Monday, April 04, 2011

ACTION ALERT: Tell the Harper government you oppose its perimeter security plan

From The Council of Canadians

On March 13, the Harper government announced it was accepting on-line submissions on the Beyond the Border Action Plan announced in Washington, D.C. five weeks earlier on February 4.
Minister of State Denis Lebel told a news conference that, “We are committed to consulting with Canadians on the implementation of the shared vision for perimeter security and economic competitiveness.” This ‘security perimeter’ plan is essentially a continuation and expansion of the Security and Prosperity Partnership only without Mexico this time. That much we can guess from promotional material on the government's website.
But no one can know for sure what ‘perimeter security’ means until the details, which are being developed behind closed doors, are announced in June. And we are being asked to suggest only improvements (not criticisms) of a plan we haven't seen. Furthermore, the government is clearly prioritizing the input of business groups, though all Canadian residents will be impacted by deeper security ties with the United States.
That said, there is still a space for written submissions on the Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness website -- so why not use it? Here's how you can do it, and some talking points if you need them.



TAKE ACTION

Send your thoughts on the Harper government's SPP-plus perimeter security plan and send us a copy at inquiries@canadians.org. We'll compile your comments and post them to our website.
You can use the government's online form here: https://www.borderactionplan-plandactionfrontalier.gc.ca/psec-scep/comments-commentaires.aspx. Or you can send your submission by mail or e-mail to the addresses below:
Beyond the Border Working Group
235 Queen Street, Office 1020C
Ottawa ON K1A 0H5
E-mail: border@ic.gc.ca
TALKING POINTS
1 - An online consultation is not sufficient public consultation for a plan that is being dubbed as the biggest North American deal since NAFTA. It is also difficult to comment on a perimeter plan when we don't have the details yet. There should be open public consultations and lengthy parliamentary scrutiny, with the ability to make changes to the plan, once those details are released early this summer.
2 - The links between economic prosperity and a U.S. version of security are not obvious. If the financial crisis and current environmental crisis have taught us anything, it's that ecological and economic security are much more important priorities for people and governments around the world. NAFTA has increased trade between Canada and the U.S. but not prosperity for the majority of Canadians or Americans. Regulatory cooperation measures announced in a side-statement to the Beyond the Border perimeter security plan may undermine efforts in the United States and Canada to set stronger environmental and public health policies and regulations than currently exist.
3 - There is little evidence of a major problem with the flow of goods and people across the Canada-U.S. border. We have some anecdotal evidence but where is the independent impact assessment of U.S. security demands since 2001 on border flows? David Wilkins, the former U.S. ambassador to Canada, recently claimed that stories of a "thicker" border are exaggerated. What problem is perimeter security looking to solve if not border flows?
4 - A common understanding of the ‘threat environment’ and how to respond to it, as proposed in the February 4 joint declaration, really means a U.S. understanding. Canada will be asked to fear the same thing the U.S. government fears, and to respond in a similar way. A perimeter security approach will mean a jointly patrolled outer perimeter under de facto U.S. control. Canada will end up with a U.S.-patrolled external border and a U.S-controlled internal border.
5 - Recommendations from the Maher Arar Commission into his deportation to Syria from the U.S. stated that Canada should more carefully monitor the operations of its numerous security agencies. These recommendations have gone unanswered by the Harper government. More information sharing across the border without proper checks and balances may undermine the civil liberties of Canadians and Americans alike.

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