By Lee-Anne Goodman - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – The Canada-U.S. Beyond the Border initiatives haven’t exactly been a top priority…
WASHINGTON – The Canada-U.S. Beyond the Border initiatives haven’t exactly been a top priority for the White House since Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama announced a “shared vision” for a border deal two years ago.
Obama had an election to win in 2012, and Capitol Hill has been consumed with efforts to reduce the country’s mammoth national debt, prompting stakeholders on both sides of the border to gripe that progress on Beyond the Border’s so-called action plan has, so far, lacked action.
“There’s a kind of general feeling of: ‘OK, we’re doing all right, but we’d like more please, and can we move faster?’” Chris Sands, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations and North American economic integration, said in a recent interview.
By Anne Kingston - Monday, January 7, 2013 at 2:44 PM - 0 Comments
Control of an uninhabited island in the Bay of Fundy is up for dispute
Could a tiny, rocky, uninhabited island in the Bay of Fundy ignite the Canadian-American War of 2013? That’s the ominous prospect raised recently by Stephen Kelly, a professor at the Center for Canadian Studies at Duke University in North Carolina. Writing in the New York Times, the retired American diplomat, who twice served in Canada, called for the two countries to settle sovereignty of Machias Seal Island, which lies nearly equidistant between Maine and New Brunswick. Kelly’s concern is the 720 sq. km of water around the island, a magnet for American and Canadian lobster fishermen.
Kelly wants it sorted out now, while stakes are low: with no oil in the area and the current lobster glut, this is “an ideal time to colour in the grey zone,” he writes.
Canada’s official position is that there’s nothing to colour in. John Williamson, MP for New Brunswick Southwest, notes the island is in his riding. A statement from the federal government claims sovereignty is “strongly founded in international law.” Ralph Eldridge, the island’s lightkeeper for the past 16 years, told Canadian Press he “never needed his passport to go there.” Certainly the 81,000-sq.-m site, home to a seabird sanctuary, appears Canuck: the Maple Leaf waves freely and the Canadian Coast Guard tends it. Continue…
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 10:32 PM - 0 Comments
SURREY, B.C. – A female Canadian border guard was shot at one of the…
SURREY, B.C. – A female Canadian border guard was shot at one of the busiest crossings in Canada on Tuesday and the gunman died after apparently turning his weapon on himself, RCMP say.
The Douglas border crossing, known better as the Peace Arch crossing, was closed in both directions Tuesday afternoon.
“The first report at the scene revealed that a male, a lone male, had shot an officer in her booth,” said Cpl. Bert Paquet.
“At the instant following the shooting of the officer, the lone male had been pronounced dead at the scene from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
Paquet said the officer’s condition isn’t known, but she was breathing when she was loaded into an air ambulance. He said it appeared she’d been shot in the neck and her injuries were serious.
“We haven’t confirmed the identity of the suspect yet. He was entering Canada in a vehicle that beared a Washington plate.”
Vic Toews, minister of public safety, said in a statement he was deeply concerned at the news.
“This event is a sobering reminder of the dangerous conditions faced daily by the men and women of our law enforcement agencies as they work to protect the safety and security of Canadians.”
A spokeswoman with the Canada Border Services Agency said traffic was being diverted around the crossing.
Glen Pederson, a local resident, said he heard two gunshots in the afternoon but didn’t think much of the noise.
“I thought it was these guys next door, it’s a construction site. There’s a house being built here, there’s been all kinds of banging going on for days and weeks.”
Pederson said when he heard a helicopter buzzing over his house, he went outside to his front patio and then walked over to the park at the border to see what was going on.
He said he could see a white van stopped near the first booth, closest to the customs building, and surrounded by yellow police tape. The van had Washington state licence plates, he said.
Pederson said dozens of cars were still waiting at the crossing in the late afternoon.
“There was cops there so fast it wasn’t even funny,” he said.
Kevin McAllister, assistant general manager at the Peace Portal Golf Course, which is adjacent to the crossing, said an employee and several guests reported to him that they heard shots fired at around 2 p.m.
“Two shots were fired,” he said. “We’ve heard fire, police, ambulance heading southbound on (Highway) 99, which is probably about a couple hundred yards from the 18th green. So that’s what they heard when all hell broke loose.”
McAllister said he also heard and saw a police helicopter hovering over the 10th and 11th fairways, which are the closest fairways to the highway and the border crossing.
He said the helicopters stopped about 2:40 p.m.
“Staff are coming in, talking about it,” he said.
Kelsie Carwithen, a spokeswoman with the B.C. Ambulance Service, said one air and two ground ambulances were on the scene.
She said the service was called just before 2 p.m., but couldn’t provide further details.
Lisa Moeller, public affairs for the police department in Blaine, Wash., said members were helping the Washington State Patrol in closing Interstate 5 at exit 275 and diverting traffic to the nearby truck crossing.
A provincial travellers’ report says Highway 99 is closed in both directions two kilometres north of the Washington border.
The Peace Arch border point is the third busiest crossing between Canada and the United States.
