Canada and the United States: what does it mean to be good neighbours


The 2008 Annual Ottawa Conference was held on Monday, October 27 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The conference focused on what it means for Canada and the United States to be good neighbours. The panels examined issues that have been problematic between the two countries and recommended solutions where applicable. The panels addressed the following specific issues: 

  1. Territorial Resource Issues
  2. Multilateralism, Unilateralism, and Spheres of Influence
  3. North American Defence Issues; and
  4. Border Issues.

Conference Summary Documents

Click any of the links below to download a summary document from this year's conference in PDF format:

Conference paper presentation:

Keynote addresses:

Poll presentation:

Panel discussion summaries:

Closing remarks:

Keynote Speakers 


Paul Cellucci
Former American Ambassador to Canada 

Mr. Cellucci offers more than 35 years of public service experience, including, as US Ambassador to Canada, Governor of Massachusetts, and Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. Currently Special Counsel to the Public Strategy Group, Mr. Cellucci focuses on the areas of life sciences, energy and technology.

Mr. Cellucci works with businesses to expand their growth opportunities both nationally and internationally. He most recently served as Executive Vice President of Corporate Development at Magna Entertainment Corporation, where he played a leadership role in the Company’s efforts to bring about regulatory reform.

In his role as US Ambassador to Canada, Mr. Cellucci worked for four years to strengthen and grow the trading relationship between the United States and Canada, expedite border crossings for commercial and passenger vehicles, continue the integration of the North American energy market and help resolve trade disputes. This was particularly challenging after the September 11th attacks, when security became the Embassy’s top priority.

Mr. Cellucci was named Ambassador after serving as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1997 to 2001 and Lieutenant Governor from 1991 to 1997. He has been a leader in education reform, increased access to health care, the fight against domestic violence, and cutting taxes.

Mr. Cellucci's career in government began in 1970 when he was elected to the Hudson Charter Commission. One year later he won a seat on the Hudson Board of Selectmen and he served on that panel until 1977. In 1976 he was elected to the first of four terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. In 1984, Ambassador Cellucci was elected to the Massachusetts Senate from the Middlesex and Worcester District, and during his third and final Senate term became the Assistant Republican Leader.

Ambassador Cellucci received his law degree from Boston College Law School in 1973. In 1970, he graduated from the Boston College School of Management, where he served in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). He also served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1970 until 1978, when he was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain.


Michael F. Kergin 
Former Ambassador of Canada to the United States of America

Mr. Kergin's career in the Public Service began when he joined the Department of External Affairs (now the Department of Foreign Affairs) in 1967 as a Foreign Service Officer.  His postings abroad included the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, the Canadian Mission to the United Nations in New York and Canadian Embassies in Cameroon and Chile. He served as Ambassador to Cuba from 1986 to 1989 and has had three postings to Washington, the last as Ambassador of Canada to the United States (2000-2005).

During his years in Ottawa, Mr. Kergin held various positions at the Foreign Affairs Department, such as Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister, Assistant Deputy Minister variously for International Organisations, Intelligence and Security and the Americas. In 1998, the Prime Minister asked him to serve as his Foreign Policy Advisor as well as Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet for Foreign and Defence Policy (the Canadian equivalent to the National Security Adviser in the U.S. government).

On leaving the Federal Government in 2005, Mr. Kergin was asked by the Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty to serve as Special Advisor for Border Management. He was later appointed as Negotiator for Ontario in the Softwood Lumber dispute with the USA.

He is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Ottawa. In the Fall of 2005 Mr. Kergin was the Malim Harding Visiting Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto where he also serves as a member of the President’s International Advisory Council. He has participated in many public policy panels on international relations, and spoken about future scenarios for North America and Canada-US relations

Mr. Kergin is President and CEO of Intermestic Consulting Inc and is a Senior Fellow of the US Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Kergin graduated from the University of Toronto in 1965 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in history and languages and, in 1967, received a second degree in Arts (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) from Magdalen College at Oxford University.

