Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security Meeting Summary - Borders and National Security

March 25-27, 2011, Ottawa, Ontario

Participants: The Deputy Minister of Public Safety Canada and the Associate Deputy Ministers of Public Safety Canada and of Justice, the Associate Deputy Attorney General of Canada, senior government officials from Public Safety and its portfolio (CSIS, RCMP and CBSA), Justice Canada, Transport Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada participated in the dialogue with the members.

Issues of Discussion: The 17th meeting of the Roundtable focused primarily on the issues related to borders and national security. Members were first debriefed by senior officials from the RCMP, CBSA and CSIS on the current national security priorities for each of the agencies. Discussions were held on the major elements of the Beyond the Border initiative, including the process for developig an Action Plan in this regard. An update on the scope and status of the Temporary Resident Biometrics Project was undertaken, along with a consultation to address the concerns of communities regarding the use of biometrics in the visa application process. Discussions were held on security certificates and alternatives to removal, as well as a presentation on the role of the special advocate under the security certificates. Members examined the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, with a focus on Assisted Voluntary Returns Pilot program. They were updated on the UK's counter-terrorism review. Members also highlighted their recent community activities.

Outcomes: Members generally agreed that from an economic perpective, the Beyond the Border initiative makes sense, while underlining that Canada must assert that Canada's own needs are met. Members highlighted that the Government should be cautious of the impact of the initiatives on current protections guaranteed under the Charter, the potential pressure to adopt an American style no-fly list, the extension of requirements for temporary visas and the status of First Nations under such an agreement. With regards to biometrics use for visa application process, some members felt strongly about a balanced approach that did not necessarily target only certain countries. Members discussed at length the dilemma faced when removing individuals under security certificates from Canada, between deporting individuals to countries that might practice torture, while at the same time protecting the safety of the country and its citizens.

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