Ottawa, February 14, 2011 – The Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI) today released a Commentary, Trading in Superstitions, by Institute Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley, that took aim at harmful superstitions Canadians and Americans hold about one another that interfere with effective cooperation on trade and security. Based on a speech to the National Strategy Forum in February, the Commentary warns Americans not to think Canada is an unreliable security partner while Canadians should not regard the U.S. as an international bully, imagine that we and our southern neighbours hold dramatically different values or think that the best way to get Americans in a cooperative mood is to talk about material gain.
According to Crowley, Canadians and Americans both “believe in a special kind of democracy, where even the will of the majority is bound by laws and rules…. We believe in freedom, not just for itself, but because freedom alone allows the fully human life, in which we make choices for ourselves based on our own beliefs, experiences and priorities, not on those of dictators, mullahs, caudillos or even benevolent bureaucrats” and we believe in “the value of self-sacrifice” in defence of what we value.
That is why we stood shoulder to shoulder in two world wars, Korea, the Cold War and today in Afghanistan. And it is why we should keep the border open for friendly trade, commerce and travel, work together to create a common security perimeter for North America, and stand together to defend all the key values we share that make us not just neighbours and customers to one another, but real partners.
Especially in light of the pledge by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama to move forward on a number of these issues, Crowley reminded Canadians and Americans that “Moving controls away from the border is not a loss of sovereignty, but a more effective exercise of that sovereignty.”
The Commentary advocates concrete steps like an agreed set of security standards to apply to all points of entry into North America, expanding trusted shipper and trusted traveler programs, 24 hour a day access and border services at major crossings, an integrated “single window” for entering all border-related importing and exporting data, streamlined regulatory procedures, a new treaty on continental security and a common external tariff, a new joint commission on border management, a new joint committee of Congress and Parliament on Canadian-American issues and a joint tribunal on issues that arise under our various cross-border agreements. But none of these will come to fruition unless Canadians and Americans abandon various superstitious beliefs that prevent us from seeing how much we have in common.
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