Monday, December 27, 2010

North American Integration Back on the Front Burner‏‏

By Dana Gabriel

In the last year, the bilateral process has been the primary means used to advance North American integration, which has drawn little attention. With the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) seemingly stalled after being exposed and discredited, the U.S. channelled trilateral negotiations to parallel bilateral discussions with both Canada and Mexico. Recent reports of a tentative Canada-U.S. security and trade agreement has once again highlighted the whole process of deep continental integration. The U.S. is formulating a strategy with the aim of implementing a North American security perimeter.

NAFTA has allowed the U.S. to further extend its political and economic influence over the continent. Through the SPP, it has evolved to include more security issues. Based on the war on drugs and the war on terrorism, the U.S. is developing a North American security strategy with the goal being to push out its security perimeter. The Merida Initiative conceived in 2007 and launched the following year by the Bush administration, signalled a new era of U.S.-Mexico security collaboration. The plan has provided Mexico with millions in funding for law enforcement, military equipment and surveillance technology. Under the pretext of combating illegal drug-trafficking and fighting transnational organized crime, the U.S. has been able to exert more authority over Mexican security policies.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Towards a North American Security Perimeter

By Dana Gabriel

There are numerous reports circulating that Canada and the U.S. are secretly negotiating a security and trade deal which could be signed as early as January 2011. The proposed agreement would establish a security perimeter as a means to better secure North America and stimulate trade. The Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), along with other U.S.-Canada initiatives have allowed the two countries to incrementally move towards creating a common security perimeter.

The idea of a Canada-U.S. security perimeter is not new. Various bilateral actions over the last number of years have further laid the groundwork for this concept to become a reality. In 2006, the renewal of NORAD added maritime warning missions to its existing duties, in an effort to address new and emerging continental threats. The U.S. and Canadian military signed the Civil Assistance Plan in 2008, which allows the armed forces of one nation to support the other during an emergency. Under the Shiprider program that became permanent in 2009, law enforcement officials from both countries are able to operate together in shared waterways to combat criminal activity. Other joint projects have also facilitated the move towards a common security perimeter. In July of this year, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced new cooperative initiatives to combat threats and expedite travel and trade. It appears as if some of SPP's security priorities have been incorporated into the proposed Canada-U.S. perimeter agreement.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Canada Surrenders Sovereignty and Privacy to U.S. Secure Flight Program

By Dana Gabriel

Canada is under pressure from U.S. officials to further comply with American security rules which in some cases, threatens its sovereignty and the privacy of its citizens. As a result of the war on terrorism, the U.S. government now has more power to restrict air travel and is not only dictating North American, but also international security measures.

Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act would require Canadian airline carriers that fly over the U.S. to provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with passenger information. This includes name, date of birth, gender, as well as passport and itinerary details when applicable. Airlines landing in the U.S. already have to supply this information, but allowing personal data to be shared on passengers who are only flying through American airspace essentially shreds existing Canadian protection and privacy laws. Bill C-42 complies with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Secure Flight Program which would take effect globally at the beginning of next year. Most Canadian commercial flights pass over the U.S. while en route to Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe which in many cases would give the DHS the final say on who is allowed to travel to and from Canada.

Monday, November 22, 2010

NATO Arctic Security and Canadian Sovereignty in the Far North

By Dana Gabriel

In many ways, the Arctic has become a geopolitical game with mixed messages being sent from all sides. There appears to be a real contradiction in what is being said and what is actually being done to safeguard sovereignty. While Arctic countries have emphasized the importance of resolving conflicting boundary claims through enhanced cooperation, at times, rhetoric has served to fuel rivalries in the resource-rich area. NATO has declared the Arctic a strategically important region with northern member nations individually or collaboratively conducting military and naval operations to showcase their capabilities.

Some have called the release of Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy statement in August, a significant shift from the Conservative government’s often hostile approach in addressing sovereignty issues in the far north. The policy paper declared that, “Canada’s vision for the Arctic is of a stable, rules-based region with clearly defined boundaries.” It plans to pursue its interests through leadership, stewardship, diplomacy and respect for international law. Canada also seeks a more strategic engagement with the U.S. in the Arctic. Over the summer, they conducted their third joint continental shelf survey. The U.S. and Canada are gradually moving towards merging their Arctic foreign policies and further adopting a more North American strategy. While Canada is placing more emphasis on cooperation and appears ready to resolve boundary disputes, absent is any concrete suggestion on how to engage Russia. Both have claimed the Lomonosov Ridge under the Arctic as an extension of their respective continental shelves. Any aggressive moves to enforce sovereignty in the area could jeopardize future bilateral relations and lead to a possible confrontation.

