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The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs


December 6, 2002 

In December 2001, Deputy Prime Minister John Manley and Governor Tom Ridge signed the Smart Border Declaration and associated 30-point Action Plan to enhance the security of our shared border while facilitating the legitimate flow of people and goods.  The Action Plan has four pillars: the secure flow of people, the secure flow of goods, secure infrastructure, and information sharing and coordination in the enforcement of these objectives. 

On September 9, 2002, Prime Minister Chrétien and President Bush met to discuss progress on the Smart Border Action Plan and asked that they be updated regularly on the work being done to modernize our common border.  This report is the first update since the meeting of the Prime Minister and the President.



Canada and the United States have agreed to develop common standards for the biometrics that we use and have also agreed to adopt interoperable and compatible technology to read these biometrics.  In the interest of having cards that could be used across different modes of travel, we have agreed to use cards that are capable of storing multiple biometrics.

Our countries have begun to integrate biometric capabilities into new programs being deployed.  For example, the NEXUS-Air pilot program will evaluate iris scanning technology and the new Canadian Permanent Resident Card is biometric-ready.



Since June 28, 2002, Permanent Resident Cards have been issued to all new immigrants arriving in Canada, replacing the IMM 1000.  On October 15, 2002, Canada began processing applications for the Permanent Resident Card, for the purposes of travel, from immigrants with permanent resident status already in Canada.  Effective December 31, 2003, the IMM 1000 will no longer be recognized as a document valid for travel.

The Canadian permanent resident card contains features that make it one of the most fraud-resistant documents in the world.  The card has been recognized by the International Card Manufacturers Association, winning the Elan Award for Technical Achievement.


NEXUS is functional at Sarnia-Port Huron (since November 2000), at Pacific Highway-Blaine and Douglas-Blaine (since June 26, 2002) and Boundary Bay-Point Roberts (since July 29, 2002).  NEXUS will be operational at both the Windsor-Detroit and Fort Erie-Buffalo bridges on January 23, 2003, and at the Windsor-Detroit tunnel in March 2003. NEXUS will be expanded to the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, the Rainbow Bridge and to the Whirlpool Bridge by Spring 2003.  NEXUS will also be expanded to all other high-volume crossings between the two countries by the end of 2003.  NEXUS enrollment centres opened in Windsor-Detroit and in Fort Erie-Buffalo on October 24, 2002.

Canada and the United States are also working to implement a joint NEXUS - Air program for air travellers.  NEXUS - Air will be piloted at Ottawa and Dorval International Airports.  Enrollment will begin in April 2003. 



Canada and the United States have made significant progress on a Statement of Mutual Understanding (SMU) which will allow them to more effectively exchange information on immigration-related issues.  The two countries are also very close to an agreement which will permit the systematic sharing of information relating to asylum seekers.  This will help each country identify potential security and criminality threats and expose "forum shoppers" who seek asylum in both systems.  This exchange of information will be in accordance with the privacy laws of both countries.



Canada and the United States have signed a Safe Third Country Agreement that allows both countries to manage the flow of individuals seeking to access their respective asylum systems.  The Agreement will cover asylum claims made at land border ports of entry. 

The Agreement is bound by the principle of family re-unification in determining whether an individual would be exempted from the requirement of making a claim in the first country of arrival.  The Agreement also clearly identifies that individuals making a claim in either country would not be removed to another country until a determination of that person’s claim has been made.

Both countries will now finalize the regulatory framework and standard operating procedures necessary to implement this Agreement.


Canada and the United States have agreed to enhance cooperation between our respective Embassies overseas, which will allow our officials to more routinely and more efficiently share information on intelligence and specific data concerning high-risk individuals.  The two countries have also agreed to formally consult one another during the process of reviewing a third country for the purpose of either a visa imposition or visa exemption.

Canada and the United States are also continuing to work together to identify countries that pose security concerns with a view toward further cooperation on visa policy.  In February 2002, the United States announced that nationals of Argentina would require a visa to travel to the United States.  In September 2002, Canada announced that citizens of Saudi Arabia and Malaysia would require visas to travel to Canada.  Canada and the United States currently have common visa policies for 144 countries.



The in-transit preclearance project in Vancouver, suspended as a result of the events of September 11, was re-instated on February 14, 2002.

In support of the preclearance program, the two countries signed "The Agreement on Air Transport Preclearance between The Government of Canada and The Government of the United States of America" on January 18, 2001.  It allows for the expansion of in-transit preclearance to other Canadian airports and also has provisions that modernize the regime governing preclearance.

U.S. government agencies are seeking the authority from Congress to offer reciprocal authorities and immunities for Canadian customs and immigration officials in the United States.



Canada and the United States have agreed to share Advance Passenger

Information and Passenger Name Records (API/PNR) on high-risk travelers destined to either country.  Canada implemented its Passenger Information system (PAXIS) at Canadian airports on October 8, 2002 to collect Advance Passenger Information.  The automated Canada-U.S. API/PNR data-sharing program will be in place by Spring 2003.



