Canada – U.S. 2013 – 2015

Written by  //  October 14, 2015  //  Canada, U.S.  //  No comments

Tom Brokaw Explains Canada To Americans (video)
Tom Brokaw explains the relationship between Canada and The United States, in a pre-recorded short film that aired on NBC, prior to the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on Feb. 12th, 2010.
Don’t Touch Me,’ Said Canada. ‘I Won’t!’ Said The U.S.A. So They Moved 20 Feet Apart
The U.S. and Canada may be as lovey-dovey as two neighbors can get, but according to this charming video history, both countries agreed to tuck themselves a little bit in, 10 feet back for America, 10 feet back for Canada, creating a corridor of open, surveillable, clear space between them.
This ribbon of emptiness is constantly monitored, regularly gardened (Baby Tree! Be gone!) and persists for 5,500 continuous miles — considered the longest deforested straight line in the world — protecting the U.S. and Canada from interlopers, or beavers without passports.
Except for one thing — it isn’t straight.
The engineers who tried to follow the 49th parallel used primitive instruments, and, it appears, twine, and so the border got a wee bit zigzaggy, producing a number of problems, a few of which are delightfully described in this video …
You Want to Move to Canada if Trump Wins?
Dear desperately sycophantic American liberal friend/relative/friend of friend/relative of relative,
In light of recent indices that your next elected leader may in fact be a man who makes George W. Bush look like a governmental visionary, I have recently been deluged with requests to move to/seek temporary asylum in/camp briefly at my unfinished Canadian basement.

 

2015

14 October
David T. Jones: Canada’s Election and Its Effects on the United States
(Epoch Times) … how could this still mutating political scene affect the United States.
A Conservative government. A the minimum, these are the “devils we know”—we are accustomed to each other’s foibles and what can/cannot be expected. Over nine years we have worked out accommodations on border security and perennial trade/transit irritations (for example, the Windsor bridge issue). We have reached accord over TPP; we are on the same page for combating ISIS in Iraq and Syria, resisting Russia in Ukraine, supporting Israel, and rejecting Iranian effort to build nuclear weapons. Occasionally, Ottawa may hit a note more loudly than Washington, but we are reading from the same sheet of music.
Relations could be better; Harper and Obama have a prickly relationship driven by personalities as much as substance (the Keystone nondecision). But it could be worse.
With any other government, relations would be worse.
Hon. David Kilgour: Surveying the Canadian Election
Regardless of the final seat count on Oct. 19, the U.S.-Canada relationship will probably be no better or worse than it has been for years, largely because our two countries are now seen on both sides of the border as alternative civilizations and thus increasingly unlikely to diverge or converge on public issues. Our expectations of each other are finally becoming realistic.
There have been continuous ups and downs between us. With the differing concepts of nationhood, both need to learn more about the other beyond the undefended border, which both separates and links us in a unique relationship.
19 July
Tension builds between Canada, U.S. over TPP deal
The U.S. government is frustrated with Canada over Pacific Rim trade talks because it believes Ottawa promised greater foreign access to its dairy and poultry markets as a condition of joining – and yet has offered nothing as discussions enter the final stretch, sources say.
This friction between Canada and the U.S. is exposing a fundamental disagreement over precisely what the Canadian government signed up for when it joined Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks in the fall of 2012.Sources say as far as the U.S. is concerned, Canada promised that “things that weren’t addressed in the North American free-trade agreement – poultry and dairy – were going to be addressed” in the Pacific Rim talks.
A condition of joining the TPP talks for Canada and all countries was that they would be “comprehensive” – that is, member countries could not protect sacred trade cows and must put everything on the table for possible negotiation
14 July
Farewell, America, Canada could learn a few things from you
Yes, there is much to criticize, but the U.S. penchant to do the right thing can’t be ignored
By Neil Macdonald
(CBC) This country is, ultimately, exciting. It crackles. It has places like New York City, and Americans are serious about free speech.
The best of America — its elite journalism, its universities, the risk-taking, the passion over the rule of law, the brash disregard for classist etiquette, the unrivalled transparency of its economy — may not reappear together in several more lifetimes.
The comments-section harpies on foreign websites who screech and deplore and secrete bile at any mention of America are wrong; most don’t seem to know a thing about this place.
1 June
Jeremy Kinsman: Canada’s top foreign policy is one closest to home
This year’s election campaign needs to address strengthening U.S. and North American relations
Let’s hear more from our candidates for national leadership on the topic of strengthening our North American neighbourhood. We all know there will be resistance within the polarized and dysfunctional U.S. political system, from Democratic protectionists resisting trade and economic integration, and from Republican nativists in denial about the imperatives for greater cooperation across the board with Mexico. But there is also a broad swath of Americans increasingly apt to value among the country’s greatest assets its good fortune in its neighbours.
27 March
David (Jones) U.S.-Canada relations: Keystone has cooled an already frosty relationship
vs.
David (Kilgour) U.S.-Canada relations: With humour and patience, we can remain friends

