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Guest Column

Action plan in place for creating secure and smart Canada/US border

By Paul Cellucci


The tragic events of September 11 made it clear exactly how important North American security is and that we must establish a smart US/Canada border that is open for business and tourism and legitimate travelers, but is closed to terrorists, drug traffickers and others who seek to do harm.

The past year has seen difficult times for Canada, the United States and the civilized world. We suffered a blow, a terrible blow. We were the victims, in the United States, of premeditated and cowardly acts of terrorism. Now, defeating terrorism is at the top of our already long list of international priorities.
Militarily, Canada has provided valuable naval, air and ground assets. Canadian ground forces are working shoulder to shoulder with US troops in Afghanistan. It's a prime example of the overwhelming support and help that the people of Canada and the government of Canada have provided to the US since September 11.

I can tell you that the help started from the very first moments of this tragedy. It started when the Prime Minister called the Embassy in Ottawa and said: "Whatever we can do to help." Across Canada, planes started arriving. Canadians opened their homes and their hearts, and made sure that stranded passengers from the United States and other countries were taken care of. There were extraordinary acts of kindness.
It has continued with the humanitarian assistance that has been provided and the money that has been raised across Canada to help the families of firefighters, police officers and others who were killed in these tragedies. Whatever was needed, Canada was there helping.

The United States and Canada are now working together to make sure that the US/Canada border does not become an impediment to the economic recovery that is needed in both of our countries. Obviously, there is an emphasis on security, but some have cast this as a choice between security and prosperity. There is no choice here-we cannot have one without the other. Security is a necessary foundation upon which we build our prosperity.
Our two countries have signed a 30-point action plan for creating a secure and a smart border. There are four pillars to this plan: to secure the flow of people, to secure the flow of goods, to secure infrastructure and to coordinate and share information. The data will allow us to accomplish these objectives. We will install state of the art technology at the border, including the best in biometrics, transponders and intelligence transportation systems. For example, NEXUS, a secure facilitative technology for passenger vehicles, will replace the PACE program on the Washington state/British Columbia border.

I am confident we are well on the way to putting this secure and smart border in place so that we can keep the US/Canada border open for business.
And we need to be open for business.
The US/Canada trade relationship is now over $500 billion per year-more than $1.4 billion each and every day. Just to cite a couple of examples of the dimensions of this trade: the State of Ohio alone exports more to Canada than the entire United States exports to China. That's a pretty big country. One week of our exports to Canada is equivalent to one year's exports to Russia.
This is an extraordinarily mutually beneficial trade relationship, most of which is problem free.

In terms of softwood lumber, I know how vitally important this issue is to the people and the economy of Canada and, specifically, British Columbia. We should never lose sight of the fact that this dispute is about real jobs, real people and real families on both sides of the border. It is also about the economic health of hundreds of communities across Canada and the United States. That's the reason why this issue has been so emotional and so difficult. It is affecting families and communities on both sides of the border.
There are anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases that the US lumber industry has brought, and has a right to bring, under United States law. Canada is seeking relief from the World Trade Organization and the NAFTA dispute mechanism, which Canada has a right to do under those treaties.

I think it's important to note that the United States government did not initiate the legal processes-the US forest industry was the petitioner. But the US government is working very hard to build a consensus to find a solution to this long-term dispute.
In the talks, all parties have been represented on both sides of the border. On the Canadian side, all the provinces are represented and on the American side, it's not just the lumber industry; it's the homebuilders, the retail hardware outlets, and consumers.

It is important to find a long-term solution to this long-standing dispute. We will continue to work hard on the US side to find the consensus needed to solve this dispute.
I believe we are indeed fortunate to live in two great countries, Canada and the United States, two countries that have an amazing international partnership, an international partnership that benefits the people of the two countries.

We are working together to defend our democratic way of life by defeating terrorism and working together to expand free trade to defeat poverty in this hemisphere and around the globe. I have been reminded each and every day in these historic times since the events of September 11 how lucky we are in the United States of America to have such great friends in Canada.

Paul Cellucci is US Ambassador to Canada and a former governor of Massachusetts. This is an edited version of a speech presented earlier this year.

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