Canada and the United States have agreed to a co-location of customs and immigration officers in Joint Passenger Analysis Units to more intensively cooperate in identifying potentially high-risk travelers.

Pilot joint passenger analysis units became operational at the Vancouver and Miami international airports on September 30, 2002, staffed with Canadian and U.S. officials.  The pilot sites will be evaluated at the end of six months to determine the feasibility of expanding the units to other locations.



We have completed a marine benchmark study to enhance Canadian and U.S. border security at seaports aimed at improving security and contraband interception.  Agencies have begun to make improvements based on this study. 



Canada and the United States have begun discussions towards developing parallel immigration databases to facilitate regular information exchange.  The United States is studying the feasibility of duplicating Canadian intelligence gathering software at six pilot sites.  Other examples of information exchange include lookouts from our respective databases and automating existing exchanges.



Canada and the United States have begun deploying new immigration officers overseas to deal with document fraud, liaison with airlines and local authorities, and work with other countries to ensure intelligence liaison and to interrupt the flow of illegal migrants to North America. 

In the past year, Canada has deployed additional officers for this purpose, bringing to 74 the total number of officers engaged in these areas.  In 2002 and 2003, the United States will deploy 85 new temporary officials with 40 new officials being deployed permanently.

Working together, Canada and the United States will continue to strengthen their capacity to ensure the integrity of their immigration programs, to combat document fraud, and to interdict irregular migrants.



Canada and the United States have worked together to provide technical assistance to developing countries to deal with threats to our shared security.  These cooperative efforts will continue.  Joint interdiction exercises and joint training programs will assist other countries to combat document fraud and irregular migration.  Such assistance includes improving document integrity, providing expertise on border controls, and joint training.

In addition, Canada and the United States conducted a joint presentation to the European Community CIREFI (Immigration Center of the Council of the European Union) meeting in June, regarding the immigration items in the Smart Border Action Plan.



Canada and the United States have established a joint program for low-risk companies that will expedite the movement of low-risk shipments in either direction across the border.  The program, known as Free and Secure Trade (FAST), will be available at the following high-volume border crossings:

  • Douglas, British Columbia / Blaine, Washington (December 31, 2002)

  • Sarnia, Ontario / Port Huron, Michigan (December 16, 2002)

  • Windsor, Ontario / Detroit, Michigan (December 16, 2002)

  • Fort Erie, Ontario / Buffalo, New York (December 16, 2002)

  • Queenston, Ontario / Lewiston, New York (December 31, 2002)

  • Lacolle, Quebec / Champlain, New York (December 31, 2002)

Canada and the United States are working to align other customs processes for all commercial shipments by 2005.



Canada and the United States are developing approaches to move customs and immigration inspection activities away from the border to improve security and relieve congestion where possible.

Canada and the United States have completed a joint analysis of the operational benefits that could be achieved with the implementation of small and large shared facilities located in one country or the other.  Both governments continue to explore approaches to the legal challenges that flow from border inspection services of one country operating in the other.  

We are considering innovative procedures to improve rail enforcement activities and at the same time facilitate the flow of rail traffic, such as conducting rail enforcement activities before the border and trade compliance processes at the destination.



Canada and the United States have agreed to consider the following locations for joint or shared facilities pending the outcome of feasibility studies:

  • St. Stephen, NB / Calais, ME

  • River de Chute, NB / Easton, ME

  • Bloomfield, NB / Monticello, ME

  • St. Croix, NB / Vanceboro, ME

  • Morses Line, QC / Morses Line, VT

  • Highwater, QC / North Troy, VT

  • Winkler, MB / Walhalla, ND

  • Northgate, SK / Northgate, ND

  • Snowflake, MB / Hanna, ND

  • West Poplar River, SK / Opheim, MT

  • Chopaka, BC / Nighthawk, WA

  • Rykerts, BC / Porthill, ID



Canadian and U.S. Customs agencies have extended the scope of information they share through:

  • the Cooperation Arrangement for the Exchange of Information for the Purposes of Inquiries Related to Customs Fraud, signed in December 2001; and

  • an agreement, reached by our customs agencies, on the principles to be included in the exchange of information related to NAFTA rules of origin.  The agreement will be signed in March 2003, and includes audit plans, audit reports, the results of advance rulings, and origin determinations and re-determinations.


Through an innovative solution to ensure that containers can be examined where they first arrive, regardless of their ultimate destination in North America, Canadian and U.S.  Customs agencies have created joint targeting teams at five marine ports.  In the ports of Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax, U.S. officials aid Canadian customs officials in identifying which containers to examine.  In the ports of Newark and Seattle-Tacoma, Canadian officials provide the same assistance to U.S. Customs agents.  The work of these teams will be facilitated through the electronic transmission of advance manifest data for incoming ships and the containers they carry.



