Canada-United States Relationship


Public Safety Canada and the portfolio agencies have a long-standing and comprehensive relationship with a broad range of U.S. counterparts. PS plays a key role in leading and supporting cooperation with the U.S. on issues of national security, emergency management, community safety, and border management. The relationship is grounded in various formal arrangements (e.g., the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Preclearance; arrangements to share no-fly lists), engagement mechanisms, and regular operational interactions, which lay the groundwork for cross-border collaboration.

The most recent major horizontal Canada-U.S. initiative was the Beyond the Border (BTB) Action Plan, launched in 2011. It included various interdepartmental initiatives to enhance security and foster economic competitiveness. While BTB ended in 2016, several PS-led BTB initiatives are now part of regular departmental business (e.g., joint threat assessments; our approach to assessing the resilience of critical infrastructure; and cybersecurity threat assessment and communication).


With the conclusion of BTB, Public Safety Canada engages bilaterally with U.S. counterparts, notably the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its agencies, to advance Canada’s safety and security agenda. Bilateral interactions, from the Minister to the working level, complement multilateral cooperation with the U.S. within the G7 and Five Eyes groups. 

Ministerial engagement
The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness’s direct U.S. counterpart is the Secretary of Homeland Security. Regular meetings take place in Washington, D.C., Ottawa, or on the margins of international meetings (e.g., G7 Security Ministers, or the annual Five Country Ministerial meeting). Chad Wolf became the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security on November 11. He has extensive experience with DHS, having been with the Department since 2002. As former chief of staff to Secretary Nielsen, he has also been engaged in ministerial meetings with Canadian Ministers. Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship leads engagement with the Secretary on issues of irregular migration and renegotiation of the Safe Third Country Agreement. The Minister of Public Safety also engages the U.S. Attorney General, as the cabinet secretary responsible for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), on issues of law enforcement and national security. 

Senior officials engagement
Public Safety Canada and the portfolio agencies chair various bilateral fora that support the implementation or help monitor progress of cross-border commitments. For example, the CBSA President co-chairs an annual Joint Senior Executive Meeting with the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection on border management issues. Public Safety’s Assistant Deputy Ministers co-chair targeted mechanisms with U.S. counterparts on preclearance (Preclearance Consultative Group) and emergency management (Emergency Management Consultative Group). These are in addition to regular bilateral engagements by departmental officials with their U.S. counterparts on issues related to emergency management (with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency); national security (with the FBI-National Targeting Center); and cybersecurity files (with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency).

[Redacted] PS also coordinates federal government engagement with the private sector-led Beyond Preclearance Coalition that includes more than 50 Canadian and U.S. stakeholders to explore opportunities for greater efficiencies and security at the Canada-U.S. border (e.g., expanded facial recognition). 


[Redacted] Under the current administration, there have been five different Secretaries of DHS, including three interim secretaries. It is unclear when President Trump intends to nominate a permanent candidate for Senate confirmation.


Next Steps

On-going interactions between senior officials of the two countries will continue to play a key role in advancing Canada’s security priorities. [Redacted]. In addition to robust on-going interactions, there could be an opportunity to focus on advancing newer issues; for example:

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