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VIEW: ‘Getting back into Uncle Sam’s pockets requires integration’, says Robertson

Colin Robertson, a fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and distinguished senior fellow at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa, writes in the aftermath of the Security and Prosperity Partnership that “the time is not right for a bold initiative (on economic integration with the United States).”

In his op-ed in today’s Globe and Mail, Robertson writes, “Mr. Obama is preoccupied with the most ambitious presidential agenda since Franklin Roosevelt: managing the stimulus and its ‘exit ramp’, plus health care and climate change, with education and immigration reform promised for next year. With an anxious public and the 2010 mid-term elections on the minds of congressional leaders, there is no appetite for a grand design, especially given the situation in Mexico.”

But he writes, “This doesn’t mean we should give up. Rather, Canadians should use this time to focus on what we want and how to get there. Develop a national consensus on longer-term goals.”

By that he means, “Play to our strengths – energy generated by Canadian oil, gas, uranium and hydroelectricity is reliable, safe and secure. Rather than apologize for our energy development, we should aggressively market this capacity. Point out our investments in environmental sustainability. Trumpet our remarkable technological and engineering achievements in hydro and the oil sands. Build our standing as a reliable friend, ally and neighbour by looking actively to see where our objectives complement those of the United States, especially in the intersection of international security – Afghanistan, WMDs, the Americas.”

What else do we need to do? According to Robertson, “a smart approach to integration” is required to get “back into Uncle Sam’s embrace – or at least into his pockets” and should include “a complementary approach on immigration and refugee policy; harmonization of standards and regulations; and a robust security arrangement that includes law enforcement, intelligence sharing and adding maritime and land forces to our continental air defence arrangement.”

While the Security and Prosperity Partnership may be dead, the proponents of deep integration with the United States have clearly not given up.

Mr. Robertson’s op-ed can be read at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/our-chance-to-get-back-in-uncle-sams-embrace/article1272546/?.