December 23, 2008

Thomas d’Aquino on Canadian-American Relations

Speaking of Canadian-American relations, below is a recent article to president Bush by Thomas d'Aquino. In it he describes how the US and Canada are "bound together not merely by geography and history, but by common values of freedom, democracy and self-determination — the belief that individual men and women should be entitled to achieve to the fullest of their potential, regardless of the circumstances of their birth or position."

While that last sentence seems incredibly corny, I tend to agree with most of what he said in the rest of his article, especially about joint American-Canadian security. But d'Aquino has been criticized in the past for his environmental policies. One section of what he said I do have a problem is where he said:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has signalled his desire to help forge a common North American climate change policy that would bring down emissions of greenhouse gases without further damaging an already fragile continental economy. Canada, home to the world’s second-largest oil reserves, can also play an important role in strengthening American energy security and reducing your country’s dependence on hostile oil-exporting regimes.
I really am not sure how the environmentally-unfriendly and unsustainable Oil Sands in Alberta will mix with Obama's policy of investing in clean, renewable energy resources.

From a recent mayors' conference:
"... the production of tar sands oil from Canada emits approximately three times the carbon dioxide pollution per barrel as does conventional oil production and significantly damages Canada's Boreal forest ecosystem - the world's largest carbon storehouse ..."

Althought I really don't see how the oil sands would fit into the larger environmental and economic vision of the Obama administration, but I am hoping for greater US-Canadian cooperation when it comes security and trade.

Thomas d’Aquino: You've got a friend
Posted: November 19, 2008, 7:28 PM by NP Editor

The following is an open letter from Thomas d’Aquino to the soon-to-be 44th president of the United States

By Thomas d’Aquino

Dear President-Elect Obama,

In exactly two months from today, you will stand on the steps of the United States Capitol and take the oath of office to become your country’s 44th president. Countless millions around the world will celebrate your inauguration, yet it is doubtful that you will have much time to savour the occasion. Rarely in recent history has an incoming administration inherited such seismic challenges: the global financial crisis, economic gloom and the threat of protectionism, two wars, international terrorism and the risk of global climate change, to name only a few.

Fortunately, you and the American people do not confront these daunting challenges alone. Everywhere, friends and allies of the United States are committed to helping in the task of restoring prosperity and promoting the cause of peace.Let there be no doubt: the world needs a strong, united and confident America.

Perhaps nowhere else on earth is the American Dream better understood than in Canada. Our people are bound together not merely by geography and history, but by common values of freedom, democracy and self-determination — the belief that individual men and women should be entitled to achieve to the fullest of their potential, regardless of the circumstances of their birth or position.

Canadians and Americans are cousins, figuratively and in many cases literally. We are also friends, colleagues, co-workers, customers and business partners. Millions of jobs depend on the goods and services that flow back and forth across our shared frontier every hour of every day. Cross-border investment and trade enable millions of American and Canadian families to put food on the table, to finance their children’s education, to pursue a better life for themselves and future generations.

In your election night victory speech, you spoke of the need, in the months and years ahead, to restore economic growth, put people back to work and open doors of opportunity. You spoke of America’s determination to defeat those who would tear the world down, and support those who seek peace and security.

Canadians share those goals and will actively support you in those objectives.

Since 2001, Canadian soldiers, aid workers and medical personnel have been in Afghanistan to help Afghans rebuild their country as a stable, democratic and self-sufficient society. Canada, with 2,500 troops on the ground, has suffered disproportionate fatalities. Our federal government has stated its intention to end Canada’s military role in Afghanistan in 2011, but our commitment to combating extremism is unshakeable. Among other measures, Canada will continue to help train Afghan military and police, strengthen democratic institutions and supply humanitarian aid. As you have made clear, the solution in Afghanistan is not just military — it is political and economic.

Like you, Canadians believe that closer multilateral co-operation is essential to achieving enhanced international security, prosperity, humanitarian rights and environmental protection. Now more than ever, it is vital that we take down walls and build bridges among nations, on issues ranging from climate change and international trade to the regulation of financial markets and the protection of consumer health and safety.

None of this will be easy, but in a number of areas there is good reason for optimism. Already, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has signalled his desire to help forge a common North American climate change policy that would bring down emissions of greenhouse gases without further damaging an already fragile continental economy. Canada, home to the world’s second-largest oil reserves, can also play an important role in strengthening American energy security and reducing your country’s dependence on hostile oil-exporting regimes. There is clear potential for our two countries to work more closely in expanding resource production and the infrastructure needed to move resources from remote areas to the industrial heartland.

Cross-border co-operation also will be critical in responding to the current financial crisis. Canada and the United States are each other’s most important economic partners and we must make every possible effort to work together to restore confidence, encourage investment and create opportunities for future growth.

Fortunately, there is much that we can and should do to ensure that our economies and our societies emerge stronger than ever from the current downturn. Workers and enterprises in both our countries depend on the smooth flow of goods, services and people across the Canada-United States border. To enhance their ability to compete globally, we need to recapture the co-operative spirit, momentum and sense of urgency that guided the initial work of the Smart Border initiatives in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. At the same time, closer bilateral regulatory co-operation would reduce costs and delays for shippers and enable governments to focus scarce resources on more urgent issues of security.

Above all, the United States and Canada must be vigilant in resisting the siren call of protectionism. Open markets and open trade have always been vital to the health of our economies, and history shows the folly of responding to a slowing economy by raising barriers to the free flow of goods and services. By improving continental co-operation, our two countries can set a positive example at a time when multilateral progress under the World Trade Organization is stalled.

Canada and the United States are neighbours, friends, partners and allies. We have shown an impressive ability over the years to work together in ways that have strengthened our societies and produced tangible benefits for our people. As you prepare to take office, we hope that you will seize the opportunity to build on this proud record and help shape an even stronger Canada-United States relationship that will once again be a model for the world.

Financial Post
is chief executive and president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and chair of the Canadian Secretariat to the North American Competitiveness Council.

Photo: Jason Reed / Reuters


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