Windsor

Security main topic at Canada-U.S. border conference

Security is the main topic of discussion at the second annual meeting between border officials from Canada and the United States in Detroit this week.
R. Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency says Canadian officials are supportive of privacy and information sharing and are working on that together. (Makda Ghebreslassie/CBC)

Security is the main topic of discussion at the second annual meeting between border officials from Canada and the United States in Detroit this week.

The two countries are working toward a North American Security Perimeter, said R. Gil Kerlikowske the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but he assures that Canadian sovereignty is being preserved.

"We've had a lot of successes," he said. "It certainly isn't the United States imposing what we do on some other country."

Bill Anderson is the research chair in cross border transportation at the University of Windsor. He says the two countries are trying to work out a system at airports similar to the Shiprider program, in which American and Canadian authorities patrol the Great Lakes on the same ships, and laws of both countries are respected.

"There would be not only under the presence of Canadian officials, but they would actually be under the command of the Canadian officer if you're in Canadian waters," said Anderson. "If you're in U.S. waters that same ship comes under the command of the U.S. officer that's involved."

Anderson said the border between the two countries won't be wide open, unless customs and labour laws are harmonized.

"So because you don't have these sort of wide open customs rules and wide-open mobility of labour rules, like you have in Europe, you're going to have to have border checks," he said.

Later Wednesday officials will be discussing technology perspectives at ports of entry, including biometrics, surveillance and sharing information.

The presenting panel will also address the differences between small and large ports of entry as well as challenges of shared ports of entry.

The conference wraps up Wednesday afternoon.

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