Monday, January 19, 2009

Harper Needs Stronger U.S. Relations: Report

(Mike Blanchfield — CanWest News/The Gazette)

On including Mexico: ‘Trilateralism when necessary, but not necessarily trilateralism’

From energy to the economy, oil to Afghanistan, Canada must become a “credible contributor” and not an “annoying diversion” to Barack Obama’s new administration, a major report is telling Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

And regardless of whether it is in his nature, Harper must strengthen relations by building a strong personal relationship with the popular new president, and should push for a yearly summit on North American issues, concludes the “blueprint for Canada-U.S. engagement” released Monday by Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

The result of months of research and consultations with major political, business and academic leaders from both countries, the wide-ranging plan urges first and foremost, “sustained co-operation” between the two countries in tackling the economic crisis. It also calls for joint action on combating greenhouse gas emissions while still meeting the continent’s oil and gas needs, speeding the flow of commerce across an increasingly thick and bureaucratic border, and better co-operation on the Arctic.

“The most pressing bilateral issue is the need to rethink the architecture for managing North America’s common economic space,” write co-authors, Derek Burney, a former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. and the head of Harper’s transition team three years ago, and Paterson school director Fen Hampson. Read more here.