Goodale confirms new agreement with U.S. as Trudeau mingles with Obama

While joining Justin Trudeau in Washington D.C., Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has confirmed that the U.S. and Canada have finalized a pre-clearance agreement for people travelling between the two countries.

Public safety minister joined Justin Trudeau, delegates for official White House visit

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is scheduled to attend a luncheon with Secretary of State John Kerry and a meeting with Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.​ (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Fresh off attending the U.S. State dinner at the White House with Justin Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has confirmed that he and his U.S. counterpart have finalized and signed off on a pre-clearance agreement for people travelling between the two countries. 

Goodale finalized the deal with Jeh Johnson, the U.S. Homeland Security secretary, during a trip that include meeting President Barack Obama and getting a private tour of the Oval Office.

"We'll expand our pre-clearance system, whereby you can pre-clear U.S. customs and immigration on the Canadian side," he said. "And when you cross the border [into the U.S.], you land as if you're a domestic traveller."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau applauds US President Barack Obama during a state dinner on Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Washington. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Goodale noted that he and Johnson agreed to the arrangement for border security and to increase efficiency at the border, especially when it comes to trade and business. 

"You can do that now at eight airports in Canada: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax," he said.

The new agreement is expanded into the field of cargo, so that it too can be pre-cleared. It also adds to the list of airports where pre-clearance might work. It's not clear when or if pre-clearance is coming to Saskatchewan airports, but Goodale said it's on his radar.

"I made sure that places like Regina and Saskatoon got into the conversation," he said.

Goodale was on CBC's The Morning Edition with Sheila Coles Friday morning to discuss the new agreement and what the state dinner was like.

He confirmed the pre-clearance agreement was signed by him and Johnson; there's also an entry and exit information sharing agreement between the U.S. and Canada that's related to pre-clearance work, he said.

Another aspect of the work will deal with what Goodale called "false positives:" that is, people who've been mistakenly put on no-fly lists. 

During the dinner, he was seated between Johnson and deputy national security advisor, Amy Pope, which where is some of the border talk happened.

Private tour of the White House

The evening wasn't all negotiations and dealing; Goodale said that Johnson took him on a private tour of several storied parts of the White House. 

"[He] gave us a tour of the West Wing, the cabinet offices and the Oval Office." Goodale said. "He was able to point out the exact spot where he was sworn in and where president sits during cabinet meetings.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama pose for a photo with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau at the North Portico of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 10, 2016, as they arrive for a state dinner. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

"It was really special."

The evening had a touch of celebrity, with several notable Canadians in attendance: "Michael J. Fox, Mike Myers, Lorne Michaels, Ryan Reynolds, Sandra Oh. It was quite an interesting, eclectic group. The sense in the evening was that there was something worth celebrating."


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