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NEWS: Harper and Obama set to unveil sweeping harmonization plan this Friday

The Globe and Mail reports this morning that, “Stephen Harper and Barack Obama will meet on Friday to set in motion the most sweeping changes to the Canada-U.S. border since the 1988 free-trade agreement. According to information obtained by The Globe and Mail, the Prime Minister and the U.S. President will order a working group of senior bureaucrats to finalize within a few months agreements that would transform the 49th parallel through co-operative arrangements on trade, security and management of the boundary line.”

“It would mean sharing intelligence, harmonizing regulations for everything from cereal to fighter jets, and creating a bilateral agency to oversee the building and upgrading of bridges, roads and other border infrastructure. There would be easier passage of people and goods and greater prospects of deterring terrorists and criminals. But the move will raise fears over personal privacy and national sovereignty. …Some of the agreements could be implemented through changes to regulations, but others could require legislation that would have to be approved by Parliament and Congress.”

“At last June’s G20 summit in Toronto, Mr. Harper approached Mr. Obama to discuss the increasing difficulty of moving people and goods. The two sides made good progress (since then), although concerns from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security delayed a final agreement, which had been expected as early as December.”

“The new co-operation plan is a follow-up to a failed attempt in the past decade, the Security and Prosperity Partnership, to harmonize the regulatory regimes of Canada, the United States and Mexico.”

When news of this border security plan first broke in early-December, the Council of Canadians demanded that the Harper government immediately release its secret perimeter security deal with the United States, as well as its communications strategy for the deal that names Council chairperson Maude Barlow as a likely critic. We also demanded that opposition parties press the government on this unnecessary and invasive perimeter plan. Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has stated that, “Canadians have a right to know the security deal Mr. Harper has been secretly negotiating with the United States. Harmonization, collaboration and information-sharing with the Department of Homeland Security to promote his trade agenda obviously raises sovereignty and privacy concerns.” Barlow has also commented that, “This security perimeter plan sounds like a whole new set of hassles at the border. It sounds like more border security, longer entry/exit lines at the Canada US border, new screening processes for anyone leaving Canada, more security guards and border personnel.”

The Globe and Mail report is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/harper-obama-to-discuss-big-changes-in-border-security/article1891143/.