What does the border plan mean for Canada?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama following a meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, Dec.7, 2011. (Paul Chiasson / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Wednesday, December 7, 2011 4:50PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:55PM EDT
I'm in Washington tonight where we're covering the historic border deal between Canada and the U.S.
There seemed to be a good vibe between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama. There were no fake smiles in the photo-op. They called each other ‘Steve' and ‘Barack' and seemed genuine in thanking each other for co-operation over the years... this was their 11th bilateral since Obama was inaugurated in January 2009.
It took the procedural coolness off, anyway, of what might normally surround a historic meeting on the Border Agreement Plan. (hashtag #BAP on Twitter, by the way).
You can read the details about the agreement in our web story here.
Many of the main initiatives are three to four years away from coming into effect, but the reviews so far seems to skew toward the positive.
Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the agreement "exceeded his expectations" in that it actually offers concrete, deliverable initiatives and deadlines. It's "far more specific than we're used to," he told CTV's Power Play earlier this evening in Ottawa.
Adam Salerno with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it's about enhancing both trade and security at the same time – it's no longer about boosting one at the risk of harming the other.
But what about potential intrusions into our individual privacy and a loss of sovereignty that some Canadians are concerned about? Both governments, in their action plan, are promising to protect privacy and maintain national sovereignty.
"Our countries have a long history of sharing information responsibly and respecting our separate constitutional and legal frameworks that protect privacy," concludes the plan.
But the devil is in the details, say NDP finance critic Peter Julien and Liberal Public Safety Critic Francis Scarpellegia.
"We have very different privacy regimes in Canada and the United States," Julian said on CTV's Power Play. "This government is not good at protecting Canadians' privacy."
Scarpellegia added Canadians should be concerned about the "dark cloak of secrecy" under which the specifics of the deal – which have not yet come to light – were hammered out.
"Canadians, through Parliament, need to be able to scrutinize what this deal means," he said.
A few of you have certainly aired your concerns on our Facebook page and on CTVNews.ca. ‘Aaron Belding' writes that the deal will be "horrible" for our food industry. "True we have had our safe food issues before (eg. Maple Leaf's listeria outbreak), however you seem to hear about a new U.S. food contamination crisis every week. Also, how far does the U.S. military's reach go past our borders?" he asks.
‘Sheharpe' echoed the health and safety concerns, saying Canadian food processors are reducing salt in their products whereas that's not the case south of the border. ‘Trevor H." says it seems Canada will "soon be just another state of the USA. So sad."
But the majority of commenters seem to side with ‘showbrooke', who wrote on our website that people have been driving across the border for generations -- "with pretty well everything except agricultural products. Canada was Canada then and now, and less hassle crossing the border does not reduce our sovereignty."
Thanks for your comments so far on this big story on this historic day. Keep them coming.
Meanwhile, our Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife is here in Washington and is filing our lead story on the action plan. And John Vennavally-Rao will then take a closer look at what harmonizing the border means to us, from everything from travel … to a slew of products like food and pharmaceuticals and auto parts.
See you in a few hours,