2014

18 November
Senate Shoots Down Keystone XL Pipeline Bill
Landrieu’s Keystone XL Hail Mary Falls Short
(HuffPost) After six days of political wrangling and vote-whipping, the Senate failed to pass a bill on Tuesday forcing authorization of the Keystone XL pipeline, dashing hopes of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) to add the vote to her list of accomplishments heading into a tough runoff election.
Fifty-nine senators voted for the bill, one short of the 60 needed to clear a filibuster. Fourteen Democrats joined all the Senate Republicans in voting for the bill, which was cosponsored by Landrieu and John Hoeven (R-N.D.). The House passed companion legislation on Friday from Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Landrieu’s opponent in the runoff election.
24 June
Lawrence Martin: Our U.S. ties are fraying – as they should, perhaps?
The new phase of contentiousness was brought about by differences over foreign affairs, the war in Iraq, and, more recently, pipelines and procurement policies. Tensions have been exacerbated by a run of circumstances that have seen the two countries simultaneously led by governments with clashing philosophies. Mr. Bush and Mr. Chrétien moved in different ideological orbits, as have Mr. Harper and Mr. Obama.
But while the new bilateral divide is not to be underestimated (as the Keystone XL pipeline debate illustrates), it’s also no cause for alarm. Indeed, it may be a cloud with a silver lining.
So much has changed since the days of the free-trade agreement, when it was assumed that Canada was on a course of more and more integration with the United States. In fact, it’s not more and more – it’s less and less. With the rise of China and other Asian markets, U.S. omnipotence has been reduced. With the end of the Cold War, Canada is no longer as dependent on Washington’s military protection. And with its new-found energy reserves, the United States is no longer as reliant on Canadian resources.
The upshot is that although the U.S. will always have a preponderant share of our trade market, we don’t need the Americans like we did in the last century. There won’t be the same kind of decoupling there was with our first great overseer, Great Britain. But the trend is toward a gentler parting of the ways.
22 June
Globe editorial: The IRS and its inadequate ‘amnesty
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s announcement last week that it is extending its tax amnesty program for American citizens living abroad is more a reminder of the unfairness of U.S. tax laws than it is a welcome relief. As many as a million Canadians – not to mention millions more people around the world with dormant U.S. citizenship – are liable for taxes and penalties that are patently unjust.
The U.S., unlike other countries, demands that its citizens file income taxes and make annual declarations of holdings in foreign banks, regardless of circumstances. Even a Canadian who was born in Florida 50 years ago while his or her parents were on an ill-timed one-week vacation, and who has never since lived or worked in the U.S., is as obliged to report to the IRS every April.
Many millions of people around the globe are U.S. tax delinquents, even if they don’t owe a penny in back taxes, thanks to fair and sensible international tax treaties. They have never paid U.S. income tax, either because they were unaware they should, or because the IRS simply didn’t seem to care.
21 June
Margaret Wente: Uncle Sam is shaking me down
On July 1, the loathsome FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) kicks in. It requires banks around the world to cough up the financial information of any client suspected of being a U.S. person. This means your RESPs, your mutual funds, your bank accounts. To its shame, Canada did not resist this extraterritorial abuse of power and privacy. The banks can’t resist, either – they’re on the hook for heavy fines if they don’t comply.
20 June
Byron Toben: Accidental Americans in Canada can have big tax headaches
(Montreal Gazette|Opinion) The U.S. is essentially the only country in the world that requires citizens domiciled abroad to file complicated income-tax forms annually, even though the vast majority would owe no U.S. taxes.
Accidental Americans were not identifiable until, in the aftermath of the mass murders on 9/11, all Canadians were newly required to have a Canadian passport to enter the United States. The passport shows the place of birth, and border guards began informing many often incredulous Canadians that they have been U.S. citizens for, say, 50 years, and would need a U.S. passport to enter the U.S.
Accountants have since informed such people that they now have to file income-tax returns going back three to seven years (related accountant fees of $3,000 to $20,000 have been reported).
And, under Foreign Bank and Financial Assets Report obligations, they now have to submit a list of all of their bank accounts, brokerage accounts, company pension plans and some profit-sharing plans. Failure to do so can result in draconian confiscation of up to 50 per cent of those assets.
The New Democratic Party, Green Party and, to some extent, the Liberal Party of Canada, are questioning Canada’s signing this new rule, yet another item that was buried in Conservative-government omnibus legislation. In the U.S., the Republican Party is instituting a lawsuit in connection with the FBAR. Overseas, both Republicans Abroad and Democrats Abroad have criticized its blanket implementation. Independent websites such as the Isaac Brock Society, the Maple Sandbox and American Citizens Abroad have raised concerns about privacy and potential long-term damage to the U.S. economy, as the new provisions may scare foreign investors away from U.S. stocks and bonds.
