At Harris Bricken, we keep close tabs on what is happening around the world, and we know that our friends and clients do, as well. We are happy to provide this podcast series: Global Law and Business, hosted by international attorneys Fred Rocafort and Jonathan Bench, where we look at the world by talking with business leaders, innovators, service providers, manufacturers, and government leaders around the world.
In Episode #61, we are joined by Andrew House, partner and co-leader of the national security team at Fasken.
- Andrew’s career trajectory, from criminal defense work in Halifax to Canada’s national security establishment in Ottawa.
- The challenges of working in post-conflict Kosovo.
- Foreign investment reviews in Canada, and the outsized role of America’s concerns.
- Why legal knowledge is beneficial when working in government relations.
- The shifting tides of Canada’s COVID experience, and why the pandemic constitutes a healthy wake-up call on Canada’s industrial base.
- Canada’s challenges in its relationship with China.
- Key differences between Canadian and U.S. officialdoms.
- Listening, and watching recommendations from:
- The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William L. Shirer
- Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
- The Comey Rule, on Showtime
- “Gargantuanisation,” by John Lanchester, London Review of Books
- Why Does the C.I.A. Need Puppets?, on Sway, New York Times podcast
We’ll see you next week for another exciting and informative episode when we sit down with Azhelle Wade, AKA The Toy Coach!
This podcast audio has been transcribed by an automatic transcriber.
Fred Rocafort 0:07
Global law and global business go hand in hand, but never seem to keep pace with each other. The importance on the global stage of developing and developed nations waxes and wanes, while consumption and interconnectedness steadily increase all the while laws and regulations change incessantly requiring businesses to stay nimble. But how do we make sense of it all? Welcome to Global Law and Business hosted by Harris Bricken International Business attorneys. I’m Fred Rocafort
Jonathan Bench 0:37
and I’m Jonathan Bench. Every week, we take a targeted look at legal and economic developments in locales around the world as we try to decipher global trends in law and business with the help of international experts. We cover continents, countries, regimes, governance, finance, legal developments, and whatever is trending on Twitter. We cover the important the seemingly unimportant, the relatively simple and the complex.
Fred Rocafort 1:02
We hope you enjoy today’s podcast. Please connect with us on social media to comment and suggest future topics and guests.
Andrew House practices in the areas of foreign investment, government relations and political law, with a focus on the impact of national and cybersecurity considerations in federally regulated industries and transactions in Canada. For over two decades, Andrew has provided strategic and legal advice to corporate leaders, policymakers and Cabinet members. Andrew served from 2010 to 2015 as Chief of Staff to successive ministers of public safety and emergency preparedness, working with this team to manage some of the most critical files facing the Government of Canada in the areas of national security, policing, orders and trade and disaster response. These included foreign direct investment, cybersecurity, irregular migration and anti terrorism and to work directly on multiple high impact the national security reviews under the investment Canada act, partnering with key officials in the Defence and Security corridor of government and guiding the decision making process into the Cabinet Room. His experience cuts across multiple sectors of the Canadian economy for pharmaceuticals, tech and telecoms, to finance construction, oil and gas and mining. With a reputation for collaboration and concise analysis of complex files. Andrew draws on deep expertise in policy development, national security and government relations to help clients navigate the experience of government in the protection of critical infrastructure and safety of citizens. He also advises on political law compliance, including lobbyist registration and Government Ethics. Andrew began his career in 2003 as an advisor on arms control and justice reform to the United Nations mission in Kosovo, after which he returned to Canada as a criminal defense and civil litigation lawyer. Andrew is a governor of the University of Ottawa, a fellow of the Canadian global affairs Institute, a member of the Foreign Investment Review Committee of the Canadian Bar Association, and serves as a faculty member with the Institute of Corporate Directors. He has appeared in national print and broadcast media as a commentator on justice borders, emergency response and national security. Andrew, welcome to the podcast.
Andrew House 3:35
Thank you. It’s great to be here with you today.
Jonathan Bench 3:37
So Andrew to set the stage for the podcast and we’d like to ask you how you first became interested in political and national security law. Were there any events that sparked your interest people you met articles you read? dreams you had? What was it?
