This year’s Second Annual Halifax Security Forum was a great event last year and it was even better this year.
The moving force behind the event is Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay. Minister MacKay and the German Marshall Fund — which is the sponsor — have assembled over 500 people from 44 countries to discuss global security issues ranging from how to protect against terrorism, to how to deal with problems of nuclear proliferation in Iran and elsewhere around the world, to the cyber security threat. The tradition is to have a modicum of speechmaking and to have a series of panel discussions with questions from the audience. I have learned a lot.
Many U.S. government officials are here, including: Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy, Commander of NORAD and Northcom Admiral James Winnefeld, and a Congressional Delegation including Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Barbara Mikulski, Jeanne Shaheen, Mark Udall, and Jeff Sessions.
It was very windy and stormy in Halifax. Not exactly Chamber of Commerce weather. Because of the storms, the Congressional Delegation and Secretary Napolitano had to be diverted to Bangor, Maine where they spent the night. But because they really wanted to attend they came here early on Saturday morning. Several of them spoke during the panels.
In addition — as is the tradition at events where leaders gather — there are “bilats at the margins” or in plain English, small private meetings between leaders from different countries. We had several among a variety of members of the U.S. delegation and our Canadian hosts. Particularly Minister MacKay.
We also went off to a panel arranged by my predecessor, Ambassador Gordon Giffin, Scotty Greenwood, and Colin Robertson of the Canadian American Business Council with Senator Shaheen to discuss issues of Canadian and American cooperation on energy and the environment.