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 border every day.
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 United States 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). The military response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States both tested and strengthened military cooperation between the United States and Canada. The new NORAD Agreement that entered into force on May 12, 2006 added a maritime domain awareness component and is of indefinite duration, subject to periodic review. Since 2002, Canada has participated in diplomatic, foreign assistance, and joint military actions in Afghanistan. Canadian Forces personnel are presently deployed 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. The Canadian Parliament has approved the extension of this mission in Kandahar through 2011.
While bilateral law enforcement cooperation and coordination were excellent prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, they have since become even closer through such mechanisms as the Cross Border Crime Forum. Canada, like the United States, has strengthened its laws and realigned resources to fight terrorism. Canadian and U.S. federal and local law enforcement personnel fight cross-border crime through cooperation on joint Integrated Border Enforcement Teams. Companies on both sides of the border have joined governments in highly successful partnerships and made significant investments to secure their own facilities and internal supply chains. Crossing the border is now both more secure and faster than in 2001.
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 United States cooperate in multilateral fora. Canada--a charter signatory to the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and a member of the G8 and G20--takes an active role in the United Nations, including peacekeeping operations, and participates in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Canada is active in international efforts to combat terrorist financing and money laundering. Canada joined the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1990. Canada seeks to expand its ties to Pacific Rim economies through membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC).
The United States and Canada also work closely to resolve trans-boundary environmental and water issues, an area of increasing importance in the bilateral relationship. A principal instrument of this cooperation is the International Joint Commission (IJC), established as part of the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to resolve differences and promote international cooperation on boundary waters; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon celebrated the treaty's centenary in June 2009. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978 (as amended in 1987) is another historic example of joint cooperation in controlling trans-boundary water pollution. President Barack Obama's administration has committed itself, along with Canada, to update the agreement. The two governments also consult regularly on trans-boundary air pollution.
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 United States. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government announced in 2006, however, that Canada would not be able to meet its original Kyoto Protocol commitments. In April 2007, the Canadian Government announced a new regulatory framework for greenhouse gas emissions that was to be implemented beginning in 2010; however, progress on that framework has been somewhat slower than anticipated and the implementation date has slipped to 2012. Moreover, since late 2008 Canada has emphasized that it would prefer to see a harmonized cap and trade regime and coordinated greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan for both Canada and the United States. 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. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Canadian Minister of Environment Jim Prentice serve as the lead government officials for moving the Clean Energy Dialogue forward.
Canada also participates in the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which includes the world's 17 largest economies as well as the UN; the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which joins it with the United States, Japan, Australia, South Korea, China, and India in a broad effort to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technologies in major industrial sectors; and the International Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, which researches effective ways to capture and store carbon dioxide.
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.
The United States and Canada signed a Pacific Salmon Agreement in June 1999 that settled differences over implementation of the 1985 Pacific Salmon Treaty. In 2001, the two countries reached agreement on Yukon River salmon, implementing a new abundance-based resource management regime and effectively realizing coordinated management over all West Coast salmon fisheries. The United States and Canada reached agreement on sharing another trans-boundary marine resource, Pacific hake. The two countries also have a treaty on the joint management of albacore tuna in the Pacific, and closely cooperate on a range of bilateral fisheries issues and international high seas governance initiatives.
Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remained sharply at odds 13 February 2017 on immigration policies, with Trump applauding his crackdown to deport undocumented migrants and Trudeau acclaiming the success of Syrian refugees in his country. Trudeau welcomed 40,000 Syrians into Canada even as Trump has sought to indefinitely suspend entry of any Syrian refugees into the US, part of his court-blocked plan to halt travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries with histories of terrorist attacks. Asked whether he is confident the northern US border is secure with the Syrians in Canada, Trump told a White House news conference, “You can never be totally confident.”
The two leaders, meeting for the first time, reached more agreement on boosting the already high level of trade between between the countries, which Trudeau said amounted to $2 billion a day in cross-border transactions. Trump, during his lengthy presidential campaign, had vowed to renegotiate the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement that includes the U.S., Canada and Mexico to shape it in more favorable terms for U.S. workers.
