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Canada’s FATCA Capitulation

As of this past week, the Canada Revenue Agency works for the Internal Revenue Service. The subordination of Canada’s tax authority to its American counterpart came in the form of a euphemistically named “Intergovernmental Agreement” pursuant to the US Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

The result is that starting Canada Day (July 1), Canadian banks and other financial institutions will be required to comb through client accounts containing $50,000 or more to determine if they are “US Reportable.”  They must then inform CRA, which will pass the information along to the United States.

Notwithstanding that Canada’s leaders have subjected their citizens to the most rapacious and malevolent tax department in the world in fatcathe form of the IRS, they have committed a craven surrender of national sovereignty.

FATCA, passed by the US Congress in 2010, is an extension of America’s anomalous and larcenous practice of demanding taxes from people, regardless of where they reside in the world.  The United States is one of only two countries that engage in this disgraceful conduct (Eritrea being the other).

Let us eliminate a deliberate misconception: This agreement is not about catching “tax cheats” as its proponents aver and journalists obediently repeat.

It is about expanding America’s oversight of global commerce, while increasing its ability to confiscate funds to which it has no legitimate claim.

Indeed, the only apparent cheating is that of the United States, which assumes the power to demand taxes from people who do not live in that country, do not use any of its public services, and in many cases have never been there.

This is international theft, effected by the threat of fines, prosecution and imprisonment.

Most people, including Americans, are unaware of the United States’ criminal practice of worldwide taxation. Consequently, when breast-beating yahoos proclaim “America, love it or leave it,” they evince ignorance that, as a practical and financial matter, leaving is not an option.

Renouncing US citizenship is no clear solution (although record numbers have done so in recent months), since the American government broadly defines its tax subjects as “US Persons.”  This may include people who have studied or worked in the United States, or who have never set foot on American soil yet have family or business associates with roots there.

Why, then, would Canada acquiesce to such an absurd arrangement?

Some might suggest the deal was struck as a political quid pro quo, to convince President Barack Obama to approve the stalled Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta to Texas.  But the prevailing politics of the president’s hesitation have always been domestic, rather than international.

After years of studies and reports, Keystone is the most scrutinized conveyance in the history of running liquid, and its delay persists to appease the environmental left of Obama’s Democratic base, not to force Canada to sell out its own people to the IRS.

If, after November’s congressional elections, Obama at last approves the pipeline, Canadian politicians might claim credit.  But this would strain credulity.

More likely, Canada caved to America’s overt threat that nations not complying with FATCA would face a 30 percent withholding tax on all US-based investments.  Herein lay a true test of character which, for the moment, Canada’s leaders have failed.

It’s easy to be tough with Eritrea, but when the world’s largest economy demands submission to its will and quantifies a sobering sum for non-compliance, real courage is required.

Herewith, therefore, a policy for estimable Canadian leadership: When another country comes along and says their laws will henceforth be your laws, tell them to cram it with maple syrup.

That goes for Eritrea, the United States, and all imperious interlopers in between.

As a dual citizen of Canada and the United States, I appreciate and have benefited from the unique trading relationship of these two countries. But in this case, the United States is being a bully and, like many bullies, needs a smack in the nose.  Canada, meanwhile, needs a leader with the sand to deliver it.

A simple no would suffice. Call America’s bluff, if indeed that’s what it is. If, however, the US means what it says and really were to begin slapping a 30 percent withholding tax on Canadian investors, Canada should respond by granting an immediate tax credit in that amount to affected individuals and institutions.

This may take a bite out of federal tax receipts, but right is right. If America’s largest trading partner were willing to stand up against such preposterous demands, other countries would have the courage and blueprint to do the same.

It also bears mentioning that such a move could make Canada more attractive to international investors. That is, those wanting access to North American markets, yet wary of US tax overreach, would be pleased to see Canada will not go along with it.

Every country has the right to craft and enforce its own laws within its borders.  But when a nation insists that its laws must apply in other countries – as the United States does in this and other instances – that’s a problem.

Through this agreement, Canada has shown the world it lacks the courage to govern itself.  This cannot stand.

Theo Caldwell

Theo Caldwell

Theo Caldwell, president of Caldwell Asset Management, Inc., is an investment adviser in the United States and Canada.