Both governments have committed funds for border infrastructure.  Under Canada's new Border Infrastructure Fund, C$600 million will be provided over five years for physical and technological improvements at key border crossings.  The United States Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century also funds transportation projects along U.S. corridors and at border points along the Canada-United States border.

New funding will support FAST and NEXUS and facilitate the secure and efficient cross-border movement of people and goods, for example through dedicated lanes for commercial and passenger vehicles at the border between the British Columbia Lower Mainland and Washington state.

Canada and the United States are working together at key border crossings to develop computer simulations aimed at ensuring that border infrastructure investments are put to the most effective use.  The two countries will establish a binational border modeling group to analyze border congestion on an ongoing basis.



Canada and the United States are piloting the Automatic Identification System (AIS) on the St. Lawrence Seaway, which uses transponder and Global Position System (GPS) technologies to allow for more effective monitoring of ships.  The Cascade Gateway Advanced Traveler Information System (ATIS) will be installed at the Pacific Highway and Peace Arch crossings to enhance the mobility of people and commercial goods between Canada and the United States.  We will also invest in high-energy gamma-ray systems to support joint efforts in screening marine containers arriving at marine ports in both countries.



Our governments have agreed on a Joint Framework for Canada-U.S. Cooperation on Critical Infrastructure Protection and have established a Binational  Steering  Committee to assess threats to our shared critical infrastructure and ensure an ongoing, high-level focus on the issue by both governments. The Committee has developed detailed workplans for collaboration in the areas of energy, telecommunications and transportation, and has established working groups to address horizontal issues such as research and development, interdependencies, mapping and threat information sharing.  The next meeting of the Steering Committee will be held in early 2003.



We have agreed to recognize each other’s national standards for security in airports and on board flights, and to coordinate measures that are essential to protecting our citizens.  With the creation of the new federal transportation security agencies and the augmentation of existing departments, the two governments have strengthened their respective capacities to set regulations, review standards, and monitor and inspect all air security services.  The two governments have also assumed direct responsibility for security standards, and will work to identify best practices with a view to improving them.



Canada and the United States have identified 14 geographical areas for the deployment or enhancement of Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBETS).  IBETs are currently operational in 10 of the 14 geographic areas, and will be operational in all 14 geographical areas by December 2003.  IBETs will focus on criminals and terrorists that may attempt to cross the Canada-United States border. 

The two countries have also begun comprehensive training programs for IBET personnel, from both Canada and the United States, to enhance their awareness and understanding of one another’s laws and regulations. Two joint training sessions have been held with additional sessions planned in the near future.  These initial training sessions will form the foundation of a long-term integrated training plan.



The latest Canada-United States Cross-Border Crime Forum (CBCF) took place on July 21-22, 2002.  The participants at the CBCF reiterated the importance of the role of Project Northstar.  Since becoming formally aligned with the CBCF in early 2001, the role of Project Northstar as a mechanism for joint law enforcement coordination has been significantly enhanced.  Project Northstar will have a border-wide meeting in Winnipeg in April 2003.

Project North Star will continue to:

  • identify and prioritize joint obstacles for law enforcement at the border;

  • bring these obstacles to policy makers at the Canada-United States Cross-Border Crime Forum for resolution; and

  • work to increase and establish new, joint representation of the American and Canadian law enforcement community at the binational, regional, and local levels.

Planning is currently underway for the next Cross-Border Crime Forum, which will be hosted by the United States, in late Spring 2003.



The Government of Canada has established Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams (INSETs), which will include representatives from federal enforcement and intelligence agencies, as well as international law enforcement partners such as the U.S., on a case-by-case basis.  Canada has also been participating since April 9, 2002, in the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force (FTTTF) in Washington, to detect, interdict, and remove foreign terrorist threats.



With the development of a Memorandum of Cooperation, the RCMP and the FBI will implement an electronic system for the exchange of criminal records information, including fingerprints, using a standard communication interface.



Canada and the United States are continuing cooperation in removing individuals to source countries.  To date, Canada and the United States have conducted 5 joint operations resulting in 313 removals.



President Bush signed anti-terrorism legislation on October 26, 2001. In Canada, the Anti-Terrorism Act came into force on December 24, 2001.



Canada and the United States have a working process in place to share advance information on individuals and organizations that may be designated as terrorist in order to coordinate the freezing of their assets.  To date, Canada and the United States have designated or listed over 360 individuals and organizations.



Canada and the United States have been conducting a series of counter-terrorism exercises of increasing complexity that will culminate in the full-scale TOPOFF II exercise in May 2003.  TOPOFF II will include a wide range of participants, from first responders to senior government leaders at the local, state/province, and federal levels and ask them to respond to multiple terrorist attacks within the United States which have cross-border implications.  This exercise will provide the foundation for an ongoing program of joint training activities.

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