Risk Management and Perimeter Security

February 4, 2011 Canada AM: Colin Robertson, former diplomat A former Canadian diplomat says Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama will work towards reintroducing risk management in attempt to balance preventing a terrorist attack and continue a steady flow of commerce.

Comments Off on Risk Management and Perimeter Security

Breaking down borders

From Globe and Mail February 4, 2011 by John Ibbitson  Breaking down borders: Canada-U.S. trade and security

Much of the material used in this Folio comes from a draft paper written by retired diplomat Colin Robertson for the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and the Canadian International Council. It is a look at what the agreements might look like once drawn up.

From Vancouver Sun February 4, 2011 by Barbara Yaffe Border-security talks politically dicey for PM

The Conservative government has released few details about the Washington meeting, the second such powwow between the two North American leaders.

Their discussions are expected to deal with a plan to “take economic integration between Canada and the U.S. to the next level,” reports former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.

Robertson, in an article released Thursday, predicts a draft agreement for a security perimeter deal will be in place by November.

He says the goal should be to turn the 49th parallel into “a boundary, not a barrier,” and calls for a reintroduction of the principle of risk management.

A deal could see both countries’ military forces becoming interoperable, writes Robertson. It would feature cooperative deals on trade and border management, and include harmonization of government regulations and more intelligence sharing.

It also could force biometric scanning for all Canadians crossing the border.

“Sharing migration information is likely to be the major public sticking point in Canada — and a key requirement for the U.S.,” he predicts.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, created after 9/11, now has 200,000 employees and spent $56.4 billion in 2010.

In a bit of unfortunate timing, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report Tuesday highlighting perceived security weaknesses along the northern border.

Connecticut Independent Senator Joe Lieberman declared the northern border “unacceptably ineffective,” noting: “Canadians do have more lenient asylum and immigration laws than we do here.”

Robertson, in an article released Thursday, predicts a draft agreement for a security perimeter deal will be in place by November.

He says the goal should be to turn the 49th parallel into “a boundary, not a barrier,” and calls for a reintroduction of the principle of risk management.

A deal could see both countries’ military forces becoming interoperable, writes Robertson. It would feature cooperative deals on trade and border management, and include harmonization of government regulations and more intelligence sharing.

It also could force biometric scanning for all Canadians crossing the border.

“Sharing migration information is likely to be the major public sticking point in Canada — and a key requirement for the U.S.,” he predicts.

Critics also fear the deal could force more restrictive immigration and refugee policies on Canada.

The project, politically, is dicey for the PM. While Obama remains popular in Canada and a sit-down with the president could enhance Harper’s own standing, there’s a downside, especially in advance of a possible election.

The Liberal Opposition issued a news release Thursday condemning Harper for holding “clandestine meetings with American officials.”

According to foreign affairs critic Bob Rae, “Mr. Harper is leaving Canadians in the dark about a major decision that will potentially affect every aspect of their lives.”

Robertson makes no prediction about the outcome of today’s session. “The president told us that he loved us when he made his first trip to Ottawa,” he recalled.

“Now we will find out how much.”

Comments Off on Breaking down borders