The relationship between Canada and the United states has had its share of ebbs and flows, twists and turns and ups and downs.
A new report by the Fraser Institute released on Thursday suggests that there is a growing rift between the two countries. A rift that, in some ways, negatively affects Canada.
The report titled ‘The State of Canada-US Relations 2014‘  does a good job of highlighting recent U.S. government measures that have hurt our economy:

The main sector in US-bound trade showing growth in the last decade, crude oil products, is also the one facing most political interference from US decision makers.
The six-year delay in the international permit for [the Keystone XL pipeline] to cross the Canada-USA border is without precedent in our bilateral relations. At the same time, the US mandatory country-of-origin labeling rule, which took effect in 2009, has severely damaged the decades-old and deeply integrated supply chain in beef and pork, costing Canadian producers some $1 billion per year.
‘Buy American’ in the public procurement sector remains a latent threat to bilateral relations.
While American trade barriers have risen, Canada has removed some from its side: intellectual property rights have been strengthened, and the Canadian Wheat Board dissolved.
The Fraser Institute notes that while Canada is working to diversify its economy with trade to Europe and Asia, the economic impact from those deals pales in comparison to our trade with the United States.
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In addition to economic rifts, there are also stark differences emerging in our foreign policies — especially with regard to the Middle East.
The Toronto Star‘s Tim Harper wrote about that on Wednesday:

angelOn Israel, while Kerry is trying to broker a lasting peace, Washington watches Harper’s unflinching allegiance to Israel and, although Harper says he has raised concerns with Israeli policy privately with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a year ago, Obama raised his concerns publicly, calling on Israelis to “look at the world through (Palestinian) eyes,’’ in a Jerusalem speech.
On Iran, Washington is at the forefront of a deal that saw Iran suspend its most sensitive nuclear development work in return for an easing of western sanctions, but Harper won’t even deal with Iran, chides allies for jumping on the Iranian “bandwagon” and tells the world Tehran must show deeds, not words.
Why does foreign policy cohesion matter?
“A strong relationship with Washington has ripple effects for this country diplomatically,” Harper writes.
“If we have Washington’s ear, we become stronger regional players because there is a belief we can relay concerns or complaints straight to the bigger player to the south.”
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What’s interesting is that the rift is not just at the political level — it seems that Canadians, in general, are souring on American policies as well.
According to a nine-year tracking study conducted by Nanos Research and the State University of New York at Buffalo last fall, Canadians are losing their desire to cooperate with the United States in pretty significant numbers.
Nanos asked both Americans and Canadians: “should the United States and Canada be moving towards greater and closer cooperation” in the areas of national security, border security, anti-terrorism and energy policy.
The results clearly show a trend:
  • Level of support for cooperation in terms of national security:
2009 2012 2013
Canadians 60% 54% 45%
Americans 70% 66% 64%
  • Level of support for cooperation in terms of border security:
2009 2012 2013
Canadians 71% 61% 62%
Americans 75% 73% 69%
  • Level of support for cooperation in terms of anti-terrorism:
2009 2012 2013
Canadians 68% 64% 58%
Americans 81% 77% 76%
  • Level of support for cooperation in terms of energy policy:
2009 2012 2013
Canadians 84% 79% 78%
Americans 86% 85% 84%
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Whether it’s because of the ideologies of the current leaders in power or because of a change in the international power hierarchy, the two countries — at this point in time — don’t seem to be aligned.
It will be interesting to see if that’s the new normal or just another ebb and flow.
(Photo courtesy of Reuters)