An average of 3,500 cars pass through the crossing on a slow day, and during peak periods about 4,800 vehicles will move through the border.
During those peak periods, border delays can reach four hours on either side of the border.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 2:43 PM - 5 Comments
No guarantee Americans will liberalize border in proposed deal
A proposed trade and security agreement between Canada and the United States could force the Canadian government to violate the privacy of millions of its citizens without doing anything to guarantee a more open border, a new report suggests. “There can be little expectation that Canadian needs for less controls and constraints on trans-border traffic will be met,” wrote Gar Pardy, a former diplomat, in a report for the Rideau Institute. “A more likely scenario would be Canadian concessions on security and privacy matters and only American promises for an easier border regime.”
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, May 2, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 4 Comments
U.S. and Canadian business groups are urging their governments to coordinate rules and ease restrictions
As Target Corp., the mass retailer of trendy housewares and clothing, prepares to open hundreds of stores across Canada in its first non-U.S. expansion, it has started to grapple with the realities of doing business across the border. In a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, dated April 18, two Target executives bemoan conflicting regulations between the U.S. and Canada in areas such as product standards, testing facilities, customs procedures and documentation. “For example, the safety requirements and test methods applicable to camping tents are markedly different between the U.S. and Canada, making it difficult and cost prohibitive to provide the same product in each country,” wrote the vice-president for government affairs, Matt Zabel, and vice-president for compliance, Canada, Anthony Heredia. “These differences may result in higher consumer costs, or reduced selection.” They called on the Obama administration to focus on “greater regulatory coherence” with Canada that would “increase cross-border investment.”
The Target letter was one of 30 submissions the Commerce Department received after asking for public comments on “regulatory co-operation that would help eliminate or reduce unnecessary regulatory divergences in North America that disrupt U.S. exports.” The request for comments came after a February meeting in Washington at which President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched two joint initiatives to ease cross-border trade and travel: an overhaul of border management aimed at creating a system of “perimeter security”, and an attempt to harmonize some regulations between the two countries to help ease trade. The leaders created two working groups, one on border management and the other on regulatory co-operation, led by senior government officials, whom they instructed to hold public consultations and produce detailed action plans for each government.
The stakes are high. Canada and the U.S. have the world’s largest two-way trade relationship, worth $645 billion a year. Three-quarters of all of Canada’s exports go to the United States, and border delays cost the economy billions each year. As well, Canada is America’s largest market, accounting for one fifth of all exports, and Obama is also searching for ways to boost that trade. In his state of the union speech last year, he set a goal of doubling overall U.S. exports in five years in order to spur job creation in the struggling American economy.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, February 4, 2011 at 8:53 PM - 94 Comments
At a meeting today in Washington, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched a “Shared vision for perimeter security and economic competitiveness”. They announced that a group of senior government officials from both countries would form a “Beyond the Border Working Group.” The group will look for ways to streamline border security while creating a shared “perimeter security” around both countries. In addition, a Regulatory Cooperation Council will look for ways to coordinate and harmonize regulations in order to ease red tape for companies that do business in both countries.
After the leaders’ meeting, I spoke with U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, about what this all means.
Q – What does the Obama administration want out of these talks?
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, May 25, 2009 at 12:00 PM - 19 Comments
Border security is still a very sore point in Canada-U.S. relations
The greatest test of whether the election of President Barack Obama will really repair the strains in Canada-U.S. relations gets under way this month when the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, comes to visit. The transformation of land border security over the last eight years came to symbolize the tense relations between Ottawa and the Bush administration. The almost 9,000 km of friendly frontier, and gateway to $1.6 billion in trade per day, turned into another front in the war on terror, patrolled by now-armed guards and unmanned drones, riddled with new regulations that business complains tie up trade, and as of June 1, a passport requirement for the first time. From the Canadian point of view, it was the work largely of an overzealous American administration and Congress taking a series of unilateral actions. “The previous attitude was that any additional step that could be taken should be taken without regard for trade,” Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan told Maclean’s. Like many Canadians, he hopes that will change under Obama. “Now we want to focus on security that is actually effective, and addresses real security threats—counterterrorism, the drug trade, organized crime, immigration issues—and we want to find ways to improve the flow of goods across the border.”
But from the U.S. point of view, the last eight years looked rather different. The world changed on 9/11, and Americans and Canadians reacted with what Paul Rosenzweig, a former senior Department of Homeland Security official who worked on border issues under George W. Bush, diplomatically refers to as “a different sense of urgency.” He suspects Ottawa and Washington will find it just as difficult to resolve their differences under Obama as they did under Bush. “One of the things I’ve learned is that there is this myth that Canadians and Americans are a lot alike in how they view things like trade and terrorism,” Rosenzweig said in an interview. “And they simply are not.” Where Canadians saw U.S. unilateralism, Americans saw Canadian complacency. On both sides, there was an erosion of trust. Can it be rebuilt? “My advice to Secretary Napolitano,” says Rosenzweig, “would be to explore how much of our inability to achieve common objectives with Canada was the product of political issues relating to the Bush administration—and how much of it was fundamental.”