Canada-U.S. in 'perimeter security' talks
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Thursday, December 9, 2010 6:40PM EST
Canada and the U.S. are reportedly negotiating a landmark "perimeter security" deal designed to ensure the flow of goods isn't slowed by steadily tightening border security, CTV has learned.
According to a draft copy of a declaration, the proposed deal would herald the tight integration of Canadian and American security bureaucracies while focusing on a balance of security and the flow of cross-border traffic.
"We intend to pursue a perimeter approach to security, working together within, at, and away from the borders of our two countries in a way that supports economic competitiveness, job creation and prosperity, and in a partnership to enhance our security and accelerate the legitimate flow of people and goods between our two countries," the declaration obtained by CTV.
It touches on a broad range of cross-border security issues including:
- an integrated cargo security strategy
- a joint approach to port and border security and screening
- cross-border sharing of information between law enforcement agencies
- a closer working relationship between the two militaries in the event of emergencies
- a new level of collaboration on preventing and recovering from cyber attacks
In light of the two countries' shared security responsibilities, the draft states that, "we intend to address threats at the earliest point possible, including outside the perimeter of our two countries, and do so in a manner that respects privacy, civil liberties and human rights."
Despite its calls for tight integration of the Canadian and American security, the declaration also recognizes both "our separate constitutional and legal frameworks," as well as the "sovereign right of each country to act independently in its own interest and in accordance with its laws."
In March, the U.S. announced it was negotiating a similar deal -- dubbed New Border Vision -- with Mexico.
According to the terms outlined in the Canada-U.S. deal dubbed "Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Competitiveness," implementation would be handled by a newly created "Beyond the Border Working Group."
Staffed by officials from the Privy Council in Ottawa and National Security Staff in the White House, the BBWG would be charged with reporting to their respective leadership 120 days after the declaration is signed.
Former Canadian diplomat Paul Frazer said that if it's implemented, the proposed declaration could help bolster security on both sides of the border and spur "more freedom" for legitimate crossings of people and goods.
"I'm speaking as someone who comes from the border. I grew up in Niagara Falls, Ont., and typical of those communities all across (the country), there's no question 9-11 was a great punch to the solar plexus," he told CTV's Power Play.
"The Canadians and the Americans are now at the point where the political atmosphere is permitting a more honest and open discussion of something called perimeter security," he added. "I'm quite pleased we're getting to the point where, if reports are true, we actually will have an announcement of a vision and then a challenge to officials on both sides of the border to get on with it."
Chris Sands, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute think tank, said the proposed declaration may reflect that Ottawa and Washington are trying to boost security by exchanging more information, rather than fortifying the border.
"But it's taken us a while to see the world in the same way and to have the capability to have this conversation," he said. "It's definitely a positive development."
The deal could be on the agenda when foreign Ministers from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico meet in Ottawa on Dec. 13.