Canada and Borders; Canada and US Security


Peter M Boehm

Thank you for that kind introduction

$  A pleasure to be here at a timely conference sponsored by the Wilson Center; timely in the sense that the new Department of Homeland Security will come into existence this weekend. This new department will not only be a vital actor in US domestic policy terms (and a huge government player) but also one with which Canada will have significant interaction.

$  We all know that there have been unforeseen developments that have shaken the world: the United States has been attacked and by extension its allies, including Canada.


$  And it must be realized that the security of the US is the guiding and overriding principle in all policy decisions made by the Bush Administration and will be for some time.

$  As an ally, neighbour and friend, Canada has stood shoulder to shoulder with the US in the war against terrorism: our forces have seen action in Afghanistan; our frigates continue to ply the waters of the Arabian Sea. We are also working with other countries and international organizations to address the global scourge of terrorism. Many of you are aware of the various measures we have taken; our security partnership remains strong and is becoming increasingly profound.

$  Our domestic measures to confront terrorism parallel those of the US: legislation has sharpened the teeth of Canada=s law enforcement agencies with additional tools designed to confront and confound terrorist organizations; we have frozen assets and introduced legislation to impede fundraising by those suspected of wishing to do us harm.


$  our penultimate federal budget provides the equivalent of US $ 5 billion over 5 years in expenditures directly associated with security and border-related activities (x10 in US per capita terms).

$  My intention today is to follow up on one aspect that is taking up a lot of our time at the Embassy, yet is a subject that is perhaps the greatest manifestation of our bilateral partnership: the management of our common border.

Let me begin with a few border facts for you:

$  130 land ports of entry between US and Canada along a border that runs 5,525 miles (7,000 if you include Alaska); 130 gates and no fence B a good portion B almost 25%-- is water.

$  90% of transborder movement takes place at 20 border crossings

$  4 Ontario border crossings manage 65% of all trade; 37,000 trucks cross the border per day (80% of trade by truck, representing 65% of total value)


$  the trade across the Ambassador bridge at Windsor/Detroit reflects the greatest amount of trade at any crossing point in the world.

$  our trade amounts to $1.5 billion dollars per day and it is growing; there are over 200 million human crossings across our border annually.

$  Our goal as governments since modern Canada=s foundation in 1867 has been to safeguard our mutual security and sovereignty while expediting the legitimate flow of people and goods across the border. This has been our often unacknowledged mantra: through various debates on trade reciprocity over a century that culminated in our own FTA in 1988; and onwards through the establishment of NAFTA in 1994.


$  You, as individuals with an interest on border issues, know that much discussion and work on border questions preceded 9-11, both on the southern and northern borders of the US. In the Canadian case, our customs and immigration agencies engaged in regular discussion, developed protocols, as did our transport departments, our police forces and intelligence agencies. Data and information were shared; regulatory elements were made as compatible as possible. Our venerable Permanent Joint Board on Defence B in existence since 1941 B met regularly to review our mutual defence relationship. Our leaders signed the Shared Border Accord in 1995; Aopen skies@ and airport preclearance quickly followed. In 1997 our two immigration agencies developed the Border Vision document to develop a joint regional approach to migratory issues.

$  9/11 was the catalytic event: out of that tragedy came political resolve on both sides and with that resolve badly needed resources.

$  So when then Foreign Minister and now Depty Prime Minister John Manley and Governor now Secretary Tom Ridge decided to develop a thirty point plan that would commit both governments to a Asmart@ border, we were all after essentially the same thing: a border that would be "more user-friendly to friendly users".


$  This was a document that was quickly negotiated: since Governor Ridge was appointed soon after 9-11and did not have much of a corresponding bureaucracy with which to manage the inter-agency dynamic in Washington B the task fell to the Canadian side to develop a draft. Easier for us perhaps, since our Privy Council Office B a sort of NSC/OMB hybrid B does have a capacity to knock heads interdepartmentally in Ottawa to produce interdepartmental consensus. My colleagues in the Administration here told me we had managed to level the playing field. (I can tell you that my colleagues and I are used to running up a steep incline).

$  We in the Embassy and our Consulates General continue to be engaged on the vital border file, both in terms of the mechanics and complexities involved in making progress on the 30 issue areas but also in looking at the next wave of activity. The close and open working relationship that developed between Deputy Prime Minister Manley and now Secretary Ridge was replicated on many levels between officials as we all worked together to develop this plan.


$  Yet there were and are constraints as a result of the lack of specificity over the ongoing terrorist threat. Both countries remain at heightened levels of border alert against those who seek to exploit our open societies for nefarious ends. There are delays at some of our key points of entry, yet commerce is moving well. Both intelligence and recent arrests suggest that the terrorist threat may have diminished but it has not, and will not, in the immediate future, go away.

