But first : a quiz !
Can you spot the main difference between the two pictures below?
Take your time ... don't rush it ...
[The answer is in comments.]
In the top picture, Harper is holding the latest Canadian foray into deep integration : From Correct to Inspired : A Blueprint for Canada-US Engagement from the Canada-US Project.
Appearing with him are Canada-US Project luminaries (L to R) Colin Robertson, on loan from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to Carleton University to direct the project; Fen Osler Hampson, Canada-US Project co-chair and director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University; and Derek Burney, former Canadian ambassador to the US and co-chair of the Canada-US Project at Carleton.
Contributors to the "blueprint" include Thomas D'Aquino of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives; Perrin Beatty of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce; three former American ambassadors to Canada : David Wilkins, James Blanchard, and Gordon Giffin; and serial Canada-basher Michael "Canada blew it!" Hart.
"Blueprint" authors Fen Hampson and Michael "Canada blew it!" Hart appeared before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development on Feb 23 to complain that the Canada - US relationship has :
"an awful lot of informal, below-the-radar relationships," Mr. Hart said.
"I mean hundreds of relationships among officials and so on, but none of that is provided with a kind of from-the-top political guidance as to what the objectives are."
The two professors went on to say Canada must redefine its relationship with the U.S. in a way that will strengthen security but also enhance trade. Ideally, they recommended broadening, among other things, NORAD to create a secure land, sea and air perimeter around North America, while dropping the national border to create a Schengen-type arrangement.
The Schengen Area is a group of twenty-five European countries which have abolished all border controls between each other.
Two days later Thomas d'Aquino of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives told the Commons' Foreign Affairs committee on Feb. 25 that the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership "is probably dead." However something else will inevitably replace it, he said.
The Canada-US Project is certainly making a good run at it.
Here's some random quotes from their above-mentioned "Blueprint for Canada-US Engagement" :
- The two governments should re-examine the benefits of a perimeter approach to the border.
- The two governments should also take a blowtorch to regulatory differentiation and overlap that serve no useful purpose other than to preserve some government jobs and to perpetuate a preference for differentiation for its own sake.
- On Afghanistan :
Canada certainly has earned the right in blood and treasure to influence stronger US leadership and to spur a more substantive, more cohesive international effort.
- Domestically, the enthusiasm that greeted the election of Obama will fade in the face of the persistent unease of Canadians about getting too close to Canada’s giant neighbour.
- Crisis, a convergence of national interests, and the need for economic recovery should help to bring us together. Canadians are ready ... They accept that the border has become dysfunctional and that minor regulatory differences make little sense.
- Obstacles to achieving this agenda are chronic indifference in Washington and wariness or narcissism in Canada.
- Redefining the way the two governments manage the interoperability of Canadian and US forces is an important next step. Putting NORAD on a permanent footing was a start, but there is a need for appropriate institutions for land and maritime forces as well.
- Canada’s role in Afghanistan is proving critical to re-establishing its credentials as a credible security partner. The government will need to be prepared to offer help in other trouble spots.
- As Obama takes office, he will pursue a faster drawdown in Iraq with compensatory emphasis on Afghanistan. This may put pressure on the prime minister’s vow to take Canadian combat troops out of Afghanistan by 2011. Cutting Canada’s losses on a costly and unpopular mission may prove popular at home but will at the same time reduce Canadian influence and visibility with a new administration.
- The most pressing bilateral issue is the need to re-think the architecture for managing North America’s common economic space.
- Re-imagining the border. ... the border has become an instrument to address yesterday’s problems. It may be time to resurrect the “perimeter” concept and find a better balance between security and economics. Integrating national regulatory regimes into one that applies on both sides of the border. But to make this work, the two governments must also develop joint rules and procedures to coordinate regulatory policy on an ongoing basis.
- Building an enhanced capacity for joint rule making.
The two governments may need to establish a few institutions that are capable of providing political leadership as well as political oversight.
Part of the solution may lie in making better use of the “hidden wiring” in the relationship. Over many years, relations have grown and deepened at many levels – from the state-provincial and business-to-business to nongovernmental, and legislative levels.
- [I]t is not in Canada’s best interests to restrict energy exports to the United States at this time – a situation that will remain unchanged for quite a number of years.
- The third major challenge is to bring the rules governing the cross-border movement of goods and services into line with the reality of deep integration. Border security has become economic protectionism in a new guise.
- Additionally, it is critical that the two governments find a joint approach to border management in the event of a major terrorist attack in either the United States or Canada. There is no agreed contingency plan to deal with such a crisis.
- Finally, the smooth operation of the integrated Canada-US economy requires that the two countries come to grips with what some have called the narcissism of small differences in the regulatory structures of the two countries.
Health Canada spends an enormous amount of time and money testing drugs that have already been tested and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
- North American economic integration has grown and an enhanced Canada-US trading relationship needs to reflect that reality. Canada can speed the process of convergence by making a concerted effort to align a wide range of regulatory requirements with those in place in the United States.
- [O]nly Canada’s inveterate anti-Americans can take satisfaction in seeing their neighbours in such trouble. The over-hyped talk among the pundits about the death of the American market economy model is nonsense.
Apparently their polls that show that "95% of Canadians desire the federal government to have a closer relationship with the US", hindered only by "the chattering classes" - a rather odd reference given that co-author Derek Burney is Chairman of the Board of Canwest Global Communications Corp. - but doesn't all this sound like a blueprint for SPP on steroids to you?
OK, on to the exciting quiz answer....