Diplomacy

Mexico's Calderon comments on touchy issue for Canada

The Globe and Mail

Mexican President Felipe Calderon participates in a joint news conference with President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, not seen, Monday, April 2, 2012, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Mexican President Felipe Calderon cites the arrest of Canadian consultant Cynthia Vanier on accusations of trying to smuggle one of Moammar Gadhafi’s sons out of Libya as a prime example of successful security co-operation between Mexico, Canada and the United States.

Canada, however, has yet to elucidate exactly what its role was in Ms. Vanier’s arrest and the investigation leading up to it – and her lawyer, among others, would really like to know.

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Mr. Calderon made the laudatory statement during a press conference on the White House lawn in Washington Monday afternoon, part of a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama to hash out trilateral co-operation on security and trade. Mexico’s arrest of Ms. Vanier late last year is an international collaboration success story in foiling a cross-border plot, Mr. Calderon said.

“This implies an international, and very North American operation, because it was headed up by a Canadian businesswoman who hired an American company which hired, in turn, Mexican pilots and counterfeiters,” he said. “This multinational operation would not have been avoided without the international security mechanisms we didn’t have before.”

Neither Mr. Harper nor Mr. Obama addressed Mr. Calderon’s reference at the time.

Neither the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade nor Mexico’s embassy in Ottawa would comment Tuesday on Mr. Calderon’s statement.

It’s a bit of a touchy issue: The federal government has said little about Ms. Vanier’s case since she was arrested in November. Ms. Vanier, who made her career as a mediator specializing in first nations negotiations, has since been charged with attempted human trafficking, organized crime and falsifying documents.

In the view of her Canadian lawyer Paul Copeland, now would be a good time for Ottawa to make clear exactly what involvement, if any, Canada had in her arrest.

Mr. Calderon “attributed the success to international security mechanisms, which I presume involves the RCMP,” Mr. Copeland said in an interview. If so, he said, that probably included the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams – effectively multijurisdictional investigation and information-sharing groups that include staff members from CSIS, the Canadian Border Security Agency and local police units.

“Would I expect any [comment from Ottawa] No. Would it be nice of Canada to explain what they’ve been doing? Yes, it would,” he said. “It would be interesting to have the Canadian government explain what their role was in all of this, and what degree of co-operation they provided the Mexicans”

With a report from Tim Wilson, of La politica es la politica

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