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CRS Report for Congress

Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress

Canada-U.S. Relations

Carl Ek, Coordinator

Specialist in International Relations

Ian F. Fergusson, Coordinator

Specialist in International Trade and Finance

September 3, 2010

Congressional Research Service



Canada-U.S. Relations

Congressional Research Service


Relations between the United States and Canada, though generally close, have undergone changes

in tenor over the past three decades. During the 1980s, the two countries generally enjoyed very

good relations. The early 1990s brought new governments to Ottawa and Washington, and

although Canada’s Liberal Party emphasized its determination to act independently of the United

States when necessary, relations continued to be cordial. In early 2006, a minority Conservative

government assumed power in Ottawa. It was regarded as being more philosophically in tune

with the George W. Bush Administration than the Liberals were; some observers believe that this

compatibility helped facilitate bilateral cooperation. The election of President Obama November

2008 signaled a new chapter in U.S.-Canada relations; unlike President Bush, Obama is quite

popular in Canada.

The two North American countries continue to cooperate widely in international security and

political issues, both bilaterally and through numerous international organizations. Canada’s

foreign and defense policies are usually in harmony with those of the United States. Areas of

contention have been relatively few, but sometimes sharp, as was the case in policy toward Iraq.

Since September 11, the United States and Canada have cooperated extensively on efforts to

strengthen border security and to combat terrorism, particularly in Afghanistan.

The United States and Canada maintain the world’s largest bilateral trading relationship, one that

has been strengthened over the past two decades by the approval of two bilateral free...