Thursday, February 03, 2011

The stealth deal

Just what will be in the proposed perimeter security deal, or whatever they're calling it, as Harper meets with Obama in Washington tomorrow is worth watching. There were two items over the past 24 hours that were eye-catching.

Michael Ignatieff characterized the deal this way in Question Period today with a memorable word: "This is becoming a stealth deal, and a bad stealth deal at that. And bad stealth deals are bad for Canadian democracy." Stealth. Which led into this question by Liberal MP Marc Garneau, raising the possibility that the F-35 may somehow be mixed up in this proposed perimeter deal (from babelfish version):
The Speaker: THE HONOURABLE MEMBER FOR WESTMOUNT--VILLE-MARIE.

Marc Garneau (L): (VOICE OF TRANSLATOR): MR. SPEAKER, WE HAVE LEARNED THAT JET FIGHTERS WILL BE PART OF THE SECRET AGREEMENT NEGOTIATED BETWEEN THE PRIME MINISTER AND THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT. IS IT ANY TWHAWND ROBERTS GATES -- ANY WONDER THAT ROBERTS GATES CAME TO SAY TO US LAST WEEK THAT WE SHOULD BUY THE F-35? CAN WE CHOOSE OUR OWN MILITARY EQUIPMENT? WHY IS THE PRIME MINISTER LETTING WASHINGTON TAKE OUR DECISIONS FOR US?

The Speaker: (VOICE OF TRANSLATOR): THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF DEFENCE.

Hon. Peter MacKay: (END OF TRANSLATOR) SEPARATE FACT FROM FICTION AND MABEL SERRATE THE DEBATE A LITTLE BIT. MR. SPEAKER THIS IS A $9 BILLION PROJECT. WE ARE COMMITTED TO GIVING THE CANADIAN FORCES THE BEST AIRCRAFT AVAILABLE TO ENSURE MISSION SUCCESS. TO PROTECT THEM. MR. SPEAKER, LET'S LOOK AT WHAT THIS AIRCRAFT WILL DO. IN ADDITION TO THE $9 BILLION FOR THE AIRCRAFT, IT COMES WITH SUPPORTING INFRASTRUCTURE. INITIAL SPARES. TRAINING SIMULATORS, CONTINGENCY FUNDS, WEAPON SYSTEMS, ALL THE PROJECTED OPERATING COSTS. MR. SPEAKER THIS IS THE BEST DEAL FOR THE AIR FORCE, FOR THE AEROSPACE INDUSTRY AND FOR CANADIAN TAXPAYERS.
In a Globe report yesterday, there was a reference to the deal "harmonizing regulations for everything from cereal to fighter jets." If there is some effort to narrow Canadian choices on major items like fighter jets in light of our present circumstances where we do not have a contract for the F-35s and it is a matter of considerable controversy in Canada, that may have some considerable repercussions.

The second aspect is on the energy/environment front. Whenever John Ivison predicts a big win for Mr. Harper, it's always worth noting, and he did so last night: "Border deal with U.S. could be a big win for Harper." Remember what happened in the fall when a "foreign policy coup" was predicted for Harper at the UN on that Security Council bid. Yes, we do. Anyway, Ivison points out the energy and environmental aspects to this deal that could be coming, in the context of oil moving over the border:
A loophole in the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement allows either country to impose tariffs on the other for health or environmental reasons. But, with a line being drawn around the North American continent in terms of security, and Canada already committed to harmonizing its carbon reduction strategy with the U.S., Mr. Harper could convincingly argue that there should now be a common environmental standard for the two countries.
Postmedia has a follow-up report this afternoon covering the energy angle to this perimeter deal.

A few issues to keep in mind as the "broad based" statement that's "short on details" permeates the airwaves tomorrow.

Update: Instead of being in the House of Commons to answer questions, the day before he departs for Washington to engage in this deal with the U.S., Harper was here.