Andrew House 3:50
So it’s a bit of an embarrassing answer. But the the truth is almost entirely by accident. I was a criminal defense lawyer working in Halifax, Nova Scotia, happily working day to day as a public defender. And I basically got tricked into involvement in politics. I say trick because a good friend of mine that I went to law school with, approached me and said, there’s going to be a nomination for an open seat, or an opportunity to run federally here in Canada. And I said, sure, thinking that we were held working to help him. As it turns out, that’s not what was happening at all. It was about getting me in a position where I could run in a seat where I had not a hope of winning, but it really got me involved in politics. I met a ton of people. I came into circles that were people who were about to form the next government in Canada, and this goes back to 2006. And when it was all said and done, I had lost horribly at an amazing experience in that election, and got a call from Canada’s Attorney General from his office and the offer was wanting to come up and do an interview in Ottawa and I jumped at the and one of my first jobs was, was working on national security issues at a very junior level in that office, and had a chance to just be exposed to, you know, the backbone of Canada’s national security legal structure, working daily with the Attorney General. And that that just sparked not only an interest in ongoing interest in politics and public policy, but specifically Canada’s national security institutions and laws.
Fred Rocafort 5:28
Andrew, we certainly plan to discuss Canada at length during the podcast, we have many questions that we’d like to ask you about, about Canada. But before we do that, I’d like to discuss one item on your on your CV that I found of interest. And that’s your experience as an advisor on arms control and justice reform to the United Nations mission in Kosovo. So if you could tell us a little bit about that, I’d certainly be very interested in learning more about that.
Andrew House 5:59
So I’m sorry that you were subjected to my CV, it will reveal that I had absolutely zero career plan. No real thought to how this was going to play out. And it’s incredibly eclectic, but it really has been a lot of fun. And one of the most fun things that I that I ever did was to accept a UN internship to Kosovo, that turned into a UN post. And I was only there for a year, but in a place like Kosovo, as it then, was a year was plenty. It was incredibly intense. It was not in any way, I think what you would describe as a, an active conflict zone, there was plenty of shooting, none of it I think was intended for me. But you heard it every night. Sometimes it was the NATO guys just culling the herds of feral dogs. And I know that sort of a horrible thing to contemplate. But pets or animals that had been pets pre war had sort of formed up hunting parties, and they would attack people in the early evening, in the early morning, there were some really horrible stories about UN staffers being attacked by dogs in one instance, at eight ended very tragically. And so a lot of the gunfire at night was were the good guys, there’s an incredible amount of organized crime, a lot of human trafficking, a lot of drug running, gun running. And all of this was set within the context of a UN mission supported by NATO, including a very large contingent from the United States, just trying to maintain to restore and maintain order. My part in all of this was to try to convince Kosovars that they wanted to trade their firearms, their military grade hardware, in exchange for development projects, maybe it’s a it would be like a first aid, sort of field triage hospital response, library books, schools for kids, you know, anything, sometimes it was digging a well, so we would never trade dollars for guns, but we would trade development projects. And my role was as legal policy adviser just trying to work out that exchange mechanism so that it didn’t drive the trade in illicit firearms, but actually reduced the number of firearms. candidly, this was still a conflict zone. When people gave up a Kalashnikov, they had three more under the bed, and I don’t fault people for that. Pretty rough place at that time, they’ve come ahead by leaps and bounds they have they are now their own independent, sovereign state. You know, they have a functioning government, I keep in touch with people that I met at that time, and life has improved vastly. And you like to think you played some small role in that. We were not overall, I think vastly successful in reducing by by a large amount, the number of illicit weapons in the country. But we did our best. And I think we did put a bit of a dent in things. And again, which is the case in many experiences, the relationships built during that experience of you know, just stayed with me for a lifetime. And it is one of the best things I’ve ever attempted to do. And I might not go back. But certainly highly recommend it to people who are at any point in their career looking for an adventure.
Jonathan Bench 9:27
So Andrew, your career spanned foreign investment, government relations, political law, these sound like fascinating practice areas. But what is the actual legal work on those areas entail? How is it similar to what Fred and I might do on a day to day basis or other lawyers, you’ve had a very, you said you started in a very domestic kind of traditional lawyer career. So you can contrast that for us in terms of what you’re doing day in, day out now.
