Why the U.S. doesn’t trust Canada

Ottawa hasn’t been serious about security, says one former Homeland Security official

Why the U.S. doesn't trust CanadaOn June 1, for the first time in history, Canadians and Americans crossing the border were required to show a passport (or equivalent) document. By all accounts the transition has, despite Canadian fears, proceeded with remarkably modest disruption. Canadians, however, continue to question the requirement and to object to other U.S. border security measures. As I worked (on behalf of the United States) over the past four years to prepare for these changes, most Canadians expressed a quiet dismay: “How,” they wondered, “could you be doing this to us when we are such good friends?”

After all, it has been a major sea change in the American approach to the land border with Canada. For more than 100 years, though Canadians have thought frequently and almost obsessively about the United States, most Americans have paid relatively little attention to Canada. Except for those who live close to the border (let’s all say it together: “the longest undefended border in the world”) or whose business is linked to Canadian products, most Americans don’t hold any strong opinion about Canada. You’re just like us, we think, only a little different and a little less temperate. We’re the lucky ones, because we have Florida (though each winter the residents of Ontario invade).

In the years since 9/11, I think many Canadians have come to yearn for this era of benign neglect. Before then, Canada had come to rely on the fact that America had not been paying very much attention to it. In effect, that let Canada have the best of both worlds—the capacity and interest in pursuing policies that are independent from those followed by the United States, joined with the enjoyment of an open border that substantially reduced any practical sovereign distinction between the two countries insofar as travel and trade were concerned.

The result was an undefended border, but one that had an inherent tension to it as differences grew in American and Canadian policies. By and large Canada has much greater openness to the rest of the world than does the U.S. Canadian asylum policies are more liberal; Canada extends the privilege of visa-free travel to the citizens of many more countries. And, more fundamentally, Canada takes a much lighter hand in screening arriving travellers.

These are, of course, generalizations, so let me provide a specific example. The United States has long had challenges on its southern border with Mexico. At this juncture, we have fairly stringent identification requirements for Mexicans entering the United States directly. Yet until new Canadian visa restrictions came into effect on July 14, Canada had chosen to allow visa-free travel for Mexicans to Canada; the lack of a more concrete identification requirement on the part of the U.S. at the northern border until June 1 created an opportunity for Mexicans to evade the southern border restrictions. Let me be clear: Canada is a good friend of the United States and a separate sovereign nation. It is, and ought to be, perfectly free to make independent sovereign decisions regarding its admissions policies. Nobody in the United States would say otherwise. But differences—like Canada’s past treatment of Mexican nationals—necessarily have consequences.

Before Sept. 11, 2001, the disharmony in immigration and border control policies was of relatively minor importance—certainly not worth attempting to correct if the cost would be a disruption in cross-border trade. That changed after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. At the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where I served, we spent a large fraction of our time thinking about Canada—and with good reason. Created in 2003, DHS is the locus for American efforts to prevent another terrorist attack on the United States. To a large degree that means that DHS is a border security agency—and as a border agency, we worry about (surprise!) borders. That means that DHS spends a lot of its time thinking about Canada (along with Mexico and our “third border” in the Caribbean), and much less time worrying about more distant overseas threats in, say, South Asia or the Middle East. For DHS, “international affairs” frequently means “Canadian affairs” (or Mexican or Caribbean).

So the initial problem for Canada was a simple practical one—we were paying more attention. And what we saw caused us some concern. What had earlier been very modest divergences in immigration policy now loomed larger as differences in counterterrorism policy. Some Canadians have yet to come to grips with the new reality that Canada can’t have it both ways—it can’t both exercise its own sovereign authority over its border policies, and expect the United States not to do the same thing. If we did we would, in effect, be outsourcing American security decisions to Canada, a state of affairs that simply cannot continue in a post-9/11 world.

This new reality would be of little moment if we had a shared sense of the terrorist problem and could anticipate a commitment to working on a convergence of policies. Unfortunately, over the course of many discussions with my Canadian colleagues, all of which have been exceedingly amiable and pleasant, I’ve begun to worry that the U.S. and Canada are not as closely aligned as they think they are. We have tried to work at realigning our vision (the preferred course of action), but if we don’t succeed and continue down a path of divergence, that will, inevitably, lead to even greater disparities and controversies between the two countries.

The opening assumption that I brought to the negotiating table, and that I think every American would begin with, is that the U.S. and Canada more or less see the world in the same way. At the core, we like to believe that we think alike and have the same aim—a free and safe citizenry. Increasingly, however, I’m not sure this assumption holds. We don’t seem to see the world the same way anymore, and as a result there is perceptible erosion in the trust between us. Americans responded to Sept. 11 in ways that most Canadians don’t seem to have internalized. At an intellectual level, they recognize that 9/11 was a traumatic experience for the U.S. They understand and respect the fact that it has caused a reaction. But in their most candid moments, I suspect most Canadians think the U.S. overreacted (a view that some in the U.S.—though likely a minority—also share). Many Americans, by contrast, think that Canada didn’t react enough to Sept. 11, and that what little reaction there was amounted to, if anything, tepid half-measures.

