Sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations in association with the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales.
North America is vulnerable on several fronts: the region faces terrorist and criminal security threats, increased economic competition from abroad, and uneven economic development at home. In response to these challenges, a trinational, Independent Task Force on the Future of North America has developed a roadmap to promote North American security and advance the well-being of citizens of all three countries.
When the leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States met in Texas recently they underscored the deep ties and shared principles of the three countries. The Council-sponsored Task Force applauds the announced “Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America,” but proposes a more ambitious vision of a new community by 2010 and specific recommendations on how to achieve it. [cfr.org] (You can download the CFR’s book at right, for only $15!)
But wait . . . there’s more! The following just happened last month.
On February 16, the Conservative government introduced the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act. The legislation proposed, “reforms to the asylum system to make it faster and fairer, measures to address human smuggling, and the authority to make it mandatory to provide biometric data.” The new changes would put Canada in line with the U.S. and other international partners. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney praised the use of biometrics as an, “important new tool to help protect the safety and security of Canadians by reducing identity fraud and identity theft.” He added, it “will improve our ability to keep violent criminals and those who pose a threat to Canada out. In short, biometrics will strengthen the integrity of Canada’s immigration system while helping facilitate legitimate travel.” Under the section about sharing relevant information to improve immigration and border determinations, the U.S.-Canada action plan calls for implementing, “systematic and automated biographic information-sharing capability by 2013 and biometric information-sharing capability by 2014.” There are fears that a joint biometric identification system would be used to track Canadians and Americans alike.
U.S.-Canada bilateral dialogue on strategic issues concerning the Beyond the Border deal continues as the action plan lays out deadlines where initiatives will be incrementally implemented over the next several years. The proposed changes promise to bring about a radical transformation of the northern border. This will further bring Canadian security practices in line with American ones and under the reach of the Department of Homeland Security.
[Dana Gabriel, beyourownleader.blogspot.com]
Beyond the Border
The BTB Action Plan sets out joint priorities for achieving a new long-term security partnership in four key areas, guided by mutual respect for sovereignty and our separate constitutional and legal frameworks that protect individual privacy:
• addressing threats early;
• promoting trade facilitation, economic growth, and jobs;
• strengthening cross-border law enforcement; and
• protecting shared critical infrastructure, including enhancing continental and global cybersecurity.
The BTB Executive Steering Committee (ESC) will hold annual meetings to advance shared border management efforts and identify areas for further progress. To ensure continued transparency and accountability, the BTB ESC will generate a joint, public “Beyond the Border Implementation Report” to summarize BTB cooperation annually. Implementation of the BTB Action Plan will be carried out in close consultation with the wide array of interested stakeholders through appropriate lead agencies and will be subject to normal regulatory, legislative, and appropriations processes.
Through implementation of the BTB Action Plan, the United States and Canada will address threats at the earliest possible point by enhancing our common understanding of the shared threat environment through joint, integrated threat assessments, and by improving our intelligence and national security information sharing. We will enhance domain awareness in air, maritime, and land environments, cooperate to counter violent extremism, and develop harmonized commercial passenger and cargo screening processes that will expedite the secure passage of people and goods. We will conduct joint assessments of plant, animal, and food systems in third countries to keep our food supplies safe. [whitehouse.gov]