I was on my way home the other night scrolling through my Tweets when I came upon this article regarding US Senator Lieberman’s brilliant observations about the Canada-US border.

Now, I could have saved the US government the money they spent on researching and publishing their report entitled: BORDER SECURITY
Enhanced DHS Oversight and Assessment of Interagency Coordination Is Needed for the Northern Border
and told them there are huge gaps in the border along the 49th. I’m sure a 5-year-old could have explained that.

Logistics people. 6,400 km of border – how do you proposed to monitor that? Across lakes, rivers, prairies and mountains. There is absolutely no economically sound way to “secure” that border.

Now if the government to the south wants to erect a wall, or put a giant moat filled with sharks between us, I say go for it. However, do not ask my government to pay for it.

While American Senators are still fear-mongering and pandering to the lowest common denominator by hinting that Canada is a terrorist safe-haven. I’m more concerned with the amount of illegal weapons that come into my country everyday from the US – a much bigger problem than terrorists as far as I’m concerned. When was the last terrorist attack in the US? And when was the last time someone was gunned down in Canada with a gun brought to Canada illegally?

I also can’t help but be jaded about the convenient timing of the release of the report. It is dated December 2010 so why did it take over a month to comment on its contents? Could it be because PM Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama are meeting on Friday and there is talk of signing a new security perimeter agreement? Hmmm…now call me crazy but stressing how dangerous Canada’s porous border security is just before talks about combining our security seems a little too calculated.

I think a perimeter security agreement is a disaster waiting to happen for the Canadian people and their government. This isn’t about being anti-American or anything of that sort but we are a sovereign nation and should remain as such. Yes, I realize that we have NAFTA and participate in NATO and those are joint ventures which link the two countries closely. I also do not think that the US influence over things like our immigration policy should be any greater than it is at the moment. With an agreement like that I feel as though it wouldn’t take much to strong-arm the government into altering policy to conform to the US government’s wishes. We do things differently here. It’s not always better, just different.  I also fear that the sharing of information between our government agencies will be detrimental to Canadians. We still have privacy laws here and nothing that comes close to resembling the Patriot Act. I’d prefer we kept that kind unrestrained power away from my personal information.

Beyond the fear of finally being rolled over by the elephant*, the type of security that is being envisioned just isn’t possible. Unless you examine every shipping container, every package, every transport truck, every car, minivan, truck, motorcycle, boat, skidoo (and yes, you can cross the border in certain places on a skidoo), and every person that enters Canada and the US there is absolutely no way to guarantee that guns, drugs, terrorists, murderers, convicts, etc. don’t go from one country to the next. 100% security does not exist. Is the US border system better than the Canadian one? Maybe but it’s not without its own faults.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative made it so that Canadians need passports or an enhanced DL or a NEXUS card to enter the US.  Fine. I am in agreement that tighter controls needed to be implemented as far as documentation to enter the US but to suggest Canadians might need VISAs? I can tell you right now if that were to be implemented without exception to travel to the US, I would never go back. That to me is beyond absurd and it would signal a disaster for any bordering US states that rely on Canadian tourism. And let us all for a moment remember than the September 11th terrorists had US VISAs and did not come through Canada.

I absolutely believe that we should on some level be coordinating our efforts along our shared border while maintaining and respecting our countries’ values and norms. Canada does need to improve its border security but that’s doesn’t mean an amalgamation with the US system.

*Living next to the United States is a little like sleeping with an elephant. You always wonder if they will roll over on you. – P.E. Trudeau


One thought on “Undefended?

  1. I agree. As a Canadian living in the US I think the issue of defense should be tweaked in the direction of the “values and norms” that both countries embody. Though not absolutely different, they are in certain social and political matters different enough. The differences need to be defended, just as joint security needs to be increased. Maybe more so for the not-elephant part of the bed.

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