After months of negotiations, the U.S. and Canada have unveiled new trade, regulatory and security initiatives to speed up the flow of goods and people across the border. The joint action plans provide a framework that goes beyond NAFTA and continues where the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) left off. This will take U.S.-Canada integration to the next level and is the pretext for a North American Homeland Security perimeter.
“Canada is key to achieving my goal of doubling American exports and putting folks back to work. And the two important initiatives that we agreed to today will help us do just that.”
“We’re agreeing to a series of concrete steps to bring our economies even closer and to improve the security of our citizens.”
“We’re going to improve our infrastructure, we’re going to introduce new technologies, and we’re going to improve cargo security and screening.”
“These agreements create a new, modern order for a new century. Together, they represent the most significant steps forward in Canada-U.S. cooperation since the North American Free Trade Agreement.”
“The first agreement merges U.S. and Canadian security concerns with our mutual interest in keeping our border as open as possible to legitimate commerce and travel.”
“The second joint initiative will reduce regulatory barriers to trade by streamlining and aligning standards.”
conducting joint, integrated threat assessments;improving cooperative law enforcement capacity and national intelligence- and information-sharing;cooperating on research and best practices to prevent and counter homegrown violent extremism;working to jointly prepare for and respond to binational disasters and enhancing cross-border critical infrastructure protection and resilience.
“implement two Next-Generation pilot projects to create integrated teams in areas such as intelligence and criminal investigations, and an intelligence-led uniformed presence between ports of entry.”
“The creation of ‘NextGen’ teams of cross-designated officers would allow us to more effectively identify, assess, and interdict persons and organizations involved in transnational crime.”
“In conjunction with the other provisions included in the Beyond the Border Initiative, such a move would enhance our cross-border efforts and advance our information-sharing abilities.”
“Canadian security institutions will be more closely integrated with those of the United States.”
“these are not formal treaties or even formal agreements, although there could be greater formality in the future.”
“Nowhere in the documentation resulting from the two meetings are there suggestions the people of Canada will be provided with detailed information on which judgments can be made on the wisdom of this consensual agreement negotiated in the backrooms of both capitals.”
“The troublesome details implicit in the agreement will be hidden behind the wall of national security.”
“Canada sold its national security independence in exchange for hoped-for minor changes to American border restrictions.”
“It is not an overstatement to suggest the United States blackmailed the government of Canada into making this deal.It was the American way or no way.”
The Council of Canadians also criticized, “the government for hiding behind a sham public consultation and implying that this should clear the way for implementation of the action plan.”
While improving the movement of trade and travel was the priority for business groups, many individuals expressed concerns over the loss of sovereignty, along with the protection of personal information.
When it comes to regulatory convergence, Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians agreed that, “Standardization can be a good thing when standards are high,”
“The problem is standards aren’t higher in the U.S. in many cases.”
“Already Health Canada and other agencies consider harmonization with U.S. standards to be a more important consideration than the real safety of our food. This perimeter deal cements that skewed priority list.”
Regulatory integration threatens Canadian sovereignty and democracy.Further harmonization with the U.S. could result in Canada losing control over its ability to regulate food safety.This could also lead to a race to the bottom with respect to other regulatory standards.
“The big business community was the only sector at the table with government and guided the process from the beginning.”
“Canada is essentially giving up policy control in the key areas of privacy, security, immigration and surveillance in order to entice the U.S. to loosen controls at the border.”
“It is likely to lead to a wholesale replacement of Canadian privacy and security standards with American ones, set by Homeland Security.”
“used as a form of social control, to identify not terrorists, but activists and dissenters of government policy.”
“We must call on our government to create a full public and Parliamentary debate before this deal becomes operational.”
While the perimeter agreement is being soldas vital to the safety and prosperityof Canadians and Americans alike,there is little doubt that it will meana tradeoff between sovereignty and security.