Andrew House 9:52
This will start with foreign investment, which really in Canada is just a subset of mergers and acquisitions and chiefly acquisitions. So any time a Canadian business is purchased by a non Canadian, or a non Canadian entity wants to set up a business in Canada notice is required a notice actually has to go by that non Canadian to the Federal Department of industry science and economic development, and goes to a very specific branch called the the Investment Review Division. And what IRD is going to do is take a look at that, that investment to make sure that it is not injurious to Canada’s national security interests, they will also do an analysis on very large transactions on whether the investment is to the net benefit of Canada. So one of those tests is a security test. The other test is an economic test that has hints of sovereignty built into it. And my role is is chiefly in the on the security side, working with clients, usually, we tend to represent in sort of equal measure vendors and purchasers. It’s trying to help them understand what the government may be concerned about in respect of an individual deal. You know, is it the impairment of critical infrastructure? Is it the facilitation or parent facilitation of of terrorism or international organized crime? Or is it simply something that would offend an ally that would undermine an allies essential security interests? And one part of that test is, you know, would it be injurious to Canada’s international relations, which is most often understood as code for, but what will the Americans say? And this is this is a major feature in Canadian inbound investment. If the US military relies on a product sold by a Canadian company, and that Canadian company is going to be bought by a Russian or Saudi or Chinese outfit? Yeah, our American cousins may have something to say about that. And so that is a big part of the the advice given to our clients is, let’s have an eye south of the border. And even if all systems are go in Canada, DOD may have something to say about this. And so that’s a big part of why our practice is very much focused on what the Americans may say, be it through cepheus, the Committee on Foreign Investment, or any of the vast array of the the American security and intelligence structure.
Jonathan Bench 12:23
It’s interesting, you mentioned that I was just in the middle of a cepheus review, right now, with a client, those of you who are not familiar with cepheus, we have a few safe harbor countries, that’s how I refer to them. and Canada, UK and Australia are the three safe harbor countries that you can largely avoid a cepheus review. So this transaction I’ve been working on just ended last week, and this week is going to be from a friendly country and allied country, but not a safe harbor country like Canada is. So what you’re saying it resonates, you know, within the US, we’re looking at whether there’s critical technology, whether there’s relating to us infrastructure, or whether there’s a data collection component. So a lot of the transactions that have been stopped by the federal government to date, that have been a big headlines have been related to Chinese companies gaining access to critical technology or critical data on too many us people.
Andrew House 13:12
So you asked about a couple of other areas of practice. One is political law. And this is actually an American term that we imported into our law firm at fasken. And we did that because a lot of our clients are American multinationals operating in Canada, and they appear to be more comfortable with that term political law. You might in Canada describe it as the law of compliance and ethics, chiefly lobbying law, how a company or an individual interacts with the Government of Canada or or one of the provinces. That’s political law. And it includes things like political donations, gifts, various forms of influence. And it runs the gamut of all of those compliance matters, that go into that conversation with government. It gets more complicated when that conversation runs through a consultant or an independent lobbyist. And this is where we help not only corporations, but also lobby firms. And then the third piece is government relations. And this is sort of the the three legged stool of my practice. GR is not law at all. It’s government relations. You don’t need to be a lawyer to work in the area of government relations, but it sure helps, especially if you’re working on highly regulated transactions, or or anything where the government takes a particular and peculiar interest in what your client is doing. Much easier to be a lawyer and to be able to pivot from the law to to gr there will be people in the government relations industry who are not lawyers who will say wow, you know the worst. Well, one of the most dangerous things that can happen is a lawyer practicing government relations. You know what I’ll say that that is a danger if you are not alone. You’re steeped in the practice of politics. You know, if you don’t know, Washington or you don’t know Ottawa, yeah, that can be a real danger. Because you tend to go legal on people, immediately you take almost a litigation stance to problem solving. And that’s certainly that’s not what we do. And I would venture to say, it’s not what most lawyers who practice well in the GR space do. But when you are in a highly regulated situation, with government, it is very, very helpful to be able to practice government relations, using you know that that host of legal skills that you acquire during your career.
