Sunday, March 1, 2009

U.S. Security Chief Seeks to Ease Canadian Fears

(Tonda MacCharles — Toronto Star)

Border review doesn’t mean ‘thickening’ of checkpoints ex-governor says

The new boss of the U.S. homeland security department rejects suggestions Canada and the United States have a “thickened border” because of excessive security regulation since 9/11.

Still, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, speaking to Canadian reporters in a conference call from Washington, signalled an important shift in American rhetoric from the Bush years, going out of her way to say an “important balance” between trade and security at the border needs to be struck.

Napolitano refused to divulge the “preliminary” results of a review she ordered of the Canada-U.S. border's “vulnerabilities.” She portrayed it as an information-gathering exercise.

But she sought to allay Canadian fears that her review meant a further “thickening” of the border.

Asked whether the Obama administration would give new emphasis to economic security and ease cross-border trade, Napolitano disputed the term “thickening border” – coined by Canadian business and political leaders and embassy staff in Washington – saying it is not “an accurate characterization.”

“What I will say is I am very cognizant of the balance that must be struck between good security measures and trade and commerce, that things like having to wait in long lines to get through a port are very problematic for supply chains.” Read more here.