BTB Action Plan Update: Canada-U.S. Announce Three Key Deliverables

July 23, 2014

This Monday, Canada and the United States announced three Beyond the Border Action Plan deliverables:

Canada and the United States have the world’s largest bilateral trading relationship, and initiatives like these increase trade, enhance border security, and help make North American companies more competitive in the global market place.

From press release issued Monday:

The United States and Canada today announced the two countries are delivering on key Beyond the Border Action Plan commitments related to joint Trusted Traveler and Trusted Trader programs through U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Canada Border Services Agency. The deliverables include the official opening of the eGate pilot project that allows NEXUS members extended expedited passage at the Peace Bridge port of entry in Fort Erie, Ontario.

“Our continued success in achieving Beyond the Border milestones illustrates our commitment to a strong partnership between the United States and Canada,” said CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “The harmonization of trusted trader and traveler programs benefits those crossing the border as well as the economic security of both countries.”

“These innovative initiatives are important examples of the continued enhancements being made to these successful Trusted Traveller and Trusted Trader programs,” said The Honourable Steven Blaney, Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. “They highlight our binational commitment to initiatives outlined in the Beyond the Border Action Plan. I am confident that these steps will keep travel and trade moving efficiently and securely between Canada and the United States.”

B.C. Offers Up Columbia River Treaty Renewal Wishlist

March 14, 2014
CBC News and Reuters Canada reports on ongoing negotiations over the  Columbia River Treaty (CRT).  What’s CRT?  It’s a 1964 Canada-U.S. treaty that established the following:
  • In return for $64 million, Canada provides the United States an assured Pacific flood control plan for 40 years
  • As part of this plan, Canada had to build three dams:  the Mica, Arrow, and Duncan.
  • It permitted America to build the Libby Dam in Montana.
  • Equal Canadian and American shares in the downstream hydropower benefits of the treaty management system.

The U.S. offered it’s renewal wishlist three months ago.  This week, British Columbia has offered up its own CRT renewal wishlist.  (Check this out to learn more about the CRT’s interesting history and why the treaty’s prolonged renewal negations shouldn’t surprise anyone.)

While most press on this subject highlights the financial aspects of the deal, more significant are how Canada and the United States will manage CRT’s ecological aspects.  The treaty represents an impressive achievement of two nation’s sharing and protecting vital waterways.  

Now facing 21st century ecological tensions, CRT’s treaty renewal is a ongoing case-study in the evolution of the Canada-U.S. bilateral relationship. 

From Nicole Mordant’s Reuters Canada CRT article:

The Canadian province of British Columbia said on Thursday it wants to keep a 50-year-old Canada-U.S. pact on Columbia River flood control and power generation in place, but it urged the federal government to push for what it called improvements.

The announcement of the Pacific Coast province’s stance on renewing the Columbia River Treaty, which has been in effect since 1964, came three months after the agencies leading a U.S. review of the pact recommended that Washington continue the agreement, but that it reduce the payments it makes to Canada under the treaty.

“NORAD Next” Initiative Continues, But Political and Fiscal Roadblocks Remain

March 14, 2014

The Ottawa Citizen reports on future plans for one of NORAD, a 1958 agreement crafted to protect Canada and the United States from then Soviet nuclear threat.  

While NORAD failed to get mention in Beyond the Border’s (BTB) first report card, its proof of the benefits that Canadian and American security cooperation yields.

But, as the Ottawa Citizen points out, it’s also showing the difficulty of today’s budget politics and the still unclear benefits of developing the Arctic region.  (Learn more about NORAD and the “NORAD Next” Initiative here.)

From the Ottawa Citizen:

The joint Canada-U.S. North American Aerospace Defence Command wants improved surveillance systems to keep close tabs on increasing activity in the Arctic, particularly in the region’s waters, according to documents obtained by the Citizen.

Although the installation of any new systems wouldn’t take place until around 2025, the final report on what needs to be done will be presented to top military commanders on both sides of the border this spring.