Monday, October 4, 2010

U.S. Economic, Political and Military Expansion in the Asia-Pacific Region

By Dana Gabriel

The U.S. is stepping up efforts to gain more influence in Asia-Pacific through participation in more regional institutions and negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. U.S. foreign policy seeks to shape the future of the region in an attempt to dominate economic, political and security issues.

There are concerns over the rise of trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific by U.S. competitors that could greatly affect its interests. The TPP is seen by many as a key component of America’s trade strategy for further engagement in the region. A U.S. government fact sheet describes the TPP as a, “potential platform for economic integration across the Asia Pacific region. The United States will engage with an initial group of seven like-minded countries, Singapore, Chile, New Zealand, Brunei, Australia, Peru, and Vietnam, to craft a platform for a high-standard, comprehensive agreement - one that reflects U.S. priorities and values - with these and additional Asia-Pacific partners.” The TPP is open to other countries with Canada, Malaysia and the Philippines, among some of the nations that have shown interest in joining. It has been suggested that the U.S. may want the current eight partnership countries to reach an initial high-quality agreement before bringing others into the pact. In an effort to play a more dominant role, the TPP could be a means to address long-standing U.S. economic interests in Asia and be used to counter increasing Chinese trade in the region.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Expanding U.S.-Canada Security and Economic Partnership

By Dana Gabriel

In recent years, U.S.-Canada border issues have been overshadowed by concerns surrounding illegal immigration and drug violence on the southern border. Earlier this summer, both countries agreed to work towards a more joint approach to border security aimed at addressing common threats and promoting economic cooperation.

In July, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, “met to advance a strategic dialogue on developing a shared vision for border security for Canada and the United States—one that will enhance security and resilience against common threats, while bolstering competitiveness and job creation.” A number of initiatives were announced, including an agreement to complete a joint threat and risk assessment which, “addresses drug trafficking and illegal immigration, the illicit movement of prohibited or controlled goods, agricultural hazards, and the spread of infectious disease.” In addition, a memorandum of understanding on cross-border currency seizures and information sharing was signed that, “will help to identify potential threats and assist in money-laundering and terrorist-financing investigations and prosecutions.” Increasingly, Canada is being pressured to further take on U.S. security priorities in an effort to keep trade flowing across the northern border.

Monday, August 30, 2010

FLASHBACK: The United Nations: Our Children’s New Parents?

(Originally published in March of 2009)

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.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

NORAD-Russian Joint Air Drill, Bomber Incursions and Canada’s F-35 Jet Purchase

By Dana Gabriel

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Russian Federation Air Force conducted a cooperative air defense exercise from August 8-11 that focused on combating terrorism.

Vigilant Eagle was hailed as a milestone exercise between the Cold War era rivals. It included Russian, U.S., along with Canadian Air Force personnel operating from command centers inside Russia and the United States directing fighter jets, as well as civilian air traffic controllers. It took several years to stage the drill which centered around, “an international air terrorism scenario exercised over the Pacific Ocean consisting of forces from the U.S. and Russia responding to the simulated hijacking of a B-757 en route to the Far East.” The joint exercise was, “designed to establish clear communication processes that would allow the two forces to work together during a real crisis.” Russian Air Force Col. Alexander Vasilyev emphasized the importance of cooperation in combating the dangers of air terrorism. He stated, “Terrorism is something that affects all our countries. So it is very important that we work together to develop procedures and bring the relationship between our countries closer together to unite our countries in the fight against terrorism.”

