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NEWS: Council criticizes border security deal

The Canadian Press reports, “The (border) pact (announced today) lays out 29 initiatives that attempt to streamline operations for businesses on both sides of the border, in areas such as food, the auto industry, personal health products and the environment.”

The article highlights, “Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, was critical of the government for not consulting directly with groups concerned about the environment, health and safety standards, privacy and sovereignty. ‘We are very concerned that the harmonization of goods and services at the border will lower health, food safety and environmental standards on both sides of the border, given that it is all being supervised and done on behalf of the business community,’ she said. ‘It is shameful that only one sector is driving this agenda.'”

And Global News reports, “Even if the plan is implemented, there’s no guarantee the trade benefits will be worth what Canadians are giving up, according to Stuart Trew of the Council of Canadians. ‘It is an imbalanced deal that really isn’t worth it to Canadians,’ said Trew. Trew said his main concerns were that Canadians could be sacrificing regulatory standards and personal information for the sake of increased trade. The agreement could lead to Canadians accepting lower standards for things like pesticides and food, although senior government officials said Canada will have the final say on whether it lowers its standards. Trew said he also rejects the premise that faster trade depends on the collecting and sharing more information on Canadian citizens and visiting foreign nationals. ‘If (thickening of the border) is even partly true you have to ask why is this going to be the one solution that’s going to make our lives all the more easy,’ he said. Refocusing efforts to enhance infrastructure, expanding pre-clearance programs, and focusing on evidence-based policing would do more to relieve border congestion than broad information sharing, according to Trew.”

To read the Council of Canadians media release issued shortly after the border deal was made public, please see http://canadians.org/media/trade/2011/07-Dec-11-b.html.

Before these comments to the media today, numerous columnists have been attacking concerns being raised by the Council of Canadians. For that, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12590.