… The only other country applying citizenship-based taxation rather than resident-based taxation (paying taxes to the country you live in) is Eritrea. An Eritrean diplomat in Canada was expelled last year for trying to collect expat taxes, as a result of concerns the money was being used underwrite military budgets.
Byron Toben of Hampstead is a former legal officer for the International Air Transport Association. He helps Canadian professionals apply for U.S. work permits.
18 June
IRS entices U.S. expats to come clean on back taxes with relaxed rules
The United States is moving to entice more U.S. expatriates – including hundreds of thousands of Canadians – to come clean on their back taxes just days before a planned crackdown on foreign financial institutions comes into force.
Acknowledging that it has sometimes treated honest taxpayers too harshly, the Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday that it’s significantly relaxing the rules on an existing tax amnesty program – changes it says will give “thousands of people a new avenue to come into compliance.” IRS officials acknowledged that Americans living in Canada, where taxes are generally higher, are a key target of the new rules.“These are exactly the type of people we would expect to see come in as a result of these streamlined procedures,” Michael Danilack, IRS deputy commissioner of international operations, told reporters on a conference call. “We expect that those folks will take a look at this expanded program and say, ‘This is for me. Now I can sleep at night, get my returns in and know I’ve met my obligations going forward.’ ”
Key changes include the waiving of all financial penalties, eliminating a requirement that only taxpayers who owe less than $1,500 (U.S.) a year in taxes qualify for amnesty and allowing individuals to modify previous tax filings.
Taxpayers will simply have to “self-certify” that their earlier failures to comply were not “willful.” The IRS is scrapping a previously used risk assessment questionnaire, which Mr. Danilack described as “scary” to many ….
The looming threat of FATCA coming into effect has caused a lot of consternation among the hundreds of thousands of Americans living in Canada. Under a recent agreement between Canada and the U.S., the Canada Revenue Agency will begin collecting information on all financial accounts worth more than $50,000, starting at the end of 2015.
Individuals entering the streamlined program will continue to have to file three years of back taxes and six years of foreign bank account reports. They may also be subject to different U.S. tax rules, including a new investment tax to pay for Obamacare and no tax holiday on capital gains. Unlike most other countries, the U.S. taxes all citizens, regardless of where they live.
IRS Announces Better Offshore Amnesty Program
(Forbes) Expats should be pleased that the IRS’s Streamlined Program, a big disappointment when announced in 2012, is now a good deal broader. The original streamlined procedures announced in 2012 were available only to non-resident, non-filers. For many, that was a non-starter. Plus, there were different degrees of review based on the amount of tax due and the taxpayer’s response to a risk questionnaire.
24 April
Paul Koring: Canada, you’re so vain: the Keystone delay isn’t about you
(Globe & Mail)… the Keystone XL delay isn’t about Canada. …
No, Mr. Obama’s Keystone XL delay is all about the Senate and whether the President’s party can hold it in November.
Republicans need to win six more seats to control the Senate in November. If that happens – and current polling suggests it’s a better-than-even bet – the President will face Republican control of both houses of Congress for his last two years in the Oval Office.
But if Democratic losses can be held to four or five, then the President’s party will retain its Senate majority and thus avert the nightmare scenario of a lame duck president repeatedly wielding his veto to save Obamacare and otherwise failing to get anything done.
Where does delaying on Keystone XL fit in that stop-loss strategy? In several ways. It allows red-state senators like Ms. Landrieu to put useful distance between her and the President. And by keeping the contentious Keystone XL a live issue, the president can hope to keep key groups in his activist coalition – including the young and environmentally motivated – stay engaged in turning out the vote. Lower turnout, common in mid-terms, hurts Democratic candidates more than Republicans.
Finally, there’s what Ben White, Politico’s chief economic correspondent calls the “100 million reasons why the president has held up the decision.”
That’s how much billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer – whose driving issue is thwarting Keystone XL and thus crippling oil sands expansion pledged to spend – have vowed to spend helping Washington’s most endangered species: Senate Democratic incumbents in red states..
18 April
State Department To Delay Keystone XL Pipeline Decision Until After November
(Think Progress) The State Department will “extend the government comment period on the Keystone XL pipeline, likely postponing a final decision on the controversial project until after the Nov. 4 midterm elections,” Reuters reported on Friday afternoon. The organization credited the information to a 1:30 call with Congressional staff.
The decision of whether or not to approve the northern leg of TransCanada’s pipeline, connecting the tar sands of Alberta to oil refineries and export facilities in Texas, will enter its sixth year in September.
State made the decision to give more time for 8 federal agencies to weigh in on the project. This would move the end of the review process, originally scheduled to end in May, to a date “likely” after the 2014 midterm elections, according to the Wall Street Journal. State Department officials cited a February district court decision that struck down a Nebraska law that aimed to put decisionmaking power over the pipeline in the hands of the governor.

