The tiny U.S. community of Point Roberts is a historical anachronism.
The 1,200-hectare hamlet sits just south of Tsawwassen, B.C. — a 30 minute drive from the rest of Washington state, but cut off from the U.S. by two land borders.
To Metro Vancouverites, it’s known as a place for a quick summer holiday or to pick up cheap gas, cheap cheese, cheap beer, and the occasional package mailed to a U.S. address for “economical” reasons.
Now, one U.S.-Canadian dual citizen and former resident of the peninsula wants to undo that, by staging a vote to have the community join Canada.
Call it the Point Roberts Purchase.
“I think you could start with, say, $5 billion, a billion dollars per square mile, and work from there,” said John Lesow, who now lives in Vancouver.
“It would be worth the money.”
Point Roberts was created essentially by accident as an artifact of the 1849 Oregon Treaty between the U.S. and Britain, which saw the U.S. border drawn at the 49th Parallel.
That process sliced the peninsula off from the rest of the U.S., and the idea of amalgamating it with Canada has been repeatedly, if informally, floated since then.
This time, Lesow wants to make it official, and he’s in the process of getting it on this year’s election ballot.
“This is an initiative to be voted on in the November 2020 election,” said Lesow. “That requires gathering signatures from 8,800 people in Whatcom County.”
Lesow argues there are several reasons the residents of the community may want to join their northern neighbours — chief among them, schools and hospitals.
The community is only home to a small medical clinic and an elementary school, meaning a trip to high school or hospital involves an international crossing.
The border itself, which Lesow described as once being “quaint,” has radically changed since 9/11.
“[To take your kids to school] it will take about three hours to get them to get their Nexus pass, get them on a bus, get them through two international borders, through Canada, drop them off, and then bring them back,” he said. “It doesn’t really make any sense at all.
“Because of the traffic congestion, border waits, it’s getting worse.”
Locals that Global News spoke with in Point Roberts were split on the idea, some salivating at the prospect of cashing in on Metro Vancouver’s real estate boom, others lamenting the possibility of losing their U.S. connections.
But Lesow faces an uphill battle to make the dream come true: It’s not just Point Roberts resident’s he’ll need to convince.
If he can get the signatures he needs to put his initiative on the November ballot, he’ll still need to convince a majority of Whatcom County’s nearly 150,000 registered voters to give up the land.
Even a win there would have no formal standing other than putting the idea on the table for discussion. At the end of the day, questions about borders and territory are in the hands of the two countries’ federal governments.
Nevertheless, Lesow is optimistic.
“You have to determine if the people want it,” he said.
“I’ve talked to people on both sides of the border, politicians, over the last year, two years. And they all say if it’s what people want, then we will support it.”
-With files from Catherine Urquhart
Trudeau 'extremely concerned' about report Canadian parts ended up in Iranian drones – National | Globalnews.ca – Global News
Trudeau shared his worries with reporters in Ingersoll, Ont., Monday after the Globe and Mail reported on Sunday the discovery by a non-profit organization, Statewatch. Its “Trap Aggressor” investigation detailed last month that an antenna manufactured by an Ottawa-based Tallysman Wireless was featured in the Iranian Shahed-136 attack drone.
Federal government ‘extremely concerned’ about report Canadian-made parts found in Iranian attack drones used in Russia: Trudeau
The drones have been used recently by Russia in Ukraine as Moscow increases its strikes on the country’s energy and civilian infrastructure.
“We’re obviously extremely concerned about those reports because even as Canada is producing extraordinary, technological innovations … we do not want them to participate in Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, or Iran’s contributions to that,” Trudeau said.
“We have strict export permits in place for sensitive technology that are rigorously enforced, and that’s why we’ve been following up with this company, that’s fully cooperating, to figure out exactly how items that we’re not supposed to get into the hands of anyone like the Iranian government actually ended up there.”
The Shahed-136 is manufactured by Shahed Aviation Industries, one of two Iranian drone makers Ottawa sanctioned last month for reportedly supplying Russia with its lethal drones. After denying reports it was supplying Moscow, Iran acknowledged for the first time on Nov. 5 it had sent Moscow drones before the Feb. 24 war began.
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It denied continuing to supply drones to Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Iran of lying, previously saying Kyiv’s forces were destroying at least 10 of its drones every day.
Aside from its Iranian-made engine, the Shahed-136 consists entirely of foreign components, Statewatch said in its report. It cited Ukrainian intelligence managing to identify more than 30 European and American companies’ components, with most parts coming from the United States.
Drones like the Shahed are packed with explosives and can be preprogrammed with a target’s GPS coordinates. They can nosedive into targets and explode on impact like a missile, hence why they have become known as suicide drones or kamikaze drones.
Shaheds are relatively cheap, costing roughly US$20,000 each — a small fraction of the cost of a full-size missile.
Drones “provide a critical capability” to exploit vulnerabilities in defences, and their use may be a prelude to a new phase in the conflict, U.S. Army Lt.-Col. Paul Lushenko previously told Global News.
Gyles Panther, president at Tallysman, told the Globe the company is not “complicit in this usage” and “is 100-per cent committed” to supporting Ukraine.
Ottawa is working to understand how the parts ended up in the drones, and wants to “ensure” incidents like this don’t “happen again in the future,” Trudeau said.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Available Nexus appointments Canada
There’s good news for those looking to expedite their border crossing experience.
To mitigate the ongoing backlog issues at Canadian border crossings, border officials have reopened two Nexus and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) enrolment centres in Canada.
It’s the first time any Nexus and FAST offices have been open in Canada since the pandemic began, and federal officials say more offices will be opening in the future.
The Nexus program, which has over 1.7 million members, is designed to speed up the border clearance process for its members, while also freeing up more time for Canadian and U.S. border security agents to tend to unknown or potentially higher-risk travellers and goods.
The benefit of Nexus is that it allows for those travelling between the two countries to save time, skipping long lineups and using the shorter, dedicated Nexus lanes when crossing the border, as well as designated kiosks and eGates at major airports, and quicker processing at marine crossings.
Reopening these two Canadian centres is the first phase of a larger plan to address the lengthy Nexus and FAST backlog, and will increase availability for applicants to book appointments to interview for Nexus pre-approval, the Canada Border Service Agency said in a statement Monday.
Those looking to get Nexus approval can now schedule interviews, by appointment only, at the Lansdowne, Ont. (Thousand Islands Bridge) and Fort Erie, Ont. (Peace Bridge) enrolment centres, through the trusted traveller programs portal.
Travellers looking to apply will still need to complete a new two-step process, and the Canadian offices don’t mean applicants won’t have to cross the border to finalize the process.
If conditionally approved for Nexus status, travellers can complete the first part of the interview at one of the two reopened Canadian enrolment centres, then complete the second interview portion just across the border at the corresponding U.S. enrolment centres on the other side. For Lansdowne, that’s Alexandria Bay, N.Y., and for Fort Erie, it’s Buffalo, N.Y.
To become conditionally approved, both the CBSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have to grant approval prior to scheduling the interview portion, and interviews need to be conducted on both sides of the border.
“Nexus and FAST are a win-win for Canada and the United States – and we’re working hard to find creative solutions to reduce wait times, address the backlog and help more travellers get Nexus cards,” said Marco Mendicino, minister of public safety, in a press release. “This new, two-step process is further proof of our commitment to it. We’ll keep finding solutions that leverage technology and streamline renewals.”
Applicants also have the option to complete a one-step process and schedule complete interviews at enrolment centres in the U.S., which may be a preferred option for those who don’t live near the two centres currently open in Canada.
And those who are already members of the Nexus program and are awaiting an interview can renew their membership ahead of its expiry date in order to retain their travel benefits for up to five years.
More centres are expected to open at select land border crossings in the future, as this initial phase carries on, CBSA says.
China slams U.S. Inflation Reduction Act for ‘disrupting international trade, investment’
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Thursday criticized the U.S. for disrupting international trade and investment by adopting the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), urging the U.S. to fulfill its obligations under WTO rules.
The criticism came after the Chinese delegation attending a meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Council for Trade in Goods expressed serious concern over the ‘discriminatory and distorted subsidy provisions’ of the U.S. IRA, as well as its series of policies that disrupt the global semiconductor industry chain and supply chain.
The meeting of the WTO Council for Trade in Goods was held in Geneva between November 24 and 25.
Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Ministry of Commerce Spokeswoman Shu Jueting said that China’s response is an exercise of its rights as a WTO member to challenge the trade measures of another member and their impact on such an occasion.
“In its speech, the Chinese side expounded on the suspected violations of WTO rules by the relevant provisions of the U.S. law from a professional perspective, noted that the U.S. approach has seriously disrupted international trade and investment while undermining the stability of the global industrial and supply chains, and expressed grave concern over the U.S. application of double standards and acts of bullying regarding international trade rules,” Shu said.
“China urges the U.S. to strictly fulfill its obligations under WTO rules and earnestly safeguard the authority and effectiveness of the multilateral trading system,” she said.
Stressing that the world today is facing multiple challenges including setbacks in economic globalization and a sluggish economic recovery, Shu reiterated China’s commitment to opposing unilateralism and stabilizing global industrial and supply chains.
“China is ready to work with other members to follow through on the outcomes of the WTO 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), engage fully and deeply in the reform of the WTO, stand against unilateralism and protectionism, and support the WTO in better playing its role, so as to contribute to stability of the global industrial and supply chains and recovery of the global economy at an early date,” said the spokeswoman.
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