Back in 2006, DHS made a broad strategic proposal to our Canadian counterparts: let’s work to synchronize our perimeter security approaches as much as possible. The payoff would be relaxed controls along our mutual border. I remember when then-DHS secretary Michael Chertoff first presented this idea to his counterpart, Stockwell Day, then minister for public safety. We laid out a comprehensive proposal that included: greater information sharing, coordinated standards for passenger screening, shared technology and targeting for cargo containers, and other similar concepts. Essentially we proposed a joint security model for homeland security that resembled NORAD in conception. Even at that first meeting the response from Canada was lukewarm, at best.

I continue to believe that there are many real benefits that would flow from co-operation of this sort. Here’s a concrete example. The U.S. has begun to develop a series of policies aimed at deterring the importation of a nuclear weapon or radiological material for a “dirty bomb” into the United States aboard small private aircraft (known, in the trade, as “general aviation”). Some of those policies are internal to the U.S.—we’ll be requiring better identification for passengers and pilots, for example. But one key component of the strategy is the idea of screening general aviation airplanes overseas, before they depart for the United States.

This was a win-win proposition for everyone. America would have greater security, since any radioactive material would be interdicted before it even started toward the U.S. The general aviation community would benefit, since they would undergo all of the regular U.S. customs and immigration screening overseas and then be allowed to travel to any airport in the U.S. (instead of the current practice, where they must first land at an official port of entry, like Miami, and then fly onward to their ultimate destination). And the host country and airport would benefit from increased traffic, with the resulting economic benefits. The attraction is so great that in less than two years the U.S. has already signed agreements of this sort with Ireland, Bermuda and Aruba. More are likely.

Early on, we saw this as a great opportunity to synchronize our perimeter security with Canada. The idea would be for Canadians to co-locate their own customs and immigration officials at the same facilities and provide the same service for Canada-bound general aviation. Since it’s unlikely that a terrorist would actually be able to acquire a loose nuclear weapon in Canada, there would be no real need for screening Canadian traffic to the U.S. if Canada and U.S. radiological screening overseas were coordinated in this way.

I can’t say why, but while I was at DHS we had absolutely no real expression of Canadian interest in the project (or in any of the other synchronization proposals). I personally briefed our general aviation plans to Canadian delegations on at least three occasions—but when I left DHS in January 2009, Canadian participation in a joint general aviation screening program was firmly placed on the back burner.

Maybe it is because the nature of minority government prevents co-operation of this sort. Maybe it was the product of a distrust of the Bush administration that will dissipate now that Barack Obama is president. But I suspect, as well, that it simply reflects a Canadian disposition toward the terrorism issue: if you don’t think terrorism is that important an issue, then you aren’t willing to invest the time and energy required to address the problem. And if that really is the cause of our divergence of views, it will become a permanent and enduring reality, with consequences at the border.

Finally, there is one other piece to the puzzle that must be mentioned in any candid assessment of the U.S.-Canada relationship. Since both countries, broadly speaking, seek the same social ends through the same governmental means, we have come to believe that we each are a trustworthy partner. There is a very good, historical basis for this trust. We used to say at DHS: “If the Canadians say they will do something, they’ll do it.” I’m not sure that mutual trust exists as much anymore—especially Canadian belief in American trustworthiness. Though we continue to co-operate closely and well on a tactical level (shared law enforcement investigations and the like), I and my colleagues at more senior levels had a distinct perception of distancing by our Canadian counterparts, and a notable reduction in our ability to share information across the border.

Much of this, I think, traces back to the Maher Arar incident. And here I begin to worry even more, because I cannot see reconciliation. In Canada, the belief is that Arar was mistreated. It has become so strong a belief that it has become an article of faith. This is neither the time nor the place to rehash the questions about Arar, save to make an important point that often gets lost: the U.S. is both entitled to, and obliged to, form its own judgment about Arar.

And reasonable friends may interpret facts differently. Where Canadians see an innocent 20-minute walk in the rain (according to the report issued by Justice Dennis O’Connor, who oversaw Canada’s public inquiry into the affair, on Oct. 11, 2001, Arar spent 20 minutes outside in the rain talking to an individual who was the subject of an ongoing terrorism investigation), some Americans (and the RCMP) see behaviour reminiscent of those seeking to avoid surveillance and “taking great pains not to be overheard.” A walk in the rain is, in our experience, a tactic frequently adopted by organized crime figures to avoid audio surveillance. On the basis of this conduct, and other information, I expect that Arar will continue to remain an object of U.S. concern for the indefinite future.

This is not to say that either side is necessarily right in its judgment about Arar’s activity, and it is certainly not to suggest that what Arar reports having experienced in Syria was proper treatment. But it is to say that the Canadian reaction to what is, at worst, a disagreement as to a single (albeit prominent) case does broad damage to our relationship—and that damage can have wide-ranging effects. If we do not trust each other enough, we are unlikely to find ways to bring greater openness to our borders.

