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U.S. envoy backs improved Can-Am border

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- We can't allow terrorists to win the battle for the border, the U.S. ambassador to Canada says.


WASHINGTON, D.C. — We can’t allow terrorists to win the battle for the border, the U.S. ambassador to Canada says.

“If border delays result in factories closing and people getting laid off, it’s just another way for terrorists to win,” says Ambassador Paul Cellucci. “We cannot allow that to happen.”

He stresses “smart” borders are a must as we attempt to speed the flow of goods between Canada and the U.S.

“Basically, what we want to do is use technology to get the low-risk vehicles out of line so our customs and immigration officers can spend time with the people they don’t know as opposed to the people they do know.”

Cellucci says there will need to be a true partnership with, “each country having confidence in what the other country does as people arrive from overseas.”

Billed as a “zone of confidence,” a web of intelligence and police work could be employed to snare would-be wrong-doers rather than putting all of the responsibility at the border itself.

“We both need to do a better job here,” he says.

New technologies that identify false documents, and information sharing would underpin new border policies. Cellucci stresses the nearly 9,000-kilometre border would become something like a semi-permeable membrane: closed to foreign threats but wide open to business.

“We know the companies. We know the cargo. We know the truck drivers. This could also be tracked electronically,” he says. “As we build this zone of confidence in North America, we will then make sure that the U.S.-Canada border does not become an impediment to the economic recovery that we need in both of our countries.”

Tom Ridge, director of the U.S. office of homeland security, and John Manley, then foreign affairs minister, signed an agreement on “smart borders” in December.

Cellucci expects many of its measures will be in place by the time Prime Minister Jean Chretien and U.S. President George W. Bush meet at the G-8 summit this summer in Kananaskis, Alta. The summit will focus on the global campaign against terrorism and how to rebuild economies shaken by terror.


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