 


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Canada’s Complicity in the US Surveillance State

In Canadian political debate, accusing one’s opponent of advocating “American-style” policies used to be the equivalent of launching a nuclear missile.

The trajectory of these attacks was usually left to right, with some earnest advocate of the Canadian welfare state blasting a heartless proponent of free markets and individual responsibility, as though a slight reduction in subsidies for public broadcasters or allowing citizens to pay out-of-pocket for medical expenses were one step removed from leaving the elderly on ice floes to die.

Much has changed in recent years, however. For one thing, the American health care system is now more beholden to the government than its “socialized” Canadian counterpart ever was. Relatedly, the ideological leadership of the countries has reversed. Whereas Liberal prime NSAministers like Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien once sat opposite Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, Canada now has its most right-wing prime minister in at least a generation, while the United States is in the second term of arguably the most left-wing president in its history.

But one issue on which an ostensible rightist like Prime Minister Stephen Harper and an unapologetic leftist like President Barack Obama seem to agree is that the surveillance capacity of the state must know no limits, citizens of both countries must be constantly tracked and monitored, and the two governments must synchronize their efforts in this regard.

If ever there was a time when Canada should act on its aversion to “American-style” policies, this is it.

From banking to taxes to travel to personal communications, Canada has signed on to the most appalling excesses of America’s growing surveillance state. The rationale is usually found among the catch-all phrases deployed to justify today’s creeping totalitarianism: the “War on Terror” or “keeping us safe” or the “War on Drugs” or “money laundering” or “tax evasion.”

Whatever the stated reason, such policies are born of the institutional panic that someone, somewhere, is doing something the government doesn’t know about and has not had the chance to regulate, mandate or ban.

Most recently, CTV News reports, the Canadian and American governments have agreed to compile a shared, biographic database of residents’ border-crossings, starting this June. The new system will be used to verify eligibility for Medicare and other benefits (and, of course, will “combat terrorism”), but it evinces Canada’s disquieting modern tendency to surrender its citizens’ information to a rapacious US government. It is most certainly an “American-style” presumption that people need to be watched at all times, their communications monitored, their comings and goings tracked and recorded.

This accompanies revelations by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden that Canada’s electronic spy agency, in conjunction with the NSA, has used Canadian airport Internet service to track the wireless devices of thousands of travelers for days after they left the terminal.

The freedom to travel has been one of the most conspicuous casualties of the US “War on Terror” and Canada should be ashamed of its complicity. In response to edicts issued by the Obama administration, Canadian travelers are subjected to a homegrown version of the pornographic fraud that is American airport security.

(As to Snowden, they want to fry this kid for breaking the first two rules of Fight Club, but he has done more to preserve the cause of freedom than those who get paid to snoop on their fellow citizens.)

Canadians need not travel to become entangled in the web of US surveillance. Canada’s acquiescence to America’s Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) will see to that.

Beginning on July 1 (ironically, Canada Day), Canadian banks and financial institutions will be required to review all client accounts containing $50,000 or more to determine if they are “US Reportable.”

This transcends the infamous and larcenous practice of the Internal Revenue Service demanding tax returns and payments from “US IRSpersons” worldwide. Under the FATCA regime, not only will US Persons (broadly and capriciously defined by the US Treasury) be required to file taxes with the IRS even if they have never set foot on US soil, their assets must be reported to American authorities.

The closest Canada has come to effective resistance is a meaningless bureaucratic tweak: rather than report directly to the IRS, Canadian banks would report to the Canadian tax authority, which then forwards the information to its American counterpart.

In each of these cases, Canada has gone along through a national self-interest no more considered than, simply, the United States said so.

Canada and the United States enjoy the largest bilateral trading relationship in the history of the planet. It is in the interests of both countries to keep that going. Canada, as a resource-rich, exporter nation, enjoys unique access to the largest consumer market in the world.

Nevertheless, economic comity is not everything, and there would be much to be said for a prime minster who, like Hugh Grant at the end of Love Actually, has the courage to stand up and announce he is unhappy with important aspects of the relationship.

Can such leadership be found, or has Canada made peace with an “American-style” future?

Theo Caldwell

Theo Caldwell

Theo Caldwell, president of Caldwell Asset Management, Inc., is an investment adviser in the United States and Canada.