Friday, July 30, 2010

FLASHBACK: Dusting Off The UN Law Of The Sea Treaty

(Originally published on March 19, 2009)

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.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Future U.S.-Canada Joint Arctic Security and Control

By Dana Gabriel

The Arctic has been the subject of dispute between Canada, Denmark, the U.S., Russia and Norway with each country taking steps to expand their scientific research and military presence. Its vast untapped oil, natural gas and mineral resources represent a tremendous economic potential, but control of the region is also important from a strategic standpoint. Increased cooperation and military integration could be used to further secure interests in the area. Canada and Denmark recently signed an agreement which will promote defence and security collaboration in the Arctic. In August, Canadian Forces operations in the far North will include Danish and American participation. There are also calls for U.S.-Canada joint security of North America’s Arctic waters and skies.

Canada continues to assert its military presence in its northernmost boundaries. Operation Nunalivut which ran in the Arctic from April 6-26, is one of three sovereignty exercises conducted each year by Canadian Forces (CF). This year’s joint maneuvers included, “the first landing and takeoff of an Air Force CC-177 Globemaster III aircraft at CFS Alert, from a gravel and ice covered airfield and the first CF dive in the high Arctic, which was the longest sustained ice dive operation in CF history. In addition, the Arctic Response Company Group conducted concurrent training with the Canadian Rangers for the first time in the Arctic, while a team of nine Regular and Reserve Force Signallers tested a new series of Iridium, high frequency and satellite communication systems.” As part of ongoing efforts by Canada-Denmark to strengthen diplomatic and security relations in the Arctic, the operation featured, “combined training with the Danish military’s SIRIUS Dog Sledge patrol.” An agreement reached between Russia and Norway over the long-disputed area in the Barents Sea has also prompted Canada to take steps to resolve conflicting Arctic offshore boundary claims with the U.S. and Denmark.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Strengthening NAFTA Ties and the Push Towards a Common Security Front

By Dana Gabriel

As a result of the demise of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America, the NAFTA trilateral relationship has suffered. This has forced many of the SPP’s objectives to be funneled through various bilateral initiatives. Mexico’s drug war is also serving as a catalyst for more North American cooperation and integration in areas of border security, law enforcement and the military. Canada is being encouraged to further engage and commit itself alongside the U.S. in helping Mexico.

Some have described the Canada-Mexico partnership as a failed opportunity with Ottawa more preoccupied with U.S. concerns. Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s recent trip to Canada was seen as a chance to strengthen bilateral bonds and push for more trade and investment between the two NAFTA partners. In a press statement Calderon highlighted, “The reason for this visit is to consolidate and expand our bilateral relationship at all levels.” While addressing a joint session of Parliament, he called for closer ties with Canada and the United States. He emphasized that, “Integration is key to restoring strong sustained growth in North America.” Calderon characterized Mexico as a, “valuable neighbor and a strategic partner for the future of North America's prosperity.” His message was clear as he championed the need for deeper economic integration and warned against protectionism. Also on the agenda was North American security as Canada is being called upon to expand and deepen cooperation with Mexico on police and judicial issues.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Toronto G20 Police State Crackdown

By Dana Gabriel

It appears as if the G20 summit in Toronto is shaping up to be a showdown between anarchists and police. Caught in the middle of the security circus are local residents. If there is violence and property damage, peaceful protesters will also be demonized. The recent bombing of a bank, perpetrated by a so-called anarchist group, has given an excuse to enact more police state measures during the summit. The curious timing of the attack emphasizes the threat of terrorism and further justifies the huge security apparatus being assembled.

A group calling itself FFFC-Ottawa has claimed responsibility for the recent firebombing of a Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) branch. It was targeted because of the RBC’s sponsorship of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, as well as its role in financing Alberta’s tar sands projects. The group has threatened to make an appearance at the meetings. “On June 25-27 2010, the G8/G20 ‘leaders’ and bankers are meeting in Huntsville and Toronto to make decisions that will further their policies of exploitation of people and the environment. We will be there.” Some have labelled the bombing as an act of domestic terrorism and have compared the radical anarchist community to terrorist groups. There are fears that the incident might inspire copycat attacks. With Toronto set to play host to the G20, it has become a national security issue. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service recently warned of homegrown terror in Canada. It is also interesting to note that in an effort to revive post-9/11 powers in late April, the Conservative government introduced the Combating Terrorism Act.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Police State Canada 2010 and the G20 Summit

By Dana Gabriel

The G20 summit will be held on June 26-27 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre preceded by the G8 summit which will take place in Huntsville, Ontario. The secretive meetings will be attended by world leaders, finance ministers, central bank governors, along with thousands of other delegates. It will be the largest security event in Canadian history exceeding the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Downtown Toronto will be turned into a security fortress with fences, barricades, checkpoints and street closures thus greatly affecting local residents. While the G8/G20 summits will attract their share of peaceful protesters, other more radical and fringe elements may try to capitalize on the event. Agent provocateurs might also be used whose actions could then justify a police crackdown and as a means to demonize all demonstrators. The G20 summit will deepen police state measures, as well as further integrate local, provincial, federal law enforcement agencies and the military.

