds, “but we need to make sure we also take into account the environment.”
Obama has made reducing greenhouse gas emissions a priority, with much of the focus in the U.S. on coal-fired electric plants, he says. While the U.S. is moving more towards alternative energy, it’s also a matter of the quantity of energy the country uses. He points to the improved mileage standards on vehicles, a policy that Canada and the U.S. developed jointly. “I feel it is not being talked about enough.
”Improving home insulation, improving mileage standards on cars, airplanes and other transportation modes, reducing pollutants — this is the balance. And the president has a very specific 26-28 percent reduction [in greenhouse gases] below the 2005 level by 2025.” Canada announced its targets in mid-May as a 30-percent drop below 2005 levels by 2030.
And, in advance of the December INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) conference in Paris, the U.S. is meeting with other countries about hitting their targets “so we have an incredibly successful time in Paris where we all, in the global community, come together.

The Heymans and Obama
Heyman’s wife, Vicki, has undertaken with gusto her husband’s third main focus: culture. She is actively involved in the half-century-old Art in Embassies program that exhibits work from U.S. artists in embassy residences and offices around the world. Their residence is a mix of art gallery and a cosy, if very large, home.
She is well known in Chicago for her extensive philanthropic work for hospitals and schools, especially using art to help the disadvantaged young people of Chicago’s high-crime south side. The couple’s cross-country travels included a visit to Edmonton where, after meeting artists who run iHuman Youth Society, Vicki was able to put the director in touch with a similar program in Chicago. The NGO works with 500 troubled young people across a wide demographic that includes aboriginals, to foster hope and self-confidence and leadership skills.
The now-ambassadorial pair became key supporters and fundraisers for Obama after they attended a small dinner party in 2006 where they spoke with then-state senator Obama. Heyman says they were so moved by Obama’s vision for the country that they drove home in silence and then decided to become politically active on his behalf. Until then, he says, their focus was apolitical — mostly with community, work and friends and family. They have three grown children and two grandchildren. Vicki, who has an MBA and a background in finance, joined Obama’s finance committee for his 2008 and 2012 campaigns and the couple raised large sums for his election.

‘Irritants highlighted in the press’
On his final goal, global issues, “the U.S. couldn’t be more aligned with any other country in the world than we are with Canada. We’re aligned on NATO, we’re working together in NAFTA, we’re working together and aligned on our beliefs on Russia and Ukraine. We’re aligned on dealing with ISIS. We’ve worked together on tackling Ebola. We have interoperability in terms of protecting North America through NORAD. And we couldn’t have a better partner. We could not have a better partner in the world than we have with Canada.
“If you think about similar values and cultures, we think about things similarly — not identically, but similarly — around the world. When people make such a big deal about the differences we have, the reality is we have so much in common.”
Heyman says successful trade is a clear demonstration of the effectiveness of the relationship, and it dwarfs the irritants on which the press reports.
“So I will continue to focus on recognizing that there are some challenges that we need to work on, but we’re having those discussions. I think the press tends to focus more on those than the opportunities and I think it sells newspapers.”
The ambassador says he’s “not unhappy” with the relationship. “Just for context purposes, we’ve had eight cabinet-level visitors from the U.S. since last July. I would venture to say for as long as people can remember, that’s the largest number of cabinet level visitors who have come to Canada and we’ve had meetings at all levels of the Canadian government.
“So we’re working on the important things that are facing our two countries and I think people shouldn’t be concerned that we’re not getting things done, because we are, as evidenced by the agreements we just talked about getting done.
“We’re working on all these global issues,” he says. “They just don’t happen without conversations, so we’re having pretty substantive conversations.”

The Keystone XL Pipeline is a proposed 1,897-kilometre (1,179-mile) crude oil pipeline that  begins in Hardisty, Alta., and travels south through to Steele City, Neb. (Photo: TransCanada)

The Keystone XL Pipeline is a proposed 1,897-kilometre (1,179-mile) crude oil pipeline that begins in Hardisty, Alta., and travels south through to Steele City, Neb. (Photo: TransCanada)