12 March

David Jones writes: Here is the weblink to Alternative North Americas. It is newly published by the Washington Woodrow Wilson Center’s Canada Project
An Index for the manuscript is being created and will be added subsequently.
Essentially, the manuscript attempts a wide sweep of the U.S.-Canadian relationship, ranging inter alia from boundary/border issues, to military relationships (and their future), to Quebec and the West, and bilateral economics. It is based on my 20-year association with U.S.-Canada relations, stemming from diplomatic assignment to U.S. Embassy Ottawa and subsequent research, study, travel, and writing.
It is not a “valentine” to either country; however, I hope that it will be viewed as a useful addition to the ever-ongoing bilateral dialogue. (12 March)

Barack Obama could play a role in Quebec referendum
Peter McKenna, professor and chair of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.
(Ottawa Citizen) In the past, U.S. governments have not ventured far from the two-part policy stance of Jimmy Carter’s administration in the late 1970s. First, that the United States would prefer a united Canada. Second, that issues around national unity are ultimately up to Canadians themselves to decide.
A third qualifier was grafted onto this position when Bill Clinton entered the fray. … [He] added a stipulation — namely, that an independent Quebec would not automatically become a party to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
… The United States also has critical economic interests at play here. It is actually Quebec’s largest trading partner, with two-way trade totalling almost $70 billion in 2011. It is also true that American companies have an important and sizable investment stake in various sectors of Quebec’s economy, to say nothing of the province’s role as a reliable source of hydroelectricity for the U.S.
Additionally, the PQ’s proposed secular charter and its restrictive regulations on foreign investment (so as to protect Quebec businesses from hostile takeovers) would be further magnified if Quebec were to secede. And these changes would obviously raise eyebrows in Washington and give any U.S. government reason to pause.
21 February
John Ibbitson: This year could be make-or-break for Canada-U.S. relations
On the surface, this week’s Three Amigos summit produced nothing but boilerplate. Below the surface, relations are tense. Every major file is on the cusp of decision. If those decisions go Canada’s way, then Barack Obama and Stephen Harper will be able to take credit for the most productive relationship between a president and a prime minister since the days of Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney.
Obviously, Keystone XL is key. … The other crucial issue is the Trans Pacific Partnership.
Finally, there’s the border. Progress on a new bridge to link Windsor and Detroit, North America’s busiest crossing, continues its two-steps-forward-one-and-three-quarter’s-step-back crab walk. At the crossing near Niagara Falls, trucks crossing the Peace Bridge will be pre-cleared on the Canadian side of the border in a pilot project starting next week that aims to reduce congestion and fumes from idling trucks. So the Beyond the Border accord is finally starting to show results.
Put it all together and what do you get? Approval for a pipeline that will allow continued expansion of the Alberta oil sands. A landmark trade agreement that updates the North American Free Trade Agreement while also re-orienting Canadian trade toward the Pacific. And major new infrastructure projects to ease cross-border traffic. Tensions? What tensions?
Or, President Obama vetoes Keystone. The Trans Pacific Partnership talks fall apart. Legal challenges and opposition from Homeland Security scuttle border improvements.
14 February
White House Tells Harper To Not Expect Keystone XL Details Soon
The message? There’s a process underway in the U.S., the process is not politically directed, and it’s not clear when it will end.
“What President Obama will do is explain to him where we are in the review … and indicate that, of course, we’ll let our Canadian friends know when we’ve arrived at a decision,” one official said.

One Look At The United States-Canada Border Reveals Some Ridiculous Things

Americans shouldn’t take for granted their friendly neighbor to the north
(Buffalo News) Misconceptions in the United States about Canada are quite common. They include: there is always snow in Canada; Canadians are boring, socialists and pacifists; their border is porous and allowed the Sept. 11 terrorists through; or, as the U.S. Ottawa embassy staff suggested to Washington, the country suffers from an inferiority complex. With Canada Day and America’s Independence Day just past, this is a great time to clarify some of these misconceptions and better appreciate a neighbor that the United States at times takes for granted. (7 July 2013)

