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NEWS: Will Canada-US merge their no-fly lists?

Alan Bersin

Alan Bersin

The Globe and Mail reports, “When it comes to the threat of terrorism, the Canadian border is a bigger problem than the Mexican one, a U.S. security official says. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin said he is concerned that potential terrorists are exploiting Canadian loopholes to gain entry to the United States. …In his Senate testimony (on Tuesday in Washington), Mr. Bersin also complained that Canadian and U.S. officials do not share ‘No Fly’ lists.”

“Last year, U.S. agents are said to have arrested 450,000 migrants crossing from Mexico, where drug wars are resulting in mass murder. This compares to about 7,500 inadmissible people caught crossing the Canadian border. Despite these overall numbers, Mr. Bersin said that it is ‘commonly accepted that the more significant threat’ to the United States comes from the north.”

“Three leaked memos, released by WikiLeaks to the CBC Wednesday, show that U.S. diplomats used Canadian information to place several never-arrested suspects – including one paid police agent (Mubin Shaikh) – on U.S. blacklists.” The CBC reported, “(The memos contain) the names of 27 Canadian citizens turned over by their own government as possible threats, along with 14 other names of foreign nationals living in Canada. …The cables are a snapshot of periods in 2009 and 2010. Over the years, the number of names handed over is certainly much higher.”

The CBC report also noted if this information were not shared, “U.S. authorities, already suspicious that Canada is ‘soft on terror’, would likely tighten the common border, damaging hundreds of billions of dollars worth of vital commerce.”

“These names (provided by the Canadian government to the Americans, go to) the so-called Visa Viper list maintained by the U.S. government. Anyone who makes that list is unlikely to be admitted to the States. …The names also go into the database of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Centre. Inclusion in such databases can have several consequences, such as being barred from aircraft that fly through U.S. airspace.” In January 2007, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow warned in an op-ed in the Toronto Star that, “Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon’s ‘made-in-Canada’ no-fly list is anything but. …However ‘made-in-Canada’ our list is for the moment, it will be ultimately merged with the U.S. no-fly list, which has already included peace activists, preschoolers and one U.S. senator.”

The Harper government is currently negotiating a new border agreement with the United States that is expected to be signed by January 2012. The government is conducting a limited on-line consultation on this deal, which closes on June 3.