What the Action Plan means for security

Washington, D.C.
7 December 2011

The Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness provides a practical road map for speeding up legitimate trade and travel across the Canada-U.S. border, while enhancing security. 

The February 2011 joint Declaration by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama called for Canada and the United States to pursue a perimeter approach to security, working together within, at and away from the borders of both countries to enhance security, while accelerating the legitimate flow of people, goods and services.

Strengthening mutual security by addressing threats as early as possible, especially at the perimeter before they arrive in North America, makes sense from both a security and an economic perspective. If Canada and the U.S. can better identify high-risk trade and travellers before they arrive at our borders, it will mean better protection for our citizens while streamlining legitimate flows of trade and travellers across the border.

What follows is a sampling of the kinds of measures to be pursued to promote greater security.

Developing a common understanding of the threat and risk environment

  • Canada and the U.S. will conduct joint intelligence assessments on national security and terrorist threats within, at, and away from our borders, so as to develop a common understanding of shared high priority threats;
  • Canada and the U.S. will review current cross-border information sharing practices to see how they can be responsibly improved between law enforcement and national security agencies;  
  • The two countries will cooperate on research and share best practices on efforts to counter violent extremism, including through community-driven approaches; and
  • Joint assessments and audits for plant, animal and food safety systems in third countries will be conducted to better protect consumers and producers in North America.

More effectively identifying people who pose a risk

  • Both countries will use improved methods to more reliably stop high-risk travellers and stop inadmissible persons from boarding planes bound for either country;
  • Entry-exit verification will be put in place so that both countries can count people coming in and going out to enforce immigration and other programs; and
  • Both countries will commit to greater information sharing with regard to persons seeking to travel to either country, so that each country has better information to independently determine who is admissible, and who is not.

Better aligning and coordinating security systems for goods, cargo and baggage

  • An integrated cargo security strategy will be developed, including common standards for screening inbound air and marine cargo at the first point of arrival in North America. Under the principle “cleared once, accepted twice,” this same cargo would then be given accelerated passage across the land border;
  • The two countries will mutually recognize each other’s air cargo security programs to better align screening efforts and resources and reduce compliance burdens on industry; and
  • The two countries will harmonize advance data requirements for clearing cargo shipments at the border to simplify the reporting burden on industry on both sides of the border.

Building on successful cooperative law enforcement programs

  • Currently, criminals can attempt to escape justice simply by crossing the border. Under the Action Plan, law enforcement officials will have better tools to pursue criminals across the border, and to bring them to justice. For example, programmes such as Shiprider allow Canadian and American law enforcement officials to operate on both sides of the border, under the direction and laws of the host country. By regularizing Shiprider and adopting the Shiprider model on land, we will be in a better position to prevent criminals from escaping justice by simply crossing the border. 
  • In some cases, law enforcement officials have difficulty communicating with each other across the border because their radios work on different frequencies. Under the Action Plan, both countries will make use of new cost-effective technology to implement an interoperable cross-border radio system that will allow police officers and other first responders to provide more timely responses to border incidents.

Enhancing resilience of shared critical and cyber infrastructure

  • Both countries will work together to enhance the protection and resilience of vital cross-border critical infrastructure, such as transportation systems, pipelines and electricity grids; and
  • Coordination between Canadian and U.S. cyber-security operations centres will be improved through closer cooperation between departments tasked with preventing and responding to cyber attacks.

Better cooperating in the preparation for disasters and emergencies

  • Both countries will take the steps necessary to quickly restore cross-border flows after an emergency. This will be accomplished by developing detailed regional plans with local officials and stakeholders, such as local police, first responders and municipal officials; and
  • Both countries will prepare together for health security threats and other binational disasters.

Further details on these initiatives are available in the Action Plan for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, available at www.borderactionplan.gc.ca