It is being reported that Canada and the United States have reached an agreement on perimeter security.
Scope: The Canadian Press reports, “The deal, as described by several sources, is more evolutionary than revolutionary, falling short of the grand vision outlined with fanfare eight months ago when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama announced negotiations. …The so-called Beyond the Border action plan will include some three dozen items the governments plan to pursue together. A number could be in place within months while others would take as long as four or five years to implement.”
Regulatory cooperation: “Detailed benchmarks that will bring each country’s food and auto industries in line.”
Refugee policies: “The deal is not expected to include full-scale harmonization of immigration and refugee policies — a possibility that has raised the hackles of critics who fear the deal will cede Canadian sovereignty to the Americans.”
Customs: “According to those familiar with the negotiations, the deal will attempt to peel away layers of bureaucracy by introducing measures to improve communications on customs and security issues and streamline procedures in both countries. This will mean ‘taking that to a deeper level than we’ve seen before in terms of the two governments sharing information on common threats,’ said one source. …The type of information that companies must provide to clear customs varies in Canada and the U.S. Therefore, a common set of customs requirements is being viewed as a big step forward.”
Cost: The deal “will come with a $1-billion price tag for new border facilities and programs to make trade and travel easier… The Conservative government will use money cut from existing programs to cover the hefty cost of the international pact…” This presumably in part refers to, “Synchronized planning at land border crossings, where there is now little international co-ordination. …This will require Canada to make new, potentially expensive investments in screening and security technologies to keep pace with the Americans. The two countries will have to come up with joint plan for future spending.”
The announcement: “Canadian officials are heading to Washington this weekend to make a final pitch for a public signing ceremony. …The deal could suffer if Harper and Obama can’t find a way to jointly announce it at a public event…” The CBC adds, “Officials from both sides continue to look for another time and place for the announcement, preferably in a border town. The backup plan, according to U.S. sources, is for the two leaders to get together either before or after the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Summit in November taking place in Hawaii.”
For Council of Canadians analysis, please go to http://canadians.org/perimeter-security.