Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security Meeting Summary - Canada-U.S Relations - Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness

February 24-26, 2012, Ottawa, Ontario

Participants:  The Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Public Safety, the Associate Deputy Ministers of Public Safety Canada and Justice Canada, senior officials from Public Safety, Justice, and Citizenship and Immigration, as well as the RCMP, CSIS and CBSA, participated in the dialogue with the members.

Issues of Discussion: The 20th meeting of the Roundtable provided an opportunity to review various aspects of the Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness.  The meeting opened with a presentation by a representative from the Pacific North-West Economic Region on challenges faced at the Canada-U.S. border by businesses and business travelers from both countries. Members were updated on the work related to information-sharing with the United States.  They were also provided with a detailed overview of Citizenship and Immigration's Perimeter Action Plan initiatives, including information in relation to the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), immigration information-sharing, and an action plan on asylum cooperation.  Members were given an overview of the development of an integrated entry/exit system, and also examined the evolution of integrated cross-border law enforcement.  Members were also consulted on how to better enhance the Government of Canada's efforts to address human smuggling.  Members were briefed on Bill S-7, the Combating Terrorism Act, which, among other things, proposes to re-enact the investigative hearing and the recognizance with conditions provisions that were created originally created by the Anti-terrorism Act of 2001 with additional safeguards.

Outcomes:  Members discussed at length several issues related to labour mobility between the two countries, such as Visas, the NEXUS program, and the importance of consistency of procedures for all border personnel at all border crossings.  They stressed the importance of involving the public early on when implementing new initiatives to get their buy-in and hear their concerns.  Members highlighted that information-sharing on Canadian citizens must adhere to the highest standards in terms of "need-to-know" and privacy principles, and underlined the importance of reciprocity in information-sharing and in ensuring that Canada also receives information in return.  Members supported the monitoring of the entry and exit of individuals in Canada, but highlighted several issues which could be challenging, such as keeping track of individuals who have multiple citizenships and passports.  Generally, members supported the collaboration of law enforcement agencies of both Canada and the U.S., but noted that the Canadian approach to law enforcement should be utilized on Canadian soil.  Members also commented on the recent release of Canada's Counter-terrorism Strategy.  While members acknowledged that the document brings much needed clarity to the Government's approach with regard to countering terrorism, all members agreed that the use of terminology that is too broad is highly problematic, and could be perceived as painting a whole community as a potential threat.



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