Irritant: Keystone XL pipeline
In his first major speech, delivered in June 2014 in Ottawa, Heyman stressed the many positives in the U.S.-Canada relationship. He did not mention Keystone XL — a topic for which people were listening. In the post-speech question session, Frank McKenna, former New Brunswick premier and one-time ambassador to Washington, asked directly about Keystone and the U.S. refusal to fund a customs plaza at the new Detroit bridge. Heyman’s response included: “I’m sorry you’re all bummed out here,” which was taken as being dismissive of these long-running irritants to Canada.
He says that he is sometimes “optimistic
to a fault,” and concentrates on the
positives in the U S -Canada relationship
Obama vetoed legislation in February
that would have compelled pipeline
approval. (Executive Branch decisions
regarding approval are needed for
cross-border projects.) He has made it
clear the veto is based on two concerns: One, that the greenhouse gases produced in oilsands extraction are hurt-ing the environment, and two, that the benefit just goes to Canada.
On the latter, The Washington Post, a generally liberal newspaper, gave Obama three Pinocchios for his statement: “Un-derstand what this project is: It is providing the abilityof Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.”
According to one expert quoted in the Post piece, “Valero, the largest U.S. oil refining company, would be one of the biggest customers of oil from the Keystone XL pipeline, buying about 150,000 barrels a day.” Valero’s spokesman noted that currently, the vast majority of the company’s products stay in the U.S. for domestic consumption.
In another newspaper article, a Montana farmer who owns land where Keystone XL’s onramp would take in up to 100,000 barrels a day of American crude, says it would come from Montana and North Dakota — not only Canada.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama will make his ruling based on whether Keystone XL is “in the interests of the United States” following the still-ongoing State Department review. He said: “It certainly is possible that the president will” approve it.
Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved Keystone XL, but in the face of Obama’s February veto, despite a coalition of Republicans and Democrats, they couldn’t muster the votes to override it. They were four votes short in the Senate and 18 short in the House of the two thirds majority needed to nullify a presidential veto.
One delay ended when the governor of Nebraska, awaiting an environmental assessment review, joined 10 governors in approving the Canadian pipeline. Another ended when the State Department’s own supplemental environmental impact statement, released 18 months ago, was positive about Keystone.
Then-natural resources minister Joe Oliver commented: “This is the fifth federal study on the environmental impact” that has said the pipeline “would not adversely affect the environment.” He noted the report’s conclusion that not building the pipeline would release between 20 and 42 percent more greenhouse gases, considering the energy needed to move the oil by rail, truck or barge.
Heyman responds: “There are a lot of perspectives and no less than 1.5 million comments from the public. I think it’s a transparent and rigorous [process] and the comments you’ve raised are among many taken into consideration in evaluating this. This process is at the State Department and it is at a point now where I anticipate that they’ll make a decision. What date? I’m not sure. I’ll refer back to the comments and language the president and his press secretary have used and I’ll go with that.
“We have no established timeline,” he says, “and we hope it will be in a reasonable period of time.”
With the U.S. elections next year, many people fear the Obama administration will delay a decision until a new president is elected in November 2016. If a Democrat takes the White House and Republican seats don’t increase in the House and Senate, the veto might stand. If a Republican wins in a still-Republican-dominated House and Senate, Keystone XL likely will be built.

Irritant: the beef with labelling beef
COOL, the U.S. country-of-origin labelling law, requires many Canadian agricultural products to be separated from U.S. products and labelled as Canadian. The Canadian livestock industry says this costs it at least an extra $1 billion a year.
Canada has appealed to the World Trade Organization which has, in the past, found in Canada’s favour. Its wording was unequivocal: COOL requirements were inconsistent with the “obligation to accord imported products treatment no less favourable than that accorded to domestic products.” Other products caught in the COOL labelling law requirement: pork, lamb, chicken, goat meat, wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish, perishable agricultural commodities, peanuts and pecans.
The U.S. lost its final appeal in a May 18 ruling by the FTA in favour of Canadian  and Mexican protests, setting the stage for the U.S. to either repeal its law — it has signalled it will — or face a retaliatory continental trade war that goes well beyond just agricultural products in order to offset the damages incurred by COOL.
Canada and the U.S. both belong to the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), where the U.S. is the major player. The U.S. could retaliate by insisting that Canada abandon protection of its dairy and poultry industries or be excluded from the reduced-tariff trade talks aimed at a multilateral free-trade agreement.
At stake: a TPP market of 792 million people and a combined GDP of $28.1 trillion (close to 40 percent of the world economy).

