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Canada-U.S. pact allows cross-border military activity


"Are we going to see [U.S.] troops on our soil for minor potential threats
to a pipeline or a road?" he asked.

Good question, but what's our collective answer?

Vancouver Sun February 23, 2008

Canada-U.S. pact allows cross-border military activity

Deal allows either country to send troops across the other's border to deal
with an emergency

David Pugliese

Canada and the U.S. have signed an agreement that paves the way for the
militaries from either nation to send troops across each other's borders
during an emergency, but some are questioning why the Harper government has
kept silent on the deal.

Neither the Canadian government nor the Canadian Forces announced the new
agreement, which was signed Feb. 14 in Texas.

The U.S. military's Northern Command, however, publicized the agreement with
a statement outlining how its top officer, Gen. Gene Renuart, and Canadian
Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais, head of Canada Command, signed the plan, which allows
the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation
in a civil emergency.

The new agreement has been greeted with suspicion by the left wing in Canada
and the right wing in the U.S.

The left-leaning Council of Canadians, which is campaigning against what it
calls the increasing integration of the U.S. and Canadian militaries, is
raising concerns about the deal.

"It's kind of a trend when it comes to issues of Canada-U.S. relations and
contentious issues like military integration. We see that this government is
reluctant to disclose information to Canadians that is readily available on
American and Mexican websites," said Stuart Trew, a researcher with the
Council of Canadians.

Trew said there is potential for the agreement to militarize civilian
responses to emergency incidents. He noted that work is also underway for
the two nations to put in place a joint plan to protect common
infrastructure such as roadways and oil pipelines.

"Are we going to see [U.S.] troops on our soil for minor potential threats
to a pipeline or a road?" he asked.

Trew also noted the U.S. military does not allow its soldiers to operate
under foreign command so there are questions about who controls American
forces if they are requested for service in Canada. "We don't know the
answers because the government doesn't want to even announce the plan," he

But Canada Command spokesman Commander David Scanlon said it will be up to
civilian authorities in both countries whether military assistance is
requested or even used. He said the agreement is "benign" and simply sets
the stage for military-to-military co-operation if the governments approve.

"But there's no agreement to allow troops to come in," he said. "It
facilitates planning and co-ordination between the two militaries. The
'allow' piece is entirely up to the two governments."

If U.S. forces were to come into Canada they would be under tactical control
of the Canadian Forces but still under the command of the U.S. military,
Scanlon added.

News of the deal, and the allegation it was kept secret in Canada, is
already making the rounds on left-wing blogs and Internet sites as an
example of the dangers of the growing integration between the two

On right-wing blogs in the U.S. it is being used as evidence of a plan for a
"North American union" where foreign troops, not bound by U.S. laws, could
be used by the American federal government to override local authorities.

"Co-operative militaries on Home Soil!" notes one website. "The next time
your town has a 'national emergency,' don't be surprised if Canadian
soldiers respond."

Scanlon said there was no intent to keep the agreement secret on the
Canadian side of the border. He noted it will be reported on in the Canadian
Forces newspaper next week and that publication will be put on the Internet.

Scanlon said the actual agreement hasn't been released to the public as that
requires approval from both nations.

Canwest News Service

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