Mr. Kergin was born in a Canadian military hospital in Bramshott, England, on April 26th, 1942. He is married to Margarita Fuentes Kergin, and they have three sons: Patrick, Christopher and Andrew. He enjoys playing tennis.




Dr. David Haglund, a Professor of Political Studies at Queen's University, will write the conference paper that will address how Canada and the United States can be good neighbours. The paper will be published prior to the conference and distributed in advance to all participants. 

David Haglund
Dr. Haglund is a Professor of Political Studies at Queen's University (Kingston, Ontario).  After receiving his Ph.D. in International Relations in 1978 from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, in Washington, D.C., he assumed teaching and research positions at the University of British Columbia.  In 1983 he came to Queen's.  From 1985 to 1995, and again from 1996 to 2002, he served as Director of the Queen's Centre for International Relations.  From 1992 to 1996 he also served as Head of Queen’s Department of Political Studies.  He has held visiting professorships in France and Germany, and was the Visiting Seagram Chair at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada in the 2004-5 academic year.  He co-edits the International Journal.

His research focuses on transatlantic security, and on Canadian and American international security policy.  Among his books are Latin America and the Transformation of U.S. Strategic Thought, 1936-1940 (1984); Alliance Within the Alliance?  Franco-German Military Cooperation and the European Pillar of Defense (1991); Will NATO Go East? The Debate Over Enlarging the Atlantic Alliance (1996); The North Atlantic Triangle Revisited: Canadian Grand Strategy at Century's End (2000); and Over Here and Over There: Canada-US Defence Cooperation in an Era of Interoperability (2001).



Stephen Brooks, Associate Professor of Government, Dartmouth College
Panel: Multilateralism, Unilateralism, and Spheres of Influence
Topic: America’s Place in the World
Presentation Summary:
When assessing America's place in the world, there are many questions that need to be addressed.  I will focus on the two most important ones: (1) How powerful is the United States compared to other countries? (2) How much will the U.S. work with others in future years as compared to going it alone?  Regarding the first question, analysts now typically argue that the U.S. is a declining power and that we are rapidly reaching the end of the so-called unipolar system with the U.S. as the sole superpower.  I will argue that the U.S. will long remain the sole superpower.  Regarding the second question, most analysts assume that the U.S. will decisively refrain from unilateralism in future years since going it alone has obviously worked so poorly for the Bush administration.  My second argument is that the U.S. will continue to be strongly tempted to go it alone in security affairs in future years.

Bio: Stephen G. Brooks is an Associate Professor of Government at Dartmouth, and has previously held fellowships at Harvard and Princeton.  He is the author of Producing Security: Multinational Corporations, Globalization, and the Changing Calculus of Conflict and World out of Balance: International Relations and the Challenge of American Primacy.  He has published articles in International Security, International Organization, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Perspectives on Politics, Security Studies, and Foreign Affairs.  He received his Ph.D. in Political Science with Distinction from Yale University in 2001, where his dissertation received the American Political Science Association's Helen Dwight Reid Award for the best doctoral dissertation in international relations, law, and politics.


Brian Flemming, CM, QC, DCL, Consultant
Panel: Territorial and Resource Issues
Topic: Canada-US Relations in the Arctic: A Neighbourly Proposal
Presentation Summary:
The entire North West Passage lies within the borders of Canada and the United States. It should therefore be dealt with separately from other seabed delineation negotiations with “Arctic Powers.” At present, Canada claims its portion of the Passage lies entirely within Canadian internal waters. The Americans claim the Passage is an international strait through which they may make “innocent passages” without Canada’s consent. Neither position will help either Canada or the U.S. as other countries’ ships attempt to pass through the Passage, sooner rather than later. Mr. Flemming’s presentation will argue that it is time for Canada and the United States to set aside their claims and – in the spirit of the International Joint Commission for the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority and NORAD – to create an International North West Passage Authority bilaterally between our countries. 