$  let me offer an example: when the DHS raised the threat level to orange ten days ago, there was quick communication at the top between our two countries; however this was not replicated in how the new threat level was assessed at the operational level at some border crossing points. The machinery must become smooth.

$  To respond to the threat, our increased bilateral work continues unabated: our intelligence agencies have enhanced their capacities to share and pool important data; the FBI and the RCMP have enhanced their collaboration through Integrated Border Enforcement Teams -- IBETS B and we have advanced discussions on our military relationship.


$  With respect to the latter point, in NORAD we have a venerable and proven system designed to defend our countries in the event of conventional or nuclear air attack. This was enough until 1989 when the iron curtain disintegrated but not enough for the sort of asymmetrical threat that characterized the events of 9/11. The United States has established Northcom and while this is an internal USA structure to complement other similar commands, we are working towards an arrangement that would allow our militaries to cooperate in responding to terrorist threats near or on our land and maritime borders. All of this is unprecedented; it is not about standing forces, but what our militaries can do to support first responders, be they police forces, coast guards or various civil authorities. Canada is chairing a planning group with the US to study how these issues can be addressed.


$  Geographic proximity, a shared continental history and innumerable cross-border links hasten understanding: as Canadians, Awe get it@, the false assertions of programs such as the O=Reilly Factor notwithstanding; our work on the 30 point declaration and our global support for the war against terrorism underscore the point. In the ratings war, it is convenient for the media to exploit and perpetuate urban myths; we lose no opportunity to refute them.

$  But for all of our aggressive implementation of the Smart Border Action Plan, there are of course the expected caveats and nostrums:

  one size does not fit all. As the majority of movement of goods and people take place at six to eight large crossings, programmes, technologies and risk management techniques need to be tailored to fit the needs of smaller crossings. Airports also have special circumstances and the introduction of the Nexus Air program, will provide a test.


  the sovereignty question exists for all countries. While the effort is collaborative, the development of legislation and regulations, as well as enforcement, remains sovereign. It may surprise you to know that sovereignty is not solely a Canadian or Mexican preoccupation. Too many joint command and control operational structures could also provide headaches to our American friends, particularly with respect to legislative oversight questions. Partnership in security is an affirmation of our sovereignty.

  the northern border is not the southern border. While the Smart Border Action Plan served as an effective template for the US Border Accord with Mexico, issues such as migratory questions and border infrastructure are quite different. So are border politics among the three NAFTA members. The northern border is also three times as long.


  the role of other governments and authorities. If there is one thing we all learned first-hand after 9/11(and even before in our bilateral cooperation on the Y2K exercise) it is that both risk management and border facilitation requires the cooperation of state/provincial as well as municipal authorities. The engagement of subnational entities B according to our respective constitutions and practice B is essential in ensuring the success of our action plan and the buy-in of users, particularly as we move to a Amultiple borders@ concept in our risk management approach.


  introduction of unexpected measures. While circumstances may dictate a need to go beyond the Smart Border Action Plan framework, introduction without any significant consultation of the US National Security Entry Exit Registration System (NSEERS), that documents entry and exit of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who may have dual nationality or past affiliation by birth to certain suspected nations. Secretary Powell and Foreign Minister Graham have discussed this issue and its application. Targeting nationals of countries associated with terrorism for enhanced biometric documentation upon entry and exit into the US is of course sensible. We do not believe Canadians who have already passed security muster should face discrimination. Our legislation and operational procedures are sound and much data is already shared.

$  So obviously questions do arise that require resolution. And implementation of any plan requires faith, patience and policy dexterity on both sides. Our resolution of how the documentation of the Canadian snowbirds B that amazing migration of Canadians to Florida that takes place every winter B is an example. Ditto on the documentation question of part-time students, workers who work in one country but are citizens of and residents of the other, all demonstrate our capacity to compromise and work together.

$  Stationing customs inspectors in ports in the other country was an important step; harmonizing our visa issuance practices and working towards a Asafe third country@ agreement on refugees is another. All were initiatives that had been percolating for a few years; 9/11 put them on the front burner for resolution. And the political will and funding came quickly.


$  As Canadians we are watching the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security with unbridled interest. To us, this is not just the single largest reorganization of the US Government since the Truman presidency. The new Department will, in essence, become a key interlocutor in the daily management and policy direction of our border relationship. It will be at once functional, operational and political. It composition will put the many inter-agency relationships that have flourished across the border to the test. Secretary Ridge will, when the Department formally comes into existence in a few days= time, occupy as important a position in the cut and thrust of our bilateral relationship as the Secretaries of State, Commerce or the USTR.


$  At the same time, we realize that this department will have significant domestic responsibilities. Recognizing the Aintermestic@ nature of our relationship, it almost goes without saying that our officials will be frequent visitors. Many policies developed in the new Department will have implications for us; our task will be to get in at the ground floor to make certain Canadian interests are heard and understood. We will need to coordinate and to coordinate well. Our friends in the Fox Administration to the south will have the same challenge.