Deflating the energy superpower case
Is Canada an energy superpower? Stephen Harper thinks so. In 2006 speeches to such audiences as the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Club of New York and the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, the Prime Minister raised the concept of Canada as an emerging energy superpower, abundant in secure resources and ready to deliver.
A majority of Canadians support the concept, according to a poll conducted by Innovative Research Group (IRG) on behalf of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI). But we are divided over what to do with that energy wealth. Sell to the highest bidder and reap the benefits enjoyed by other oil-rich nations? Protect ourselves from rising world market prices? Set aside reserves for future generations?
“It has engaged the public but it is not coffee table talk,” said Greg Lyle, IRG’s managing director.
Interestingly, 44% subscribe to notion that “superpowers contribute to an unbalanced and dangerous world,” and 65% have no interest in superpower status if it means being an even greater supplier to the US. A third of Canadians believe we should limit energy extraction because of the environmental impact, particularly in Arctic.
At a CDFAI conference to test the case, other than Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn, it was hard to find an expert who agreed with the superpower assessment. From academics to economists to industry experts, most gave Canada middle power status at best.
Annette Hester, an economist and researcher, noted that most of the energy sector is in provincial or private hands, leaving the federal government “very little room to manoeuvre.”
In a paper for CDFAI, she suggested a superpower “must be able to control access to supplies – reserves and transport – enough to be a price setter in a significant universe of commodities.” Without that leverage and Canada’s relatively low production when compared to world oil markets, plus tight US trade regulations, Canada “is a price-taker, not a price-setter.”
For Mike Cleland, president and CEO of the Canadian Gas Association, it’s hard to imagine a superpower that is fearful of even talking about a national energy policy, something that has often divided rather than united Canadians. “We’re nowhere near superpower status on capital, technology and know-how,” he said.
If Canada truly does have superpower aspirations, there may be an opportunity in clean energy and technology. But that won’t happen until federal energy and environment policies, often at odds, are in synch and the provincial governments share the vision. (As if to underline that point, as delegates debated, British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell was in Portugal signing an international accord on a global carbon-trading market.)
Also problematic for any country claiming superpower status is the challenge of protecting critical energy infrastructure, almost 90% of which is under private control. Al Qaeda has identified such infrastructure as a “worthy target,” and “we know they are in it for the long run,” observed Felix Kwamena, director the energy infrastructure protection division with Natural Resources Canada.
More defence spending urged
Canada needs more of everything from money to troops to disaster planning to meet threats that may emerge over the next few decades, according to a new study prepared for the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.
The paper, by historian Jack Granatstein, Gordon Smith of the University of Victoria and Denis Stairs of Dalhousie University, suggests an overall defence budget of 1.5% to 1.6% of GDP over a three-year period. Although the three acknowledge that 1.1% to 1.3% is more likely, they note that the NATO average is 2.2% – which in Canada would mean a defence budget of $25 billion.
The report also calls for more “boots on the ground. In this context, we think the Land Force, presently about 20,000, should be increased by 50% or more, so that its nine infantry battalion battle groups and its JTF-2 unit can be raised to full strength. Land Force reserves also need to be increased.”
In other areas, the three write that “governments at all levels need to do more planning for catastrophic events at home – earthquakes, floods, accidents at nuclear-powered generating stations, major assaults by terrorist groups, significant disturbances of the peace in urban communities, and the like.”
The recommendation flows from a lengthy assessment of Canada’s “vulnerabilities.” Acknowledging their growing alarm over “the weaknesses in Canada’s defensive capabilities,” the authors identify a large handful of issues.
“These include, among others: natural disasters; a variety of potential sources of internal disorder; escalating challenges to (Canada’s) territorial sovereignty; the security demands and expectations of its impressively powerful American neighbour; and the possibility of so-called ‘terrorist’ attack, to say nothing of the continuing need to engage in ‘indirect defence’ from time to time by responding under United Nations or other auspices to conflicts – actual or potential – that develop overseas. Even the recurrence of major wars remains a possibility in some regions.”
The report also calls for a foreign intelligence service, “recognizing that this could not be accomplished overnight, that its focus would have to be selective, and that covert operations would constitute only a relatively small part of its responsibilities….”
A full copy of the report is online at http://www.cdfai.org/PDF/FSE2007.pdf.
Inaction leading to neglect on genocide
In October, the American House Foreign Affairs committee voted 27-21 to characterize the deaths of more than one million Armenians during World War I as “genocide.” While some heralded the resolution as an important step, it served as another reminder of how little has been accomplished since the Genocide Convention was signed 56 years ago. Almost three years before, in July 2004, Congress labelled the slaughter in Darfur genocide, yet the resolution failed to trigger international action of any lasting significance.