Bio: Brian Flemming, CM, QC, DCL is a Halifax-based public international lawyer, writer and policy advisor. During the Third United Nations Law of the Sea Conference (UNCLOSIII) negotiations, he was a member of Canada’s Department of External Affairs’ Advisory Committee on Marine and Environmental Conferences before becoming a senior aide to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. More recently, in 2000-1, Mr. Flemming chaired the decennial review of the Canada Transportation Act. From 2002 to 2005, Mr. Flemming was the founding CEO and Chairman of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA). He was a member of the Advisory Council on National Security in Ottawa from 2005 to 2007. He is an honorary Fellow of Dalhousie Law School’s Marine and Environmental Studies Program, a Fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and a Board Member of the new Canadian International Council. He has written extensively in recent years on Canadian politics, law, economics and international relations.


Diddy Hitchins, Professor Emerita Political Science/International Studies, University of Alaska Anchorage
Panel: Territorial and Resource Issues
Topic: Alaska and Canada: North American Neighbo(u)rs
Presentation Summary: TBA
Bio: TBA


Brad Huther, Senior Advisor, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and President, The International Intellectual Property Institute
Panel: Border Issues
Topic: Intellectual Property Rights
Presentation Summary: TBA
Bio: TBA


Colonel (Ret'd) Pierre Leblanc, Former Commander Task Force North
Panel: North American Defence Issues
Topic: Mutual Security Interests in the Arctic
Presentation Summary:
The presentation will touch on the growing threats to the Arctic waters and Arctic Archipelago.  It will narrow down to the nature of the disagreement and it will suggest a compromise solution that will meet the national interests of both countries.

Bio: Pierre Leblanc was born in Montréal.  He joined the Collège militaire royal de St-Jean in 1967.  Upon graduation he served in many staff and command appointments.  He served in Canada, Germany, England, Cyprus, India and Nepal.  He was the Canadian Defence Adviser in the later two countries.  He commanded No 1 Commando in Petawawa and the Infantry School in Gagetown.  From 1995 to 2000 he was the Commander of Canadian Forces Northern Area responsible for the coordination of military activities in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.  During that period he formed the Arctic Security Interdepartmental Working Group.   He retired in 2000 after a 33 year career but continued to be an advocate for the security of the Canadian Arctic. Upon retirement he joined the diamond industry.  He is the President of Canadian Diamond Consultants Inc. based in Ottawa.


Philippe Lagassé, Assist. Prof. of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa
Panel: North American Defence Issues
Topic: Canada’s Back. Does it Matter in Washington?
Presentation Summary: This presentation explores how Canada's efforts in Afghanistan and reinvestment in defence spending have affected Canada-United States relations since 2005. Over the past decade, defence commentators and academics predicted that higher Canadian defence spending and a larger Canadian military presence overseas would boost Canada's standing and influence in Washington. This presentation critically evaluates whether these predictions have come true in light of Canadian defence policy since 2005. It concludes that Canada's influence in Washington has not risen substantially since 2005, calling into question previous assumptions about the link between Canada's defence efforts and Ottawa's ability to shape American policies and attitudes. 

Bio: Philippe Lagassé is assistant professor of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. His research focuses on Canadian foreign and defence policy, American foreign and defence policy, and the study of war. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from McGill University, an M.A. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada, and a Ph.D in Political Science from Carleton University. He also works as a contract defence analyst for both the private and public sector. He is currently completing a study of Canadian civil-military relations.


Patrick Lennox, Postdoctoral Fellow, CMSS
Panel: North American Defence Issues
Topic: Chopping In: Sea Power and the Canadian Contribution to the Long War
Presentation Summary:
For Canada, being a good neighbor to the United States has traditionally meant keeping up its end of the confidence bargain with respect to security at home, and doing its best to contribute to stability abroad. This paper will focus on the latter of these two neighborly obligations. It will consider Canada's  participation in maritime security operations in the Arabian Sea since 2001 as an example of how the country can contribute effectively and in a cooperative manner to an-American-led multilateral coalition that ultimately aims at the broader stability of the international system.  Such a contribution fulfills a number of important strategic criteria, which must be factored into future thinking about Canada's ongoing participation in the "long war."

Bio: Patrick Lennox is the J.L. Granatstein Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, University of Calgary.  He has recently returned from being embedded for two months on Her Majesty's Canadian Ships Iroquois and Protecteur as they patrolled in the Arabian Sea during Canada's most recent contribution to the maritime dimension of the American-led war on terror.  He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Toronto, and is the co-editor of a forthcoming volume entitled An Independent Foreign Policy for Canada? Challenges and Choice for the Future that will be published in December by the University of Toronto Press.


Jonathan Paquin, Université Laval
Panel: Multilateralism, Unilateralism, and Spheres of Influence
Topic: In the Hard Sphere of U.S. Influence: How Can Canada Reach a Balance Between Autonomy and North American Harmony?
Presentation Summary:
My presentation will identify the main sources of tension in Canada-U.S. relations in the domain of foreign and security policy in the post-9/11 era. I will argue that, by developing a more coherent and systematic definition of its interests, Canada could reach a balance between the preservation of its political autonomy and the maintenance of harmonious relations with the U.S. over security and foreign policy issues.

Bio: Jonathan Paquin is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Université Laval in Québec City. His research interests include Canadian foreign and security policy as well as U.S. foreign policy. Professor Paquin is the author of the book Stability First: U.S. Foreign Policy and Secessionist States, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009 (forthcoming). He has also published articles in Foreign Policy Analysis and the Canadian Journal of Political Science on issues related to international politics and foreign policy decision-making.


Robert Pastor, Co-Director, Center for North American Studies and Professor of International Relations, 
American University
Panel: Multilateralism, Unilateralism, and Spheres of Influence
Topic: Ottawa’s Path to Washington Should Go Through Mexico: Why North America is the Answer to Canada’s Chronic
“U.S. Problem”
Presentation Summary:
Since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1992, every Canadian Prime Minister since then has participated in trilateral summit photo-opportunities with the Mexican and U.S. Presidents.   But while Canadian businesses have taken advantage of NAFTA, Canadian governments have rarely taken the trilateral, Mexican dimension seriously.   They have felt that their interests are better served through bilateral relations with the United States.   It has apparently not dawned on the Canadian government that the relationship with the United States has deteriorated and that Canadian interests have been poorly served by such a strategy.   The latest debates in the United States on immigration and drug-trafficking have reinforced the feeling on the part of Canadians that they would be better off to keep their distance from Mexico and pursue the bilateral path with the United States.   I will seek to explain why this strategy is, at best, a cul-de-sac, and at worst, harmful to Canadian – and North American – interests.   And I will describe an alternative strategy, beginning with a serious dialogue with Mexico, that offers much greater promise for all Canadians and North Americans.

Bio: Dr. Robert A. Pastor has been Professor of International Relations and the Founding Director of the Center for North American Studies at American University in Washington, D.C. since 2002.  He also serves as Director of the Middle East Project of the Elders and Senior Advisor to the Carter Center on Conflict-Resolution.   Dr. Pastor has combined a career of public policy, teaching, and scholarship.  He was National Security Advisor for Latin America (1977-81), consultant to the State and Defense Departments, nominee to be Ambassador to Panama in 1994, and the Senior Advisor to the Carter-Nunn-Powell Mission to restore constitutional government in Haiti.   He was a Fellow and Founding Director of the Carter Center's Latin American and Caribbean Program, the Democracy Program that mediated more than 30 elections around the world, and the China Election Project.  He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malaysia, a Fulbright Professor in Mexico, and a Visiting Professor at Harvard University.  He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University and an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and is the author or editor of sixteen books including Toward a North American Community: Lessons from the Old World for the New.  Dr. Pastor has been a foreign policy advisor to each of the Democratic Presidential candidates since 1976, Vice Chair of the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on North America in 2005, and Executive Director of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by Jimmy Carter and James A. Baker, III.   He is currently writing a book on The North American Idea.


Amgad Shehata, Vice President, Public Affairs, UPS
Panel: Border Issues
Topic: Business at the Border
Presentation Summary: TBA
Bio: TBA


Dean Sherratt, Senior Legal Officer, Environment Law Division, DFAIT
Panel: Border Issues
Topic: Responsibility and Jurisdiction in International Law – How to Make Ends Meet
Presentation Summary: TBA
Bio: TBA


Joel Sokolsky, Royal Military College
Panel: Multilateralism, Unilateralism, and Spheres of Influence
Topic: Time to “Curb Your Enthusiasm”: Friendly Realism in Canada-U.S. Security Relations At the End of the Bush Administration
Presentation Summary:
Assessments on both sides of the border that characterized the Canada-U.S. security relations during the Bush Administration as one in serious trouble were exaggerated. This was so because of the fundamental realities of the relationship itself and the nature of the issues involved. In the end, the two countries were still fiends and close strategic partners in North America and abroad. At the same time, proposals, mainly coming from some quarters in Canada, on the need to formally deepen and expand security ties, have not come to fruition, again because of the essential characteristics of those ties and the realities of the international strategic environment. It is time to curb the enthusiasm for grand schemes for North American security and continue to address issues as they arise in the spirit of friendly realism that has served the interest of both countries in the past and will continue to do so

Bio: Joel Sokolsky is Principal of the Royal Military College of Canada. A native of Toronto, Canada, he earned his PhD in Political Science from Harvard University. Dr. Sokolsky has taught at the Canadian Studies Centre at Johns Hopkins, SAIS, Dalhousie University. Duke University and Bridgewater State College His areas of interest and teaching include Canadian foreign and defence policy, contemporary maritime strategy, international security relations and American foreign and defence policy.


Mead Treadwell, Chair, US Arctic Research Commission
Panel: Territorial and Resource Issues
Topic: TBA
Presentation Summary: TBA
Bio: TBA


Rick Van Schoik, Director, North American Center for Transborder Studies, Arizona State University, 
The New North American University
Panel: Territorial and Resource Issues
Topic: Good Neighbors: Building Resilience across Borders Together for Common Security, Lessons Learned from the U.S. Mexican Borderlands

Presentation Summary:
The thesis of the talk, that by building resilience together we can enhance each other’s and common security, emerges from analogies for borders from ecology, security theory, and a sovereignty perspective.  It uses the lens of transactional costs crossing borders to make points about how we can better plan and prepare and then respond and recover from intentional and natural acts.  It ends with a suggestion about building energy interdependence and climate security as examples of resilience.

Bio: As Director of NACTS Mr. Van Schoik develops, manages, and interprets complex, multidisciplinary, trinational research and policy programs.  He received a B.S. in oceanography and engineering from the U. S. Naval Academy and was a Navy SEAL until returning to school and acquiring a M.S. from San Diego State University in biology.  He conducted post-graduate studies in Philanthropy at Harvard Graduate School of Education, Sustainable Development at Tufts, and attended the first Natural Resources Leadership Institute in North Carolina.  He has taught energy, ecological, and environmental policy, science, law, economics, and engineering.  He was previously the Managing Director of the Southern California Ecosystems Research Program.


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CDFAI has partnered with several prestigious universities and institutes: Canadian International Council, Centre d’Études des politiques étrangères et de sécurité (CEPES), Centre for Security and Defence Studies at Carleton University, Queen’s University, Université Laval, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Canada Institute.

Each partner has helped mould the conference content and has contributed both time and resources. CDFAI is very grateful to them for their support.



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