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NEWS: Ex-diplomat dismisses Council’s ‘perennial cause’ of sovereignty concerns

The Canadian Press reports, “Colin Robertson, an ex-diplomat who has served in Washington (says) a new entry-exit system for people crossing the 49th parallel by land will be a key feature of the (perimeter security) deal (to be announced Wednesday), and will represent a landmark change for Canada. …Under the new deal, Robertson explained, Canada would give data to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on land travellers who have exited the U.S. Under a reciprocal arrangement, the U.S. would provide Canadian authorities with information on who is leaving Canada, he said.”

“In his forthcoming article (in Policy Options magazine this Tuesday), Robertson acknowledges that the entry-exit system ‘is likely to be difficult for Canadians’ and that it will ‘become a target for nationalists and civil liberties groups.’ He writes that the sovereignty issue is a ‘perennial cause of the Council of Canadians,’ which has opposed free trade deals with the U.S. and Mexico.”

“(Robertson argues that the entry-exit) measure would address concerns that some migrants are abusing Canada’s hospitality by not staying here the required two full years in a five-year period to keep their permanent resident status. …Canada (would also) gain enhanced powers to track unemployment insurance recipients who skip the country, (in other words) Canadians collecting EI while living in the U.S.”

“(And Robertson says,) ‘I choose to give up a certain degree of privacy for faster entry and exit from the United States.'”

The Council of Canadians rejects the argument that our civil liberties must be compromised in order for ‘faster entry and exit from the United States’. We are concerned by the lack of oversight and complaint mechanisms associated with the sharing of cross-border information between Canadian and U.S. police and intelligence agencies. And we are further concerned that the harmonization of entry-exit systems with the U.S. will create pressure to align our refugee and immigration policies with U.S. policies. The Council of Canadians asserts that none of the 32-points of the Beyond the Border action plan – to be first seen this Wednesday by the public – should be implemented prior to an extended public and parliamentary debate in Canada.