All they did today in meetings was really talk about the border, a future agreement and how the two countries could work even better together to help out the economies, streamline the border and yet remain sovereign. Many politicians in Canada want more discussion here. We are each other's largest trading partners, so it is sort of a big deal. And the U.S. could certainly take advantage of some of the natural resources in Canada, like fossil fuels and such and other resources that would lessen its dependence on foreign energy sources. But I digress. (Stephen Harper had, what I interpreted as a bit of a smirk on his face when he talked about this and how it would be better to accept energy from a secure, stable and friendly country like Canada).
On a side note...I'm stunned at how many Americans do not even know who Stephen Harper is. I'm also amazed at how many Americans have no idea about important the business and cultural relationship is between our two countries. There's more to Canada than hockey and that Justin Bieber kid. Oh, and Celine Dion.
Back to the border...it sounds good and you can tell by the editorial below from the National Post, that it is a welcome idea for man. Unless, Joe Lieberman pushes the idea of wanting Canadians to get visas each time they cross the border. I can tell you that would NOT be good and it would not do anything but complicate border crossings more than they already are. Dumb idea Mr. Lieberman...not to mention the fact that all the Canadian "Snow Birds" who contribute a significant amount to the U.S. economy in the winter months, might consider taking their golf clubs and flip flops elsewhere, which means their loonies and toonies too.
All I really want to know is if they share "intelligence" will the Canadian border people be able to really tell how long I've been out of the country when I return to Canada from the U.S. So, in other words, when I say I've been gone a day, give or take three, they would be able to tell?
Harper and Obama only took a couple of questions from the press. When the Canadian reporter asked President Obama a question and told him that he did not have to answer it in French, the President looked relieved and said something about his French not being that great. Dude, that's how I feel every day...I too get relieved when I call the cable company and reach someone who actually speaks English. Welcome to my world, north of your border.
National Post editorial board: Yes to the North American perimeter
February 4, 2011 – 9:30 am
At 6,400 kilometres in length, the non-militarized border shared by Canada and the United States is the longest in the world. Until Sept. 11, 2001, moving across it in some places was as simple as crossing the street. In the adjacent towns of Derby Line, Vt., and Stanstead, Que., for instance, you could pass back and forth within the confines of the local library, which was deliberately built on the border itself.
This all changed nine years ago. Border agents properly became more vigilant about potential security threats: Suddenly, contraband cigarette runners and outlet shopaholics were no longer their primary interest. In this post-9/11 world, mandatory passports, NEXUS terminals and FAST cards all became part of the ad hoc security apparatus cobbled together in the campaign to fight terror without hampering legitimate business and tourist travellers.
Now, there is a movement to create a more comprehensive bilateral-security framework. Indeed, the subject is expected to dominate today’s meeting between Barack Obama and Stephen Harper.
Since 9/11, America has gone through several cycles of overheated fretting in regard to the security threat from the north. This week brought a typical instance: U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate’s Homeland Security committee, commented on a report indicating that U.S. security forces provide an “adequate level of security” on only 1% of the Canada-U.S. border. Mr. Lieberman said security challenges were complicated by the fact that “most Canadians do not need a visa to enter the United States.” While not directly advocating visas, Mr. Lieberman added: “I think it is something that we should be talking about with our Canadian neighbours.”
In response, the Obama administration quickly quashed speculation on the issue, while the Canadian federal government flatly rejected any calls even for a discussion about a visa requirement — which of course would cripple Canada’s export-dependent economy overnight. As Immigration Minister Jason Kenney pointed out, “It would be massively problematic from an economic perspective.”
Apart from flying in the face of free trade, a visa requirement also would undercut the close relationship between our two countries. Requiring a visa is an unfortunate necessity in some bilateral contexts — but it is not conducive to international trust and goodwill. Witness the hostility generated by the United Arab Emirates’ recent requirement that Canadian visitors to that country purchase an expensive visa before their travels, or the negative reaction when Canada recently imposed visa requirements on visitors from Mexico and the Czech Republic, as a means to block bogus refugee claimants.
Senator Lieberman was correct, however, when he said that Canada has “more lenient asylum laws and immigration laws than we do here [in the United States]. And that potentially has an effect on us.” Numerous experts, such as former Canadian Immigration Service head James Bissett, have argued on these pages that our bleeding-heart policies in this area constitute a major security threat not only to the United States, but also to our own country.
Thus, instead of making it more difficult for law-abiding Canadian citizens to cross the border into the United States, Canada should make it more difficult for foreign security threats from ending up in our country in the first place. And the best way of doing so is through a co-ordinated security perimeter that protects both countries on the basis of agreed-to standards regarding the entry of personnel and cargo.
This is an issue that extends beyond terrorism. A related complaint heard on Capitol Hill concerns the prevalence of cross-border drug smuggling, particularly of methamphetamines, in part because of more lenient Canadian laws governing the chemicals used in manufacturing the drug. The issue could be addressed by reviewing Canadian laws in this area, and by cracking down on the criminal elements who produce and distribute these substances.
Stephen Harper and Barack Obama will meet today to discuss these issues. And the scuttlebutt is that they will sign an agreement, and strike a committee of bureaucrats, with the aim of putting in place some form of perimeter. This is a good time to be embarking on such a project. Due to recent events, Canada is entering these negotiations from a position of strength: With the crisis in Egypt threatening the security of the world’s oil supply, Americans will be looking north for a secure supply of oil and natural gas.
Detractors claim that a security perimeter would represent a step toward abrogation of our sovereignty. But critics made the same claims about free trade, which enriched us without making us any less sovereign.
A North American security perimeter would be beneficial to the law-abiding citizens of both countries — and bad news for those who would threaten our common safety.
Read more: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/02/04/national-post-editorial-board-2/#ixzz1D1ctxUOw