Notes from Cascadia Workshop

Meeting organized by Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly, Local Governance Institute. University of Victoria, April 10 2009.

Victor Konrad, BPRI, WWU – “Approaching the Breaking Point: The Canada-United States Border in the 21st Century”

  • Renewed interest in border issues post-Bush, but not a return to pre-Bush notions of “longest undefended border in th world.”
  • Continued emphasis on economic and security issues. Issues framed as “problems” – absence of discourse on cooperation.
  • Eroded platform of trust between Canada and the U.S. has social and cultural implications for the idea of trans-border relations.
  • We need to brand the idea of cross-border interactions. There are distinct borderlands cultures across the Canada/U.S. border – distinct in GBPS, as from Sask/Manitoba – North Dakota, as from Great Lakes, as from Atlantic Canada – New England.
  • Is the future a blurring of the sovereign with increased border security (e.g., fences, gates, surveillance).
  • Current problems (smuggling, migration) are not new, just re-framed.
  • Insecurity re-bordering: paradox of post-modernism (increased wait times to cross border); firearms/drugs interactions; contructing of fences and walls.
  • Majority of border is still thin / invisible. Thick points are increasingly thick. Strained borderlands culture.
  • Deadline for WHTI – moving target? The idea of an identity card (or biometric passports) are uncontroversial in Europe and hugely controversial in North America.
  • Security concerns / perceptions now over-ride and influence all other issues and concerns.
  • Impacts:
    • environment: weakening alliances
    • transportation: VANOC chaos
    • tourism: diminished
    • trade: wait times, delays, lost productivity.
  • need to re-learn what we know about the border before re-inventing it.

Don Alper, BPRI, WWU – “Environmental Governance in Cascadia: An Analytic Framework”

  • Cascadia – BC, western Yukon, Alaska, Washington, Montana.
  • centred on shared landscapes
  • watersheds and parks/protected areas cross the border – Alaska panhandle, GBPS, Cascade-Okanagan, Columbia Basin
  • imagining the environmental region:
    • visioning an ecological region: Callenbach (Ecotopia, 1975), McCloskey (Cascadia, 1995), Robbins (the Northwest as a “state of mind”, 2001), Todd (the “elusive Utopia”, 2008),
    • political-economic-environmental imaginings: Cascadia Project (Seattle – Vancouver corridor), PNWER, GBEI
    • Traditional Indigenous place – Salish Sea (Sarah Singleton?).
  • is there a cross-border environmental political culture?
    • policy infiltration / migration / replication across the border – e.g., livable region, sustainability,
    • little evidence of transboundary identity among activists (suspicions of transboundary institutions – New World Order fears) (see Alper and Salazar, 2006).
    • differences in views on conservation goals and social-justice perspectives (social justice more prevalent in Canada)
  • approaches to transboundary environmental management:
    • international agreements
      • IJC (generally seen as a Great lakes organization)
      • Pacific Salmon Treaty – generally ignores sustainability issues
      • Columbia River Treaty – tries to balance ecological and industry values
    • sub-national non-binding agreements
      • BC-WA Environment Cooperation Agreement
      • Pacific Coast Collaborative (WA, OR, CA, AK, BC – 2008) – alignment on climate / marine policy agenda.
    • citizen / community-based initiatives
      • watershed improvement districts, water basin organizations (e.g., Okanagan Basin Alliance)
      • NGO alliances (e.g., Rivers Without Borders; Tatshenshini International)
      • Indigenous organizations (e.g., Coast Salish Aboriginal Council)
  • modes of transboundary environmental governance in Cascadia
    • crisis / reactive (interest politics focus): e.g., hydro power vs. fisheries;
    • state-centric (government focus)
    • social constructivist (idea focus)
  • does the natural beauty of the region undermine efforts at engaging mass-consciousness of the fragile nature of the ecosystem.

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