2013

25 November
Canadian banks to be compelled to share clients’ info with U.S.
Starting July 1, banks must look for markers that identify accounts belonging to Americans
The Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2010 and comes into force July 1, 2014.
The law forces all banks and other financial institutions outside the U.S. to search for customers who have certain “indicia.” Those are markers that show the person may be a U.S. citizen or a former permanent resident who, under U.S. law, must file income tax returns to Uncle Sam no matter where they reside in the world. Starting July 1, 2014, banks will be required to scour the records of all of their customers with more than $50,000 in an account.
They will be looking indicators such as: place of birth, alternate addresses and phone numbers, and past residency in the United Sates. Every file with at least one indicia marker will be flagged as a “U.S. Reportable Account.”
The only other country with similar tax rules for expats is Eritrea.
When announcing the law, U.S. President Barack Obama said, “if financial institutions won’t cooperate with us, we will assume they are sheltering money in tax-havens and act accordingly.”
The threat is a withholding tax of 30 per cent levied on every transaction a non-compliant bank has coming from, or even passing through, the U.S.
“Bottom line is: there is absolutely no way that a large, modern financial institution like a Canadian bank or a large credit union could escape FATCA,” says Marion Wrobel, vice-president of policy and operations at the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA).
1 November
Koch foundation donated again to Fraser Institute in 2011, U.S. tax records show
(Vancouver Observer) The Koch brothers are hard-right libertarians who co-founded the Tea Party to promote an agenda of reducing government and lowering taxes. They have donated over $100 million to conservative causes and climate change denial, and have invested in Canada’s oil sands for over 50 years.  Fraser Institute communications director Dean Pelkey said that the Koch funding goes toward the Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report, which links “economic freedom” to quality of life and attempts to measure it in more than 140 countries.
The report is a big deal to U.S. right-wing institutions. The Searle Fredom Trust contributed $100,000 to the Fraser Institute in 2010 and 2011 specifically toward the report, according to IRS tax records. Americans for Prosperity, a libertarian policy institute which recently spent $33.5 million against U.S. President Obama during the 2012 election, also splashed the Fraser Institute’s latest report prominently on its site last month.
1 October
An interesting and eclectic -some might say bizarre – list of what is comprised in essential services – Medical research at the National Institutes of Health will stop but staff will remain to tend 1.3 million lab mice, 63,000 rats and 3,900 monkeys; likewise, the animals at the (closed) National Zoo will be fed. We are also relieved to learn that while most of NASA’s 18,250 personnel will be furloughed, about 550 people will continue to deal with operations aboard the International Space Station and ongoing satellite missions.
How the U.S. shutdown affects Canadians
(Globe & Mail) Fear of the unknown largely summed up the concern of Canadian business leaders as they watched U.S. lawmakers march toward a government shutdown.
The potential for product delays at the border is the primary worry, given that a slowdown in trade would have a direct impact on the Canadian economy.
6 September
Harper offers Obama climate plan to win Keystone approval
(CBC) Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama formally proposing “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector,” if that is what’s needed to gain approval of the Keystone XL pipeline through America’s heartland, CBC News has learned.
Sources told CBC News the prime minister is willing to accept targets proposed by the United States for reducing the climate-changing emissions and is prepared to work in concert with Obama to provide whatever political cover he needs to approve the project.
The letter, sent in late August, is a clear signal Canada is prepared to make concessions to get the presidential permit for TransCanada Corp.’s controversial $7-billion pipeline, which will connect the Alberta oilsands to refineries in Texas.
13 August
Canada’s answer to Obama’s challenge to reduce Keystone’s carbon footprint: Algae
(Financial Post) Canada’s response to President Barack Obama’s challenge to reduce emissions of global-warming gases from the oil sands starts with sewage and algae.
The paste-like crude extracted from oil sands is softened by heat and steam to make it flow though pipelines. Burning natural gas to process the fuel creates carbon dioxide that researchers say can be mixed with waste water and fed to algae, which can be processed into cattle feed and other products.
7 August
U.S. Envoy To Canada: Nomination In Limbo As Obama Weighs Keystone
(CBC) Obama may be holding off on a nomination because he doesn’t want to have the U.S. Senate “hold that candidate hostage,” Colin Robertson, a former diplomat, now working as the vice-president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute told CBC News.
Diplomat Richard Sanders who arrived in Canada on July 22, will act as chargé d’affaires in the interim as a matter of due course, following the departure of outgoing U.S. ambassador David Jacobson, whose term ended on July 15.
9 July
Think our Senate is horrible? Wait til you see Canada’s a concise comparison of the roles of the two Senates.
(WaPost)  David E. Smith, an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Saskatchewan, thinks the institution has gotten a bum rap. “It’s the one part of the national parliament that was designed by the founders of the Confederation,” he says. “The House of Commons was borrowed, but the Senate was designed and it’s the one that’s most criticized.” Either going toward an American-style elected system or abolishing the institution, he argues, would give that up.
But with only 6 percent of Canadians liking the current system, some kind of change is looking more likely. And whether that change involves embracing the American model, or rejecting bicameralism altogether, is pretty up in the air at this point. So, as much as we hate our Congress, Americans can take some comfort in knowing that Canadians, at least, think it’d be a step up.
4 July
Canada-U.S. Relationship Stalls
By David Jones,
(Ottawa Citizen)The United States and Canada have three significant issue-events hanging fire: a new ambassador; the decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline; and reciprocal official state visits by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Each of these prospective actions is an important element in the bilateral relationship; each has been drifting to the extent that the absence of public action (concealed by the madcap ongoing scandals in Ottawa and Washington) has itself become a potential problem.
