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NEWS: What will be in the 32-point Beyond the Border action plan?

CTV reports, “A new, 32-point border action plan will be signed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama when the pair meet at the White House in Washington next week.” It’s expected this will be December 6 or 7. According to the CTV report:

1- “Canada’s new border action plan will feature a new entry-exit control system that will allow the United States to track everyone coming and leaving Canada by air, land and sea… The office of the privacy commissioner has already pointed out that that the federal government has yet to share any details of the new border rules.”

2- “Parts of the new border plan will focus on trade, including pre-screening stations set up on Canadian territory… The U.S. will allow pre-screenings on certain low-risk cargo trucks. In an effort to speed the process, U.S. officials will only flag suspicious vehicles at the border rather than doing full inspections that hold up other passengers and cargo.”

3- “Both nations plan to streamline and harmonize regulations in the automotive and food sectors (recognizing) the integrated nature of the continental economy. In particular, Ottawa has already quietly prepared regulations to adopt U.S. crash-testing standards for seat belts and built-in child booster seats.”

Yesterday, Globe and Mail columnist John Ibbitson wrote that the plan will include:

1- “A new entry-exit system that will track everyone coming into or leaving Canada by land, sea or air. …(This) will enable the federal government to, among other things, ensure that landed immigrants are actually living in Canada. …Many will balk at the iris scans or other biometric measures that doubtless will come with the new entry-exit controls…”

2- “It will harmonize a plethora of regulations and safety standards in the automobile, food and other industries.”

3- “It will make it easier to obtain temporary work permits and a trusted-traveller document that will allow frequent crossers to skip the lineup at Customs.”

4- “Air, land and maritime inspections will be more fully integrated…”

5- “Both sides will be able to more easily detect and deter cyber threats.”

What kind of ‘regulatory alignment’ might we expect to see as a result of the Beyond the Border action plan? In April, Macleans magazine reported that the Beyond the Border consultation in the United States submission have been received from, “Target Corp. …who bemoan conflicting regulations between the US and Canada in areas such as product standards, testing facilities, customs procedures and documentation; …the biotechnology industry association asked that both countries adopt ‘consistent science-based processes that would significantly decrease the time required for authorization of biotech crops and their products’; …several US agricultural groups asked for harmonization of the maximum permissible pesticide residue levels for produce; (and) the US Chamber of Commerce…suggested ‘examining wherever possible what can be done to align health care regulatory frameworks between the US and Canada for medical devices and pharmaceuticals’.” In September, Bloomberg reported, “Proposals in the auto industry would implement common rules for safety and emissions standards. Cooperation on energy may lead to a ‘Canada-U.S. regime for permitting oil-and-gas pipelines,’ the report said. Canada’s customs agency said in June it is looking at ways to speed inspection of food products that are imported by companies that qualify as posing little risk.”

From both polling, see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=5597, and the federal government’s own ‘consultation’, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10175, it is clear that Canadians are very concerned about the border action plan. An Ipsos-Reid poll conducted in February 2011 found that, “91 per cent of Canadians say the negotiations (on perimeter security) should take place in public so that they can see what is on the table. …Canadians want Harper to adopt a much more transparent approach to the…negotiations which are being held in total secrecy.” The poll also showed that, “(68 per cent) of Canadians fear Prime Minister Stephen Harper will ‘compromise’ by giving up too much power over immigration, privacy and security to get a deal with the United States on border controls…”