We approached this to be as aggressive as we could, taking into account the legitimate concerns with respect to things like privacy and sovereignty, on both sides of the border. And the one thing that I do take issue with, is people that suggest we don’t care about those things on my side of the border, that we don’t care about sovereignty, or we don’t care about privacy, or we don’t care about individual rights, that these are things that we hold quite dear on my side of the border.
Q: Is part of the reasoning behind the trade component a desire to make the Canada/U.S. trade block more powerful in light of the booming Asian economies?
I’m not sure I would use the world powerful, in a sense, but more competitive, yes. We are in a very global economy. It is not just China, it is all over the world. We have to do as much as we can to make the economies of our two countries as competitive as we can make them. This is a part of it. It is reducing transaction costs. That is a big part of making yourselves competitive. I’m sure you have all heard my story about Cheerios. But the fortified recipe in Cheerios in the United States is different from the recipe in Canada. And people think, that’s crazy. But it is expensive for the companies that have to make them.
Q: What does that mean for something like setting salt guidelines for products?
If Canada wanted to have a policy that was different from the policy of the United States, Canada would have a policy that was different. There is no obligation on either side. Going back to your point of why is it going to take longer. It is going to take longer because we are going to have to propose regulations that are consistent. We are going to have to get comment from the public, and the whole regulatory process will have to work. But nobody is suggesting here that Canada can’t have low sodium requirements in its canned foods, if the United States doesn’t want to do it, or vice versa.
Q: On a different topic, when will Omar Khadr leave Guantanamo and come to Canada?
There is a treaty between the United States and Canada with respect to prisoner exchange. There are a bunch of steps that have to be gone through. I believe, without knowing exactly today which of the steps we are in, I do know that we are in the midst of those steps and we are handling it like any other prisoner exchange. And when they complete the necessary steps we will return him, assuming that they complete the necessary steps. I can’t give you a date. I don know that the request has been made by Khadr and his lawyers, and it is in the works.
Q: How will trans-national intelligence and investigations be done under the new plan?
There is a program which you guys are probably familiar with, called Ship Rider, which has been very successful. Canadian RCMP officers and U.S. coast guard officers are stationed together on a boat. They go on the waterways that divide the United States and Canada. They are specially trained and specially badged. What we are going to do is to take that concept, which has been very successful on water, and apply it to land. We are going to set up teams of specially badged, specially trained officers on both sides of the border, who are going to work together on investigations and on enforcement of things that are going back and forth across the border, and criminal organizations that move back and forth across the border. When the team is in the United States, U.S. law will apply. And when they are in Canada, Canadian law will apply. But they will work together.
Q: What kind of influence can the federal government exert to get the new Ambassador bridge expansion built?
I know that the reason why the Ambassador [Windsor-Detroit]bridge was not on the list, is because Michigan has to act first. Under our laws, the way our systems works, it requires, there are a portion of one of the steps in the process of building this infrastructure, for the state of Michigan to take the steps necessary in order to move it forward. I am hopeful that Michigan will act and they will act soon, and that we will get this behind us. My government believes very much that they need additional lanes of capacity, for both matters of trade and matters of national security. This is the most important piece of infrastructure between the United States and Canada. A quarter or a third...a lot.. of the trade between our two countries crosses that bridge. If something were to happen to it, that would be disastrous to the economies of both countries, so we are very much in favour of additional capacity, but Michigan’s got to ask first.