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WIN? Perimeter security deal has 50-50 chance of falling to the wayside

Lawrence Martin writes on iPolitics.ca today that, “A while back the Canada-U.S. perimeter accord looked like a done deal. …But now there are doubts. Officials are holding out the possibility that owing to U.S. election year politics and other snags like the Buy-American issue, the deal could fall by the wayside.”

“The U.S. election primaries begin in January. ‘Election year. That`s the danger in this — that it gets spiked simply because time runs out,’ said Canada-U.S. specialist Colin Robertson who is in touch with negotiators. ‘Once you get into the primaries then it`s really hard to get anybody`s attention.’ …A problem now, Robertson noted, is that Obama has an even bigger load of crises on his desk than in normal times. In such an atmosphere it’s hard for a Canadian concern – it’s Harper who initially pushed for the border accord – to make it to the top of the pile. …Robertson expressed optimism that the deal will make it. ‘I still think there is the time, if there`s the will.’ …Another official said the chances were about 50-50.”

“A framework perimeter accord between the two sides has essentially been agreed upon. There are only some details to be worked out. If the two leaders sign it, then a round of consultations with provinces, states and other stakeholders need take place before the final accord is set. That could take months as some of the measures in the pact have to be approved by Congress. The election, which could see the Obama administration defeated, takes place next November.”

“Initially the U.S. side wanted the deal to be worked out and signed by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and her Ottawa counterpart, the public safety minister. But Ottawa rejected that plan, saying it would have too much the look of a security pact. Robertson said that for the deal to get approval in the U.S. it has to have the imprimatur of the president and the prime minister. …Officials now say it is highly unlikely that President Obama will come to Ottawa for a signing. They are hoping that the president will have Stephen Harper to the Oval Office for the ceremony.”

For numerous Council of Canadians blogs on the perimeter security issue, please go to http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22perimeter+security%22. It is our intention to continue to work to increase the 50-50 odds that this deal will fall to the wayside. So while this isn’t a win yet, we have the momentum now to ensure that this ill-conceived perimeter security deal is defeated.

Lawrence Martin’s column can be read at http://www.ipolitics.ca/2011/10/20/perimeter-accord-in-doubt/.