But another aspect of the erosion of trust, from our side of the border, lay in Canadian public diplomacy over the potential imposition of border controls. What would be the reaction in Canada if American cabinet officials and ambassadors were personally engaged in overt efforts to lobby Parliament to change Canadian laws that Americans thought were not beneficial? Canadians would, and quite rightly, object. Yet, for nearly four years, I witnessed exactly congruent Canadian conduct—ministers and your ambassador vigorously lobbying Congress for a change in American law. On at least one occasion, the ambassador hosted a dinner at the embassy for the sole apparent purpose of having all of his guests publicly lecture the DHS officials present about how wrong-headed our policies were. Discussions that ought to have occurred between our respective executive branches were made the fodder of American politics. And that, too, erodes trust.

Indeed, given the successful implementation of the passport requirement—which by most accounts has had a modest disruptive effect on trade and travel—we can see, in retrospect, how Canadian fears caused Canadians to overreact. There is a bit of an irony here, because overreaction is supposed to be the flaw in America’s response to the terrorism threat, not the flaw in Canada’s response to America.

There is still much to be celebrated in our relationship. Despite our differences we continue to co-operate routinely in ways that no two other countries in the world are capable of doing. But that kind of relationship requires constant care and attention. For too long we’ve benefited from a lack of any challenges. Today that is changing—we have much work to do to rebuild a shared consensus and world view and recreate an atmosphere of trust. The task is not an easy one, and the first step on the road is a candid assessment of where we are. No longer can we rely on just hoping we don’t notice our differences. Instead, let’s begin to acknowledge them for what they are, with the hope and expectation that good friends can resolve them if they are willing.

Paul Rosenzweig is the principal at Red Branch Consulting PLLC, a homeland security and data privacy consulting firm. He formerly served as deputy assistant secretary for policy and acting assistant secretary for international affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where he conducted extensive negotiations on U.S.-Canada issues.




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Why the U.S. doesn’t trust Canada

  1. How do we show we are serious?

    Apparently, it has to do with illegally seizing another country's citizen and packing him off to Syria to be tortured, because, as he tells us the irritant in U.S.-Canada's security relationship is Arar. The U.S. is "free to form its own opinion about Arar, " says.

    Well, yes, it's free to form an opinion, but not free, under any of US or Canadian legislation or international law, to kidnap people and send them off to be tortured.

    Maybe, additionally we could also increase their confidence in our security by creating a ridiculous no fly list that excludes everyone with the name Robert Johnson. Or maybe we could systematically breach our own citizens constitutional rights with unwarranted intrusions into phone, email and chat logs seized illegally from ISP's? Bit late in the game for us to set up an illegal prison off shore, but I guess that would get us serious props, too.

    • Like Arar was the only Canadian citizen whose rights were desecrated by the US.
      Check out the Marc Emery story.

  2. There are also some trade irritants that have hurt Canada’s trust of America. Softwood lumber did a lot to harm that relationship, in demonstrating that the US was not bargaining in good faith. Our deal on softwood lasted perhaps 3 years before it was breached, after we let their producers keep a billion dollars in illegally collected duties. Now we are seeing further erosion in trust, and in much broader industries through the Buy America programme.

    • One billion plus interest, some of it going back 20 years.

  3. Paul Rosenzweig is the principal at Red Branch Consulting PLLC, a homeland security and data privacy consulting firm.

    That's all I need to know to dismiss this piece for reasons other than the silly headline.

    • Profiting from the "everything changed after 9/11" hysteria works on people gullible enough to believe that these are "difficult times," as if we couldn't say the same thing 20, 200 or 2000 years ago. Sorry, PR, I'm not buying what you're selling.

  4. This article is the best argument yet for diversification of our trading relationships. Europeans and Chinese are much less intrusive and much less likely to over react american style. In any case the US is obviously a declining power. Do we really want to change our ways of doing things so that we can better accompany them on the downhill path? I think not. We should take advantage of the recession to loosen the bonds that tie us to them and ensure those bonds are not restored when (or rather in their case if) the recovery occurs.

    • Do you seriously believe that the Chinese would make a better partner than the Americans. I can not think of another superpower that would behave in such a benign and benevolent manner.There are those that wish to see the Americans fail; I am not among them.

  5. In Canada, the belief is that Arar was mistreated. It has become so strong a belief that it has become an article of faith. This is neither the time nor the place to rehash the questions about Arar, save to make an important point that often gets lost: the U.S. is both entitled to, and obliged to, form its own judgment about Arar.

    This man is an idiot. The US is not entitled to render Canadian citizens to be tortured in Syria.

    Build a wall already. America is hopeless if this the kind of genius that informs its security policies.

    • Arar was also a citizen of Syria (the wonders of duel citizenship!).

      • So duel citizenship means the US is entitled to kidnap you and send you somewhere to be tortured?

  6. All this does for me is underline the need for Canada to diversify trade as quickly as possible. The more economic, political, social, and security disconnect Canada achieves vis a vis the USA, the better for Canada, the worse for the USA, long term.

  7. I just cannot stand this constant fear-inciting rhetoric by the US anymore. If they want a perfectly safe country, they should put every single citizen into an isolation cell and shut down the border completely. However, at the end of the day even that will not suffice.
    All this rhetoric is aimed at is destroying civil liberties that protect the people from an ever-growing government. Canadians must always remain skeptical of such words or we will go down the same route to a police state.

    Best recent example is Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan who tried to justify the need for Internet surveillance in Canada using lies. Read it up at Prof. Michael Geist's blog.

    • If a Canadian wants to defecate in his/her own hand, fine. But be darned if he/she will shake mine.

  8. Why should they trust Canada? The degree of vociferous anti-American comment in this country is frequent, ripe, and almost a necessary expression in order to bond with fellow Canadians. Journalists such as Thomas Walk om, are almost in stitches regarding the arrest of the Toronto 18-perhaps after three confessions, Walk om will have toned down his contempt for our very own far reaching anti-terrorist laws. And in Sarnia Ontario, where a security balloon was being tested, enraged lefties organized a large protect and they collectively mooned the thing.

    • You're correct. They shouldn't trust.

      Build the wall, America. The sooner the better.

      • Indeed. A wall may be necessary to keep all the Canadians in, especially those Canadians such as the Toronto 18 and their following.

        • Yup. Agree totally. Canada is America's worst threat.

          Build the wall.

          • OH My, Hate hate hate. So strong. I have many many American friends from all over your great country and have never felt such hatred for Canadians, as I see here in this thread. Terrible to see this, as far as I feel we are and should be the best of friends. Lets face it there is so much hatred in the world let alone start working on building more between two countries that rely on each other. Canada has a lot to offer and so does the great USA, we need to focus on that not such bitter thoughts.. Do we want to end up like other countries.. think about it!

  9. Canadians honestly believed that 40 years of anti-Americanism would go unpenalized.
    Generation after generation of polititians and university profs have been spewing their ant-American sentiments for too long.
    Now Canadians as a whole will feel the retaliation.Like it or not.Theres no turning back.
    Serves you left leaning liberal types right.Truly unfortunate for everyone else.But what do you care about everyone elses suffering?

    • Some American corporations have stated that if they have a branch plant in Canada, they'll close it first before closing a plant in another part of the world. Something to this effect was reported by Pamela Walden in New York, Left leaning Ontario, seems to know a bit more about this.

      • Pamela Walden is America's worst threat.

        Build the wall.

  10. Good to see their perspective for a change. Frankly, I don't think we take security seriously either. When anyone in the world can just show up here and scream refugee, then be allowed to stay, how can we expect Americans, a nation which is the stated target of terrorists, to not be concerned about their Northern Border?

    Yes, they are a little paranoid.
    Yes, we are a bit lax on security.

    But it's incumbent upon on us to change their mind, otherwise they'll just keep thickening that border.

    • Trust me, as an American, this is not my perspective. Here's to hoping that the DHS dials down the paranoia and works towards improving its working relationship with Canadian officials in the near future.

  11. just submit Canadians to visa obligation. That will make them serious about borders. That or go European and agree a Schengen-like model (i.e. share information and handle border security and admission issues jointly).

  12. Stay home. Your much better off ( so far) in Canada than in the US. That might change as Canadian politicians get as paranoid as those in the States. Re: random breathalizer tests?????? Watering down our constisttuional rights big time.

  13. The author presents a rambling collection gotcha's and other useless trivia in an elaborate weave to try to convince us he has an argument.

    American "paranoia" is rather selective…. much like a child that wants to skip the brussle sprouts and eat the ice cream during the family meal.

    We need to understand that fawning over the American whine is not time spent following the destiny of our country.

    Time to let America know where the door is, and warn them about the potential slap in the caboose if they don't step lively.

    • Now about that trade surplus with us that you enjoy…Should we take that out the door with us too?

      • Bill the Trade Surplus we "ENJOY" is only there because the US chooses to buy our goods and services. Sounds to me that your one of those Americans that thinks "Everyone is Getting a Free Ride"…

        Well Im sorry you feel that way. Frankly I am quite confident that Canada will always find markets for what we make, and if the USA wishes to trade fairly with us thats great. Sadly Canada only has room for paying customers, and poking Canada in the eye won't gain America many favors.

        You have a great night :-)

      • BTW Bill I really like America, and find it very dissapointing that we have all allowed unchecked paranoia to run amok. It is very sad so many Americans are not fully aware of the many things our two countries have built and achieved in common. That said, i won't put up with nonsense no matter where the source, and the DHS is a total farce.

  14. I seriously don't understand the editorial decision on Maclean's part to publish this bit of propaganda.

    America is a corrupt, bankrupt Empire. If anyone shouldn't trust it, it's Canada. They're lucky, given the history, we haven't ever posed a real threat to them.

