By Dana Gabriel
Some of the corporate interests that are steering the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border integration agenda are not quite satisfied with its progress so far and they would like the implementation process to be accelerated. The bilateral initiative which was launched almost two years ago promotes a shared vision for perimeter security. It seeks to improve information sharing between security agencies. Under the agreement, both countries are moving towards a coordinated entry/exit system and are developing a harmonized cargo security strategy. In addition, the U.S. and Canada are strengthening integrated cross-border intelligence sharing and law enforcement operations. Canada’s own electronic eavesdropping agency is also working hand and hand with the NSA. They are both increasing data collection and surveillance in the North American Homeland.
Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt gave a speech at the Association of Canadian Port Authorities annual conference in August. She stated that, “Ensuring the security of our transportation systems is key to strengthening the Canada-U.S. trade relationship. To build prosperity through trade, businesses and governments on both sides of our shared border must have confidence that our transportation systems will work together to meet our mutual security needs. That is why Canada and the United States are working closely together to implement the Beyond the Border Action Plan.” While she didn’t reference the Maritime Commerce Resilience Project by name, Raitt acknowledged that the U.S. and Canada are, “developing a joint cross-border approach to help maritime commerce recover faster after a major disruption.” This would include a significant natural disaster or terrorist attack that impacts North America. She also mentioned a pilot program underway at the Port of Prince Rupert which is part of efforts to harmonize the cargo screening process between the U.S. and Canada. Both countries continue to advance this agenda through the Integrated Cargo Security Strategy, a key component of the Beyond the Border deal.