Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Fortress North America

When I went to see President Bush and President Clinton a few years ago, they were questioned by Frank McKenna. McKenna rightly made the point that the border was very problematic and was causing huge problems to Canadian business and vistors. Both former presidents seem surprised by this and Clinton said he would talk to his wife about it.

I support the idea of a Fortress North America. We have tens of billions of dollars in trade with the United States and their border restrictions since 9/11 have become really problematic. Good for HM Government in addressing this vital problem!

Jason Kenney, the Immigration Minister, noted tens of millions of U.S. jobs depend on the country's $1.6-billion a day trade relationship with Canada.

''Canada and the United States have always been visa-free for bilateral travel of our nationals,'' he told reporters Tuesday. ''I don't think we should take very seriously sort of one off-the-cuff thought by one senator as representing a policy development in Washington.''

John Manley, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, said he is encouraged that the border issue seems to be back on the agenda at the highest level. He said Canadians have to understand that, while they would like to turn the clock on the bilateral relationship back to Sept. 10, 2001, for the Americans it will always be Sept. 12.

"If we want ready access inside the border, we have to recognize and understand their worries and concerns. Enhancing security at the perimeter is fine in principle, as long as you get something for it," he said.

Business groups will be watching for progress in such areas as freight pre-clearance that would clear goods at their point of origin, rather than trucks being pulled over at congested border stops, and on the use of biometrics to identify and screen travellers.

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