The “Norad Next” initiative aims to provide direction for the alliance in the coming decades and determine what threats North America might face. It would see “the future modernization of the Norad surveillance network to provide improved multi-domain coverage, particularly in the Arctic region,” according to a May 2012 briefing paper obtained by the Citizen under the Access to Information law.

In addition, there have been delays and problems with the Arctic-related equipment purchases and infrastructure initiatives.

National Defence had been expecting to take delivery of the first of its Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships in 2013. That, however, was delayed to 2015. But according to documents presented to the House of Commons that delivery will now be delayed until 2018, at least.

Plans for a naval facility at Nanisivik, Nunavut, have been scaled back because of the high cost of building in the North.

Phase II of Truck Pre-Inspection Pilot Starts at Peace Bridge

February 25, 2014

Yesterday Canada and the United States announced Phase 2 of the Truck Pre-Inspection pilot project at the Peace Bridge, which will have U.S.-bound trucks pre-inspected in Canada.  The result:  reducing border wait times at a critical crossing, and testing whether such a system can be expanded to other border-crossing sites.

The Phase II pilot, launched Monday by Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Steven Blaney, Minister of National Defence Robert Nicholson, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY); and Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY), continues work that was started at the Pacific Highway border crossing between Surrey, British Columbia and Blaine, Washington as part of the Beyond the Border (BTB) Action Plan.

Learn more about how the BTB Action Plan can strengthen the Canada-U.S. economic and security relationship here.

The Public Safety Canada Phase II press release, quoting President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Perrin Beatty, sums up the pilot’s potential:  “The program has the potential to dramatically reduce wait times at one of the busiest border crossings between Canada and the U.S. Its successful implementation will go a long way towards making our shared border more efficient.”

And the DHS press release highlights the immediate value of the pilot, along with pilot’s long-term potential: 

“Today is a banner day for Western New York, its commuters, restaurants, businesses, sports teams, residents and more,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “It’s been a long road getting the Peace Bridge chosen as one of only two pilot sites in the country for pre-clearance of commercial truck traffic on the Canadian side, but I am confident it will prove worth the wait. Starting today, the pilot program will make history in Western New York, and if it’s successful, could lead to its permanence and the relocation of all truck inspections to Ontario.”

AP reporter Carolyn Thompson offers an excellent article on yesterday’s launch at

U.S. customs officers began inspecting U.S.-bound cargo trucks in Canada Monday under a pilot program intended to relieve congestion at one of the border’s busiest commercial crossings.

Authorities will watch to see whether pre-inspecting trucks on the roomier Canadian side of the Peace Bridge will reduce wait times and pollution-causing idling on the 86-year-old span between Fort Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo.

The bridge handled 1.2 million truck trips and more than $40 billion in trade last year, making it the third-busiest truck crossing on the U.S.-Canada border. The three-lane span also saw more than 4.7 million passenger cars, more than any other port of entry.

With the U.S. side of the bridge lacking space to increase capacity, lawmakers have for several years wanted to shift some inspections to Canada. But they faced a myriad of jurisdictional and other obstacles, including objections to armed U.S. officers working in Canada, which only recently armed its border officers.

“The reaction of most people was to throw up their hands and say let’s forget about it, and we persisted,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said at a news conference attended by Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Canada’s minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, Steven Blaney. “We just had to keep showing people how important this was to our mutual economy. That’s the bottom line here.”

North American Leaders Summit–aka ‘Three Amigos’ Summit–Slated for Wednesday

February 17, 2014

Wednesday, the leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States will meet at the Three Amigos Summit to discuss issues facing this critical trilateral relationship.  Top issues will include trade, border security, and Canadian visa requirements on Mexican travelers.

The Financial Times offers an illuminating macro-level look at the North American trilateral relationship, emphasizing the nations deep trade ties and the thorny issues of immigration and border security.

The Calgary Herald offers some excellent reporting in their piece emphasizing efforts to have Canada, Mexico, and the United States to pursue a more coordinated approach to economic decision-making.  The article, by Jordan Press, offers insight from Mexico’s undersecretary of foreign affairs Sergio Alcocer Martinez and former Mexican foreign service official Andres Rozental.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and President Barack Obama will meet in Toluca, Mexico.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast will be in Mexico Monday and Tuesday as well, with Canada and Mexico expected to sign an expanded airline access agreement.

2014 Canadian Budget: RCC & BtB Highlights

February 12, 2014

Canadian Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tabled the 2014 Canadian federal budget yesterday.  And it the 2014 Canadian federal budget plan highlights key Beyond the Border (BtB) accomplishments and a new Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) objective.

Regarding RCC, the 2014 Canadian federal budget plan calls for aligning common classification and labeling requirements for workplace hazardous chemicals.

And with Beyond the Border (BtB), the budget plan shows the just how BtB is enhancing the Canada-U.S. economic partnership:

Over the past year, significant progress has been made across all areas of work under the Beyond the Border Action Plan. Benefits are emerging for citizens, travellers and businesses in both countries as we work together.

Among the key accomplishments, Canada and the U.S.:

• Increased membership in the NEXUS trusted traveller program to more than 917,000, a 50-per-cent increase since the Beyond the Border Action Plan was announced, and provided members with additional time-saving benefits, including eight additional NEXUS lanes at land border crossings.
• Successfully implemented Phase I of the truck cargo pre-inspection pilot at Pacific Highway, British Columbia, in which U.S. officials pre-inspected approximately 3,500 U.S.-bound commercial trucks.
• Increased and harmonized the threshold value for low-value commercial shipments, providing access to expedited customs clearance for 1.5 million additional shipments annually into Canada, and reducing transaction costs for industry.
• Launched Phase II of the joint Entry/Exit program at the common land border whereby the record of entry into one country is securely shared and becomes the record of exit from the other country for all travellers who are neither citizens of Canada nor of the United States, thereby enhancing the integrity of our immigration systems.
• Released the first joint Border Infrastructure Investment Plan and confirmed Canadian border expansion projects at North Portal, Saskatchewan ($10 million); Emerson, Manitoba ($10 million); Lansdowne, Ontario ($60 million); and Lacolle, Quebec ($47 million).

Both countries remain committed to implementing this long-term initiative, which will further strengthen the Canada-U.S. partnership, and will continue to work closely with stakeholders to allow for regular and extensive consultations as implementation continues.

Canadian BtB Action Plan Update: CBCNews Focuses on IT Delays, But What About BtB’s Successes & Potential High-Yield Security and Trade Dividends?

December 3, 2013

Last Friday, Public Safety Canada released a progress report on the Beyond the Border Action Plan.  CBCNews discusses the report, highlighting IT and other delays.

Admittedly, the report makes 2013-14 the critical year for BtB outcomes.

But the report offers two other significant take-aways: (1) the gradual but concrete progress Canada has made in the Beyond the Border Action Plan and (2) BtB’s sweeping nature and potentially high-yield return.

BtB’s Scale & Scope:  What $40.3 Million Can Deliver for Canadian–and North American–Trade and Security in One Year

With only $40.3 million spent, multiple Canadian departments made progress 34 initiatives that cover everything from trade facilitation, border security, integrated cross-border law enforcement, and critical infrastructure and cyber security.

When one reviews the report, it’s hard to say this spending–even if only partially successful–doesn’t represent a wise and potentially high-return investment.

Effective border security and trade facilitation between Canada and the United States does not require immense funds; rather, it requires targeted, coordinated action that results in more effective and efficient funding.  This report shows both nations are committed to such an approach.

Gradual But Concrete Progress

Some results:

-2003 border security enforcement actions facilitated by pre-arrival targeting.

-A over 4 second decrease in the processing time in Nexus lanes, and 2 second decrease in conventional lanes.

-Real progress made in critical infrastructure and cyber security.  Admittedly, the starting point was low–but it’s hard to believe in 2011 that there wasn’t a joint approach to cyber security communication products or private sector/external stakeholder engagements.

Read the entire report below.

View this document on Scribd


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 111 other followers

%d bloggers like this: