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U.S.-Canada relations

The bilateral relationship between the United States and Canada is perhaps the closest and most extensive in the world. It is reflected in the staggering volume of trade--over $1.4 billion a day--and people--over 200 million a year--crossing the U.S.-Canadian border. In fields ranging from environmental cooperation to free trade, the two countries have set the standard by which many other countries measure their own progress. In addition to their close bilateral ties, Canada and the U.S. also work closely through multilateral fora.

Although Canada views its relationship with the U.S. as crucial to a wide range of interests, it also occasionally pursues policies at odds with the United States. This is particularly true of Cuba, with regard to which the U.S. and Canada have pursued divergent policies for nearly 40 years, even while sharing the common goal of a peaceful democratic transition.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Defense
3 Environmental issues
4 Territorial Disputes


Relations between Canada and the United States started poorly with the American Revolution and the attempted US invasion of Canada in the War of 1812. Americans saw Canada as territory that should and would join their union and abandon Britain. In the Articles of Confederation there is an open invitation to Canada to join the United States. Most of the animosity disappeared over the 19th century, although as late as the 1930's, the United States studied plans to invade Canada in War Plan Red, albeit as a largely academic exercise.

Following co-operation in the two World Wars, Canada and the United States lost much of their previous animosity. As Britain's influence as a global superpower declined, Canada and the US became extremely close partners.


U.S. defense arrangements with Canada are more extensive than with any other country. The Permanent Joint Board on Defense, established in 1940, provides policy-level consultation on bilateral defense matters. The United States and Canada share NATO mutual security commitments. In addition, U.S. and Canadian military forces have cooperated since 1958 on continental air defense within the framework of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Environmental issues

The two countries also work closely to resolve transboundary environmental issues, an area of increasing importance in the bilateral relationship. A principal instrument of this cooperation is the International Joint Commission (IJC), established as part of the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to resolve differences and promote international cooperation on boundary waters. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1972 is another historic example of joint cooperation in controlling transboundary water pollution. The two governments also consult semiannually on transboundary air pollution. Under the Air Quality Agreement of 1991, both countries have made substantial progress in coordinating and implementing their acid rain control programs and signed an annex on ground level ozone in 2000.

Territorial Disputes

These include maritime boundary disputes with the US (Dixon Entrance, Beaufort Sea, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Machias Seal Island)

See also: Canada, Foreign relations of Canada