Trudeau said his country's economic fortunes are “very dependent on trade with the U.S.,” with 75 percent of its exports heading to America, even as U.S. corporations send 18 percent of their products to Canada. He said that Canada is the biggest trading partner for 35 of the 50 U.S. states.
Obdervers in the media and academia approved of the "cool" and "balanced" approach Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland adopted to Trump. Trudeau and Freeland calculated that if they only mollified Trump at every disgusting turn rather than scold, let alone confront him, then he would reward them. Trudeau told an interviewer: "Donald Trump has demonstrated that he's a bit of a disruptive force. He does unpredictable things and sometimes they have positive impacts, sometimes they have negative impacts. It's not my job to opine on, you know, what it is he chooses to do."
In a speech to parliament by Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland 07 June 2017, she said international relationships that had seemed "immutable for 70 years" were now being called into question. "The fact our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership, puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course. For Canada that course must be the renewal, indeed the strengthening, of the postwar multilateral order. NATO and Article Five are at the heart of Canada's national security policy. We will make the necessary investments in our military, to not only redress years of neglect and underfunding, but also to place the Canadian Armed Forces on a new footing-with the equipment, training, resources and consistent, predictable financing they need to do their difficult, dangerous and important work," she said.
On 31 May 2018 the Trump administration started a trade tiff with its top commerce partners – the EU, Canada and Mexico – in the name of national security. Trump placed major aluminum and steel tariffs on three of its biggest trading partners – the EU, Canada and Mexico – and all three retaliated in response. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: "That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable." His government may increase tariffs on some US$12.8 billion of U.S. aluminum, steel and household products, such as detergents, entering Canada.
"For 150 years, Canada has been America’s most steadfast ally. Canadians have served alongside Americans in two world wars and in Korea. From the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan, we have fought and died together. Canadian personnel are serving alongside Americans at this very moment. We are partners in NORAD, NATO, and around the world. We came to America’s aid after 9/11 – as Americans have come to our aid in the past. We are fighting together against Daesh in Northern Iraq.
"The numbers are clear: The United States has a $2 billion US dollars surplus in steel trade with Canada – and Canada buys more American steel than any other country in the world, half of U.S. steel exports. Canada is a secure supplier of aluminum and steel to the U.S. defence industry, putting aluminum in American planes and steel in American tanks. That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable."
Washington planned to place a 25 percent duty on steel and 10 percent tax on aluminum, which it initially threatened to do against China. Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said: "This is primarily now only attacking our economic and military allies."
A key White House adviser assailed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on 10 June 2018, contending that he "stabbed us in the back" and undermined U.S. President Donald Trump after he left the G-7 economic summit to head to Singapore for nuclear weapons talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow blamed the Canadian leader for saying at a news conference that new U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel were "insulting," prompting Trump to direct U.S. officials to rebuff its allies and refuse to sign the traditional end-of-summit communique in Quebec.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow accused Trudeau of betraying Trump with "polarising" statements on trade policy that risked making the U.S. leader look weak ahead of the historic summit with Kim. "We leave and then he pulls this sophomoric political stunt for domestic consideration," Kudlow told CNN. "You just don't behave that way. It's a betrayal." As Trump was airborne, he instructed U.S. officials to not sign the communique issued by all seven leaders attending the gathering.
"(Trudeau) really kind of stabbed us in the back," Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council who had accompanied Trump to Canada, said on CNN's "State of the Union." Trade adviser Peter Navarro told "Fox News Sunday" that "there is a special place in hell for any leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy" with Trump. European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted: "There is a special place in heaven for @JustinTrudeau."
Negotiators from Canada and the United States went down to the wire but were able to reach an agreement on a new free trade pact that will include Mexico, the governments announced late on Sunday night 30 September 2018. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) updates and replaces the nearly 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which US President Donald Trump had labelled a disaster and promised to cancel.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|