Saturday, January 29, 2011

Deepening Canada-U.S. Security and Military Ties

By Dana Gabriel

A recent North American defense ministers meeting was originally scheduled to be a trilateral gathering, but Mexico’s Secretary of Defense was unable to participate in the summit. Canada-U.S. talks focused on continental, hemispheric, as well as global defense issues. The meeting went a long way to further deepen bilateral security and military ties. It was also significant considering that Canada and the U.S. are currently negotiating an agreement that would work towards establishing a perimeter approach to security.

On January 27, Canadian Minister of National Defense Peter MacKay hosted a bilateral meeting with his American counterpart U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, which centered on security issues of common interest. MacKay characterized the bilateral talks as an opportunity to, “build a better understanding of the threats facing our countries, as well as discuss the most effective ways to address them.” He added, “Our objective is simple: we will work to build on our defence and security cooperation with coordinated and sustained action.” Gates and MacKay addressed security issues facing Mexico and Central America. They discussed expanding cooperation in the Arctic, along with efforts to counter piracy, narcotics and human-trafficking. Also on the agenda was Afghanistan. Canada was set to pull its troops out in July of this year, but now its mission has been extended. It will transition from a combat role to training members of the Afghan military and police forces until 2014. In the coming years, Canada could be asked to play a bigger role in the war on terrorism, including participation in any future U.S.-NATO military operations.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

From NAFTA to CETA: Canada-EU Deep Economic Integration

By Dana Gabriel

Canada and the European Union (EU) have already held five rounds of negotiations towards a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) which will go beyond NAFTA. With the sixth round of talks scheduled to take place in Brussels, Belgium from January 17-21, Canadian and EU officials remain optimistic that a deal could be finalized by the end of 2011. Thus far, negotiations have included key areas such as goods, rules of origin, services, investment, government procurement, as well as others. As talks enter their final crucial stages, there are growing concerns over the threat CETA poses to Canadian sovereignty. Coupled with the financial turmoil sweeping Europe, deep economic integration with the EU could prove disastrous.

In a recent article Maude Barlow, national chair of the Council of Canadians, points out the dangers Canada faces with the current CETA trade model. She warns that, “CETA will open up the rules, standards and public spending priorities of provinces and municipalities to direct competition and challenge from European corporations.” Barlow goes on to say, “Europe is seeking a comprehensive and aggressive global approach to acquiring the raw materials needed by its corporations. At its heart, this deal is a bid for unprecedented and uncontrolled European access to Canadian resources.” She also added, “CETA will likely have a NAFTA-type investor-state enforcement mechanism, which means that European corporations will have the same right that U.S. companies now enjoy to sue the Canadian government if it introduces new rules to protect the environment.” If CETA includes something similar to NAFTA's Chapter 11 which gives corporations the power to challenge laws and regulations that restrict their profits, U.S. and Mexican companies could benefit from any rulings that favour the EU. Ultimately, like NAFTA and other trade deals, CETA will further serve corporate interests.