 


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Of course Canada is more business-friendly than the United States

A recent report from Bloomberg News ranks Canada as the second-best country in which to do business, behind Hong Kong and ahead of the United States. This comes on the heels of a survey by the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation, in which Canada was rated sixth in economic freedom, while the United States came in twelfth.

To anyone who has done business in both countries, this comes as no shock.

Indeed, the only surprising thing about these reports and the surrounding analysis is that Americans continue to be flabbergasted each time their system of high taxes and crippling regulation, backed up by a draconian prosecution regime, is revealed not to be working.

As I explained to Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson last year, not only are Canada’s personal and corporate tax rates lower than those of the United States, the compliance burden of the American system – including the international theft perpetrated by the Internal Revenue Welcome_to_USA-border-403pxService in the form of its worldwide reporting requirements – makes serfs of its citizens and renders the country inhospitable to business.

Reports of Canada’s economic success usually give credit to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and that’s fair enough. But there is nothing novel to Harper’s approach. Politicians of many parties in numerous countries have opted to reduce tax rates as a means to increase revenue and entice capital. It is only relative to other modern Western leaders, to whom the concept of growing an economy by shrinking the government has seemingly never occurred, that Harper’s approach seems revolutionary.

From a policy perspective, Harper bears little resemblance to the hard-right, puppy-eating Sith Lord his liberal detractors imagine. As just one example, despite enjoying a Parliamentary majority – which amounts to near-dictatorial powers until the next election – Harper’s Conservatives have just enacted one of the environmental movement’s most absurd agenda items (and this is some distinction) in the form of a ban on incandescent light bulbs.

Fair or not, Harper’s image is bloodless and cold. He is not a smiley sort, and this is perhaps a good thing as his attempts to seem cheerful result in a Bond-villain rictus that puts no one at ease. While this may satisfy some people’s notion of a heartless conservative, the test of a political leader is the effectiveness of his policies, not how chummy he comes off while spending other people’s money.

For the United States, this demonstrates that electing leaders on the basis of demographic superficialities and big government populism, even as their policies harm the same middle class they purport to help, is a path to economic mediocrity and worse.

But elected leaders are only part of the problem. America’s administrative state, wherein myriad regulations are drafted and enforced by anonymous, unaccountable bureaucrats, smothers the prospects of small business. This distinction is important, as large corporations are better able to absorb the costs of massive regulation – and indeed, can lobby to have those regulations crafted in their favor – while small business is the lifeblood of a vibrant economy, creating two-thirds of the new jobs in America.

An entrepreneur seeking access to North American markets would be positively loopy to choose the United States over Canada. Apart from America’s crushing regulatory and tax requirements, its fearsome prosecution apparatus stands ready to mete out harsh punishments for mistakes or non-compliance. This rapacious, unforgiving system, for which incarceration is the default solution, informs the cruel irony that the “Land of the Free” holds more prisoners than any other country on Earth.

As a matter of commerce, justice, or just day-to-day living, America is one of the least-free developed nations in the world. In almost every respect, not only is Canada a more liberty-minded environment than the United States, it isn’t even close.

Theo Caldwell

Theo Caldwell

Theo Caldwell, president of Caldwell Asset Management, Inc., is an investment adviser in the United States and Canada.

 


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Toronto Mayor is Not a Victim

I voted for Rob Ford. Normally, I embrace the sanctity of the secret ballot and disdain columnists who announce their personal choices as if they were somehow important. But in this case, an exception is in order.

Having recently described to a largely American readership how the mayor of Toronto brought Canada’s largest city to its current condition of international punch-line, I heard about it from the hometown crowd. While there were some who have never much liked Ford and were happy to agree with my criticism, many Ford supporters were animated that I had joined the media chase-group that has hounded him for years.

Ford’s defenders aver that people do not appreciate all the mayor’s good works. Some repeat the Clinton-era trope that a politician’s personal life – in Ford’s case, this includes a growing video library of bizarre antics, aided by various substances, controlled and otherwise – has no bearing on his ability to do his job. This is bollocks on stilts, always has been, and willfully disregards the fact that a public leader’s personal conduct is, by definition, part of the job (more on which below).

It bears repeating that Ford won an overwhelming victory in 2010, claiming almost half the vote in a crowded field. Oftentimes when a conservative candidate triumphs in a left-leaning locale, which includes almost all urban centres like Toronto, it is a reaction to spendthrift, nanny-state liberalism evinced by his predecessor.

