The progressive politicians of our country seem to see nothing wrong with us signing multilateral/international agreements like the Kyoto Protocol and other United Nations initiatives that infringe on our sovereignty. They, in fact, insist on such agreements though they fight the Conservatives tooth and nail over bilateral agreements with the United States, our closest friend and ally and the nation on which we have relied for our security for decades.
Liberal-NDP politicians are only too pleased to see us save tens of billions in military spending over the past 60 years because we have been able to rely on the United States to protect us. But they are outraged at the prospect of providing U.S. officials with personal details of passengers on our airplanes that fly over U.S. airspace. Why shouldn’t the United States want to know the details of those flying above their heads? It was less that a decade ago that airplanes were used to murder nearly 3,000 innocent Americans, and so I don’t blame them for being excessively cautious.
Now we have Michael Ignatieff and his Liberals standing with likeminded Jack Layton New Democrats to attack the perimeter security agreement announced last week by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama.
Under the agreement, officials from both countries have been assigned to develop an action plan aimed at deterring terrorists and improving border infrastructure, and to find ways to ease obstacles to the free flow of goods and services across the border by cutting red tape and harmonizing rules and regulations.
The deal was only just announced and the process not even started and already Michael Ignatieff was attacking it, trying to frighten Canadians by intimating the big bad Americans will want too much data about us.
“Canadians want to travel freely across the border,” he said, “but the question is, how much information about ourselves are we being asked to surrender to American authorities?” In Calgary, the chief Grit blasted the proposal as a secretive deal that threatens Canadian sovereignty.
Even CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife said on last Sunday’s TV program, Question Period, he found nothing secretive about the process and that he was able to find whatever information he needed. And Fife can hardly be considered a Harper apologist.
Virtually ever deal made between nations involves giving up some degree of sovereignty. There is almost always a tradeoff between retaining the option of unilateral action and the restrictions negotiated in a treaty. We made concessions when we signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the U.S. in 1988—the Liberals and New Democrats opposed that deal also, and for much the same reasons.
The FTA, and its replacement NAFTA, has worked out extremely well for Canadians. For, while there is no way to exactly measure the ramifications of the agreements, subsequent to their signing, trade between our two nations increased rapidly. Following several decades when exports averaged about 25 per cent of Canada’s GDP, starting in 1990 exports averaged close to 40 per cent of GDP, reaching about 50 percent by 2000.
In 2008, Canada exported $381-billion in goods and services to the United States and Mexico and imported $245-billion from those NAFTA countries. Hardly anyone in the Canadian mainstream now disputes NAFTA’s advantages, and even the NDP’s Gary Doer of Manitoba has openly praised its benefits.
So important were the free trade deals that the then Liberal leader Jean Chrétien, who campaigned vehemently against them, promising to renegotiate or abrogate them, instead broke his campaign pledge and let them be.
So, before attacking the government for the sake simply of making it look bad, Ignatieff and Layton should give the process a chance. That’s what the majority of Canadians want them to do, according to a new Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey. That poll found:
- 75 per cent of respondents supported shared intelligence gathering.
- Eighty-four per cent supported harmonizing food-safety regulations.
- 70 per cent favoured creation of a bilateral agency to oversee the building of new border infrastructure.
Again the ineffectual Ignatieff finds himself on the opposite side of an issue to the position favoured by most Canadians—the fellow just doesn’t get it, eh?