De facto North American Army established

On February 14th, US Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart and Canada Command Air Force Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais signed a civil assistance plan.

On February 14th, US Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart and Canada Command Air Force Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais signed a civil assistance plan.

The pact essentially creates a North American Army in times of civil crisis.

It was signed in San Antonio, Texas.

It was not publicly announced by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.

Indeed, there is no news release from the Canadian government on this deal at all.

The joint military pact allows the army of one nation to cross the border into the territory of the other during a wide range of domestic civil emergencies.

Such an emergency might include a flood, a forest fire, a hurricane, a terrorist attack, civil riots or, presumably, a secession attempt.

According to a release from United States Northern Command — slogan, “Defending Our Homelands” — its new civil assistance plan with Canada is a “unique, bilateral military plan to align our respective national military plans to respond quickly to the other nation’s requests for military support of civil authorities.

“Our commands were created by our respective governments to respond to the defence and security challenges of the 21st century, and we both realize that these and other challenges are met through co-operation of friends.”

The deal was not approved by the US Congress. And there is no law or treaty passed by Congress authorizing the combining of US and Canadian forces.

That’s odd, considering that Congress is charged with raising and supporting US armies and to organize, arm and discipline US militias.

In the US, right-wing commentators are nervous about this deal.

They warn that Canadian soldiers are exempt from the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the US president from using the military for law enforcement within the US itself.

They fear Canadian soldiers will be used for missions that US military personnel are constitutionally prevented from doing.

The deal also raises interesting questions for Canada.

For example, the US military does not allow its soldiers to operate under another sovereign nation’s command. So, if they were invited to Canada, who would command the US army? Canadian officials or Washington?

And the deal comes as the US and Canada are negotiating a plan to protect common infrastructure, like roads and pipelines, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

So would we see US soldiers based in Alaska crossing the border to safeguard an Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline during an aboriginal protest march?

It’s not surprising Harper’s government would not announce such a deal publicly, said the Council of Canadians.

“It’s kind of a trend when it comes to issues of Canada-US relations and contentious issues like military integration,” Stuart Trew, one of the council’s researchers, told the Ottawa Citizen on Friday, when word of the deal finally spilled into Canada.

“We see that this government is reluctant to disclose information to Canadians that is readily available on American and Mexican websites.”

Nevertheless, it raises many troubling questions.

Like, what other US-Canada integration measures is Harper’s team pursuing on the sly? (RM)


Canada trades on the lives of South American trade unionists

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is pushing ahead with plans to strike a free trade deal with Colombia.

It’s a controversial deal.

Since 2002, when Colombian President Alvaro Uribe took power, 470 trade unionists have been murdered in the country.

Rights groups allege the right-wing militias blamed for the murders have ties to officials in Uribe’s government.

In the US, a trade deal negotiated by President George Bush is due to be ratified in a couple of months.

But Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama are challenging the deal.

They want it delayed until Uribe’s government cracks down on the militias.

Similar arguments have been made in Canada.

Harper’s government, which inked a trade deal with Colombia in January after six months of negotiations, has dismissed that approach.

Canada can influence Colombia by trading with it, said Trade Minister David Emerson.

“It’s about lending Canada’s support to social and political progress,” said Emerson.

Others maintain it’s more about lending Canadian support to Bush’s Colombian trade plan.

“On a few occasions, President Bush has cited Harper and the Canadian government’s willingness to sign a deal very quickly as a means to convince Congress to ratify a deal in the United States,” said Liberal MP Navdeep Singh Bains.

“That’s the only logic I’ve heard thus far for why they’re trying to rush the deal.”

Which, again, raises questions about whose interests the Harper government is pursuing.

Canada’s? Colombia’s? Or Washington’s? (RM)