This was the case with Ford, who replaced an unreconstructed socialist who had caved to unions one too many times to mount a credible bid for re-election. Many voters were aware of Ford’s outlandish behavior in the past but, as a sitting member of city council with a clear message of fiscal responsibility, he was given a mandate.

All that is tickety-boo, right up until the point when your mayor starts smoking crack. After denying a report by the Toronto Star in May of 2013 that he had been videotaped doing just that, Ford has since been contradicted by the chief of police, and other unflattering footage of the mayor has recently surfaced. Nevertheless, his supporters insist this is yet more unfair media targeting of an otherwise effective limited-government advocate.

Having been a right-of-centre participant in public discourse since the dawn of this century, I get it. We are routinely subjected to greater scrutiny, harsher criticism, and reflexively portrayed as stupid, evil and always, somehow, racist. All that said – this isn’t that.

I am acutely familiar with the phenomenon of journalistic swarming (I eschew the word “bullying” as it seems a modern day catch-all for every politically correct fetish), particularly of conservative figures. I pointed this out in my earlier column, with passing reference to George W. Bush. But Ford’s conduct bursts the dam of mere liberal media bias.

Some have suggested that the latest video embarrassment to emerge, showing Ford raging around a private residence, issuing profanity-laced death threats against some unidentified unfortunate, is in fact an impression of Hulk Hogan, pertinent to their public arm-wrestling match.

Now, having wasted more weekends than most watching the WWF in the 1980’s, such that I could recite the history of the Intercontinental Title from its inception with Pat Patterson (note, also, that I would rather die roaring than call it the “WWE”), I testify that Ford’s rendition of Hogan is so terrible as to call the entire subterfuge into doubt. But, to be charitable, let us assume it is true.

While poor impersonations of professional wrestlers are no basis on which to judge politicians – although, I am reliably informed that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s impression of Randy “Macho Man” Savage is impeccable – Ford’s raving strengthens the consensus that he is deeply troubled.

Many who are urging Ford to “get help” have not the slightest concern for his well-being and are merely using modern-therapeutic shorthand to call him a drunk and a reprobate. This is cousin to how a Southern conservative might patronize, “I’ll pray for you.”

Personally, I am no more than somewhat concerned about Ford. Yes, I should cherish him as a child of God, whose fate makes all Heaven weep, but readers can pore over my oeuvre until their eyes fall out and find no passage in which I claim to be a good person.

As an estimate, my worry over whether Rob Ford gets help is considerably less than my concern for the Leafs to make the playoffs and slightly above my angst over whether the Jonas Brothers patch things up.

Others have suggested Ford should be commended for finally admitting what he has done (sort of), confronting the fact that he has a problem, and floating the idea of entering rehab.

Candour is good; self-examination is also good. But doing the job you were elected and are paid to do, on behalf of a whole city of folks whose jobs require them to maintain a higher standard of conduct than you have shown is also good; indeed, crucial.

And it is not as though Ford’s record is so stellar that it cancels out any shortcomings. Perhaps, in theory, there is a level of public stewardship so outstanding that it entitles one to smoke drugs, maunder about and embarrass one’s constituents on a global scale. If such a status exists, Ford has not attained it.

As mayor, Ford has done a fairly good job – but no more than that. While he has kept taxes from the preferred and demented trajectory of others on council, they remain high, streetcar lanes still snarl major streets, environmentalist commissars demand costly compliance of property owners to combat “climate change,” the increasingly militarized police treat the public as the enemy, and driving in the city remains a dog’s breakfast.

But of particular relevance to this imbroglio is the portion of the job that includes representing the city. There is a reason we have mayors cut ribbons at openings and greet dignitaries. Mayors stand for us. It does not suffice to say he has behaved poorly, but since he saved tax money he is, ipso facto, a good mayor. Representing the city to others is part of the portfolio and, while arguably not the most crucial element, its significance is not eliminated by the pecuniary aspects of the job.

Herewith, a policy for Toronto: You can smoke crack, or be mayor, but not both.


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Good luck, America (you’ll need it)

And here I believed that Obamacare, chronic 8 percent unemployment, stagnant economic growth, crippling spending and the potential for more would sink a sitting president. Boy howdy, was I ever wrong. I take small comfort that people far smarter than I am were much more mistaken than I was – Michael Barone and George Will among them – but even so, I and my fellow crestfallen conservatives must ask ourselves just why we were so far off the mark.

My friend David Frum (also smarter than I am) has for years been urging Republicans to moderate if, in David’s parlance, they wish to orchestrate a “Comeback” in national politics. With a monsoon of respect for David’s intellect, I disagree with that notion.

Hi Barack!Our previous nominee, John McCain, was as moderate as they come – even downright lefty on some issues – and he got trounced. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, despite apparently successful efforts to paint him as a corporate pirate, swinging in from the hard right with a dagger in his mouth and a briefcase full of pink slips in his free hand, is and was a moderate, too.

This may seem like utter rhubarb to those who have been fed a steady diet of Romney’s supposed radicalism, but here is a man who spoke of tax cuts as “spending,” enacted gender quotas (see also, “binders”), and, not for nothing, constructed the state-level prototype for Obamacare.

Moderate or not, we have seen that GOP presidential candidates are painted as extreme. With that in mind, can Republicans reconcile their core beliefs with an electorate that thinks in completely different terms? For example, we believe that a simpler tax system with lower rates increases tax revenue, while causing the wealthy to pay a greater share, and we can prove it by citing presidencies all the way back to Calvin Coolidge (as economist Thomas Sowell has done). But what good does that do when the reflex of every journalist, politician and undecided voter is to refer to tax cuts as something you “pay for”?

On social issues, Republican candidates will always be asked the most difficult, gut-wrenching questions, regardless of whether they choose to campaign on such matters. In a way, this is a good thing, as it forces us to scrutinize our views. But Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock ought to have known that, sure as God made little green apples, Republicans running for office will be asked about abortion in the cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother. If the best you can do is make Leviticus sound like a Planned Parenthood pamphlet, let someone else run.

To be sure, Democrats will almost never be asked to defend partial-birth abortion (or “late-term” abortion, as they insist it be called, along with attendant euphemisms like “evacuating the cranial cavity”), nor will they be asked just why an infant who survives an abortion should be denied medical care and left to die – as was Barack Obama’s policy as a member of the Illinois legislature.

But that’s just life on the right. There are many such unfair double standards; it’s why Republican Sharron Angle is supposedly too obtuse for the US Senate, yet a Democratic loony tune like Debbie “I can feel global warming when I fly” Stabenow cruises to re-election.

Republicans knew much of this going into the election, though. So again, why were we wrong and can we win without compromising our beliefs?

Columnist Andrew Klavan notes, “The smartest political writers in the country, all of whom are conservative, will now be addressing those questions.” But is it even a question of who is smarter than whom? For example, is Charles Krauthammer smarter than Paul Krugman? (Answer: Oh, yes). That said, Krugman was closer to calling this election than Krauthammer was.

Barone has been typically gentlemanly and philosophical in defeat: “So I was wrong. I take some pleasure in finding I have been wrong, because it’s an opportunity to learn more. As I prowl through the 2012 election statistics I will have an opportunity to learn much more about America and where we are today…Lots to learn for all of us.”

And perhaps therein lay the answer. Maybe we were so far off because the United States simply isn’t the country we thought it was.

As an American immigrant, I idealized this nation’s embodiment of liberty. Bit by bit, I have had to let go of those illusions. The Land of the Free locks people up at a rate 13 times faster than its population growth, and holds more prisoners than any other country on Earth. Its tax department treats citizens and their families as US government property, regardless of where they live in the world. And now that same IRS will be the arbiter of whether your health care meets the requirements of the federal government that ordered you to buy it.

Two years ago, I wrote that Americans would not stand for the excesses of a depraved organization like the TSA. And yet, polls show widespread support for that literal manifestation of government overreach, even as its perversions have spread beyond airports. Citizens born into freedom obediently line up to be molested and manhandled by government employees in the name of “safety.” No one wants to break from the herd. In truth, Americans would rather belong than be free.

Actually, it seems Americans rather like being told what to do. And that is what modern liberalism is all about – telling you what you can say, what you can eat, what kind of car you can drive, and whether you must wear a helmet while talking, eating or driving. The late William F. Buckley described a liberal as, “someone who wants to reach into your shower and adjust the temperature of the water.” Americans have voted for just that kind of official officiousness.