Fred Rocafort 15:37
Andrew, I really enjoyed the description that you provided of what the national security reviews and tail and this concern with with what allies in particular the United States thinks and and it’s interesting that it from what you describe, it essentially appears to be to be codified, or something that you can point to and say, Well, look, even if there’s nothing else, on account of that alone, we’re going to be taking a close look at this, and possibly not even allowing this investment to to go through, you know, on the one hand that suggests that a lot of the national security discourse in Canada is driven by what’s happening south of the border. But at the same time, I would suggest that the other side of that coin is that perhaps, Canada, and countries that are similarly placed to Canada, like Australia, the UK at the same time, they face potentially more severe risks. For example, I’m gonna personalize this, if you will, when it comes to China, I think it’s fair to say that our relationship here in the US with China is probably more contentious, if you if you look at everything that goes into it, right, even even Australia with all of its issues, ultimately, I think a lot of what’s happening there is, you know, they’re they’re sort of caught in the crossfire between the US and China. But at the same time, it seems like the risks can be much greater, right. So for example, the risks that can emerge from let’s say, interference, you know, into local politics, it seems like that is a much greater risk in a society, for example, like Australia, like Canada, where there aren’t as many people as here in the US where potentially, if you look at a place like like Vancouver, the relevance that that Vancouver has at a national level is probably greater than any city probably in the US. So if you can get a foothold there, there could potentially be these, these these shockwaves. Right. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’d like to hear your views on on this, whether, on the one hand, there is more preoccupation about what others will say, then, for example, we do here in the US, right, there’s probably not a whole lot of consideration for what our allies think when it comes to our policymaking, although there is some of that, but at the same time, it would seem that Canada does face some particular risks when it comes to dealing with China, and possibly other actors as well.
Andrew House 18:05
Yeah, you raise your raise a lot there and a lot of good stuff, or difficult stuff, I should say, prompting good, good questions. And I’ll try to answer this, you know, one of the one of our former Prime Ministers quite famously referred to the Canada US relationship, in the following terms, it’s like sleeping next to an elephant. And no matter how friendly the beast is, you know, it shifts or rolls over and you’re gone. Canada has had to, throughout its history, famously walk a very careful path around its closest ally, and cousin. And this past year has made that relationship and its complexity, painfully clear. And I’ll give you an example. Fred, you and I have had a chance to briefly talk about this in the past, but it’s such a fascinating example, I’ll raise it again. There was a shipment of of masks of surgical masks that were meant to. They were they were bought and paid for by Canada, they were meant to travel north from the United States into Ontario. Then President Trump blocked that shipment, albeit very temporarily. It was only about a three day period, where the masks were paused in their forward movement towards Canada. They were quite desperately needed by by medical personnel in Canada. And it really caused a lot of people north of the 49th parallel to say, What is going on here? You know, this is this is the one country that we have always believed we could without variants rely upon. You know, going back to the Joint Special Forces devils brigade in the Second World War, you know, as a country we have fought and died with a lot of fought alongside and died with this is who else if you can’t trust the Americans, who can you trust, and really, I think it was Such a healthy wake up call for Canada to fully and finally, look the situation squarely in the eye and realize that in a pandemic, or in other instances of national emergency, each government must see to that first duty, which is the safety and security of citizens. And while people were pretty angry about the masks, I have an understanding of the real politic of what people needed or felt they needed to do in that moment. And I think that the wake up call was a healthy one for Canada. And we have since moved as a country to begin to domesticate or onshore some of our mass production, we really didn’t have any previously. And now we are developing that capacity. I realize that’s not a foolproof solution to every future crisis. But it is the beginning of restoring some elements of an industrial base that really had had fully given way to a very liberalized view of of a global economic structure. Now the challenge, of course, is to continue to trade freely into to allow those those rules of economics that most of us coming to believe in, to continue to act on our society, finding economies of scale, and at the same time being ready and being self sufficient in a way that we haven’t been for years. Sorry, I know, I’ve gone sort of wildly off topic, but I think it was it’s really your question prompted an interesting, I hope, an interesting response, in terms of, I think dealing with you mentioned the the the Chinese relationship with the United States and Australia being caught in the crossfire, I think Canada has spent the better part of the last three years caught similarly in that Crossfire, because of, you know, two of our own citizens who have been detained in China. And of course, quite famously, a Chinese citizen, detained in Canada at the behest of the United States. So watching what Australia has done in managing that relationship has been quite instructive for Canada. We, we don’t have a relationship with China, which is the meeting of equals, and that’s that’s the relationship that at least is perceived between the United States and China, America being you know, the the, the remaining global power and China on the rise, Canada really, you know, has to negotiate in a different way, in a careful way. And increasingly, you know, we I think we are learning to negotiate in an effective way. At least that’s, that’s the hopeful trend for most of us who are observing.
