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NEWS: Harper and Obama to meet on perimeter security early this fall

The Toronto Star reports that Stephen Harper and Barack Obama will meet early this fall to discuss perimeter security. No specific date or location was noted in the article.

According to the report, “The Harper-Obama meeting will follow up on a session at the White House in February in which the two leaders agreed to open negotiations on improving joint security and trade operations. The far-reaching pact — entitled Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness — conjured up radical changes in Canada-U.S. relations. It envisioned a security perimeter encircling Canada and the U.S. anchored by jointly managed border facilities, shared intelligence and an integrated Canada-U.S. entry-exit system.”

“Sources say the topics being discussed at the current closed-door U.S.-Canada negotiations range from mundane staffing considerations to such exalted ideas as the creation of a joint Canadian-American organization to oversee the border the way NORAD handles North American air defence. …But most people who have followed the negotiations say that the best outcome that can be hoped for would be a series of specific, concrete reforms that would help ease border congestion and speed up the flow of trade and travel.”

When Public Safety minister Vic Toews met with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano this summer, the newspaper reported that she “gave a hint of what the border deal may contain. Canada and the U.S. are now looking at the ‘next generation’ of joint border policing and security operations, she told reporters. Under the ‘Ship-Rider’ program, Canada and the U.S. already cooperate in stationing officers from the other country on border patrol vessels. ‘We’re looking at expanding that kind of basic concept to other areas where we can do more by way of joint law enforcement operation, intelligence gathering and … joint policing, particularly along the border region,’ said Napolitano. …Napolitano disputed there are any significant privacy concerns that need addressing.”

Over the past year, the Council of Canadians has been raising concerns about the secrecy, civil liberties, privacy and sovereignty implications of the perimeter security negotiations. For Council of Canadians commentary on perimeter security, please go to http://canadians.org/perimeter-security.

It is also notable that the ‘early fall’ Harper-Obama meeting will likely occur prior to ‘end of the year’ date for Obama making a decision about the Keystone XL pipeline. When Harper last met Obama at the White House in February to sign the perimeter security declaration, he encouraged the president to approve the pipeline.

The full article is at http://www.thestar.com/mobile/news/canada/article/1046084–upcoming-harper-obama-talks-last-best-hope-to-slow.