I never would have thought it, and it flies in the face of convention to say so but, with lower tax rates, greater freedom of movement, and a more liberated view of industry and energy, Canadians are more attuned to freedom than their American cousins are (socialized medicine notwithstanding, but just wait…).

It is said that Americans will elect anyone to Congress – once (John Edwards, please call your office). Since 2008, I have wondered if the same is true of the presidency. Obama swept into his first term amid a unique confluence of events, including a financial crisis, a deeply unpopular incumbent party, and a somnambulant Republican opponent. It could have been a fluke.

And despite his liberal leanings, I thought it was possible Obama might pleasantly surprise. As I wrote at the time, “Here’s hoping that he is such a smashing success that he gets busted onto Mt. Rushmore and his face knocks Thomas Jefferson’s right off the nickel.”

But it was no fluke, and Obama was utterly unsurprising. As I said on radio after this year’s election, nothing would make me happier than to become a fan of Barack Obama. But this time, there is far less reason for hope. He has proven to be the hard-left, big-government liberal he seemed. And Americans seem to be okay with this.

I genuinely do not know if conservatism can win again, or what this will mean for the future of the nation. While others on the right have pronounced this to be the end of America, perhaps they’ll forgive me if I rage a little longer against the dying of the light.

Lord knows I have been wrong before (and recently), so I hesitate to make hard and fast predictions. Nevertheless, it seems that in re-electing Obama, the United States has ratified its own decline. Good luck, America. You’re going to need it.


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Canadians Should Root for Romney

Many Canadians are predisposed to dislike Mitt Romney. He is a Republican, and robotic even by those standards. In this land of center-left sensibilities, such party affiliation and corporate mien often rankle. But I would urge my Canadian compatriots to reconsider. Romney is running for a foreign office, not joining your curling team, and if he can unseat President Barack Obama, the Great White North will be greater for it.

Whatever one’s views on North American free trade, or capitalism in general, it remains immutable that Canada and the United States share the largest bilateral exchange of goods and services in history. Even those Canadians who instinctively gravitate toward Democratic candidates should wish for Canada to gain the greatest possible benefit from that arrangement.

Canada is, essentially, an exporter nation, largely because we have lots of natural stuff – rocks and trees and skies and seas – and we send it to places that do not. This is a function of how and where the Good Lord placed us, and it is not necessarily so that a country is entering terminal stages of Dutch Disease simply because resources represent a major portion of its economy. Indeed, with strong capital markets, technology, and other industries, Canada has achieved a pleasant equilibrium, all things considered.

But, perched as we are beside the largest consumer market in the world, we have a particular sensitivity, and advantage, when it comes to international trade. The US consumer represents 70 percent of that country’s economy, and 20 percent of the global economy. Canada benefits most when America is open to its products, and has the money to pay for them. Emotionally satisfying as it may be for Canadians to see the Loonie at parity or soaring above the American dollar, a stronger US currency maximizes Canada’s strengths.

Obama inherited a massive budget deficit, which he proceeded to triple. At no point in his projected budget plan does he propose to balance the budget. Those ongoing deficits will be financed in large measure by an increased money supply. This augurs continued weakness in the US dollar, making it harder for Americans to afford Canadian goods.

Though the Romney plan takes its sweet time in doing so, it does balance the budget eventually, and even some measure of government spending restraint will result in a stronger US greenback.

As a matter of basic policy, Romney is, like most Republicans, a free-market, global trader. Obama, meanwhile, like most Democrats, is beholden to American union interests, and thereby eager to hose foreign workers whenever possible.

Fundamental to Canada-US trade is, of course, energy. The first of Romney’s five principal campaign pledges is that North America will be energy independent by 2020. That means opening the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas, which Obama has blocked.

There are those who loudly insist our energy must come from wind, solar, and their own sense of self-satisfaction. But even the shrillest of Birkenstocked, Begley-ite, “No Blood for Oil” protesters must, on some level, be practical. Canada’s oil will be tapped and sold. Would they prefer it go to our imperfect ally, the United States, or to a demonstrably malevolent power like the People’s Republic of China? As to their reasonable environmental concerns, would they rather Canadian oil be shipped by the safest possible means – pipeline – or by far riskier sea tankers? And when that black gold reaches its market, which nation’s environmental regulations – China’s or the United States’ – will be most likely to preserve and protect the planet our Green-minded friends so long to cuddle?

Canadians are perennially and properly concerned about national sovereignty. If you do not know much about the US Department of Homeland Security, fear not – it knows plenty about you. They’re the folks who, thanks to the acquiescence of the Canadian government, can put the kibosh on you flying from Canada to any location in the world if your flight plan covers even one inch of American airspace. The existence and conduct of the DHS is a bipartisan disgrace, and a global problem.

Republican President George W. Bush created the department and hung its Stalinist moniker over the door. Obama made it worse, severely clamping down on domestic security, demanding that other countries do the same if they wished to have access to the United States, and appointing as his DHS Secretary the appallingly ignorant Janet Napolitano, who came into office professing that the 9/11 hijackers came through Canada.

Romney remains largely a blank slate on the issue of security overreach. But, as a free-trader, he at least understands the danger of blocking borders and thickening barriers between businesses.

Finally, if nothing else, consider this: If Obama is re-elected and his socialization of American health care becomes complete, where will Canadians go for treatment when waiting lines at home grow too long?

Counterintuitive though it may seem, Canadians should be rooting for Mitt Romney.


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Remember the Morning

Nine years ago today, our world changed. On the morning of September 11, 2001, four hijacked airliners crashed into targets in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, killing 3,000 innocent people. The reasons and consequences would emerge in the weeks that followed


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What Does Victory Look Like?

Sixty-five years ago today, World War II officially came to an end. On September 2, 1945, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu boarded the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay and signed the Instrument of Surrender in front of American General Douglas MacArthur.

It was a formal and solemn ceremony, coming weeks after atomic bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, concluding six years of warfare, with some 70 nations fighting on three continents.

Today, we find ourselves in another global conflict, and it is broadly understood that there will be no such official declaration if and when we win.

Who would sign the surrender, and where? Would Osama bin Laden apply his imprimatur to some document at Ground Zero, perhaps in the Great Hall of Faisal Abdul Rauf


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FAMILY VALUES: College-Bound: Turning Your Child Over to the Campus Liberals

College-Bound: Turning Your Child Over to the Campus Liberals

Last week we headed south to launch our daughter on the next phase of her life: college. It was wonderful to see her eyes twinkling with excitement and expectant hope for the future. We have confidence in her strength of character and strong sense of vales, and know she chose her college for all the right reasons. But we still worked hard to prepare her for the reality that, on most college campuses, the prevailing orthodoxy seeks to challenge and even opposes both Christian values and conservative principles.

Let me give you a few examples of what your son or daughter might encounter.

A recent survey at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. found that in the last election 92% of faculty donations were to Democratic candidates. The professors


Contact the Editor: Joel Johannesen
**Link to this article alone ** Posted under the categories(s): Rebecca Hagelin, Theo Caldwell Joel Johannesen on TwitterFollow Joel Johannesen on Twitter

Win This War

I wondered, in last week’s column, whether the war in Afghanistan is still a worthwhile enterprise, nine years on. As American and Canadian governments contemplate withdrawal in 2011, commentators far wiser than I – George Will comes to mind – have opined that it is time for allied forces to pull out. Indeed, I had begun to congratulate myself on my reasonableness and good intellectual company.

Then, I saw the cover of Time magazine. The photo and story are of a young Afghan woman named Aisha, who was apprehended and sentenced to mutilation by Taliban authorities for running away from her husband’s house. As writer Aryn Baker puts it: “Aisha’s brother-in-law held her down while her husband pulled out a knife. First he sliced off her ears. Then he started on her nose.” Baker adds, “This didn’t happen 10 years ago, when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. It happened last year.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and some U.S. policymakers have floated the idea of reconciliation with the Taliban, in hopes of achieving stability and peace. Personally, I prefer freedom and human dignity.

But even if a reconciliation were possible, would we want it?

Have we fought and sacrificed for nine years only to leave Aisha and millions like her to their fate? Afghanistan presents a challenge, in which we are already engaged, and in which the delineation between barbarity and civilization is plain to see. If we cannot see this through, in what way will Western nations, blessed beyond the comprehension of most of the world, stand against evil in our time? By recycling? Driving hybrid cars? Gimme a break.

But let us say we depart, giving a finger-wag to the grinning maniacs left in charge, admonishing, “Now, no terrorist acts! And keep the amputations and honour killings to a minimum. Okay? We’re really, really cereal!”

Would that achieve our humane and practical goals?

Either way, the strategic and humanitarian missions are not mutually exclusive. And to accomplish both, we must win this war.

Often, when the concept of total victory is put forward, people suddenly become military historians. “Ah,” they say, “even the Soviet Union couldn’t win in Afghanistan.” For those who missed the 20th century, there were any number of things the Soviets could not do, including, but not limited to, basic economics and intentional comedy. You’ll excuse me if I don’t use the regime that brought us the collective farm as the benchmark for what can and cannot be done.

Along these lines, accommodation with the Taliban should be akin to Ronald Reagan’s prescription for rapprochement with the USSR: “We win, they lose.”

When he was Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier told me, “There is no such thing as a doorstop defence.” That is, no nation can be an oasis to itself and, as we have learned during this decade, darkness from elsewhere in the world comes to find us at home. Lest we forget, we went into Afghanistan to deprive Islamist terrorists of safe haven after they killed thousands of people in North America.

Not only do we have a human obligation to succeed in Afghanistan, but the strategic argument still obtains. As the poet Terence averred, “Nothing that is human is foreign to me.” For Aisha and the people of Afghanistan, let us remember that.


Contact the Editor: Joel Johannesen
**Link to this article alone ** Posted under the categories(s): Theo Caldwell Joel Johannesen on TwitterFollow Joel Johannesen on Twitter

Where to from Here?

In last week’s column, I put out a call for proposals to solve the heretofore intractable Israel-Palestinian situation.

Readers did not disappoint. I have tremendous respect for those who take the time to read this space – like a true Irishman, I admire the wisdom of those who seek my opinion – but even I was surprised by the strength of the responses.

Some of the sagest suggestions began more or less like this: No matter your sentiments on this issue – whether you feel the creation of the State of Israel was fair or not, and whether you believe Israel has merely been defending itself against overwhelming odds or oppressing unfortunate people – both sides have suffered. Most important, the past is prologue and there’s no going back. So, we must stop being concerned with who was right or whom to blame, and focus on what to do next.

There are myriad challenges about which we could ask similar questions. The war in Afghanistan was a necessary undertaking when it began, but what is our best move today, nine years on? The invasion of Iraq may not have yielded WMD, but what steps can be taken now to help that recovering country, comprised of three distinct groups, develop into a secular Middle Eastern ally? Western nations may have mishandled Iran for decades, but what should be done as its despotic regime nears nuclear capability? This week, Canada announced, in conjunction with other countries, it would stiffen sanctions against the Iranian government. Was that the right thing to do? (Hint: Yes, it was.)

To find the future you want, you must put aside the past. Learn from it, certainly, but don’t allow your judgment to be clouded by injustices. In this way, forgiveness can be highly practical. It is difficult, nonetheless.

But on the Israel-Palestinian matter, let us give one another substantial credit and assume we can take a purely objective, forward-looking stance. Now what?

Several readers took issue with the premise of my original question – “What should Israel do?” – pointing out that the plight of the Palestinian people is not solely a responsibility of the Jewish State. Their Arab neighbours can also take steps to help.

As columnist Khaled Abu Toameh recently observed, “Not only are Palestinians living in Lebanon denied the right to own property, but they also do not qualify for health care, and are banned by law from working in a large number of jobs,” adding, “Ironically, it is much easier for a Palestinian to acquire American and Canadian citizenship than a passport of an Arab country.”

So if we want to help the Palestinian people – and as a matter of human decency, all good folks share that goal – perhaps the best approach is to spread the pressure. That is, rather than focus solely on, say, Israeli checkpoints and Jerusalem building projects, we might also find the dialing codes for Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, ring them up and ask, “Could you find a path to citizenship for the Palestinians in your midst?”

We might add, “We’d love your help in achieving a peaceful Palestinian state and, in the meantime, would you please drop any restrictions on them working as journalists, pharmacists, physicians, what-have-you, so they can earn a living?”

It’s not perfect or complete, but it’s a way forward.


Contact the Editor: Joel Johannesen
**Link to this article alone ** Posted under the categories(s): Theo Caldwell Joel Johannesen on TwitterFollow Joel Johannesen on Twitter

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