Fred Rocafort 22:36
Quick follow up question. One thing that I’ve noticed from responses in Australia, I should say, from where I’m standing, there seems to be at least some element of the Australian public, if you will, sort of going along with what you were saying there that wake up call, right, there seems to be to be at least some Australians who are saying, look, yeah, we, you know, we’ve had this long standing relationship with the United States, there’s, there’s that shared legacy in World War Two and Vietnam, in the case of the Australians, but look, at the end of the day, right. They’re not going to come help us out. If things get really bad with China, we have to be conscious of what our own reality is, we have to look at the way the world is changing, and sort of calling for for a different policy altogether, for different vision for Australia. Now, of course, Australia is in a very different situation, right? Geographically, it’s, it’s in a in a very different position. And I think that that alone makes makes it very different. But I guess what I’m trying to say is it doesn’t seem like that’s really emerging in in Canada. I don’t follow Canadian politics that that closely, so so that it could be that that there is this discourse. But is that a sort of fair assessment? I mean, or are there in fact, voices in Canada who are saying, Look, when it comes down to it, the US is going to look out for its interests first, and we just have to start carving out a more independent path.
Andrew House 24:05
So the Australian parallel really is quite fascinating. There’s no doubt that Australia is at the front line of the Chinese challenge and the Chinese problem, and they they face it sort of on a daily basis, it seems so there’s a headline every day from Australia, where, where policymakers struggle with this issue. At the same time, Canada because of its very diverse society, and its emphasis on inbound immigration. And that’s been a long standing emphasis and one that has helped fuel our economy. You have situations that have arisen in Canada, quite famously where you have allegations of foreign influence of state actors directing the activities of individuals in a way that that ought not to occur in another sovereign state. And this has been a major challenge for our intelligence service. It’s been a major challenge for communities of new Canadians, people who, who have immigrated to Canada relatively recently, or in fact, people who have lived in Canada for years but but have had, but our extraction, maybe they’re, you know, maybe they are from China originally, or they have family members in that country. And so in that sense, Canada and Australia face very, very similar challenges. I think the Australians have been quicker and more comfortable about calling out that influence. And I think of a report done by a former Australian Prime Minister, where it was it was stated very boldly that, you know, this is the challenge of our time, this is a significant, clear and present danger faced by Australia, Canada, in it predictably Canadian fashion has not been that bold. And yet I can tell you that our government is is very concerned about these issues. Increasingly, that concern has emerged into civil society and into mainstream press, you know, it is now a popular thing to say that we are concerned about Chinese influence, undue influence, I should say, on Canadian soil, it’s really entered the common vernacular, it’s a thing on which most Canadians have come to agree, that wouldn’t have been true 10 years ago,
Jonathan Bench 26:25
Andrew, and we spoke earlier, you offered some fascinating insight into how Canadian policymaking differs from the US, can you give us some examples on that bearing on your work.
Andrew House 26:35
So maybe the best example I can give is from a previous existence when I served as chief of staff to Canada’s Minister of Public Safety. And the first fascinating thing is that there is no direct analog for that job. In the United States, you have some elements of Treasury, you have some elements of DOJ, you have significant elements of Homeland Security. And so when my my, my boss, who was the Minister of Public Safety, went to DC to meet his counterpart, it was always, you know, a furious sprint all around the town to try to do meetings with with everyone. The next incredible thing I noticed in terms of difference was the, the experience and quality of the political class. And there’s a couple of reasons why this probably happens, or that there’s a differential between Canada and the US. United States is just a larger country, population wise, you have a larger pool of talent from which to draw. But there’s one major factor which is so interesting, when you look at the contrast between our two political systems, the Canadian cabinet, and it’s an old expression coming from the Westminster tradition of government, in Canada, you build the cabinet with the wood available. And that expression refers to the 338 elected members of parliament, you have to draw the cabinet with some notable exceptions and possibilities from that pool of 338. So you know, in the American cabinet and its formation, you can draw on the entire population of the United States, it’s 350 million possibilities in Canada, you’ve 338. And that means necessarily, that, and I say this in a bipartisan sense, over time, you are going to have people at the cabinet table, who really just don’t belong there. So I think they’re not great people. It’s not that they’re not trying, it’s that this is not a job for which they’re cut out. Their skill set doesn’t match. It’s a horrible life in many ways. And it’s even more difficult in Canada, I think, than in the United States, in some ways, in that you have a home constituency for which you are responsible, along with an entire cabinet portfolio. But in the United States, my observation is you pick the brightest and the best. And yes, they have a political stripe. But there’s a whole industry in the United States for better for worse, that supports people when they’re not in government. You know, you leave government, you go back to your law firm, you go back to your lobbying firm, you go back to being a university professor of great prominence. And when your party is back in power back in the White House, you get called back into service. That has many, many disadvantages. I’m aware that it has great advantages as well. And when I sat in meeting rooms in DC, and I would look across the table at the counterpart political staff, often the Chief of Staff facing me was ex military has had been an Olympian played the cello news several other languages. And you look these are these are not necessarily characteristics that that I brought to the table. And I realized it’s because when you when you build a cabinet with the best people available, they attract the best people. And I see such benefit in the US system 1000s of your listeners will hear what I’m saying and say, listen, you just don’t understand the downsides. I do. But I think it’s it. It bears repeating that it is a pretty brilliant system in many ways, and I think has regained much of its stability in recent months. The final example I’ll give is in in dealing with counterparts in the US, I remember a phone call that it happened so long ago now that I think it’s safe to talk about, but the members of the Attorney General Staff in speaking with our staff, about law enforcement actors, and how it might be useful if we could direct those law enforcement actors to the Federal Police in Canada, in a certain way, you know, it would be great if you could just ask the RCMP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, could they just go and just round up those people that would solve a major problem on the US side of the border, obviously dealing with cross border crime. And we’re few of us sitting around a conference call phone and we all just looked at each other and sort of said, Well, what are they talking about? We can’t direct police it’s actually a firing offense, there’s a very healthy body of case law in the in the British tradition that in that informs Canadian law. You just can’t do that in Canada, in the United States. As I understand it, there is a much broader scope for the Attorney General, to guide the operations of law enforcement officials. And we were just we were appalled, but also fascinated that we could work so closely with our American counterparts on a daily basis, and yet have such profound differences in the law governing the operations of our law enforcement professionals. It was great fun to unpack what was being said, and it was great fun to observe the shock on the other end of the phone.
Fred Rocafort 32:09
I have to admit that the prospect of forming a cabinet using existing legislators is a bit of a scary prospect. You know, when I think about how that would look here, but in all seriousness, one, one area where that phenomenon that you’re describing becomes very obvious is when you know, we do work across the nation, really when it comes to certain practice areas. And at the end of the day, it’s it’s not the same, right? When you have, let’s say, our home state of Washington, right, which is a you know, reasonably large state, it’s doing well economically, right? It’s you’ve got Seattle as this big powerhouse that attracts talent, and you can count on a certain level right of of talent coming in and filling the different positions. Obviously, if you look at a place like like Texas, or Florida, or California, right, these are big states. But this is something that is it’s easy to oversee the fact when when when you’re dealing with with a smaller state and find yourself frustrated at the the kind of responses you’re getting, it’s easy to forget sometimes that they’re having to do something similar. They’re having to staff, their entire government, all of the different agencies with the talent that they have. And in some cases, I mean, if you look at some of the states in the US, and I’m assuming some of the provinces as well in Canada, but sometimes the populations are very small, right? And it gets increasingly difficult as time goes on. Because we’re asking more of our government, right? There’s new things that we’re asking governments to do, for example, we do a lot of work in the cannabis space. So this is something that many states were not looking at at all. 10 years ago, for many of the states in the country. Well, yeah, Cannabis, it’s illegal. Yeah, there we go. We have the police, they’re dealing with it now. You’re asking them to set up regulatory agencies to set up licensing programs, but in some cases, right, the population is really, really small, right? So this is an interesting perspective to have, right? And when you look at a country like Canada, well, at the end of the day, right, it’s the population, you compare it to that of the United States. There’s a big difference there. And of course, if you add to that the specific characteristics of the government system there, that’s fascinating to contemplate. Speaking of areas where the US and Canada have have sort of gone down different paths, I’d like to talk about COVID. Just this morning, I was exchanging messages with a with a good friend of mine who lives in Victoria. And you know, he’s complaining about the fact that essentially, he feels he’s trapped in Canada at the moment, we will let him in. But then when he goes back, he would have to quarantine at a hotel. So clearly there there’s been a very different approach here. Things have been a little bit different depending on where you are, different states are going about it differently. I’d love to hear your perspective about number one. What is it like being on the other side of the border at this time, and then to the extent that you can maybe do some comparisons to what’s happening here.
