Compliance Management, Privacy

Shared border vision agreement nearing completion, say sources

Talks on the unified border agreement between Canada and the United States first unveiled in February are complete, according to reports.

The intiative, Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness," announced last February, outlined a vision to align U.S. and Canadian security. Sources familiar with the matter revealed this weekend that talks on around three dozen separate border unification measures have concluded.

The hope is that these measures – possibly included prescreening of products at the factory rather than at the border – will help to facilitate trade and shipments between the two countries, which have historically been huge trading partners. Other benefits could include making it easier to obtain membership in the NEXUS program, which provides fast-track security clearance for selected travellers between the two nations.

Some commentators are nevertheless worried that the agreement could see Canada cede some of its citizens' privacy to the U.S., which has, since 9/11, had a tendency to store information on private citizens in vast databases.

“If Canadians are not vigilant, they may soon discover that the Americans have more control over their privacy rights than we do at home,” wrote Gar Pardy, a former member of the foreign service who worked on American-Canadian issues in both Washington and Ottawa, in the Ottawa Citizen.

An Ipsos-Reid study in early September found that 58 percent of Canadians are more concerned about a terrorist attack in their own borders than before 9/11. Seventy percent support the Shared Border Vision initiative, while three in 10 are worried about sovereignty and privacy.

The official announcement and signing of the agreement could come as early as late September, reports concluded.

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