Canada and the United States: Security and Strategic Interests after 9/11. Jack Granatstein Suggests That Canadians Should Put National Interests before Values in Their Approach to Their Giant Neighbour

By Granatstein, Jack | New Zealand International Review, January-February 2008 | Go to article overview

Canada and the United States: Security and Strategic Interests after 9/11. Jack Granatstein Suggests That Canadians Should Put National Interests before Values in Their Approach to Their Giant Neighbour


Granatstein, Jack, New Zealand International Review


The dependence of Canada on its super-power neighbour is not generally understood in New Zealand. Consider four pieces of economic data:

* Canada-US two-way trade is $700 billion a year or $6 billion every three days. (New Zealand's two-way trade with the United States is US$6 billion a year.)

* Canada sends 80 per cent of its exports to (or through) the United States.

* Trade with the United States amounts to 52 per cent of Canadian gross domestic product.

* Canada-US trade employs more than one-third of Canadian workers.

These are the most vital of vital Canadian statistics, and they showcase Canada's success in penetrating the richest market in the world. They also underline very effectively Canadian dependence on a single market.

The data also make clear the vulnerability of Canadian exporters after the al-Qaeda attacks of 11 September 2001. The Canada-US border for all practical purposes was closed immediately following the strikes at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the Canadian economy virtually ground to a halt. Increased security at American Customs posts led to huge lineups of trucks, and 'just in time' manufacturing shipments and schedules collapsed. The immediate goal of the Canadian Liberal government of Jean Chretien, hitherto not noted for its friendliness to the administration of George W. Bush, became to secure the most open border possible with the United States. This led to a series of initiatives for a 'smart' border and to the Security and Prosperity Partnership which aimed to speed trade both south and north. The attacks also soon led to the US requirement for foreign nationals, and also for Canadian and American citizens who had been used to crossing the border with only a driver's licence for identification, to present passports to get into the United States. Canadian and US air travellers already need passports; in the near future, travellers by land will need to present them. The fear is that this requirement along the Canada-US border, two countries where far fewer than half of citizens possess passports, will end day trips over the border and strangle tourism in both Canada and the northern United States.

The 9/11 attacks also led to billions being spent to upgrade security in Canada--more money for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), better security at ports and borders, and the arming of border guards, the first of whom took up duties in late July 2007.

Half measures

But in truth, these improvements were only half measures. The Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence produced a series of reports on border, port, coast and airport security which were scathing in pointing to gaping holes in training and practice. Canadian immigration and refugee policies are notoriously flawed with a broken refugee determination process and the screening of immigration applicants all but non-existent. Eighty per cent of immigrants from Afghanistan and Pakistan, to cite two hotbeds of Islamic militancy, are not screened at all.

[ILLUSTRATIONS OMITTED]

More than 80 per cent of Canadian immigrants today (and Canada accepts 250,000 or more each year) come from non-democratic societies such as China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Sri Lanka, and no effort is made to integrate them into Canadian society. The assumption appears to be that immigrants will absorb Canadian values and democratic practices by osmosis and that nothing more need be done.

Making matters worse, the CSIS has yet to prove itself in its two decades of existence, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is caught up in an on-going political and operational crisis that recently led to a civilian being appointed as commissioner with the task of shaking up the force. Canada's two security agencies at this point do not seem up to the tasks they face. The Millennium bomber who aimed to destroy Los Angeles airport, for example, was an Algerian immigrant who lived in Montreal. …

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