Wednesday, November 26, 2008
OTTAWA — Barack Obama and Stephen Harper should create a new border agency that would become the economic equivalent of NORAD, the joint Canada-U.S. military alliance, says a group headed by Canada’s former ambassador to the United States.
Michael Kergin, Ottawa’s envoy to Washington from 2000 to 2005, calls for the creation of a Permanent Joint Border Commission in a new report that highlights how the “thickening” of the 49th parallel has slowed trade and why this has serious implications in light of the global financial crisis.
The report by the Canadian International Council think-tank, co-authored by Mr. Kergin, notes that on the eve of U.S. involvement in the Second World War, prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and president Franklin Roosevelt met in upstate New York and signed an agreement that would lead to the creation of NORAD, which turned 50 this year.
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The August, 1940, Ogdensburg Declaration created the Permanent Joint Board of Defence that evolved into NORAD in 1958, and which has “assured North American security throughout the Cold War to the present,” the report says.
“With fundamental changes occurring so rapidly in the global economy … it may be time to consider whether the leaders of Canada and the United States might not, once again, collaboratively confront international instability, albeit of an economic nature,” it says.
Mr. Kergin’s group suggests “a deliverable” for a first meeting between Mr. Obama and Mr. Harper: The leaders could mandate “two trusted and high-profile personal representatives” to prepare a plan to improve border management.
The report calls for greater regulatory harmony — such as getting rid of packaging variations for myriad goods, from food to pharmaceuticals — to rid the two countries of “the tyranny of small differences” that bedevils trade.
This article was posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at 9:57 am