Ben Carson wants U.S. troops patrolling Canadian border
Suggestion comes in Republican presidential candidate's Seven Steps to a Safer America plan
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ben Carson's plan to have the military and National Guard patrol the U.S.-Canada border is being called a ludicrous and unfeasible idea by Canadian border experts.
Carson's call for troops at the border is the sixth point in his "Seven Steps to a Safer America" plan unveiled Tuesday on his website.
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U.S. President Barack Obama and Congress "should immediately deploy the National Guard and military troops to patrol the U.S. southern border as well as designated spots along the northern border," the plan reads.
Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse, whose riding is home to the busiest commercial land border crossing in North America, questioned Carson's plan, saying the Republican is just trying to one-up rival presidential candidate Donald Trump.
"It just shows another level of ignorance when it comes to the American presidential race," said Masse, the former federal critic for Canada-U.S. border relations. "To suggest that military forces patrol the northern border: the cost of that, the reasons for it and the effectiveness of it are certainly suspect at best and sheer madness at worst."
Calling for heightened border security is not much more than a political tactic that plays on people's fears and only complicates Canada-U.S. border relations, according to Bill Anderson, the Ontario research chair in cross-border transportation policy and director of the Cross-Border Transportation Centre.
"There is an element of the [U.S.] population that always sees anything across the border as a threat, and he's appealing to that element," said Anderson, who is a professor at the University of Windsor. "There is always that element or that opinion in the United States. I don't think it's the majority opinion, but it's a large enough opinion so that it has some sort of political punch and, consequently, it makes our border relations more difficult."
Carson's plan doesn't identify specific areas of the U.S.-Canada border that he feels require military patrols, but calling on the National Guard is "sort of silly," Anderson said.
"The Department of Homeland Security that secures the borders would know a lot more about how to deal with terrorists than the people who are just part of the National Guard anyway," he told CBC News.
Border security is one part of Carson's more elaborate anti-terrorism plan.
"Our country faces grave national security threats. We must act boldly and decisively to protect American citizens from terrorists at home and abroad," Carson said in a statement online.
"We can no longer dawdle while ISIS continues to persecute Christians, enslave young girls, oppress civil societies and perpetrate terrorist attacks against the free world. We must destroy their caliphate and prevent their terrorists from infiltrating our homeland. We must also secure our borders, identify radical Islamic extremism by name and root out its agents and collaborators in our own country. My Seven Steps for a Safer America offers a path forward for confronting these threats and protecting this great country."
Earlier this year, fellow Republican candidate Scott Walker, who is no longer seeking the nomination, said a wall on the Canada-U.S. border was worth considering.
Meanwhile, Trump, also seeking the Republican nomination, has previously said he'd build a wall between Mexico and the U.S., but not one on the Canadian border.
"I love Canada," Trump told CBC in September.
Republican presidential candidates face off in a fourth debate televised Tuesday night from Las Vegas. National security is expected to be a hot topic.