Skip to comments.Bush listens to neighbors' leaders
Posted on 08/21/2007 8:15:01 AM PDT by Hi Heels
Bush listens to neighbors' leaders By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 27 minutes ago
MONTEBELLO, Quebec - President Bush's summit with the leaders of Canada and Mexico is likely to produce little more than promises of cooperation and some signs of disunity.
Bush came to this resort town on the Ottawa River to strengthen his ties with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon. They were poised to announce at least one wrinkle, an effort to clarify border security plans in emergencies.
Yet for all the gestures of unity, there were differences that were handled much more gingerly, spanning from Arctic waterways to passport policies to the war in Afghanistan.
Overshadowing the two-day event was the menacing Hurricane Dean to the point that the schedule was rearranged to accommodate Calderon. He will attend every event Tuesday but will leave Canada earlier than planned to head home and deal with the storm that started moving ashore before dawn Tuesday.
The summit resumed Tuesday as the three leaders began talks with a council of corporate executives from each of the countries. The business group is pushing for broader coordination across North America, from regulatory standards to emergency planning.
Security and trade issues dominated talks among the North American leaders. Their goal is to make their borders safer without impeding their trade-and-tourism relationship.
Yet even their security partnership has stirred fears in Canada and the U.S. that more North American integration will derail national sovereignty. About 2,000 demonstrators descended on the Montebello in protest; police used tear gas to push back several dozen.
Overall, the leaders stressed their common missions. The three men enjoy good relations. There was much talk of listening, understanding, and disagreeing politely.
A Canadian official said Harper plainly told Bush what he's said publicly that Canada's mission in Afghanistan will not be extended beyond 2009 without a consensus in Parliament. Canada has 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, a commitment important to Bush.
Dan Fisk, a White House National Security Council official who briefed reporters, said Bush now has "a better understanding" of the dynamics Harper faces in Canada.
Harper also used the meeting to assert his nation's claim to the Northwest Passage through the Arctic. The United States says the passage is part of international waters.
"I think it's fair to say the president came away with a far better understanding of Canada's position," Fisk said. However, he added, the U.S. position did not change at all.
With Mexico, the United States is working on an aid package for its neighbor to help stem its drug trade and associated violence. No final deal is ready to be announced.
Still, Fisk said, in private talks the U.S. and Mexican presidents "clearly reaffirmed their commitment that we do have a shared responsibility."
Calderon has repeatedly pushed the U.S. to take more responsibility in fighting the two countries' common drug problem, including doing more to stop the flow of illegal U.S. arms into Mexico and trying to combat the demand for drugs north of the border.
On security, Bush, Harper and Calderon want to find a way to protect citizens in an emergency without the tie-ups that slowed commerce after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The three leaders are also seeking middle ground on issues ranging from energy to trade, food safety to immigration. Few, if any, formal announcements are expected at the meeting at a highly secured red cedar chateau along the banks of the Ottawa River.
Several hundred demonstrators protested on issues such as the war in Iraq, human rights and integration of North America. One carried a banner that said, "Say No To Americanada."
Calderon and Harper both want tight relations with Bush, yet don't want to be seen as proteges of the unpopular president. The three exchanged friendly handshakes before their meetings, posed for photos and ended the day with a dinner inside a historic manor.
When Bush arrived Monday in Ottawa, he was greeted by a bagpiper and a ceremonial honor guard dressed in red jackets and tall, black fur hats. Bush flew to the resort on the Marine One presidential helicopter.
Late in the day, he even found time for one of his passions a mountain bike ride. He went with Stockwell Day, the Canadian public safety minister.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed that tear gas was used against several dozen protesters who threw rocks, branches and plastic bottles.
"I've heard it's nothing," Harper said, dismissing the protests as Bush arrived at the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello. "A couple hundred? It's sad."
It’s too bad we can’t get hundreds of thousands of volunteers to just go to the border and start building it. Since our government has shown that they will wink at law breakers who aren’t even citizens, surely they could do as much for citizens attempting the only way we can to secure our border. Wishful thinking, I know. But I’d sure like to test it.
The truth is that there was initial funding of $1.2 billion to the Department of Homeland Security marked for border security (but not specifically for the border fence) but the law withholds $950 million of it until the House and Senate appropriations committees approve the design, location and length of the fence. At the estimated $3M per mile, how much fence are you gonna build with ~$50M? Not much. Also, it was only an election year ploy...they passed the authorization in September, right before the elections.
To make matters worse, Congress is still holding this up, and they went on vacation without taking care of it. Bush had originally threatened to veto the defense bill because Congress added so much pork to it. Congress then attached the funding for the fence to the defense bill to insure Bush couldn't veto all the pork they added to this bill without inflaming his base on the fence issue.
Here's a recent article on the subject:
Conservative lawmakers who say the American people need a signal that Congress is serious about cracking down on illegal immigration pushed Wednesday for more border security funding in a defense spending bill.< P> The Senate gave a nod to one of those efforts, agreeing 94-3 to an amendment to the Defense Department appropriations bill providing $1.83 billion for 370 miles of triple-layered fencing and 461 miles of vehicle barriers on the U.S.-Mexican border.
The defense bill is far from final. A vote on the larger spending bill is pending and if passed would have to be reconciled with the House bill.
The Senate immigration bill authorizes construction of 370 miles of fencing and several more miles of vehicle barriers but does not provide funding for them. The House has authorized but not funded 700 miles of fencing.
As a side note, I can't believe the number of people on here that don't know the difference between authorization and appropriations: