Industry Minister frustrated by slow border

WASHINGTON — Federal Industry Minister Jim Prentice arrived in Washington, D.C. this week with a simple message: a slow border is bad for business, so fix it.

“These problems have created a two-headed monster. We want security and prosperity. Instead, we make it more difficult to have either,” Prentice said in a speech to a conference on the Americas in Washington.

“Not only do we hamper the legitimate trade and travel that provide the foundation for North America’s prosperity, but we are also clearly misallocating resources.”

According to Canwest News Service, Prentice told reporters his tough talk was an attempt at prodding the U.S. to invest more funding in border infrastructure – especially the Ambassador Bridge between Michigan and Ontario.

Prentice’s comments about the thickening border between Canada and the U.S. were more forward than discussions between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President George W. Bush during the North American Leader Summit in New Orleans in April.

Following the tripartite summit, Harper said he and Bush are putting “special emphasis” on the Detroit-Windsor border crossing in an effort to boost trade.

“We agreed that continuing to improve and expand trade is the key to greater prosperity for our peoples, and we are putting special emphasis on the Detroit-Windsor crossing,” he noted in a press conference following the summit.

Harper also pointed to the impact of increased security measures on cross-border traffic. “To that end, I specifically raised concerns about the so-called thickening of the Canada-U.S. border.”

— with files from Canwest News Service

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