Irritant: anti-nuclear agreement with Iran
The U.S. and Canada diverge on their relationship with Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Harper and Netanyahu are close. Obama and Netanyahu are not.
Canada officially looks at the negotiations with much less trust than the Obama administration. Foreign Minister Rob Nicholson warned that, even with the agreement, Iran may still be able to obtain a nuclear weapon and set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
“Iran’s track record is not one that encourages trust,” he said, when he announced that Canada will give $3
million for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to oversee implementation of the nuclear deal. Nicholson said the government appreciates “the efforts of the P5+1 (United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China + Germany) in these discussions. At the same time, we will continue to judge Iran by its actions and not its words.”
Canada’s mistrust is largely based on Iran’s long track record of refusing free spot checks by the IAEA, especially of military installations. Most recent of these is Fordow, hidden under a mountain near Qom, an underground uranium-enrichment facility Iran concealed from the IAEA until Western intelligence sources revealed its existence in 2009.
Obama sought to use executive powers to finalize the agreement without approval of Congress and thus, the American people. He defended his action in order to avoid Congressional clause-by-clause evaluation that could derail the agreement itself. In May, the Senate voted 98-1 and the House voted 400-25 in favour of having the right to see, amend and approve or disapprove the framework agreement. Obama, in turn, warns he reserves the right to veto the agreement if he objects to Congressional amendments to it.
WSJ (Wall Street Journal) World in April noted: “The Obama administration estimates Iran has between $100 billion and $140 billion of its oil revenue frozen in offshore accounts as a result of sanctions. U.S. officials said they expect Tehran to gain access to these funds in phases as part of a final deal. Iran could receive somewhere between $30 billion and $50 billion upon signing the agreement, said congressional officials briefed by the
Critics are calling it a “signing bonus” that would allow Iran to continue to fund terrorist groups around the world while further destabilizing the Middle East.
Netanyahu says the agreement poses an existential threat to Israel’s survival and can trigger nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. In mid-May, he renewed his plea before the June 30 target deadline to reach a deal: “It’s still not too late to retract the plan that gives Iran an agreement which will pave it a road to a nuclear weapon.” He also angered Obama by announcing he knew the details of the secret framework agreement. And Netanyahu flouted protocol by speaking, at the invitation of Republican House Speaker John Boehner, against the agreement directly to Congress in March without first notifying Obama.
Heyman: “I don’t think this will affect the Canada-U.S. relationship. I believe we have to find paths to reducing the risks of nuclear war and nuclear weapons and wherever we can have effective outcomes in getting to that point, I think that’s better for the world.”
He noted that they have a framework to an agreement, not an agreement per se — yet. “We’ll see how it goes between now and when an agreement is potentially reached, but I am constructively optimistic we can get to a point where we can reduce the threat of nuclear weapons in the world. And I think wherever we have that opportunity, we need to do that.
“But make no mistake about it, Israel is very important to the U.S. and it’s a country that we have a strong alliance with and I don’t think that will ever be in question, ever.”
Heyman, understandably and strongly, rejects the theory that Obama is pushing for a nuclear agreement with Iran, even a weak agreement, to earn the Nobel Peace Prize that Norway bizarrely bestowed upon him in 2009. To Obama’s displeasure, the Norwegians had nominated him for the Peace Prize just weeks after he took office in January 2009. And they proceeded to award the prize to him that October — less than a year into his presidency.
Rather than retroactively seeking to deserve the award, Heyman says, Obama’s motivations are “deep-seated, part of his character. I think he’s trying to create a world where there are multilateral approaches to peace. He’s trying to find as many paths to creating a better world environmentally, economically, politically, militarily — with good outcomes for the U.S. and he’s trying to do that the very best way he can. His views and my views are very much aligned and that’s why I became so passionate about his goals,” he says, “which include better outcomes for the U.S. economically.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, with State Department officials and others, sits across from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and advisers in Lausanne, Switzerland, before resuming negotiations about the future of Iran's nuclear program. (Photo: State Department)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, with State Department officials and others, sits across from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and advisers in Lausanne, Switzerland, before resuming negotiations about the future of Iran’s nuclear program. (Photo: State Department)

Obama’s early-announced troop pullout from Iraq is sometimes cited as setting the stage for the chaos that has ensued in Iraq and Syria. Unable to successfully complete the renegotiation that president George W. Bush planned in order to keep U.S. troops there after 2011, the U.S. forces left. The civil war raging there has now brought a coalition of Western countries, including Canada, and Middle Eastern countries, back into the conflict. (A week after this interview, despite coalition airstrikes, ISIS forces overran Iraq’s key city of Ramadi Iraq is heavily backed by Iran now, as it was during former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki’s final years in power before his August 2014 resignation.)
Heyman: “We cannot have troops in a country and engage without the country approving that. I think at that time, al-Maliki specifically in negotiations with the U.S., drove this outcome. I think this was up to Iraq at the time to make these decisions; we are very respectful of the country where we were. You know this is an entirely different set of circumstances we’re under now,” he says, “while we’re in the region and we’re tackling ISIL. I don’t think that was the specific issue at the time.”
Irritant: Counterfeit goods
The U.S. embassy’s website in Canada notes: “Canada remains on the Watch List in 2014” for not fully implementing its treaty commitments on enforcing Internet and copyright piracy in the digital age. Canada is among 24 watchlisted countries, including Barbados, Belarus, Guatemala and Uzbekistan.
While, by law, Canadian customs can detain imported and exported pirated and counterfeit goods at the border, detaining goods doesn’t apply to those heading to the U.S. Using diplomatic-speak for frustration, the U.S. Embassy website notes: “The United States is disappointed that the new law does not apply to pirated and counterfeit goods” under control of Canadian Customs in their facilities.
The website also highlights “serious concerns” on pharmaceuticals. It seeks the right to appeal Canada’s regulatory approval decisions regarding pharmaceuticals and it objects to Canada’s invalidation of several “valuable patents” held by U.S. companies.
And again, despite diplomatic language, the U.S. seems to be mentioning the TPP as a warning. “The United States closely monitors development on these issues and looks forward to continuing to work with Canada to address these and other Intellectual Property Rights issues, including through the TPP negotiations.”

