Allan Gotlieb, a former Canadian ambassador to the United States and a supporter of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, writes in an op-ed in today’s Globe and Mail that, “Just before President Barack Obama’s visit to Ottawa six weeks ago, my colleague Michael Kergin and I expressed concern that the Canada-U.S. border was becoming a serious obstacle to the free flow of commerce and people. Accordingly, we urged Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to place at the very top of their agenda the establishment of new ways to modernize and liberalize our borders. We were relatively optimistic about the prospects for progress because there had been little mention of border issues during the presidential campaign…”
But Gotlieb laments, “Our hopes for change have been dampened, if not dashed, by the comments of Mr. Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, at a recent seminar in Washington. Her words, in fact, seem to point in the opposite direction from border liberalization. Almost eight years after 9/11, the open border between us, according to the new Homeland Security czar, is a thing of the past. And we’d better get used to it. ‘It’s a real border,’ she said, ‘and we need to address it as a real border.'”
He adds, “Although our Public Security Minister does not seem to find Ms. Napolitano’s words worrisome, our Prime Minister should not let them pass without response. He should urge the President to set the goal, not of creating a ‘real border’ but of eliminating all barriers to the movement of our goods and services.”.
Gotlieb concludes, “Rather than creating a culture of real borders, we can achieve greater security and prosperity through co-operation, harmonization, joint commitments to infrastructure and binational institutions to manage our borders more efficiently and effectively.”