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Friday, February 19, 2010

U.S.-Canada Relations

As we watch the 2010 Winter Olympics in British Columbia, we are reminded of the rivalry between the countries of the world, but we are also reminded of the peaceful relations that exist between many of the world's super powers. As the US gradually looses its position as an economic super power in the world, it becomes increasingly important for all Americans (North, Central, and South Americans), to become increasingly aware of our neighbors to the north and to the south.

If you are a citizen of the USA, you MUST watch this video in which Tom Brokaw explains the history of U.S.-Canadian relations and take note of what a powerful and benevolent ally Canada has been to the USA. Most of the crude oil consumed in the USA comes from the oil sands in northern Alberta. This makes it possible for the USA to import less oil from the middle east. More US exports go to Canada to any other country in the world. Many US-based companies have offices and manufacturing plants in Canada.

To all of my Canadian friends, watch and be openly proud of your Canadian heritage. Cheer loudly for the Canadian athletes who compete and don't be sorry that Canadians are better at many winter sports than most Americans. Your ancestors invented most of these winter sports, and Canadians have an unfair advantage, but that's no reason to be sorry. Be proud and sing along loudly when you hear "Oh Canada" each time a Canadian wins the gold!



The citizens and residents of the USA share so many things in common with Canadians, and we should all be proud to share the longest open and peaceful border in the world. I've included several excerpts from the US Department of State web site regarding Canada. You would be wise to read the entire web page, but you should at least read these few excerpts to reduce your ignorance of U.S.-Canada relations.

Geography

Area: 9.9 million sq. km. (3.8 million sq. mi.); second-largest country in the world.
Cities: Capital--Ottawa (pop. 1.1 million). Other major cities--Toronto (5.1 million), Montreal (3.6 million), Vancouver (2.1 million), Calgary (1.1 million), Edmonton (1.0 million), Quebec City (0.7 million), Winnipeg (0.7 million), Hamilton (0.7 million).
Northern Latitudes: Toronto, Ontario (43° 40'), Calgary, Alberta (51° 1'), Montreal, Quebec (45° 30'), Ottawa, Ontario (45° 24'), Quebec, Quebec (46° 49'), Vancouver, B.C. (49° 13'), Winnipeg, Manitoba (49° 54'), Anchorage, Alaska (61° 13'), Bismarck, N.D. (46° 48'), Baker, Oregon (44° 47'), Portland, Oregon (45° 31'), Pierre, S.D. (44° 22'), Montpelier, Vt. (44° 15'), Minneapolis, Minn. (44° 59'), Lewiston, Idaho (46° 24'), Helena, Mont. (46° 35'), Fargo, N.D. (46° 52'), Duluth, Minn. (46° 49'), Seattle, Wash. (47° 37').
NOTE: There is greater US population living North of Toronto than Canadian population living north of Toronto.

People

Population (2009 est.): 33.7 million.
Ethnic groups: British/Irish 28%, French 23%, other European 15%, Asian/Arab/African 6%, indigenous Amerindian 2%, mixed background 26%.
Religions: Roman Catholic 43.6%, Protestant 29.2%, other Christian 4.3%, Muslim 2.0%, Jewish 1.1%, Buddhist 1.0%, Hindu 1.0% other 1.3%, none 16.5%.
Languages: English (official) 57.8%, French (official) 22.1%, other 20.1% (including Chinese and aboriginal languages).
Education: Literacy--99% of population aged 15 and over has at least a ninth-grade education.
Health: Every Canadian resident, regardless of citizenship, receives government provided coverage for all medically necessary health services. Infant mortality rate--5.4/1,000. Life expectancy--77.7 yrs. male, 82.5 yrs. female.
Work force (2009, 18.4 million): Goods-producing sector--25%

Government

Type: Federation, parliamentary democracy, and constitutional monarchy.
Confederation: July 1, 1867.
Constitution: The British North America Act of 1867 patriated to Canada on April 17, 1982, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and unwritten custom. The British North America Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are collectively referred to as the Constitution Act.
Branches: Executive--Queen Elizabeth II (head of state represented by a governor general), prime minister (head of government), cabinet. Legislative--bicameral Parliament (308-member House of Commons; 105-seat Senate). Judicial--Supreme Court.
Federal-level political parties: Liberal Party, Conservative Party of Canada, Bloc Quebecois (BQ), New Democratic Party (NDP).
Subdivisions: 10 provinces, 3 territories.

Economy

GDP (2008): $1.2 trillion.
Real GDP growth rate (2008): 2.7%.
Per capita GDP (2008): $47,131 (nominal); $37,722 (PPP).
Natural resources: Petroleum and natural gas, hydroelectric power, metals and minerals, fish, forests, wildlife, abundant fresh water.
Agriculture: Products--wheat, livestock and meat, feed grains, oil seeds, dairy products, tobacco, fruits, vegetables.
Industry: Types--motor vehicles and parts, machinery and equipment, aircraft and components, other diversified manufacturing, fish and forest products, processed and unprocessed minerals.
Trade: U.S. merchandise exports to Canada (2008)--$264.2 billion: motor vehicles and spare parts, industrial and electrical machinery, plastics, computers, chemicals, petroleum products and natural gas, and agricultural products. In 2008, 63% of Canada's imports came from the United States. U.S. merchandise imports from Canada (2008)--$347.9 billion: motor vehicles and spare parts, crude petroleum and natural gas, forest products, agricultural products, metals, industrial machinery, and aircraft. In 2008, 75% of Canada's exports went to the U.S.