Andrew House 35:09
So I’ll, I’ll describe the the differences in a very personal way. And it’s just in the change in my own emotional level reaction to seeing US plated cars. A year ago, when we saw a vehicle with the US plate, you know, we’re Canadians were welcoming, we’re friendly, but there was a real sense of, look, you can’t be here, you know, you guys are having real problems down there. It’s dangerous, you know, the immediate analysis in one’s own mind of the essential nature of this person’s travel, like, why would they be in Canada? Well, you know, we, we were out for a drive a couple of nights ago, which by the way, should not occur unless you are going out for an essential purpose. Technically, you should be driving from point A to point B, for a reason, simply going for a drive right now in Canada, is actually not optimal. It is not what the law requires. Fascinatingly, when the police were asked whether they would they would employ that power to stop people randomly. They said, flatly, no. And this was multiple police forces, throughout various jurisdictions simply said, No, we’re, we’re not going to do that. That’s not a good use of our time, resources and authorities. And so the government backed away from that power in a regulatory sense. So it was a really interesting self censorship by the police. And normally, when you think about policing agencies, they they are, they tend to want to collect powers and use them to fight crime, which is a laudable thing to do with some negative externalities at times. In this case, multiple Canadian police forces at the municipal level, simply said, Thanks, but no thanks. We’re not going to use randomized authorities or authority to randomly stopped vehicles, and ask people where they’re headed. It’s just not what we’re into right now. And so that was, that was super fascinating. But, you know, we were we were out for a drive the other night, I’m sure we could divine some essential purpose. And we saw a vehicle from the great state of New Jersey. And my reaction was exactly the opposite to what it had been in the past. My reaction was, I hope this person knows how dangerous it is for them to be here. Our numbers are not necessarily where we would like them to be. There has been some community spread of COVID. You know, if I could sort of have a conversation with that person, from a distance, I’d say you’re probably better off, you’re probably safer back in Jersey, because here in Ontario, right now we are struggling. Just recently, we have I think, begun to get things under control. And I have to give the government due credit, they made some tough decisions, they took a lot of heat for it at them here at the provincial level in Ontario. And the numbers are now trending thankfully, in the right direction. infections are going down as vaccine rates are going up. And so I don’t want to say that we’ve turned a corner. But maybe we’re headed towards a corner that we could turn and we could start to see an end to this thing. But it has been, it has been a very long road and way more ups and downs than I ever imagined. And I was ready for some ups and downs.
Jonathan Bench 38:37
Andrew, it’s been absolutely a blast having you on the podcast with us today. Your expertise, you’re articulate, it’s just the kind of guests we love having. So thanks for taking the time to be with us today. We always love to end our podcasts with recommendations because Fred and I learned quite a bit our audience learns quite a bit. Your recommendations can be on point, you know, national security, Canada, US relations, international relations, anything like that, or something totally off the wall, which is generally what I like to recommend for my recommendations. So do you have anything that you would recommend for us to read, watch or listen to in the coming weeks?
Andrew House 39:11
So one of the big things that I’ve had to do is, is really find different ways of entertaining myself. And of course, you know, because I have small kids, the opportunities for entertainment are few and far between. I’ve got to be multitasking every time I listen to anything or watch anything. And so, podcasting has become a big deal and books. books on tape, as they used to call them have become a big part of what I do. And so I’ll give you two recommendations. They are not for the faint of heart either given the content or the length, but the first one is the rise and fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shire. It’s 57 hours and 11 minutes of audio, but it is a lifetime must it’s it’s just a complete tour. force on the Second World War. I’ve heard people ask the question, will we ever get tired of retelling the story of the Second World War? And I gotta say, on the strength of listening to these 57 hours, the answer has to be no. It’s an absolutely powerful piece of literature. And if you can listen to it, I listened to it while I was cross country skiing in the dead of winter in the middle of a pandemic, and thoroughly enjoyed myself despite the content, which is intense. And just to give you a positive recommendation, Team of Rivals, I know you’ve heard of it. Doris Kearns Goodwin, coming from a, you know, an example involving the accounting of tyranny. It is amazing to hear the life of Lincoln retold in in terms that just give you hope about leadership. And, you know, I come from a conservative political tradition. Lincoln is just he’s my conservative hero. And so if you have an opportunity to pick up team of rivals, and finally, a really interesting one, and this one, you will have to sit down and watch the Comey Rule. And I know that James Comey is a figure in in US politics and culture that attracts such polarized views. I had a chance to sit with James Comey for dinner about six or seven years ago when he was still within his tenure at the FBI. And just the way the table format worked out. And I thought, you know, we’ll exchange pleasantries. He’s a busy guy, he’ll probably have to take seven phone calls during dinner, quite the opposite. We sat and we talked about the distinction between United States federal law enforcement, namely the FBI, and Canada’s federal police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We talked about recruitment and training and getting the best out of people. And based on that extremely positive experience, and getting to know James Comey even for a few hours, I took the time and watched the Comey Rule And I gotta tell you is most fascinating TV that I’ve seen in a long time. And so if you haven’t seen it, you need a distraction, because you’re self isolating, or you’re just looking for some good TV.I would highly recommend it.
Jonathan Bench 42:13
Excellent. Thank you for those. Fred, what do you have for us today?
Fred Rocafort 42:19
Before I make the recommendation, just want to say that I completely agree with your assessment of the retellings of the Second World War. I’ve read so much about it. And I still find myself learning more. There’s still so much out there. It’s just such an event. Right? If you know, it has, obviously the military component to it, but also the diplomatic component. Now I’m beginning to pay a little bit more attention to the economic impact of it. And along those lines, I’ve been listening to Dan Carlin, who’s who’s a podcaster, whose work whose work I really enjoy. He’s been doing a podcast on the Pacific Theater. I’ve heard the stories, but it doesn’t matter. It’s just it’s just the can’t can’t get enough of World War Two. But my recommendation today is from the London Review of Books, one of these things that I frankly don’t know how I stumbled upon, but it’s a review of a book. The book that’s being reviewed is called soon as before and trade shipping and capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula by Elif Khalili. The review itself is called Gargan to one is sation by john Lanchester. And it just turned out to be a fascinating read talking about how in particular the world of shipping has just evolved to where it is nowadays. I forget what the latest iteration of ships is the ultra large mega enormous ship and talking about the importance, for example of how revolutionary the shipping container was. And then I’ve heard of that before, but this was just a great read. I stumbled upon it by accident. So most folks won’t run into it either unless they regularly read the London Review of Books, which I don’t. So anyway, this came out on April 27 of this year, we’ll have a link as always, but highly recommended sort of different, relatively positive piece. If you’re looking for something a little different, I would recommend this and Jonathan, what about you?
Jonathan Bench 44:17
My recommendation this week is a podcast episode. New York Times has a podcast series called Sway. And this particular episode is titled Why does the CIA need puppets. And Fred you know this and our other regular listeners will know this. I’m a sucker for a great spy story or anything about spy craft. And so this is an interview with the CIA’s top technologist. Her name’s Don Mirex. She’s over basically any kind of spy gear that’s not totally virtual. Right? So anytime anytime it crosses into the physical space, she started talking about why the CIA needs puppet tears. makeup artists said if you want to make someone disappear from a car, but make it look like they didn’t really disappear from the car, you need a puppet right? And so very interesting. About 35 minute episode, I stumbled on to the transcript first I started reading it and I thought you know what, this doesn’t do it justice. I need to listen to this. And it was it was well worth the time. So highly recommend it. New York Times sway podcast episode titled, why does the CIA need puppets? Andrew, I want to thank you so much for your time today. We love it hoping to catch up with you again. It certainly is nice for us here in the US to hear our counterparts in Canada speak candidly about these issues. And I certainly learned a lot every time so thank you.
Andrew House 45:29
Thank you, gentlemen, to your whole team. This has been a lot of fun.
Jonathan Bench 45:35
We hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. We look forward to connecting with you on social media to continue discussing developments in global law and business. This podcast was produced by Harris Bricken with executive producer Madeline Williams music composed by Stephen Schmid. Tune in next week for another episode. We’ll see you then.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai