OTTAWA, Ont. — U.S. chief of homeland security, Tom Ridge, visited Ottawa yesterday to discuss border security with Foreign Affairs Minster John Manley.
Ridge said that he felt confident that Canada was committed to working with the U.S. to ensure the border was strengthened while trade wasn’t brought to a standstill.
Manley told media that meetings with Ridge were proving to be invaluable.
“We had a very useful discussion this morning,” Manley told reporters yesterday. “It provided us with an opportunity to review the progress that our teams have made working on issues related to everything from the security of people to the secure passage of goods.”
The meetings mark Ridge’s first trip outside the U.S. since taking over the newly created post.
While Ridge was said to be encouraged by the efforts to improve border security announced in Monday’s budget, there are still some differences of opinion. While Canada is pushing for wide use of pre-clearance for shipments, the U.S. appears to be hesitant to do so.
The U.S., however, is willing to put their armed Customs and border agents in Canada to help screen cargo shipments, but that would require a shift in policy to allow the gun toting officers on the Canadian side of the border.
That has renewed calls from Customs agents and their unions to allow Canadian border guards to carry firearms.
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