- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 18, 2007

Good fences

Canada’s head of homeland security thinks the challenge facing his country and the United States is to secure the longest undefended border in the world without interrupting the massive daily trade between the two nations.

Stockwell Day, on a Washington visit yesterday, noted that the value of goods shipped by trucks annually just across the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, is greater than the yearly trade between the United States and Japan.

That bridge carries about one-third of the truck traffic daily between the United States and Canada. Cross-border trips by truckers, business travelers and tourists amount to 200 million annually, according to the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.

The trade is so interconnected that if a terrorist were to stop traffic on the Ambassador Bridge for “four hours, people would be laid off in factories within hours” in both countries, Mr. Day said. The two countries do $1.3 billion in business a day.

“Good fences make good neighbors, but we’ve got to make sure the fences are appropriate,” he told an audience at the Hudson Institute, which sponsored a forum on cross-border security with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advance International Studies.

Mr. Day, minister of public security and emergency preparedness, said Canada’s new conservative government understands the U.S. need for more border security and has invested billions in fortifying the Canadian side of a border that stretches more than 3,000 miles from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

The government authorized $8.5 billion in “security measures” in the latest budget. Canada has increased the number of border agents and plans to arm them beginning later this year.

Canada still grumbles over the new U.S. requirement that all Canadians present passports for travel to the United States, he said. Previously, just proof of residency such as a driver’s license was sufficient.

Mr. Day said Canadians will comply with the new regulations, which will be phased in beginning with air travelers next week. U.S. citizens also will have to have valid passports to return to the United States from Canada.

“The security concerns of our neighbors are the security concerns of us, too,” he said, adding, “We must have secure borders, but we must also have economic prosperity.”

Mr. Day warned both countries against adopting draconian measures that would “make us prisoners within our own borders.”

He also noted, “We have this notion of the world’s longest undefended border. The border is becoming more defended.”

Not jaywalking

Although he is paid to worry about terrorism and emergencies, Stockwell Day showed his sense of humor about U.S.-Canadian relations.

At yesterday’s forum, he recalled the old story about how you can identify a Canadian.

“He is the one standing on a city corner at 2 a.m. waiting for the red light to change, even though there is no traffic in sight,” Mr. Day said.

As events would have it, he found himself in just such a situation on his Washington visit. He left his hotel early one morning and found the traffic light at the corner was red but saw no traffic.

“I decided to boldly step where no Canadian has stepped before,” he said, describing how he started into the intersection. “Then, suddenly, it occurred to me: I am the minister of public safety.”

How would it look if he were caught jaywalking. He said he stepped back on the corner and waited for the green light.

Mr. Day also recalled addressing students at an American university, where one said he could always tell a Canadian because he always ended his sentences with “eh.”

“I responded. ‘You don’t say, huh.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]


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