The Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness provides a practical roadmap for speeding up legitimate trade and travel across the Canada-U.S. border, while enhancing security.
It proposes a shift in how Canada and the United States will jointly manage security risks and the movement of people, goods and services in North America. Traditionally, those efforts have focused on the border between our two countries. The Action Plan proposes to shift that focus to the perimeter of North America and to address threats as early as possible.
Doing so makes sense from both a security and an economic point of view. If Canada and the United States can identify high-risk trade and travellers before they arrive at our borders, better protection can be provided to our citizens and our communities, pressures can be relieved at our shared border and legitimate flows of trade and travellers can be streamlined.
Such an important change cannot happen overnight or even over one year. It requires careful planning and testing. The Action Plan proposes several pilot projects as prime tools for validating new approaches to bring about, step by step, this ambitious, but achievable transformation of our border management. They are an integral part of the Action Plan because they allow us to “test-drive” innovative solutions and make necessary changes before launching programmes. This will help save time and money and it will deliver better value for taxpayer dollars.
A case in point is the pilot projects which will be launched in September 2012 in Prince Rupert and Montreal under the Integrated Cargo Security Strategy. The strategy is designed to address the risks associated with shipments arriving from offshore countries at their first port of entry, so that subsequent re-screening at the border can be reduced to a minimum. If the results of the pilot projects prove positive, this approach would become the new normal for checking cargo from third countries and thus relieving pressures at the Canada-U.S. border.
Another example of pilot project testing under the Action Plan is in law enforcement. Over the years Canada and the United States have developed successful models for preventing criminals from crossing the border in order to escape justice. For example, the Shiprider program employs cross-designated officers to patrol the waterways between our two countries.
The Action Plan proposes to launch so-called “Next Generation” Canada-U.S. integrated border enforcement teams that will include best practices from other existing programs such as the Border Enforcement Security Task Force program by the end of the summer of 2012. These law enforcement projects will be on land, but they will draw their inspiration from the Shiprider program. If the results of the pilot projects are positive, these operations would be regularized and become a permanent feature of cross-border law enforcement.
The Action Plan provides for pilot projects in a number of other areas as well. The following are just a few specific examples:
- In April 2012 a one-year pilot project will be initiated to provide trusted trader benefits to the processed food sector;
- In September 2012 a truck-cargo pre-inspection pilot project will be launched in at least one border crossing in Canada;
- In June 2012 a one-year pilot project will begin for advance review and clearance of official certification and alternative approaches to import inspection activities for fresh meat; and
- Also in June 2012, as part of establishing an entry and exit information system on travellers, a pilot project will be launched concerning third-country nationals, permanent residents of Canada and lawful residents of the United States at two to four automated common land border ports of entry.
The results and evaluation of these pilot projects will be part and parcel of the reports that will be prepared each year for the Prime Minister and the President and shared with Parliament and Canadians on the implementation of the Action Plan.
Further details on these initiatives are available in the Action Plan for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca