Border security summit postponed

OTTAWA — A highly touted sit down between Stephen Harper and Barack Obama on a perimeter security pact will have to wait.

According to media reports, the so-called security summit won’t happen before February and possibly late spring. Actual implementation, if it happens, will take years.

Observers say that the complexity of the proposed partnership – including privacy issues regarding information sharing between the two countries – is delaying the harmonization process.

As well, Canadian immigration policies are seen as too lax by many American politicians.

The purpose of the pact is to streamline border security processes, but could also require new entry and customs-clearance procedures for offshore goods and people.

It’s hoped the changes will remove redundancy and tighten security for both nations while also freeing up passage for approved travelers and cargo.

Canadian business and trade groups have complained that since the 9-11 the myriad of strict — and sometimes overlapping — border controls have hamstrung commerce.

One proposal is to expand pre-clearance facilities for trucks on the Canadian side of the border.

Until now, the U.S. has shrugged off such expansion because Customs officers wouldn’t have full arrest powers on this side of the border.

Another component is to harmonize biometric data and processes such as fingerprints or iris scans of travelers.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance approves of the pact to get goods flowing more efficiently, but stresses that programs already in place (like FAST, C-TPAT or PIP) should not be ignored or quickly abandoned after years of operation.  

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