  15. As a American born & raised in the Northeast with relatives in Canada, I miss the open border. As a child, my family visited frequently. The customs officials would ask where were you born, where are you going, how long are you staying? That was it. No passport, no driver's license, free to come & go across the border as we pleased. For several years, I lived in New York and my sister lived in Michigan & we would meet halfway in Ontario & cross country ski in winter or hike in summer. Only once was I ever stopped & searched — that was when I was a college student traveling with my husband & another couple. But they were nice & polite as they searched the car. I guess as young adults we were suspicious looking.

    • Amen!!!!!!!!!

  16. There is really little here to test common sense. The US has a set of requirements as to whom they let in the country. Canada has a different and more lax set of requirements. If there were an open border between Canada and the US, bad people could enter Canada and then move easily across the open border to the US. The US doesn't want that to happen, so they tried to synchronize immigration requirements with Canada. Canada didn't want to go along with synchronization. As a result, no more open border between the US and Canada. It's that simple, folks.

    • You're right…and it was the US that allowed the hijackers of those planes used in the 9/11 attacks to live, work and go to flight school legally in America. If you believe that our entry requirements are more lax, why was it that NYC and Washington were attacked and not Toronto or Montreal?

  17. Well I was upset at the Obama Administration trade protectionist moves to pay off US unions, but lately after reading the anti-American screeds in the Canadian press, a plague on both your houses. Razor wire and land mines for both borders. No more easy green cards for jobs down here either. Full speed ahead on becoming the demons you have called us.

  18. As an American, I say we should shut the border. Perhaps if two planes full of Canadians crashed into buildings in Toronto, you would see the issue in a different manner. Canadians love to hate the Americans. We really don't consider you at all. Live and let live. If you are so against U.S. policies, why do you care if the border is open, as you probably don't want to come here anyway. I really don't care about the borders in China or France. Ohh I see, you want the borders open because you do want to trade with us. No thanks.

    • Gee, my hubby and I will be helping to pump up your economy this weekend – actually 5 days. As a previous Montrealer (long, long time ago) I & friends went to Plattsburg, NY (American Air Force Base :-) almost every weekend. I was very involved with an American who wanted to marry me, but I had wander lust. Several of my friends did marry Americans. Those were the sweet days when border crossing was a 1 min. Q&A. I don't hate Americans at all. I've hosted Americans at our home that I've only met on the 'net as well as others of various nationalities. I just despise the tea baggers and their ilk.

    • Thats right shut down the border and we would just have to stop supplying fuel, electricity and other natural resources into america. Its not our fault if you feel anti Canadian to wards us. America would not be able to support it's self for long with out Canada.on the other hand as a Canadian I have said my fair share of american jokes, and have been the focus of jokes by many americans just for being Canadian. People like you only see one half of the problem thinking about how you are affected. America Loves to hate Canada to. just try thinking of the hole picture before you wish for hundreds of people to die. Kyle From Canada

  19. Hmm. I don't hate Americans. I married one.
    I live in the USA because I want to go home less than he wants to stay. I love it here, and I love it at home, too. I'm not planning to change my citizenship just yet, because I love being Canadian.
    I was amazed at how difficult it was to get my green card. It took a year of paperwork, money, and humiliating interviews.
    I naively thought because I am Canadian the process would go more smoothly.
    The system appears to be limping along, and getting more difficult to navigate by the moment. Our attitude towards our neighbour isn't helping.
    I think we need to stop frivolous, emotionally charged arguments and get down to the business of getting along. We don't have to agree with every policy. We just have to realize that disagreeing just because we can is a stupid idea.

  20. So, let's review:

    1) The most devastating terrorist attack ever committed on North American soil is planned and carried out by a group of foreign Islamists whose presence in the U.S. was in full compliance with American Immigration and Naturalization protocols;

    2) Smuggled American-made handguns comprise over 50% of illegal firearms seizures in Toronto alone;

    3) Canada's most sophisticated and violent criminal organisations, such as the Hells Angels, the Cosa Nostra and the Aryan Brotherhood, are American exports;

    4) The U.S. is the point of entry for virtually all of Canada's cocaine and heroin…

    …and the Americans don't trust our commitment to border security…?

    Practically every major social pollutant currently soiling Canadian communities is of American inspiration or manufacture. Any discussion of cross-border security cooperation needs to be premised on that plain fact. Otherwise, one runs the risk of talking the kind of autistic rubbish exemplified by this article and the vapid Canada-bashing of some of the comments.

  21. This article illustrates the very reason that the rest of the world is sick to the gills with America's myopic, self-centred view. The rendition of a fellow Canadian by US agents to Syria where torture is a popular Saturday night activity beacause why?…he had a conversation in the rain with a person of interest? Give me a break! The US government has the right to protect its borders anyway it sees fit, as does every other sovereign nation. But America's over-reaction to the events of Sept. 11 / 01 (i.e.: the invasion of 2 sovereign nations) and the continued illegal incarceration of foreign nationals at Guantanamo Cuba should forever be used as lesson points in how not to win friends and influence people.

  22. How can Maclean's justify publishing this paid shill's "commentary" as a serious look at a serious issue? Simplistic, mildly paranoid, parochial and based on the underlying assumption that the United States has a special, above-the-law status among the community of nations.
    Do we believe the U.S. "over-reacted" to 9-11? No. We KNOW they did.

