Harper dismisses Bush plea for gas tankers passage: U.S. official
December 11, 2007 - 20:02
Beth Gorham, THE CANADIAN PRESS
WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Stephen Harper "blew off" complaints from President George W. Bush about Canada's opposition to natural gas tankers passing through Canadian waters to get to New England, a U.S. Coast Guard captain told a briefing this week.
Capt. Charles Michel said the issue is a good example of why the United States needs to endorse the international treaty on the Law of the Sea.
"Without being a party to the Law of the Sea Convention, we cannot avail ourselves of the dispute-resolution provisions," he said.
"This is a slam dunk. We would win. There's absolutely no question about it," said Michel, the Coast Guard's chief of the office of maritime and international law.
"My understanding is President Bush has personally communicated with the prime minister, who blew off (Bush) and said No, because he's playing to his local political constituency."
And the United States is not about to use force with Canada over the issue, he said.
"Right now U.S. citizens are likely going to end up paying more for their natural gas and probably have less of it because of our inability to become a party to the (treaty). I don't know how much closer to home that can hit."
[CANADA IS IMPOSING AN ILLEGAL ENVIRONMENTAL TRADE BARRIER AGAINST THE UNITED STATES ARGUABLY ACTIONABLE AT THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION (WTO)]**
Harper and several other Canadian ministers are on record as saying it would be dangerous to allow liquefied natural gas tankers to travel through Head Harbour Passage leading into U.S. ports in northern Maine. It's part of Passamaquoddy Bay in southern New Brunswick that straddles the U.S. border.
[THIS FALSE FEAR-BASED PRETENSE IS INTENDED TO COMPEL U.S. RATIFICATION OF THE UNCLOS. IT REFLECTS THE HAZARD (NOT RISK-BASED) PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE]**
New Brunswick MP Greg Thompson has called the passage one of the most treacherous in Canada and says the chance of a spill is too great.
American officials have been lobbying the Senate to quickly endorse the Law of the Sea treaty for other reasons like national security and access to untapped Arctic energy resources.
The upper house is expected to vote on the convention and it must pass with the support of two-third of senators.
The United States helped devise the treaty, which came into effect in 1994 and has been ratified by 155 countries including Canada.
But the U.S. never signed because of concerns it would be giving up sovereignty or losing rights.
Not joining is hurting the country in several ways, said Navy Capt. Patrick Neher.
"It denies us the opportunity to submit a claim for our own extended continental shelf off Alaska and elsewhere" covering vast energy resources, he said.
Passing the treaty would also give the United States tools to claim an area of the Beaufort Sea that Canada considers its own.
Canada insists the international border continues through the ocean in a straight line from the land along the border between Alaska and the Yukon.
The United States argues the border angles 30 degrees to the east, an area with high energy potential.
Global warming is reducing ice cover in the Arctic, creating the prospect that shipping route could open up within a decade, so there's more impetus for northern countries to stake their claims.