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NEWS: Six-page border security declaration to be signed by Harper-Obama on Friday

The Toronto Star reports that, “After months of secret negotiations, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama are expected Friday to authorize the most sweeping overhaul of Canada-U.S. border and security cooperation in decades. …Harper has said little about the talks but a draft of a six-page agreement prepared for his and Obama’s signatures authorizes officials from both countries to begin work urgently on ‘a shared vision for perimeter security and competitiveness’. …The agreement to be signed at a White House meeting will open the way to a bilateral pact with the potential to give Washington a much bigger say in Canada’s border security, immigration controls and information-sharing with American law agencies. …As envisioned in the draft agreement, senior government officials in the Prime Minister’s department and the White House will be given four months to come up with a joint plan of action to implement closer security and border arrangements.”

“The deal, which is said to reflect Harper’s vision of closer U.S.-Canada cooperation, could pose the biggest challenge to Canadian sovereignty since the free-trade negotiations of the 1980s. …It would essentially see Canada and the U.S. moving toward a shared security perimeter around the two countries. Besides improving anti-terrorist capability, the goal would be to unravel the increasingly congested Canada-U.S. border and ease bilateral trade. …It calls for closer cooperation among police, security and military officials, as well as shared border management facilities, increased exchanges of law enforcement information and enhanced cooperation by authorities on both sides of the border to verify travellers’ identities and ‘conduct screening at the earliest possible opportunity’.”

“The deal being contemplated by Harper and Obama is raising questions about how much sovereign control Ottawa will have to concede to convince the Americans to streamline border procedures. ‘It seems to be giving up way too much for getting hardly anything in return,’ said Stuart Trew, trade campaigner with the Council of Canadians. ‘There’s no guarantee the border’s going to become ‘thinner,’ he said in an interview. ‘This is potentially huge for Canada,’ Trew added. ‘And regardless of what people think about free trade, I think the alarm bells go off when you start talking about sensitive policy issues such as immigration, refugee policy and privacy.’”

The Toronto Star article is at http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/932575–harper-obama-expected-to-authorize-sweeping-overhaul-of-canada-u-s-security.