Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Canada-U. S. Border ‘Last Line Of Defence’

(The Calgary Herald)

The first line of defence for protecting Canada and the United States from terrorist attacks starts overseas and shouldn’t mean a painful clampdown at the border, U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson told government officials Monday in Calgary.

Speaking at the annual Pacific Northwest Economic Region conference, Jacobson recognized the reality of the Canada-U. S. border has been “radically altered” since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

There have been myriad “headaches” at the border, including delays and hassles for passenger and commercial traffic in an effort to improve security, he said.

But he believes improving security along the 49th parallel doesn’t mean gridlock at the border. He urged Canadians and Americans to look at the border “not as our first line of defence, but as our last line of defence.”

A secure and efficient border is possible, Jacobson stressed, but it means investing in infrastructure and new technology at home. He’s advocating for a “layered” approach to security that reaches beyond North America; one that identifies and confronts security threats before they make it to Canada and the United States.

Quality intelligence, improved security and screening at other airports around the world, and better co-ordination among various national governments are all needed, he said.

“The more we do to improve our security efforts out on the perimeter, away from the border, the more we can focus on working in partnership to achieve border efficiencies here,” Jacobson said.

“We don’t have to choose between security on the one hand and efficiency on the other hand,” he said. “We can achieve both.” Read more