U.S.-Canada Relations

The relationship between the United States and Canada is the closest and most extensive in the world. It is reflected in the staggering volume of bilateral trade--the equivalent of $1.6 billion a day in goods--as well as in people-to-people contact. About 300,000 people cross the shared border every day.

In fields ranging from law enforcement to environmental protection to free trade, the two countries work closely on multiple levels from federal to local. In addition to their close bilateral ties, Canada and the U.S. cooperate in multilateral fora.

Canada views good relations with the U.S. as crucial to a wide range of interests, and often looks to the U.S. as a common cause partner promoting democracy, transparency, and good governance around the world. Nonetheless, it sometimes pursues policies at odds with our own. Canada decided in 2003 not to contribute troops to the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq (although it later contributed financially to Iraq's reconstruction and provided electoral advice). Other recent examples are: Canada's leadership in the creation of the UN-created International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes; its decision in early 2005 not to participate directly in the U.S. missile defense program; and its strong support for the Ottawa Convention to ban anti-personnel mines. The U.S., while the world's leading supporter of demining initiatives, declined to sign the treaty due to unmet concerns regarding the protection of its forces and allies, particularly those serving on the Korean Peninsula, as well as the lack of exemptions for mixed munitions.

U.S. defense arrangements with Canada are more extensive than with any other country. The Permanent Joint Board on Defense, established in 1940, provides policy-level consultation on bilateral defense matters and the U.S. and Canada share NATO mutual security commitments. In addition, U.S. and Canadian military forces have cooperated since 1958 on continental air defense within the framework of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Since 2002, Canada has participated in diplomatic, foreign assistance, and joint military actions in Afghanistan. Approximately 2,500 Canadian Forces personnel are deployed at any given time in southern Afghanistan under a battle group based at Kandahar and as members of the Canadian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar.

Canada ratified the Kyoto Accord in 2002, despite concern among business groups and others that compliance would place Canada's economy at a lasting competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis the U.S. In February 2009 President Obama and Prime Minister Harper announced the bilateral Clean Energy Dialogue (CED), which is charged with expanding clean energy research and development; developing and deploying clean energy technology; and building a more efficient electricity grid based on clean and renewable energy in order to reduce greenhouse gases and combat climate change in both countries.

While bilateral law enforcement cooperation and coordination were excellent prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, they have since become even closer through such mechanisms as the Cross Border Crime Forum. Canada, like the U.S., has strengthened its laws and realigned resources to fight terrorism. U.S.-Canada security cooperation to create a safe and secure border is exemplary.

Canada is a significant source of marijuana and synthetic drugs (methamphetamines, ecstasy) reaching the U.S., as well as precursor chemicals and over-the-counter drugs used to produce illicit synthetic drugs. Implementation and strengthening of regulations in Canada and increased U.S.-Canadian law enforcement cooperation have had a substantial impact in reducing trafficking in precursor chemicals and synthetic drugs, but cannabis cultivation, because of its profitability and relatively low risk of penalty, remains a thriving industry.

Canada is a large foreign aid donor and targets its annual assistance of C$4.4 billion toward priority sectors such as good governance; health (including HIV/AIDS); basic education; private-sector development; and environmental sustainability. Canada is a major aid donor to Iraq, Haiti, and Afghanistan.

Trade and Investment

The U.S. and Canada enjoy an economic partnership unique in the world. The two nations share the world's largest and most comprehensive trading relationship, which supports millions of jobs in each country. In 2008, total trade between the two countries exceeded $610 billion. The two-way trade that crosses the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario equals all U.S. exports to Japan. Canada's importance to the U.S. is not just a border-state phenomenon: Canada is the leading export market for 36 of the 50 U.S. States, and ranked in the top three for another 10 States. In fact, Canada is a larger market for U.S. goods than all 27 countries of the European Community combined, whose population is more than 15 times that of Canada.

Canada is an urban services-dependent economy with a large manufacturing base. Since Canada is the largest export market for most states, the U.S.-Canada border is extremely important to the well-being and livelihood of millions of Americans.

The U.S. is Canada's leading agricultural market, taking 55% of its agro-food exports in 2007. Canada is the largest U.S. agricultural market, primarily importing fresh fruits and vegetables and livestock products.

The U.S. and Canada enjoy the largest energy trade relationship in the world. Canada is the single largest foreign supplier of energy to the U.S.--providing 17% of U.S. oil imports and 18% of U.S. natural gas demand. Recognition of the commercial viability of Canada's oil sands in Alberta has raised Canada's proven petroleum reserves to 179 billion barrels, making it the world's second-largest holder of reserves after Saudi Arabia.

U.S. immigration and customs inspectors provide preclearance services at eight airports in Canada, allowing air travelers direct connections in the U.S. During the 12 months ending in June 2007, nearly 21.9 million passengers flew between the U.S. and Canada on scheduled flights. Toronto's Pearson International Airport is the third-largest international passenger gateway to the U.S. after London (Heathrow) and Tokyo (Narita) airports.

Canada is the fifth-largest foreign investor in the U.S. At the end of 2006, the U.S. Commerce Department estimates that Canadian investment in the United States was $159 billion at historical cost basis. Canadian investment in the U.S. is concentrated in finance and insurance, manufacturing, banking, information and retail trade and other services.

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