Monday, December 20, 2010


As reported by the Wall Street Journal, it seems that agreement in near on a border deal. The question will be to analyse the details carefully.No doubt the US may be concerned with some of Canada's immigration policies and procedures, especially in the refugee determination area and in its enforcement policies.

U.S.-Canada Near Border-Security Deal -

DECEMBER 20, 2010.

Canada and U.S. Near Pact


The U.S. and Canada are in the final stages of hammering out a broad pact on border security that could be unveiled within the next several weeks, say people familiar with the situation.

The pact aims to address both U.S. fears that Canadian border-security measures are too lax and Canadian complaints that tight U.S.-border controls are hindering trade, these people say.

The two sides are discussing coordinating how to screen people entering the U.S. or Canada, making sure they have compatible methods to examine cargo leaving foreign ports for the U.S. or Canada, and increasing information-sharing and intelligence cooperation, according to a draft agreement cited by Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper.

They also are discussing coordinating the planning, funding and modernizing of some ports and border facilities, the paper said.

The agreement outlines broad goals, and gives the two sides 120 days to come up with plans for implementation, the Globe and Mail reported.

The U.S. and Canada hope that bolstering cooperation on everything from traveler screening to cargo clearing will let both countries refocus scarce resources on dealings with nations outside their shared "perimeter," and speed the movement of goods and people over their internal border.

Such a pact "has got the potential to be a much more significant step in how we exist on this continent," said Gordon Giffin, who proposed similar ideas a decade ago when he was U.S. ambassador to Canada.

"We have a keen focus on ensuring that the Canada-U.S. border does not continue to thicken'' as a result of added security measures, said Jason Kenney, Canada's minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, when asked about the reported negotiations. "If we can find reasonable ways to cooperate with the U.S. that maintain our sovereignty and respect our laws, we're keen to do so."

Canada Public Safety, the government department reportedly taking the lead on talks for Canada, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Canada's foreign-affairs minister, Lawrence Cannon, wouldn't comment on a pact, but said the current government of Stephen Harper has been "focused on creating jobs and economic growth through free, open and secure trade. That means keeping our shared border open to trade and investment, but closed to security and terrorist threats."

A White House spokesman declined to comment on the security deal. Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. is committed to creating a border that "protects Canadians and Americans but also enables the kind of ongoing interactions that are critical to both nations."

A big concern in Canada, foreign-policy watchers say, is the extent to which a deal would push the country to align its policies with those of the U.S. Many opposition legislators, for instance, fear increased cooperation in areas like refugee admission and visas would cause the country's immigration policy—and other foreign-affairs matters—to be subsumed into the U.S.'s often more restrictive regime.

That won't happen, said Mr. Kenney. "We would never agree to anything that circumscribes our sovereignty or our authority over Canadian policy," he said.

Negotiations are "dynamic" and there is "momentum toward agreement," said one person familiar with the situation. If all goes well, the pact could be announced at a meeting of President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Harper before the end of January, say several people familiar with the situation.

Generations of diplomats have discussed the idea of further integrating the Canada-U.S. security perimeter and loosening controls on the two countries' internal border. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce estimates that $1.6 billion of trade and 300,000 people cross the U.S.-Canada border every day.

That movement has been encumbered—particularly since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001—by added layers of security protocol, inspections and regulations, said Perrin Beatty, the Canadian Chamber's chief executive and a former legislator who served in the cabinet during the 1980s and early 1990s.

For Canada, the success of any new border pact will depend on concrete economic benefits such as "what fees will come off, what inspections won't have to take place" at the border, said Mr. Beatty.

U.S. officials have for the past several years seen border issues in terms of security. The two countries already share some information on entrants who might be considered security threats. Canada's big airports let U.S. border-control agents preclear passengers to the U.S.

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