Tuesday, June 23, 2009

U.S.- Canada Border Security and Military Integration

By Dana Gabriel

Under the pretext of the war on terror and through initiatives such as the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), as well as other commitments, there has been an ongoing effort to further harmonize North American security priorities. The militarization of the continent, along with U.S.-Canada integration is taking place in areas of law enforcement, border services and the armed forces. More is being done to better protect the northern border, but somehow government needs to strike a balance between security and the movement of goods and people.

On May 27, 2009, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Minister of Public Safety Peter Van Loan issued a Joint Statement on the Canada-U.S. Border. It went on to say, “We are committed to a collaborative approach to our border, one that enhances our security and public safety while facilitating the trade and travel that connect our two countries.” They agreed to hold twice yearly summits to further manage border issues. The Shiprider Agreement was also signed which allows the RCMP and the U.S. Coast Guard to conduct joint armed patrols of shared waterways. The scope of the agreement is broad and might push the definition of boundary waters. Any integrated cross-border maritime law enforcement operation could include land pursuits and aerial support. This could involve the cooperation of provincial and state police, the Canadian military, immigration and border patrol, along with other agencies.

NAIS: Farmers and Ranchers Under Attack

By Dana Gabriel

The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is a federal program which enjoys the support of large corporate agribusiness farms. It consists of premises registration, as well as animal identification and tracing. It remains voluntary, but some states have taken measures to mandate certain elements of the program. There has been strong opposition from small farmers and ranchers who view NAIS as a threat to privacy and property rights. Full implementation would also be expensive and could put many out of business. NAIS is unfair and by all accounts, would be ineffective. It is yet another way to squeeze out small family farmers and further monopolize America's food production.

NAIS is made up of several different components. In order to receive a premises identification number, information about the location of your animals is required, along with contact information. The next part of the program involves farm animals being tagged with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips. Some are adamantly opposed to any electronic registration and have went so far as to describe NAIS as letting Big Brother into the barn. There is also the cost factor which would place further financial burden on small farmers and ranchers who would be required to tag each individual animal. Some would have no choice but to sell some of their animals, if NAIS becomes mandatory. Others may be forced out of business. Large scale factory farms support NAIS because it would create a livestock database which would be especially beneficial for exporting purposes. In a past article entitled Stop the NAIS, Congressman Ron Paul writes, “NAIS means more government, more regulations, more fees, more federal spending, less privacy, and diminished property rights.”

The SPP: Three's Company or Three's a Crowd?

By Dana Gabriel

In the last year, there has been little mention of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) from the governments of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. A battle appears to be brewing as to the next course of action to take in regards to North American integration. Some would like to see more focus placed on Canada-U.S. bilateralism while others believe that trilateralism should always be the way to go. This could be a manufactured debate with the goal of trying to resurrect this agenda. You can be sure that the global elite pushing for deeper continental integration, will take a North American Union any which way they can.

It seems to always be the same people championing for further North American integration, but with the decline of the SPP, a rift may be emerging. Recent op-eds that appeared in the Globe and Mail back this up. On one side, you have former deputy foreign minister of Mexico Andrés Rozental and Robert Pastor, who is considered by many to be the architect of a proposed North American Community. They argued in favor of trilateralism. The bilateral side was represented by former Canadian deputy prime minister John Manley and Gordon Giffin, former US ambassador to Canada. They believe that the trilateral framework of NAFTA should not apply to all aspects of North American relations. It’s hard to take this apparent quarrel too seriously as all have participated in past reports and policy paper initiatives pushing for expanded North American integration. It could be a legitimate power struggle and infighting, brought about by a clash of ideas on how to best achieve these objectives. It might also be nothing more than staged theatrics designed to try and jumpstart continental integration, in an effort to fill the void left by the SPP.

UN Treaties Fail to Respect American Sovereignty and the Constitution

By Dana Gabriel

Much of the United Nations philosophy manifested through its charter and numerous organizations, as well as international treaties, fails to respect American sovereignty. In many cases, it runs contrary to the Constitution. Incrementally, the UN is gaining more power. The recent swine flu pandemic scare demonstrates the influence that it has over American domestic policy.

A Gallup Poll conducted from February 9-12 of this year, found that 65% of Americans believe that the UN is doing a poor job. Under his tenure as Secretary-General, Kofi Annan was blamed for many of the UN’s problems and failures. Unfortunately, under the leadership of Ban Ki-moon, nothing has changed. He did promise reforms with a new era of transparency, accountability and better governance. The UN cannot be truly reformed as it is rotten to its very core. It is a bureaucratic nightmare, a cesspool of waste, mismanagement and corruption. More importantly is the danger it poses to American sovereignty.

The IMF: Raping The World, One Poor Nation at a Time

By Dana Gabriel

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been described as one of the enforcers of globalization. Nations who receive IMF assistance are often forced to surrender more sovereignty and further open up their borders to international banks and multinational corporations. Much of their wealth is then sucked dry by foreign predators with its resources and population essentially becoming the collateral for such financial aid. As a result of the global economic crisis, many more nations are having to turn to the IMF for help. At the recent G-20 Summit in London, the IMF’s role was expanded and its powers enhanced. There was little mention of its failed policies and its less then stellar record of effectively promoting development and democracy around the world. While some talk of reform, the IMF continues to rape the world, one poor nation at a time.

The IMF, along with the World Bank were established as financial sister institutions with both originating out of the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement. They are part of the United Nations system. The IMF was designed to help stabilize the post-World War II international financial system and is the framework for a central bank of issue. It provides short term financial assistance to nations that qualify, but this is at a very high price. These countries are placed in an economic straitjacket with the IMF and World Bank working in tandem, dictating large portions of public policy.

Jekyll & Hyde Obama: Protectionist or Free Trader?

By Dana Gabriel

NAFTA partners may be confused, as to the mixed signals being sent by President Barack Obama in regards to trade. The Buy-American provision which was part of the stimulus package, alarmed Canadians, as well as many others. The Obama administration managed to outrage Mexico by ending a cross-border trucking program. Like most politicians, Obama is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. He is pandering to some of his core support while at the same time, trying to uphold the U.S. as a global leader in trade initiatives.

When the Buy-American provision was first announced, both Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, warned of the dangers of protectionism. Although the language that passed as part of the stimulus package was softened, Canadian officials remain concerned. Canada has every right to be worried about American protectionism considering that 80% of its exports flow across the border. During his February trip, Obama reassured Canadians that he was committed to NAFTA and that the U.S. would honor all its trade obligations. He also discussed plans to place NAFTA’s labour and environmental side deals into the main body of the agreement, which in actuality would accomplish very little. This is a far cry from a man who at one time, threatened to tear up the trade accord. He has all but abandoned his promise to truly fix NAFTA and make it fairer for American workers.

Defending Canadian Arctic Sovereignty

By Dana Gabriel

Past Canadian governments have neglected their duty and have failed to enforce its Arctic sovereignty. As a result, its northern waters have not been adequately protected, patrolled or monitored. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made the Arctic a priority and has committed to further defend Canadian sovereignty and protect its interests in the region. Canada does have an obligation to defend the territorial integrity of its borders and must ensure that its Arctic waterways are also being respected by other nations.

The Arctic, with its abundance of untapped oil, gas and mineral resources, has nations jockeying for a bigger piece of the pie. There could be conflicting claims between Canada, Russia and Denmark, over the Lomonosov Ridge. Canada maintains a sovereign claim over the Northwest Passage, but the U.S. and other countries insist that it is an international waterway. Canada and the U.S. have also long disputed the boundary in the area of the Beaufort Sea, between the Yukon and Alaska. Canada says that it will continue to protect and manage its Arctic interests, including the Northwest Passage which it contends, is an internal waterway. There is little doubt that the regions vast resources represent a tremendous economic potential and Canada is taking necessary steps to enforce its sovereignty.

Dusting Off The UN Law Of The Sea Treaty

By Dana Gabriel

The United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) is another one of those international agreements that the U.S. has yet to ratify. President Reagan rejected the treaty, but a revised version was signed by President Clinton in 1994. As a result of intense opposition, LOST was never brought before the Senate for a full vote. Several failed attempts were also later made by the Bush administration to galvanize support for the accord. The Democrats are now laying the groundwork to finally ratify LOST. Proponents view ratifying the treaty as an opportunity for the U.S. to further promote global security and stability. Critics maintain that under LOST, the U.S. would be forced to surrender more sovereignty to the UN.

LOST is the legal framework by which all activities on, over, and under the world’s oceans are to be governed. It would place 70% of the earth’s surface under UN control. In his past article entitled LOST at Sea, Congressman Ron Paul writes, “Under the Law of the Sea Treaty, an International Seabed Authority would control the minerals and other resources of the oceans’ seabed. After taking its own cut, this UN body would transfer whatever is left to select third-world governments and non-governmental organizations.” Many argue that if the U.S. does not ratify LOST, they might lose out on the mad dash for Arctic resources. Critics contend that under the treaty, the U.S. would be forced to obtain UN permission before conducting ocean development, which would make any new activities that much more difficult and costly.

Will The SPP Rise Again?

By Dana Gabriel

By all accounts, the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) appears to be dead, despite no official announcement by the governments of Canada, the U.S. or Mexico. There have been numerous calls to replace the SPP. Although the means of achieving deeper continental integration may vary, the objectives remain the same. The global elite have not abandoned their vision for a North American Union and are now counting on their new puppet, President Barack Obama, to carry on with this agenda.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, was told in late February of this year that the controversial SPP was likely dead. CEO and president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), Thomas d’Aquino, testified and answered questions before the committee. He admitted that the it was probably only a matter of time before the SPP was replaced. D’Aquino stated, “Why it will be replaced is because the energy, environment, trade, financial regulation, and agriculture, all these things that we do in the form of millions of cross-border transactions everyday are going to have to be co-ordinated." In addition, he emphasized the importance of Canada-U.S. bilateralism, but cautioned against cutting Mexico out of the equation. The Carleton University’s Canada-U.S. Project was released to the public in the new year and called for wholesale changes to the SPP.

Ending NAFTA Inspired Trucking Program Could Spark Retaliation

By Dana Gabriel

Allowing Mexican long-haul trucks full access inside the U.S. is a component of NAFTA. Safety and security issues have proven to be a huge stumbling block in achieving this objective of the agreement. Under the Bush administration, a cross-border trucking program was established, giving a limited number of Mexican trucks full access beyond the commercial zone restrictions. Several past attempts to shut down the program have failed, but it appears as if the House Democrat fiscal 2009 spending bill, could finally put a stop to it. Ending the program could strain relations with Mexico and spark some sort of trade retaliation. There are reports that the Obama administration may try to implement their own program in order to better respect NAFTA obligations.

The pilot trucking program began in September 2007, as a result of a successful challenge which found the U.S. in violation of NAFTA. Under the program, a limited number of Mexican carriers are permitted full access to U.S roads. It also allows for an equal number of U.S. trucks to operate in the same capacity in Mexico. Despite previous efforts to cut funding, the Bush administration was able to continue the program by using funds from other parts of the transportation budget. As part of the Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, all funding would be terminated, using very clear and strong language which could not be misinterpreted. The U.S. Department of Transportation has stated that they would not make any attempts to save the program.

The United Nations: Our Children’s New Parents?

By Dana Gabriel

Through its various agencies and treaties, the United Nations seeks to undermine individual, as well as national sovereignty. It has been almost 15 years since President Clinton signed on to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The U.S. remains one of the last holdouts as the treaty lies dormant, yet to be ratified. The UNCRC grants children new civil, social, cultural and economic rights that could override parental decisions. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), is pushing for a vote as there is a real sense that under an Obama presidency, the UNCRC could finally be ratified.

If the UNCRC is ratified, parents could be prohibited from homeschooling and spanking their children. It undermines parental authority and gives more power to the state to further dictate how children are raised. It grants children dangerous new rights thus encouraging more rebellious behavior. The truth is that in many cases, children do not have the wisdom and maturity to make sound decisions. The treaty also gives children the mechanism by which they could dispute any parental judgment. The UNCRC transfers more parental authority to the state while granting children radical new rights.

Expanding Canadian Trade Horizons

By Dana Gabriel

Many in the business community have criticized Canada for being too fixated on U.S. trade initiatives and not aggressively pursuing more trade and investment opportunities with other countries. As a result, its overall global competitiveness has suffered. Canada recently recorded its first trade deficit in over 30 years which was blamed on falling oil prices and also directly linked to the struggling U.S. economy. In a recent visit to Canada, President Barack Obama gave assurances that he is committed to free trade and open borders. He reaffirmed his pledge to rework NAFTA, but stressed that the current economic crisis may delay such matters. If anything, the trade deficit that Canada posted, illustrates the need to lessen its dependency on the U.S. and further expand its trade portfolio.

On January 26, 2008, Canada signed a free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) which consists of the countries of Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Iceland. The Canada-EFTA trade agreement is basic in nature and is not as comprehensive as NAFTA. It does not include any new substantial commitments in areas of investment, services or intellectual property. There are concerns about the negative impact the trade agreement could have on Canada’s shipbuilding and agricultural sectors. The NDP is calling on the government to exclude the shipbuilding industry from the trade agreement. These concerns could delay ratification of the trade accord. The Conservative government is emphasizing the importance of expanding and not restricting trade, especially considering the current economic climate. A Canada-EFTA free trade agreement would give Canadian businesses a foothold in the heart of Europe, thus setting the stage for a proposed Canada-European Union (EU) economic trade deal.

Farmers Call For NAFTA Reforms

By Dana Gabriel

NAFTA has produced winners, mostly multinational corporations and a long list of losers, which includes farmers. The trade agreement has been the source of much discontent and has become an easy target. NAFTA is so badly flawed, but it is only one part of our failed trade and economic strategy. It has hurt many farmers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Just as there are calls to reform energy, investment, labour and environmental provisions of NAFTA, many are also demanding changes to agricultural clauses found in the agreement.

At a recent trilateral conference held in Billings, Montana, there was a general consensus among livestock producers that NAFTA is not working for North American farmers, ranchers and consumers alike. The two day conference was hosted by the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC). The meetings addressed many challenges facing family farmers and ranchers, including the negative impact of NAFTA. Many of the promises made by proponents of the trade agreement, have not been kept and so called benefits have failed to materialize. Representatives at the conference are calling for new trade policies and market reforms, and are urging the leaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA.

Deeper North American Integration Still in the Cards

By Dana Gabriel

Many Canadians view a Barack Obama presidency as an opportunity to further renew Canada-U.S. relations. This includes a more North American approach in dealing with challenges that face not only the continent, but the world as well. The Security and Prosperity and Partnership (SPP), a trilateral initiative between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, has stalled and in some cases, Canada-U.S. bilateralism has also been hampered. Many policy papers and reports are still calling for deeper North American integration.

The policy paper entitled "From Correct to Inspired: A Blueprint for Canada-U.S. Engagement" was released to the public in January of this year. It was prepared by the Carleton University's Centre for Trade Policy and Law and outlines how the Canada-U.S. partnership can be rejuvenated. It details how Canada can help Obama further reshape America's role in the world. At almost every turn, the report promotes stronger U.S. relations and emphasizes how Canada must present itself as a valued partner on broader global issues. The report recommends more Canada-U.S. bilateralism in areas of security, trade, energy, and the environment. It also proposes an annual bilateral summit between the two countries to foster more cooperation. It suggests that Canada's influence and visibility with the new administration might be reduced, if its mission in Afghanistan is not extended beyond 2011.

Majority Oppose Chapter 11 of NAFTA

By Dana Gabriel

A recent binational poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians, found that the majority of Americans and Canadians oppose provisions found in Chapter 11 of NAFTA. The poll found that 70% believe that energy corporations should not be allowed to sue governments for changes to policy that protect the environment and promote the public interest. Over half of the complaints filed under Chapter 11 of the agreement, have challenged environmental policies. Past polls have indicated that the majority also reject the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and deeper integration into a North American Union. Continental integration is being achieved on many different levels and this includes through environmental commitments.

Chapter 11 of NAFTA grants foreign investors the right to sue member nations, if they feel that their profits have been restricted. Corporations have used this new power to challenge and even overturn labour, health and environmental laws. This new poll demonstrates that there is a desire for significant changes to be made to NAFTA. President Barack Obama has promised to renegotiate labour and environmental provisions under the agreement. Chapter 11 severely undermines our sovereignty. In many cases it is not being used to defend trade, but rather to challenge and override domestic laws.

Trade Wars: The Rise of Protectionism?

By Dana Gabriel

U.S. trading partners have expressed concern that any move towards protectionism could spread and spark trade wars that could further worsen the economic crisis. Around the world, many are looking to President Barack Obama for leadership and feel that he is the one who can save the current global trading system. Does this system really work? Is it worth saving? International bodies such as the WTO and free trade deals like NAFTA, have fostered a climate of corporate dominance trapping nations in a web of treaties that in some cases, trump their own laws. The U.S. is being used as an engine for world government. The global elite seek to capitalize on the economic chaos which in many ways they engineered, in order to further restructure the world.

The Buy-American provision was added to Obama's stimulus package, before it passed the House of Representatives. It blocks foreign iron and steel from being used on any projects that are part of the package. A Senate version of the bill could further expand to include other goods and materials. Although it does sound good, some feel the measure could backfire and cost more American jobs than it saves. Obama insists that he does not wish to set off a trade war and that the U.S. will honor its WTO obligations. He also warned of the dangers of protectionism, in a climate where global trade is already slumping. If he doesn't approve the Buy-American plan, he risks angering some of his core support, but if he doesn't make changes, he could alienate U.S. trading partners. It is obvious that Obama is going to have to strike a balance. He is calling for the stimulus package to be passed and signed by mid-February. Canada, the U.S.'s largest trading partner could be greatly affected by any Buy-American move.

Towards a Canada-EU Economic Trade Agreement and Beyond

By Dana Gabriel

It came out during the election in October of 2008, that the Conservatives were set to begin negotiations with the European Union (EU) on deeper economic integration. In spite of the current global economic uncertainty, Canadian and EU officials are busy laying the groundwork for an economic and trade agreement, and negotiations could begin in the next several months.

It is expected that an economic and trade agreement with the EU could be massive and far-reaching, dwarfing NAFTA in size and scope. It would not be limited to the exchange of goods and services and could include labour mobility, as well as harmonization of standards and regulations. On a North American front, harmonization of regulations is being achieved through the Security and Prosperity Partnership. A principal demand by the EU is that Canadian provinces open up their procurement programs to European bidders. This would allow EU companies to bid as equals on government contracts. There has been some resistance from the provinces on this issue, which could put any such agreement in jeopardy. Stockwell Day, Canadian Minister of International Trade, stated that he is confident that the provinces will commit to such demands. The EU is also looking for a bilateral securities agreement. Canada currently does not have a national securities regulator, but one is expected to be in place before any negotiations would be completed. Many believe that Canada has been too fixated with U.S. and even Mexico initiatives, and as a result, not enough attention has been spent trying to partner up with the EU.

Free Trade: Passing The Baton to Obama

By Dana Gabriel

When it comes to further advancing free trade initiatives, it really makes no difference which party controls, congress or the presidency. Democratic President Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Republican President George W. Bush did likewise with the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Any U.S. trade deal that has been negotiated and signed since NAFTA is based on that failed model. President Barack Obama voted against CAFTA when he was a senator and has come out against the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). He has promised to renegotiate NAFTA which could be used to jump-start the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and plans for a North American Union. It could also serve to further spread the NAFTA model to the hemisphere.

Out of the ashes of the failed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) came CAFTA. It expanded NAFTA’s free trade zone to El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. Bush signed the agreement into law on August 2, 2005, after it had passed the House of Representatives under very questionable circumstances. It was hailed as a milestone for trade initiatives in the Americas and as an opportunity to create new jobs and open new markets for American products. CAFTA, like other free trade agreements, has failed to deliver on the promise of prosperity and has served to further benefit multinational corporations. It has been a rough ride and on January 1, 2009, Costa Rica became the last member country to enter into the agreement. This was not before they had to make some changes, including privatization of certain parts of their economy. Free Trade deals such as NAFTA and CAFTA, have been used to lock member countries into a framework that further favors investor rights and protections.

Globalization: The Long and Winding Road

By Dana Gabriel

It has been widely announced that the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) is dead, as well as plans for a NAFTA Highway which many assured me never even existed in the first place. Unfortunately, these claims have been greatly exaggerated. In regards to the TTC/NAFTA Highway, the Security and Prosperity Partnership, and the North American Union agenda, we have won many battles, but we have not won the war. Deeper North American integration has been exposed on many different levels and has encountered fierce resistance. It is because of this that the globalists have had to somewhat retreat from their agenda. A move to renegotiate NAFTA could be used as a way to revive and expand upon the agreement. In the midst of all this economic turmoil, more globalization is being offered as the solution to the crisis.

The announcement by the Texas Department of Transportation proclaiming the TTC dead was more of a public relations stunt. It was designed to try and silence critics and appease Texas lawmakers. Let’s be clear, the TTC is dead in name only and has been replaced with the Innovative Connectivity plan. By scaling back the project and breaking it up into smaller segments, it is less intimidating and could make it more difficult to stop in the future. If you don’t succeed try and try again. In the case of the TTC, give it a makeover, change the name and put out a press release saying that it is dead. The original concept of the TTC had a price tag of over $180 billion and called for 4.000 miles of roadways, toll roads and rail lines. Some have referred to it as the first leg of a NAFTA Superhighway that would extend from the Texas-Mexico border to the Oklahoma state line. In whatever form a NAFTA Highway transportation system takes, it would facilitate the flow of foreign goods and be the necessary infrastructure needed for a North American Union, thus further connecting the economies of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.

Afghanistan: Canada Must Pursue a More Independent Foreign Policy

by Dana Gabriel

President Barack Obama has promised to send more troops to where the war on terrorism began as the focus seems to have now shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan. Some have went so far as to dub Afghanistan, Obama’s war. A troop surge could greatly improve security for Canadian soldiers, but it is unlikely to bring any type of lasting peace or stability to the region. There is a NATO summit planned for April which will mark its 60th anniversary, where there is expected to be increased pressure for Canada to further commit beyond 2011. Canada must look past its military combat role in Afghanistan and pursue a more sovereign independent policy, one that will best assist the Afghan people and one which better represents our own values.

Obama has been critical of President George Bush’s policy which focused more on Iraq at the expense of Afghanistan. With all his talk of change, Obama has demonstrated a willingness to further maintain the U.S. as the world’s police force and it is unlikely that his presidency will bring about any radical shift in foreign policy. He will continue and maybe even expand the war on terrorism which could lead to Canada playing a more active role, including possible participation in future American military operations. Whether it be through NORTHCOM, the Civil Assistance Plan signed by the U.S.-Canadian military or the Security and Prosperity Partnership, the further merging of our command structures continues as does the militarization of North America.