  23. I trust that Paul is aware of the fact that the terrorists who pulled off 9/11 all had legally-obtained passports. Or that US airport security regularly fails to find guns and bomb components even after all their expensive upgrades. Or that the Canadian presence in Afghanistan is not ‘mild’ – our soldiers are over there dying because of a US/Taliban grudge match.

    What a disgrace.

  24. We are different peoples, different cultures, different political systems, different economies. Now the border reflects those differences. Why the surprise?

  25. I'm not an expert on crime in Canada. The only article I've read (in Mclean's) about gun-running from the US to Canada involved Canadian citizens buying firearms illegally in the United States and transporting them across the border for sale to other Canadians.

    The only article I've read (again in Mclean's) about the Hell's Angels made it clear that the sociopathic members of the gang in Canada were Canadians, not Americans.

    I don't know anything about cocaine trafficking in Canada or anywhere else, but I'd ask if Canadian criminals were responsible for this traffick or if it was American criminals?

    Francis, the United States isn't responsible for controlling or examining the people or material who cross the border INTO Canada, is it? If handguns, gangsters, white supremists, and drugs crossing the Canadian border from the south are problems for Canada, doesn't your complaint underscore the need for greater Canadian vigilance at its borders?

    • Canadian citizens [buy] firearms illegally in the United States and [transport] them across the border for sale to other Canadians… I'd ask if Canadian criminals were responsible for [cocaine trafficking] or if it was American criminals?

      Hence why the U.S. is our Mexico, to a great extent. Still, the U.S. drug trade, supplied largely from Latin America, is masterminded by the American citizens who run the delivery pipelines, while U.S. narcotics-suppression strategies are premised on the need for interdiction at the source level–in Mexico, Colombia, etc. That walks us right through the Looking Glass: to hear American elites talk, the drug trade is a scourge inflicted on God-fearing Americans by swarthy southern foreigners, yet U.S. gun smuggling is a "Canadian" problem. Right.

      • I'm sorry. I don't follow your response.

        Canadians who buy guns in Canada illegally in the U.S. and smuggle them into Canadian cities make your gun problem an American problem. Do I have that right?

        Canadians sell narcotics to other Canadians and since the product passes through the United States from its point of origin in Latin America (or the Golden Triangle, or Turkey, or Afghanistan) the United States is responsible for master minding Canada's drug problem. Correct?

        The Canadian criminal class should be ashamed of itself. Where is its patriotism? Can't it stand on its own two feet, get itself organized, and become more entrepreneurial like the rest of the Canadian economy? It has to lean on American organized crime for the tools of its trade? That's just desperately wrong.

    • …the sociopathic members of the gang in Canada were Canadians, not Americans…

      The personnel are native; the organisation and management are American. If a bunch of American citizens were to carry out an Al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist attack on behalf of a Saudi-controlled sleeper cell, U.S. media would not hesitate to call the attacks "Islamist", rather than "American". Applying the same criteria, mafia and gang activities in Canada are largely "American". Virtually every major urban centre in Canada has a version of the Crips and the Bloods. Guess where those little glee clubs are headquartered?

      …doesn't your complaint underscore the need for greater Canadian vigilance at its borders?

      It might. But it more urgently underscores the need for Americans to take Canadian concerns about border and broader U.S. social-policy issues more seriously, including the out-of-control arms supply that has flooded American streets with cheap Sig Sauers and Uzis, too many of which end up being used to kill, rob and rape Canadians.

      • I'll take your word for it, Frank. Canadian outlaw bikers are feckless losers with no initiative or management skills of their own and no conception of how to organize a mutli-million dollar criminal enterprise. Without the help, guidance, and state-of-the-art leadership training programs of Hell's Angels chapters in California, bumbling Canadian outlaws would be reduced to going straight.

        I'm a bit confused though about where Sig/Uzi-armed bandits are killing, robbing, and raping Canadians. Is that in America where the streets are hip-deep in firearms or in Canada?

        When hurricanes slide up the east coast of the U.S. and strike maritime Canada, is that America's fault, too? Or just God's?

        • Gee. Maybe you're right Darden. Perhaps America should in no way be held accountable for the drugs, guns and crime that it exports into Canada.

          Just like Afghanistan should in no way be held accountable for what it exported to New York City on September 11th, 2001. Naturally.

          Make sure to announce this startling epiphanic insight to President Obama and his national security advisor. They just don't seem to get it.

          • I've not seen evidence that crime in Canada is an American export. I believe the evidence shows that guns and drugs are a Canadian import. Planned by Canadians. Organized by Canadians. Executed by Canadians. For and in behalf of Canadians.

            How is the United States responsible for the actions of the dregs of Canadian society? Is Canadian cultural and political identity really so weak that it requires a boogeyman?

          • I've not seen evidence that crime in Canada is an American export.

            Good Lord. Life doesn't have to be this hard, mate.

            Really, if you can't understand (or refuse</i to understand) the ethical connection between providing the inspiration, leadership and logistical elements of branch-plant crime syndicates and taking moral responsibility for the harm those syndicates do to the foreign nations they take root in, we've nothing more to discuss.

            All that remains for you to do–now that you've established that America is not responsible for the Canadian dregs it inspires, trains, funds and manages– is tell me why Afghanistan is responsible for the harm done by the dregs of Saudi society (like the 9/11 hijackers), and why America's identity is so weak that it needs the "boogeyman" of "radical Islam", when American domestic terror threats are just as dangerous, as folks in Oklahoma City will attest.

          • I've not seen evidence that crime in Canada is an American export.

            Good Lord. Life doesn't have to be this hard, mate.

            Really, if you can't understand (or refuse&lt;/i to understand) the ethical connection between providing the inspiration, leadership and logistical elements of branch-plant crime syndicates and taking moral responsibility for the harm those syndicates do to the foreign nations they take root in, we've nothing more to discuss.

            All that remains for you to do–now that you've established that America is not responsible for the Canadian dregs it inspires, trains, funds and manages– is tell me why Afghanistan is responsible for the harm done by the dregs of Saudi society (like the 9/11 hijackers), and why America's identity is so weak that it needs the "boogeyman" of "radical Islam", when American domestic terror threats are just as dangerous, as folks in Oklahoma City will attest.

          • I've not seen evidence that crime in Canada is an American export.

            Good Lord. Life doesn't have to be this hard, mate.

            Really, if you can't understand (or refuse to understand) the ethical connection between providing the inspiration, leadership and logistical elements of branch-plant crime syndicates and taking moral responsibility for the harm those syndicates do to the foreign nations they take root in, we've nothing more to discuss.

            All that remains for you to do–now that you've established that America is not responsible for the Canadian dregs it inspires, trains, funds and manages– is tell me why Afghanistan is responsible for the harm done by the dregs of Saudi society (like the 9/11 hijackers), and why America's identity is so weak that it needs the "boogeyman" of "radical Islam", when American domestic terror threats are just as dangerous, as folks in Oklahoma City will attest.

    • if you think that the only sociopathic members of an organized crime group (Hell's Angels) are Canadian, think again. Canadian organized crime is responsible for the greatest amount of synthetic drug export in the world. Drugs such as ecstacy and crystal methamphetamine are manufactured here and exported to Europe and Asia by these gangs – most notably between chapters of the HA. America can guard their borders any way they wish but remember, the perpetrators of the hijacking of the planes ued in the Sept. 11/01 attacks were living legally in the US under visas for quite some time, and trained by private flight schools in Florida. This says nothing of the homegrown terrorist attack in Oklahoma City. Making it harder for companies to do business by thickening the border is exactly what the 9-11 terrorists wanted….disruption of normal life in the US.

    • If you think that the only sociopathic members of an organized crime group (Hell's Angels) are Canadian, think again. Canadian organized crime is responsible for the greatest amount of synthetic drug export in the world. Drugs such as ecstacy and crystal methamphetamine are manufactured here and exported to Europe and Asia by these gangs – most notably between chapters of the HA. America can guard their borders any way they wish but remember, the perpetrators of the hijacking of the planes ued in the Sept. 11/01 attacks were living legally in the US under visas for quite some time, and trained by private flight schools in Florida. This says nothing of the homegrown terrorist attack in Oklahoma City. Making it harder for companies to do business by thickening the border is exactly what the 9-11 terrorists wanted….disruption of normal life in the US.

  26. The vitriole in the commentary says it all. No wonder we are getting so far apart. This, whether the moronic American haters like it or not, is an excellent description of the deteriorating relationship which was (and still is to some of us) our best friend. The last 30 years or so the squeaky wheels keep getting the grease and this is but one mor example. The anti-American rhetoric of Chretien and his shills added to this mess and now there is a looming trade war to boot. Mr. Rosenzweig is correct in that actions have consequences. No, the Americans aren't perfect…but…what the idiots have forgotten…neither are we. I keep asking the question: Who do you want as a neighbour, Russia, China, N. Korea, Afghanistan, Venezuela, France. Remember, England and Australia don't have our politics. No one ever answers. Again, the Americans aren't perfect but I personally would rather live beside them than any country on earth. Unfortunately that sentiment is being tested by people I do not respect.
    We've become a nation of whiners who think we are better than everyone else. The future doesn't look pretty.

  27. I really wish this post-9/11 narrative would be put to bed already. It's been over eight years since it happened…that's double the time from the attack on Pearl Harbour to the dropping of the nuclear bombs. Get over it people.
    However, we will always have a different narrative on terrorist threats than Americans, simply because we aren't Americans. That means we don't have hundreds of military bases overseas. We don't send guided missiles into rural villages. We don't "extrodinarily rend" people we suspect. The United States is right to be more paranoid, to be fearful of reprisals by extremist groups. The same is not the case for Canada. It would be to our great detriment to adopt policies similar to those of our neighbours to the south.