28 June
Colin Robertson: Two nations have much to cherish, many opportunities to share more
(Watertown Times) Our greatest resource is our people. Our openness to new people and the ideas and skills that they bring to our countries is our continuing strength. The Lady holding Liberty’s torch in New York harbor is symbol of a bond that unites both our nations.
Second, after enduring the longest recession since the Great Depression, our economies are recovering.
We still need more jobs — especially for those graduating from colleges and universities. Reshoring of manufacturing will help. So will continued investment in “smart” infrastructure.
These projects will not just generate jobs but better position our economies to handle the growing supply-chain dynamics that constitute the foundation for future North American (including Mexico) competitive advantage.
Third, we stand on the cusp of a manufacturing renaissance made possible by newfound energy resources.
Thanks to research and technological innovation, we are able to develop our energy resources, notably in the oil sands and through the fracking of natural gas. In combination, they guarantee North American energy interdependence. …
Stewardship … should mean exercising leadership in environmental protection and using the power of regulation to enforce good behavior. This is the formula behind the International Joint Commission. For over a century it has overseen our shared waterways and continues to be a model for joint stewardship.
Andrew Cohen Canada is good, but America is truly greata bit provocative?
At the beginning of every summer, Maclean’s publishes its Canada Day Survey. It is an early start on seasonal silliness, as filling as a Popsicle and as sturdy as a sandcastle.
So, don’t take the magazine’s sixth annual exercise in self-congratulation too seriously.
… it would be funny, if surveys like this didn’t reveal just our irrepressible inferiority complex. If it endures in us, well, it’s understandable. We live next to the world’s most successful people. It’s hard.
After all, we have Stephen Harper and they have Barack Obama. We have John Baird and they have John Kerry. Before Kerry, they had Hillary Clinton and we had Lawrence Cannon.
We have Rob Ford as mayor of our largest city. They have Michael Bloomberg. We have Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau. They have Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy.
We have a national capital, small and dull, that Canadians disparage and our government ignores. They have Washington, ambitious and dazzling, which Americans admire, salute and endow.
25 June
Obama KeystoneThere will be endless analyses and parsing of President Obama’s (unexpected) reference to the Keystone XL pipeline on both sides of the border and multiple sides of the political spectrum.
Paul Wells is early out of the gate
: Keystone: Obama changes the question. (This is big.)
Keystone XL must not lead to increase in emissions: Obama
Joe Oliver says Keystone is in ‘national interest of both our countries’
(CBC) Authorities should only approve TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline if they’re certain it won’t “significantly exacerbate” greenhouse gas emissions, U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday as he unveiled a national plan to combat climate change.
In a highly anticipated speech on his second-term climate objectives, Obama weighed in on Keystone despite suggestions he would steer clear of the controversial project because it’s in the midst of a State Department review.
14 June
CBC’s Susan Bonner: So long Washington, it’s been a Capitol affair
Reporter’s notebook: four years in power city
4 June
On a MUCH lighter note:
What’s Different In Canada Tumblr Looks At U.S. vs. Canada Quirks
Anyone who has spent time on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border knows that there are hundreds of subtle differences in the English spoken in both countries. Canadian school kids use duo-tangs. Their moms and dads drink double-doubles from Tim Hortons. Too many double-doubles and they’ll have to duck in to a washroom. If you’re an American, those last few sentences probably made little sense.
Kevin Bracken, who grew up in New York but went to university in Toronto, has created “What’s Different In Canada.” A light-hearted Tumblr that looks at the subtle quirks in language and culture that he’s spotted as someone who’s lived in both countries.
30 May
Who’s who of Obama lobbyists pushes Keystone pipeline
(Financial Times) TransCanada, the company hoping to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and the Canadian province of Alberta have hired a who’s who of lobbyists and communications professionals with links to the Obama administration – and to John Kerry in particular. …
A White House spokesman said that the decision would be made by the state department, declining to comment on efforts to influence the process, while an official said the state department was committed to an “objective, rigorous and transparent” review of the case.
The state department also noted that no one above Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary for environmental issues, was meeting outside parties.
28 May
Oilsands byproduct an eyesore
(CBC) Michigan congressman Gary Peters is calling for a complete health review of petroleum coke before Washington approves the Keystone XL Pipeline (video)
In fairness, the review should focus on the Koch Brothers: Billionaires Place 3-Story Pile Of Petroleum Coke in Detroit … (PolicyMic) Petroleum coke (petcoke) isn’t the best form of fuel, that’s why the U.S. doesn’t use it. In America, we prefer the high grade crude oil, that doesn’t stop the U.S. from exporting it overseas though. In fact, U.S. refiners provide over one-half of all petcoke traded in the global market, most if it is purchased by China. Given China’s lax environmental regulation, it’s not a huge surprise that they would be interested in using this product.
Selling the oilsands strategy to the U.S.
(CBC The Current) A land-locked Alberta oil industry side-swiped by a sudden gushing of oil fracked out of the ground in the U.S. The Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Alberta trudging to the U.S., using millions in federal money for ads … all to push the Keystone XL pipeline project that was supposed to be a no-brainer but instead is mired in opinionated controversy. Today, we look at the strategy that brought us to this point. (audio)
23 May
Interesting contrast: Neil Macdonald: Harper no Obama when it comes to dealing with scandals
The fact is, no modern president, Democrat or Republican, has shown the level of contempt for taking questions from the media that Stephen Harper has demonstrated. (23 May)