Sudan is still sliding down that same slope, and the international community is “guilty by neglect,” says Jan Pronk. By debating whether the crisis was genocide, the United Nations strengthened Sudan’s position and allowed the situation “to fester.”
The former assistant secretary general of the United Nations, who served as special representative in the Sudan from 2004 to 2006 where he led the organization’s peacekeeping operation, told a conference in Montreal on the prevention of genocide that we have failed to apply the lessons we’ve learned from years of intervention, and the UN too often has failed to tap all its resources to analyze a situation before embarking on peacekeeping operations.
For those willing to act, Michael Ignatieff, deputy leader of the Liberal Party, offered a few lessons, beginning with the need to improve early warning capabilities “or we will be deaf, dumb and blind.” He noted the role of the International Crisis Group, an independent, non-profit organization, to prevent and resolve deadly conflict, but said more must be done earlier to help societies understand the distinction between a homogenized utopia and a multiethnic society. “The battle of our time is a battle of those two utopias,” he said. “We have to establish a different utopia of living with communities of diversity.”
We must also create a narrative of engagement, led by civil society, which identifies genocidal behaviour but does not criminalize one ethnic group in a conflict. “Be very careful who you make the bad guy,” Ignatieff cautioned. “Or you will create another problem you can’t fix.”
Furthermore, a call for intervention requires realistic options – not deference to government to find the solution. And that includes creating the constituency to pressure government to act. He noted that that in Canada the Responsibility to Protect doctrine can provide the leverage needed to sustain such a constituency. Finally, as dire as a situation may be, it is better in the long term to act with UN Security Council authority.
The desire to act comes at a price, he warned civil society organizations: you must have the military means to intervene, and that involves adequately equipping and training soldiers to protect civilians.
Darfur offers critical test of ICC
Luis Moreno-Ocampo speaks in staccato bursts, tight sentences that leave no doubt about his intentions. The first step to ending genocide in Darfur is the arrest of Ahmad Muhammed Harun, former interior minister, and Ali Kushayb, a leader of the Janjaweed militias.
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has delivered indictments for both to the United Nations, and firmly believes he has the evidence to convict should either appear in court. “Haroun is a good example of the need to end impunity,” he told a conference on prevention of genocide in Montreal in October. “Arresting him will break the criminal system.”
Sudan has refused to recognize the power of the court, and has ignored most UN resolutions. Moreno-Ocampo, who grew up in Argentina during the military dictatorship and saw the effect when the generals were prosecuted for mass murder, believes Darfur is a critical test of the new international model: “those planning atrocities have to know we will arrest and prosecute them.”
Retired Colonel John Leggat, an associate consultant with CFN Consultants, won the 2007 Ontario Professional Engineers Award in the management. Dr. Leggat previous held the post of CEO of Defence R&D Canada and the Assistant Deputy Minister (Science & Technology) of the Department of National Defence…Neil Reeder, former High Commissioner in Brunei Darussalam and most recently director general of communications (Foreign Policy) with DFAIT, has been appointed Ambassador to the Republic of Costa Rica, with concurrent accreditation to the Republic of Nicaragua and the Republic of Honduras…Perry Calderwood, who most recently has served as deputy to the Prime Minister’s Personal Representative to Africa, and director of Eastern and Southern Africa Division, will succeed Renata Wielgosz as Ambassador to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela…Ms. Wielgosz has been named Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic…Dale Eisler has been appointed Consul General in Denver following three years as Assistant Secretary to Cabinet (Communications and Consultations) with the Privy Council Office; he is an author and former advisory board member of Canadian Government Executive magazine…Guillermo Rishchynski has been named Ambassador to the United Mexican States following two years as Ambassador to Brazil. Previously, he served as vice-president of the Americas Branch for the Canadian International Development Agency…William Barton, who over a 40 year career served as ambassador to the UN, president of the UN Security Council and Canadian representative on the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament, donated $3 million to create the William and Jeanie Barton Chair in International Affairs at Carleton University to enhance the understanding of arms control and disarmament issues worldwide…Jean-Paul Hubert has been appointed interim president of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (Rights & Democracy), created in 1988 to support human rights and to promote democratic institutions and practices around the world. DFAIT is conducting a routine five-year review of the organization. Hubert, who will serve until a new president can be identified, has served as ambassador to Belgium, Argentina, Switzerland, and the Organization of American States.