Beyond the Border initiative mired by complexities in both countries In a paper released yesterday by The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, policy advisor and international lawyer Brian Flemming examines Canada-U.S. efforts to create a more porous border between the two countries. He finds that despite the best of intentions on [...]
Beyond the Border initiative mired by complexities in both countries
In a paper released yesterday by The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, policy advisor and international lawyer Brian Flemming examines Canada-U.S. efforts to create a more porous border between the two countries. He finds that despite the best of intentions on both sides, real change will prove difficult to achieve.
Flemming examines the many border issues that the Beyond the Border agreement – signed in February 2011 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama – is intended to address. These include an integrated Canada-U.S. entry-exit system, harmonization of regulations on Canadian or American products, the protection of citizens’ privacy, and border installations.
While these issues are considered important by political leaders, there are other factors at play. “Overarching all issues and all packages in the Beyond the Border negotiation will be the twin hydras of trust and timing,” Flemming writes.
Citizens of both countries must trust that politicians are serving national interests with any international agreements. Flemming argues that “Trust in the abilities of politicians to solve problems of any kind is at an all-time low in both Canada and the United States.” As an example, the author refers to the current debt problem in the U.S. and the public’s perception that Congress has failed them.
As for timing, President Obama is unlikely to make striking trade and security deals a priority given the run up to the 2012 election, with voters most concerned about his action on the U.S. economy.
Flemming also argues that the results of the U.S. election could make progress on border issues even tougher. “If too many members of Congress with erroneous opinions get elected, no agreements of any kind may be possible,” he writes.
The paper can be downloaded here.
(Sheldon Alberts — Montreal Gazette/Postmedia News)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama are seeking a sweeping deal to establish a North American security and trade perimeter, opening talks Friday that could lead to jointly operated Canada-U.S. border facilities, an integrated entry-exit system to track travellers and the deployment of “cross-designated” law enforcement officers to intercept terrorists and criminals.
Harper touted the plan as vital to both the safety and prosperity of Canadians, even as critics expressed concerns a future agreement with the U.S. could compromise the nation’s sovereignty.
“This declaration is not about sovereignty. We are sovereign countries who have the capacity to act as we choose to act,” Harper told reporters following an hour-long White House meeting with Obama.
“It is in Canada’s interests to work with our partners in the United States to ensure that our borders are secure and ensure that we can trade and travel across them as safely and as openly as possible, within the context of our different laws. And that is what we’re trying to achieve…” Read more here.