22 April

A-border-tax-would-take-its-toll – Reuters photo

Danielle Goldfarb: A Border Tax Would Take Its Toll
Why even a small U.S.-Canada border fee could have big consequences
(OpenCanada.org) Could a proposed new border fee lead to a tipping point?
Under intense budgetary pressures, Washington is looking for easy ways to make money. Border watchers were therefore not surprised to hear that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is considering slapping a new tax on pedestrians and passenger vehicles at border crossings.
The just announced budget proposal is drawing ire from both sides of the border. Politicians and business leaders are arguing that it is not in anyone’s long-term interest. Most research on the border supports this position. Anything that impedes legitimate cross-border interaction is likely to have negative consequences for our tightly-integrated economies and societies. And it is not clear that it will have an improved security impact – which is again top of mind after the Boston marathon attacks. …
The U.S. will continue to be Canada’s largest trade partner for the foreseeable future. Our study What Might Canada’s Future Exports Look Like? shows that the emergence of fast-growth markets is reducing our share of trade with the U.S. market, but it will still be our most important trading partner by 2025.
4 April
Obama Picks Goldman Sachs Exec For Ambassador To Canada
(CBC via HuffPost) Sources tell CBC News Network’s Power & Politics that Bruce Heyman has accepted the job but still has to pass a vetting process in order to be be formally nominated. His confirmation will be up to the U.S. Congress.
14 March
Lawrence Solomon: Obama will block Keystone
Not needed for U.S. energy security or employment
Many are surprised that President Barack Obama has not yet approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, creating thousands of jobs while reducing America’s dependence on Middle East oil. His reluctance shouldn’t be surprising — no single act that he could take would more undermine his vision for America or his desired legacy as a transformational ­leader. … In their second terms, presidents consider their legacy. Approving a pipeline from Canada that will do little for employment while raising oil prices for Americans and threatening the planet, as Obama sees it, can only sully his reputation with those that most count to him — his ardent Democratic supporters. The logic for refusing Keystone for a man of his temperament is near ­irresistible.
Key Democrat Pelosi voices doubts on Keystone as Mulcair visits U.S.
(Globe & Mail) Nancy Pelosi, one of Washington’s most powerful Democrats, has signalled that she is skeptical about the benefits of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would send heavy crude from Alberta’s oil sands across the United States to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Keystone XL pipeline19 February
Jack Mintz: The absolute case for why the U.S. should approve Keystone XL
The most significant economic benefit to the United States in importing Canadian oil is that it is much cheaper compared to other foreign oil — U.S. refineries with excess capacity would be able to substitute oil priced roughly $15 per barrel below other imported oil. Although it is expected the differentials will eventually be eliminated as pipelines are built from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf Coast, the U.S. domestic price for oil products will decline due to cheaper transport and overall costs for Albertan oil.
This could be a significant benefit to manufacturers and other industries in the United States with reliable cheap energy already being helped by cheap natural gas.
Of course, building the pipeline will create construction jobs in the United States during a time of high unemployment for the sector. This economic impact is temporary but important to unions, whose members will get new jobs.
Also critical is the relationship with Canada, America’s closest friend. The postponement of Keystone XL’s approval prior to the last American election has already hurt the Canadian-U.S. relationship, as Canada no longer questions the need to shift focus to faster-growing foreign markets. As the share of trade in forest and manufactured goods as well as capital has grown with other parts of the world, Canada is slowly becoming less reliant on the dominant U.S. economy.
A rejection of Keystone XL will have a multi-trillion dollar impact on the Canadian economy over time and will be significantly resented as governments face reduced growth prospects and lower revenues to sustain public programs, unless alternative markets can be found.
Greg Palast: Hugo Chavez Told Me He Won’t Sell Oil to the Kochs
I’ve been tracking a tube of black putrid ooze, a toxic viper slowly slithering 2,000 miles across the belly of America, swallowing all water aquifers, politicians and reason in its path.
