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Border issues top agenda for B.C. politician

VICTORIA, B.C. -- Ensuring borders remain open and secure to promote the free flow of legitimate trade and travel i...

VICTORIA, B.C. — Ensuring borders remain open and secure to promote the free flow of legitimate trade and travel is a top priority for Canada’s west coast province.

Balancing the need for border security with increased regional trade, tourism and economic development opportunities will top the agenda for Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations John van Dongen as he represents B.C. at the annual meeting of the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER), July 16 to 20 in Edmonton.

“As we’ve seen with the recent high-level dialogue between B.C. and Washington and the new B.C.-Alberta trade agreement, there are great benefits to be realized when B.C. works co-operatively with our partners throughout the region,” van Dongen said. “PNWER is an important forum to ensure B.C.’s voice is heard and to find common ground with our neighbours on issues that impact us all, whether it’s the impact of border security changes or the potential for more open trade.”

Minister van Dongen will be chairing a roundtable discussion on border security and public safety with federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and United States Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff on Tuesday, July 18.

The premier’s representative to PNWER, van Dongen was also appointed PNWER vice-president for Canada at last year’s annual summit. At this year’s summit, van Dongen will address B.C. priorities, including: improving access for B.C. and western Canadian goods and services to markets in the US, particularly agricultural and forestry products; advancing the development of alternative and clean energy resources such as bio-fuels, ocean tides and waves, solar, hydrogen fuel cells, and small hydro; and promoting B.C.’s role as an Asia-Pacific gateway for the Pacific Northwest region.

Founded in 1991, PNWER is a public-private bipartisan partnership whose members include B.C., Alberta, Yukon, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. PNWER’s annual summits attract approximately 400 participants, including ministers and legislators from member jurisdictions, business organizations and private-sector industry associations.

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