  28. So all four of your examples are US imports to Canada. Shows how strong your border controls are.

  29. Wow, that was painful on the eyes.

  30. Now, watch my show! Citytv weeknights, see your local listings.

    .

  31. I like the article much better than most of the commentary. Paul raises valid points which few here seem to want to address. The level of disrespect and dislike expressed towards the US in these comments discourages me as one who has family on both sides of the border. It's graceless, self-defeating and makes us look like self-righteous hypocrites when we turn around and ask for special concessions on the ground of our "special relationship".

  32. Americans are paranoid. But then when you have managed to piss off most of the free world and probably all of the not so free world perhaps you have a right to be paranoid. Perhaps if they were not so obsessed with this manifest destiny thing they would be better liked. Anyway very few Canadians actually hate Americans since most of us have relatives there, it is their ruling class that we can not tolerate.

  33. Felix says to "Get over it, people." I'm not over Pearl Harbor. Why should I be over Sep. 11? We're grudge-holders. It's a survival mechanism; as long as it's well known, we hope folks will believe attacking us to be suicidal. We don't have a grudge against Canada; we like you more than anyone else in the world. You're a more polite (in our -popular collective – minds, not to belittle your country in any way) version of us, without the totally vicious, almost insatiable revenge reflex. Until our revenge is slaked, we'll be a bit prickly (see Nippon, Tokyo being firebombed, two frickin' nukes).

  34. As an American who has enjoyed Canada and Canadians and who has attended grad school in Canada I've come to understand that we should try to distance ourselves from one another. The bile and hate I hear from our northern neighbors has really demonstrated to me that our interests are separate.

    I wish them well, put pray that they will visit our nation less frequently and help to make our relationship as explicitly adversarial as we can. We should no longer trust one another. Canada should no longer trust me, certainly.

  35. an 80yr. old Canuck, you sent your astronauts to the Sudbury area to train for the moon. It was a US company Inco that caused the total devestation.The US was miffed because we did not follow them into Iraq! Why didn't they follow us into the 2nd world war until 3yrs later,they had to be bombed 1st. Has Peter heard about Grassy Narrows? The tar pits? The Us has caused more deaths in Canada than any disaster. Who helped you out in Iran? Who was there during 9/11`? . I have been to every main land state and spent 10 winters in Florida as well as most of my family are now Americans. You have given the NRA the right to supply the means for your youth to slaughter each other. Give them poison instead of guns and less innocent bystanders will die. When you have a city of approx. 500,000 and no murders in a year then come back and we'll talk!

  36. To the people complaining that Canada's ills are of American manufacture: you are probably right, so please feel free to beef up your southern and western borders. In fact, consider unravelling some safety net, raising taxes or taking on debt so that your army is enough to scare our next unhinged President from invading.

    It's really not fair to think of us as particularly bad neighbours. France maintains two flyspecks south of Newfoundland for the fishing rights. The maritime borders with Greenland, Norway and Russia are very hard to cross without a plane.

  37. Does it come as a surprise to anyone there is no mention of the war in Iraq? How can a neighbour nation expect complicity in streamlined security strategies when one of those nations attacks another under the laughable guise of WMD? I had hoped after the September 2001 attacks—I don't use 9/11 as that date is also the one in 1973 that a CIA-lead coup took out the democratically elected leader of my parent's country of origin, Chile, because he wasn't good for capitalism—the U.S. would tell its shocked and confused citizens just why it was targeted in such a way. As the war in Afghanistan morphed into Iraq, it was plain to see this opportunity was lost. Same old from Uncle Sam, using the world, its resources and markets, as his playground.
    Let me be clear. Canada is not innocent when it comes to this type of exploitation around the world but America is second to none in this department. As long as it does so and gives the label of "terrorism" to war acts on its soil only, the relationship will be uneasy at best in North America.

  38. As a former senior Canada Customs official I can offer this
    1) We do not take border security seriously enough and our single focus on trade has hurt us. For a decade (3 years past 9/11, we had Customs reporting to Taxation) The Americans were aware during that period of what damage that did to our border protection capabilities.
    2) The Americans have indeed gone crazy post 9/11 with respect to border control. They violate every basic rule of risk management, looking to examine everything and have added layers of impediments in a world of global trade. In Customs, the the trick is to focus resources on high risk areas. The Americans throw resources at everything no matter what the risk
    The author ignores the fact that the "perimeter strategy" would have entailed making our laws conform to theirs with resultant loss of political and economic sovereignity. That's why it failed.
    The solution is to improve our border security and take that seriously, something that no Canadian government has been fully willing to do. For the Americans, we can only hope that they come to their senses and realize that throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the border is not the most effective strategy.

  39. A paranoid doesn't trust a non paranoid.
    If Canada saw terrorism the same as the US, we would not have let all your flights land here the day of 911, and fed and sheltered your people. We don't worry because we don't make enemies.
    A non paranoid finds a paranoid predicable.. I suppose that is a form of trust.
    Do what you want at your borders. A small price to pay for our peaceful relaxed way of life.
    A paranoid wouldn't trust another paranoid anyway.

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