MONTREAL, Que. — Canadians can expect the border backlog to ease within weeks rather than years, explains U.S. ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci.
“I think we’re talking weeks and months as opposed to years,” Cellucci explained following a speech at a Canadian Club luncheon.
“I think there’s a sense of urgency to all this.”
Security measures were tightened after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, but Cellucci notes the United States and Canada are taking further steps to build “a zone of confidence” in North America.
Both countries signed a joint agreement last week that will see improved co-operation in areas such as visa requirements. More customs and immigration staff will be hired to work along the border and more will be done to stop suspicious new arrivals before they leave their country of origin.
Both Canada and the U.S. have pledged to expand “smart border” technology, such as automated passes for those who frequently cross the border, says Cellucci.
Technology also could be better used to detect false documents and share information, “so we can keep out those who seek to do harm,” he adds.
On the trade front, Cellucci says it’s crucial that traffic flow smoothly across the border because trade between the two countries is valued at $1.4 billion a day.
“Some have cast this as a choice between security and prosperity,” Cellucci says.
“There is no choice. We can not have one without the other. Security is the necessary foundation on which we build our prosperity.”
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