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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

The North American Imperative: A Public-Good Framework for Canada-U.S. Economic and Security Cooperation

Commentary by William Robson

In this report, William B.P. Robson argues that securing proposed economic and security improvements between Canada and the United States requires that people in both countries (and particularly Canadians) think more boldly, and develop a strategy framework that focuses on North American ā€˜public goods.ā€™ Robson points out that public goods, which are familiar in domestic activities, have international counterparts: areas where coordinated contributions yield payoffs larger than individual countries can realize acting on their own.

Robson notes that the logic of public goods is implicit in many past Canada-U.S. agreements, such as NORAD. He argues that an explicit focus on the benefits of economic and security collaboration can help both countries to enjoy comparable benefits. Robson also argues that a concentration of public goods also helps to define areas where joint action affecting all activities inside the territories of Canada and the United States (and possible Mexico) makes sense.

Robson argues that, in order to enjoy the benefits of public goods, up-front investments of physical resources and political capital are required. He argues that failure to provide such investments will hamper negotiations across the border and, domestically, increase the risk of negative responses to unforeseen events while ruling out legislative changes that could make improvements permanent. He argues that Canada must provide a clear vision, an adequate framework, and high-level commitment to advance a North American public goods agenda.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): William Robson;
Publisher: C.D. Howe Institute [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2004; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: International; National;
Registration Required: No Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / Military & Defence / Border Security
Policy Articles / International Law & Politics / Canada - U.S. Relations
Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance / Canada - U.S. Relations
Policy Articles / International Law & Politics / Canada - U.S. Relations / 2004
Policy Articles / Military & Defence / Border Security / 2004
Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance / Canada - U.S. Relations / 2004
Policy Articles / International Law & Politics
Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance
Policy Articles / Military & Defence


Keywords / Tags:

public goods; public goods agenda; economic and security relations; North American strategy; resource investments; political investments;