Security for the upcoming G20 summit will be the responsibility of the Integrated Security Unit, “comprised of the RCMP, the OPP (in the G8 context), the Canadian Forces, Toronto Police Service, Peel Regional Police and other law enforcement and security experts who will work collaboratively.” Ed Boltuc, a member of the G20 planning team for the Toronto Police Service stated, “The Olympics that you saw recently in Vancouver was actually the largest security event ever to take place here in Canada. The G20/G8 surpasses that completely.” He went on to say, “There’s going to be a massive — absolutely massive — presence of police and security on the ground like you’ve never seen before.” The Globe and Mail reported that as many as 10,000 uniformed officers, along with a 1,000 private security guards will be deployed together with an unspecified number of Canadian soldiers. Foreign dignitaries attending the meetings will also have their own security detail. The federal government security costs are expected to top $179 million.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Advancing the Transatlantic Agenda

By Dana Gabriel

Although there is a need for Canada to expand its trade horizons, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) currently being negotiated with the European Union (EU) appears to be based on the flawed NAFTA model. Many view it as an opportunity to decrease its trade reliance on the U.S., but it could serve to accelerate the corporate takeover of the country. The deal would exceed NAFTA in its scope and with the third round of negotiations scheduled for April 19-23 in Ottawa, there are lingering concerns regarding its lack of transparency. A Canada-EU CETA could be used to expand NAFTA, strengthen U.S.-EU economic relations and further advance the transatlantic agenda.

Some believe that the recent Canada-U.S. Agreement on Government Procurement is an important step in providing protection for future bilateral trade relations, but in the process it opens up provincial and municipal contracts to foreign corporations. Maude Barlow and Stuart Trew of the Council of Canadians criticized the Conservative government for giving up too much and receiving too little. In an collaborative article they emphasized that, “The provinces have been loath to sign the WTO's Government Procurement Agreement and did not agree to include subnational procurement in NAFTA because they could lose too much say in how public money is spent without getting any new access to the U.S. market..” They went on to say, “We believe the Buy American controversy provided Harper and the provinces, who are actively engaged in ambitious free-trade talks with Europe, with an opportunity to restructure the Canadian economy to reduce the role of our communities in setting spending priorities.” As part of the proposed CETA with Canada, one of the EU’s top objectives includes gaining access to procurement and services in areas of health, energy, water, as well as other sectors. The Canada-U.S. Buy American deal is an extension of NAFTA and has set a precedent which could further reinforce EU demands.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pacific North American Regional Integration and Control

By Dana Gabriel

U.S.-Canadian state and provincial integration is being achieved in areas of transportation, the economy, energy and the environment. With some national, trilateral and global initiatives being discredited, stalled or ineffective, it appears as if the strategy has further shifted to a regional and local level in an effort to lay the groundwork for new agreements.

In 2008, the Pacific Coast Collaborative was established between Alaska, British Columbia, California, Oregon and Washington as, “a formal basis for cooperative action, a forum for leadership and information sharing, and a common voice on issues facing Pacific North America.” Some of its key priorities include action on clean energy, regional transportation, emergency management, sustainable regional economy, ocean conservation and climate change, as well as other issues. The inaugural Leaders’ Forum of the Pacific Coast Collaborative was held in Vancouver, British Colombia on February 12, 2010. It was hosted by Premier Gordon Campbell and chaired by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The meeting was also attended by Washington Governor Christine Gregoire and Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown. Although Alaska is also a member of the group, they were not able to send a representative to the meeting. It was announced that Oregon will be hosting the next forum to be held later this year.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A New Generation of North American Citizens

By Dana Gabriel

The North American Forum on Integration (NAFI) was created in 2002, and is one of many think tanks pushing for closer continental ties. In 2005, NAFI organized the Triumvirate, a North American model parliament which meets once a year. The exercise brings together university students from the U.S., Mexico and Canada with participants assigned the roles of legislators, journalists or lobbyists. Over the years, the mock parliament has debated and drafted resolutions on such key issues as trade corridors, immigration, NAFTA’s Chapter 11, along with the creation of a North American investment fund and a customs union. Infowars reported that last year’s Triumvirate gathering was cancelled due to the swine flu pandemic scare.

The Triumvirate 2010 will be held in Querétaro, Mexico. A description on its website states that, “This 5th edition will gather a hundred university students from Mexico, the United States and Canada to participate, from May 30th to June 4th, 2010, in an international negotiation exercise in which they will simulate a parliamentary meeting.” Some of the main objectives of the Triumvirate event include, “To allow participants to familiarize themselves with the functioning of democratic institutions as well as North American political, economic, environmental and social realities; to develop the participants’ sense of belonging to North America (and) to increase intercultural exchanges and promote the creation of academia networks.” This year’s delegates will address such topics as making smart borders more efficient, managing transboundary water in North America, as well as countering human trafficking and consolidating North American governance. While the model legislature is seen as an opportunity for students to better understand the political process and the challenges facing the continent, in many ways it mirrors actual efforts to further integrate the three countries. This includes the vision of a real functioning North American parliament similar to the European Union (EU) model.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The War on Terrorism and the Countdown to the 2010 Olympics

By Dana Gabriel

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics will be the largest security operation in Canadian history. It will include more than 15,000 Canadian Forces, private security personnel, along with the RCMP and other police agencies. The U.S. will also provide security and support for the Games. With the Olympics fast approaching, the fear of terrorism is back in the public’s psyche. Although there has been no specific threats to the Games, more than anything, it is the danger of terrorism which is used to justify the huge security operation. This is further advancing the militarization of North America and U.S.-Canada military and security integration. The Olympics will take bi-national security cooperation to a whole new level.

Unmanned drones are patrolling the U.S.-Canada border as part of the war on terrorism and to curb smuggling, along with drug trafficking. It is unclear if they will be used for surveillance during the Games, but U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman, Juan Munoz-Torres has stated that, “If the RCMP or Canadian government believes they can make use of the aircraft for support during the Olympics, we will be more than willing to provide it.” In Afghanistan, Pakistan and other parts of the world, armed American drones continue to carry out strikes against suspected terrorists and insurgents. It is interesting that many of the weapons used in the war on terrorism overseas are later deployed for domestic purposes. The use of unmanned drones on the northern border will only add to the further militarization of North America.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A North American Security Perimeter on the Horizon

By Dana Gabriel

NAFTA has extended from economic integration into a political and regional security pact which has been achieved through the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America, Plan Mexico, as well as other initiatives. Various pieces of legislation and reports, along with influential individuals have called for closer trilateral cooperation regarding common rules for immigration and security enforcement around the perimeter of the continent. A major part of the U.S. security agenda already includes the defense of North America, but a full blown security zone would bring Canada and Mexico further under its control. A Fortress North America poses a serious threat to our sovereignty and would mean the loss of more civil liberties.

Plans for a North America security perimeter might have seemed like a pipe dream just a short time ago, but it could become a reality sooner than one thinks. Some believe that a perimeter approach to security would be a more effective way of providing safety while ensuring the free flow of trade and investment. For those pushing for deep continental integration, this move is seen as the next logical step. A recent article from the Toronto Star, Canada warms to idea of a tougher 'perimeter' suggests that Canadians might now be ready to debate the concept of perimeter security. David Biette who specializes in U.S.-Canada relations and is a member of the Woodrow Wilson Center stated that a, "Perimeter is no longer a dirty word. It's beginning to come up again, at least in academic circles." He went on to say, "Canada held back when it first came up and I can certainly understand why. There was still such bad feeling left over on free trade and what that might mean for Canadian sovereignty that perimeter security was just not palatable to Canadians." Biette also added, "You ask yourself, 'What would a mutually improved relationship look like?' and really, there is nothing else. Perimeter is the one big thing – the last truly huge step on the horizon." A North American security perimeter would be one of the final steps needed in the creation of a North American Union.