From left, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Murray Howe, Gordie Howe’s son, announced in May that the Detroit River International Crossing will be named the Gordie Howe International Bridge. (Photo: PMO)

From left, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Murray Howe, Gordie Howe’s son, announced in May that the Detroit River International Crossing will be named the Gordie Howe International Bridge. (Photo: PMO)

Irritant: Softwood lumber
While the Canadian lumber industry wasn’t happy with the last Softwood Lumber Agreement, it was happy to have one. It expires in October.
“The U.S. right now is having conversations with the lumber industry,” says Heyman, to develop the U.S. position on Canadian softwood lumber. “We look forward” to talking with Canadian representatives “in a constructive dialogue for a new agreement.”

Irritant: The new Windsor-Detroit bridge
And, of course, there is the Canada-heavy contribution to the long-delayed new six-lane, $2.1-billion Gordie Howe International Bridge to be built over the Detroit River by 2020.
Canada, through a public-private partnership, will pay all of the $4 billion for land acquisition, freeway exchanges and construction of customs plazas. That even includes the $250-million customs plaza on the U.S. side, which Canada has to build. Canada is to be reimbursed the amount over a period of decades from the money collected in bridge tolls.
Two Obama budgets had not allotted funds for the bridge, even though in April 2013 Obama gave his required approved for the international bridge to be built. Canada decided it had to go it alone.
Every day, an average of 8,000 trucks and 68,000 travellers cross the congested and narrow 83-year-old privately owned Ambassador Bridge, located two miles north of the new bridge’s site. The Ambassador’s owner, Manuel “Matty” Maroun, is seeking to build a twin span. The bridge carries between 25 and 30 percent of cross-border truck trade between the two countries. In 2011, it generated more than $120 billion worth of trade, according to Gary Doer, Canada’s ambassador  in Washington. This is fully one quarter of Canada-U.S. trade in goods, making it the most important bridge crossing in the world, financially, and the busiest border crossing between the two countries. The U.S. government, pending Congressional approval, is expected to pay for staffing and operating costs totalling $100 million the first year and $50 million annually thereafter.
The governor of Michigan’s pro-bridge website notes: The trade crossing “will cost Michigan taxpayers NOTHING.” Canada will provide up to $550 million to cover costs that would normally be incurred by the State of Michigan for the U.S. portion of the project. “It will have no responsibility for repayment.” It will allow the state to use Canada’s expenditure as “eligible as matching funds for U.S. federal aid that will be used for critical transportation projects across our state.” In 2012, Michigan again led all states in “surface trade with Canada totalling $6.3 billion,” with 237,000 jobs in Michigan “directly tied to trade with Canada.”
Since 1999, Ambassador Bridge traffic is down about 40 percent from its pre-9/11 levels, and the Detroit Windsor Tunnel is down about 60 percent from its eight million annual trips in 1999. The reasons for the falloff vary — from higher security and more intrusive security checks and the passport requirement to fluctuations in currency. Further auto-plant closings or production line shifts away from Ontario — GM, Chrysler, Ford and Honda have closed in Ontario since 2003 — are expected to undercut future truck traffic projections.
The Canadian goverment estimates the bridge project will create 10,000 to 15,000
construction jobs on both sides of the border.

Heyman’s Darwinian doctrine of adaptability resurfaced as he spoke with
Niagara University’s graduating students: “Every day, the world is changing rapidly — industries develop or they become obsolete, our methods of communication from just five years ago seem archaic, technology is making the inconceivable a tangible reality.
“You are living in a time of upheaval, both incremental and immense,” he said, “but also a time of innovation and possibility.”

Donna Jacobs is Diplomat’s publisher.

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Donna Jacobs is Diplomat's publisher

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