… The XL Keystone will take Canadian tar-sands oil, the filthiest crude on the planet, and suck it down to Texas’ Gulf Coast refineries. Alberta’s oil-glop reserve, if it can get to the US market, will warm the planet by nearly 0.4°C all by itself.
Why in the world would America pistol-whip Mother Nature to bring oil to Texas? I mean, it’s just plain weird to suck heavy tar oil out of Canada to drag it across the entire middle of the USA and import it into the oil-exporting Lone Star State.
Here’s where a little lesson in oil chemistry comes in. You can’t just throw any old crude oil into an oil refinery. These giant filth factories are actually quite sensitive. The refineries of the Texas Gulf Coast are optimised for heavy crude.
It would cost billions of dollars to rebuild the giant Flint Hills Corpus Christi Refinery, owned by Koch Industries, to use the less-polluting Texas oil drilled nearby.
15 February
L. Ian Macdonald: Spare the lectures and approve Keystone
(Ottawa Citizen) With the election behind him, Obama must finally decide in the coming months. An important constituency in the Democratic party, organized labour, strongly supports Keystone for the good and simple reason that it will create thousands of high-paying union jobs. It will also enhance U.S. energy security, one of the reasons Keystone is supported by 53 senators who have signed a letter to Obama urging him to approve Keystone.
Then there’s the matter of the Canada-U.S. relationship, and the importance Obama attaches to it. He undoubtedly knows that Keystone is the top bilateral file on Harper’s desk.
It’s not complicated. The discount on Canadian oil sold to the U.S., which ranges from $25 to $40 per barrel below the world price, is a serious problem for fiscal frameworks in both Alberta and Ottawa. Alberta is $6 billion short in forecast oil royalties, and the feds are receiving lower tax revenues from the oilpatch. Canada urgently needs to diversify its oil and gas exports, and the best way to do that is pipelines to refineries by the sea, such as the Gulf Coast.
Then there’s the sheer hypocrisy on the American side of this conversation. Emissions from the coalfired U.S. power industry are many, many times higher than heavy oil from Alberta. Maybe we should remind the Americans of that.
13 February
John Parisella: The Changing Dynamics of Canada-U.S. Relations
America is gradually heading to energy self sufficiency, as is likely all of North America. This is bound to have huge repercussions on the economic status quo in the long run and on the political landscape.
(Americas Quarterly) The upcoming decisions dealing with the fiscal cliff talks regarding the debt ceiling and the sequestration deal will have an immediate effect on the economic recovery in the U.S., and its outcome could directly affect Canada’s own recovery. We in Canada are too dependent on the U.S. to not be affected one way or the other. Failure to reach an agreement on these matters could plunge the U.S. into another recession. Canada will not remain unscathed.
The decision on the Keystone Pipeline is another area that could drastically affect the economic relations between the two countries. With Obama’s desire to be a leader in climate change, and with the nomination of climate change advocate John Kerry as Secretary of State, there is cause for concern in Canada’s oil path. Oil and gas revenues are not only important to the province of Alberta, but they are an integral part of Canada’s equalization program that helps spread our wealth across the country.
Whether it is energy, fiscal issues, or overall economic activity, Canada will have to develop a growth strategy of its own including investments in education and infrastructures, encourage innovation, and search more aggressively for new markets. The long term relationship with America is bound to shift, and Canada cannot afford to be a spectator.
20 January
Colin Robertson: Obama’s inauguration: How presidents build teams
(iPolitics) The job that most directly affects Canadians, of course, is the U.S. ambassador. It is a position that also must be confirmed by the Senate. … interesting (and encouraging) list of potential nominees follows before concluding
Any one of these individuals could carry on the work of Ambassador Jacobson. That many have held office at the municipal or state level underlines another feature of the American system of government: it’s much more of a progressive ladder for office-holders than in Canada. Four of the last six presidents were governors and this year’s GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, served as governor of Massachusetts.
It all serves as a reminder of the importance of involving all Canadian elected officials, especially those at the federal, state and territorial level, in reaching out to their American counterparts to advance Canadian interests. You never know where those people will wind up. Early connections can pay rich dividends. But it’s up to us to take the initiative.

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