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O'NEILL: Consistent border security would help us all

FACE TO FACE: Should Canada negotiate with the U.S.

FACE TO FACE: Should Canada negotiate with the U.S. on border security?

This being the season when many of our recently-retired friends transform themselves into snowbirds and migrate south for some thawing-out in Arizona and California, it seems a fine time to look at the state of U.S.-Canada relations. Specifically, we're examining whether it's a good idea for the folks in Ottawa to work with the Americans to establish a "security perimeter" around our two countries.

The New Guy on the Other Side of the Page shares the reflexive anti-Americanism of the NDP in opposing the private talks now underway between the two governments. But he also ends up in the same prickly camp as Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who has publicly worried that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives cannot be trusted to stand up for Canada's sovereignty.

Coming from such a renowned Yankee Doodle Dandy as Ignatieff, this is more than a rich. I would call it hypocritical because if any of the major party leaders has shown himself to be in possession of an overabundance of pro-American feelings, it's the Grits' boss himself.

Which raises the question: Should Canadians trust Ignatieff, rather than Harper, to deal with the Americans? After all, it was Ignatieff who, in his previous life as a globe-trotting academic and broadcaster, once indirectly referred to himself as an American; was initially a strong supporter of the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq; wrote approvingly of the U.S.'s "global hegemony, whose grace notes are free markets, human rights and democracy;" and even embraced the Bush administration's use of indefinite detentions and coercive interrogation techniques to fight international terrorism.

Listen, I'm not saying Ignatieff was necessarily wrong in taking any of these positions; I'm only pointing out that when it comes to trusting leaders, Harper has at least been more consistent in displaying a friendly attitude towards the U.S. Exactly where the leader of the opposition now stands is anyone's guess.

Finally, then, there's the question of whether the security perimeter is a good idea. I say it is because it would increase security for both countries while also allowing for the freer cross-border movement of goods, services, people and even ideas.

And in a world where altogether too many divisions are being drawn, surely more harmony and, dare I say it, international brotherhood is a good thing.