By: Chuck Andary,Windsor Law Student
To be fair, I didn’t really know what to expect with this deal – especially with regards to how it would affect me, someone who crosses the border a couple of times per month. From the lead-up, however, one could reasonably have expected something grand, something that integrated border security between the two countries and had a major positive effect on those who pose no threat. Alas, when the President of the United States won’t even make time to announce the deal with his Canadian counterpart, it is fairly obvious that the deal fell short of its lofty ambitions.
Really, though, did it have lofty ambitions? Sure, there was chatter of a fence along the border, worries of Canadians’ information being given to the Americans (“selling our sovereignty”), and predictions of a raucous House of Commons session thanks, in part, to the agreement. All of this, though, was mere speculation. For the individual who confined him or herself to the official government website on the deal, there were few surprises upon its announcement.
The reports on the public consultations focused on making trade and travel easier between the two countries. The government tells us through the website that, in order to do this, there needs to be a system in place to address threats early. This means more co-operation between the two agencies, and, while a more integrated security regime is advocated, this could simply mean improved information sharing from its current state, rather than to the level that some find alarming.
Does the plan do what it sets out to do? Canada will beef up its security equipment in order to identify potential threats early, addressing the security aspect of the proposal. Both countries will attempt to share information on potential threats at a level better than it is currently being done, addressing the integration aspect of the proposal. Canada will offer special visas for certain business travellers and improve upon trusted-shipper programs, addressing the proposals for improved travel. There will be less paperwork for companies that don’t seek duty-free treatment for shipments because of the hassle, addressing the proposal to improve trade. There are several other measures, all to the same tune as the ones discussed.
Is this the revolutionary deal that integrates security between the two countries while virtually eliminating trade and travel barriers? No. This deal does not go as far as most reporters and commentators speculated that it would. It does, however, do what the official government releases said it would do – at least in a modest sense – and improve upon trade, travel, and security. The hype was fair, given the fact that the Prime Minister and President were directly involved in talks leading up to this deal, but the lack of fanfare from both parties at the culmination indicates just how much this deal achieved; the minimum of what it set out to do in official government press releases.