Subject: Law Enforcement At The U.S.-Canada Border
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MIN. VAN LOAN: (In English.) Thank you very much and good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for being here.
(Through interpreter.) I'm very happy to be here this morning accompanied by the American secretary for Security, the Honorable Janet Napolitano. Madame Secretary and I reached an agreement last May that we would meet at least twice a year, to find ways of measuring our common border, by targeting areas that require increased cooperation.
(In English.) The secretary and I agreed in March to meet at least twice a year, to ensure that we find ways to better manage our shared border. This high-level meeting mechanism is something that never happened before. And I think it's something that's turning out to be very positive, for both our countries.
Yesterday, we concluded an agreement on integrated, cross-border, maritime-law enforcement operations, commonly referred to as Shiprider. Shiprider will allow both countries to police our shared maritime border together.
By joining together with the United States, we will be better positioned to crack down on crime taking place, in our shared waterways, like the smuggling of illegal drugs, tobacco, contraband and guns. And no longer will criminals be able to rely on an imaginary legal line in the water, to escape the long arm of law enforcement.
Shiprider has already been tested by our officials. Operations ran on a pilot basis. And the results were very encouraging. In just 57 days, in 2007, pilot, Canadian and U.S. officers were able to successfully crack down on cross-border crime, seizing over 1.4 million contraband cigarettes, 215 pounds of marijuana, among many other successes they achieved.
This initiative demonstrates important principles at work, upon which we have agreed. Firstly it's possible to enhance security, at the border, without impeding the legitimate flow of goods and people. And those who view security and trade as a mutually exclusive tradeoff are simply wrong. And secondly by competing and sharing resources, we can become both more efficient and more effective in achieving our objectives.
(Through interpreter.) We have agreed to implement a way of communicating, training for the personnel, and information concerning security for both our countries, who are respecting our laws.
We've also ordered to integrate even more so police operations at the border. For that matter, the Shiprider bill is a good example of such an initiative.
(In English.) In another step forward, we've agreed to do a joint threat and risk assessment for our mutual border. As this work proceeds, we will be able to develop a common understanding of the threats and risks that we face at the border, and find ways to address these. It will build trust; it will strengthen our cooperation; it will strengthen enforcement and it will allow us to deploy our resources more effectively.
The advocates of trade and the advocates of greater security in both our countries have been calling for such a joint threat and risk assessment for some time. Our countries are now finally going to be undertaking that.
Today we signed another agreement, the Emergency Management Framework. It facilitates direct communications between our governments on border operations during and after an emergency. It ensures that fire services and ambulances, vital goods and people will not be delayed at a border when emergency assistance is needed on the other side. If the border is closed for whatever reason, it will return to normal operation as quickly as possible.
This agreement is again proof of our improving relationship in allowing us to develop practical, flexible approaches to solving some of the issues we face at the border. And again, this is something that allows us to enhance security by actually improving the flow of people and goods across our border. Again, this demonstrates that those who think there is a mutually exclusive trade-off between security and trade are simply wrong.
Finally, we've agreed on a joint declaration which will guide our future decisions and the aim of strengthening border cooperation. We've agreed to explore models for joint or shared border facilities, equipment and technology, as well as for cross-designation of personnel when appropriate.
Now, many of you know that the land and sea component of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will kick in on June 1st, in just a few days. It will require that travelers have a valid passport or another compliant document in order to cross that American border. That's part of the Americans' approach to strengthening security.
Also on June 1st, we are proceeding further with some of our efforts to strengthen and secure our border. On that date, the Cornwall border crossing will be added to the more than 50 that are already in place, with armed Border Services officers. This is something that's good news for Canadians and continues to not only fulfill a commitment that we made to Canadians in previous campaigns, but also ensure that we can have our borders safe and secure for the interest of Canadians.
Now, the agreements that we signed yesterday, that we met on and arrived at today, build on the close cooperation and friendship between our countries. They signal the beginning of a new era of cooperation, an era in which resources are maximized, cooperation increased, border security enhanced, and it's an era in which trade will flourish.
(Through interpreter.) I'm very proud of what we have accomplished in the past two-and-a-half days, even though I know that there is still an awful lot of work to be done.
(In English.) Thank you very much. And at this point, I'd like to turn it over to Madame Secretary Napolitano.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
Thank you, Minister Van Loan, and I am very pleased to be here in Canada, with the good friends here, to conclude a very productive two days of meetings when we have been exploring a number of ways in which our two countries, working together, can increase the security of all of our residents on both sides of the border.
Today, as Minister Van Loan just announced, we have initialed a framework on emergency-management protocols for incidents along our border. This is just one of the many collaborations the Department of Homeland Security is undertaking with Public Safety Canada. We also signed the Shiprider Agreement yesterday. That, of course, makes permanent what we've -- we discovered in a pilot, which is that that kind of cross-designation aboard seagoing vessels and waterway vessels is a very good technique in order to deter lawbreakers from taking advantage of the border and trying to export (sic) the border for their own ends.
We have, in these protocols for emergency management, by way of example, bolstered communication between emergency departments on measures necessary to respond to, recover -- and recover from an emergency; established coordination for the movement of goods and people across the border during a period of emergency; committed to develop joint messages for critical infrastructure sectors -- health officials, trade and the -- general trade and the general public -- about the extent of an emergency; and, again, have agreed that this is a place where we can take steps to furthering the joint cooperation between Canada and the United States where the safety and security of our peoples are concerned.
I look forward to working over the next months and years as we continue to meet to flesh out the agendas that we have set for ourselves. We share a common interest. The common interest is safety and security and recognizing the close friendship that Canada and the United States have always had and will continue to have.
Thank you very much.
Q Ms. Napolitano?
MIN. VAN LOAN: Let me start with Mr. Feith (ph).
Q As you know -- I'd like to question both ministers -- as you know, 70 percent of the goods that cross the border are intra- firm. In other words, we're really connected in terms of U.S. -- (inaudible) -- and vice versa.
What is the -- and you're dealing with a lot of border-threat security, but I wanted to ask you, what do you consider the significance of the threat of Chinese and Russian espionage to North America? Is -- how serious is this threat in terms of the technological stuff and the military stuff that they're trying to steal?
MIN. VAN LOAN: One of the things that we did talk about is a little bit on cybersecurity, and it's a concern both countries share.
In fact, the countries you mentioned are ones that have proven to be adept operators in that area. And they're not the only ones. There are a lot of private individuals and other interests that are threatening our security in that regard.
I look at the question of cybersecurity. We can look at the incidents that happened in Estonia, the precursor to the Russian incursion in Georgia. All of these show us how vulnerable countries' infrastructures and systems can be to the cybersecurity threat. That's why we're working very hard on it in both our countries. The Americans are very close to a cybersecurity strategy, I understand, as are we. And we actually have had some cooperation on both of those. We're working on them separately, but we have, of course, shared some of the best practices.
But I really look at this area almost as the new arms race. It's an area where every time you try and come up with new defenses -- I said before there isn't a day that goes by without somebody somewhere trying to breach the government of Canada's information systems. And we continue to put up good defenses. We continue to be fairly successful at it. But it is like an arms race. We get better at it; they get better at it. And I think you're going to be hearing a lot more about those risks and threats in the future.
Do you want to answer that?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: No, except to reiterate that obviously the issue of cyber -- cybersecurity is an evolving one where both of our governments are working on a number of things. President Obama, when he took office, initiated a 60-day review of how cyber is organized within the federal government of the United States. The results of that review are due to be announced any day now. But I think it's safe to say that Department of Homeland security will be taking the lead not only on the protection of the dot-gov sites within the United States government -- that is, the civilian side of the United States government -- but also the interaction with the private sector on cybersecurity protection.
Q Madame Secretary -- (inaudible) -- identified 10 illicit cigarette factories on the U.S. side -- (inaudible). And there's a perception among many Canadians that the U.S. isn't doing enough to crack down. How are you cracking down? How are you dealing with the issue of Mohawk sovereignty with the Shiprider program? And how are your countries working together?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, I can't talk to the cigarette issue, because, quite frankly, you're the first person to have told me about that particular issue. And I'm not sure that that would be the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security. I'm fairly confident it would not be.
But in any event, in terms of Shiprider, what this is about is making sure that we have Coast Guard and Canadian cross-designated on each other's decks patrolling the waterways together, so that if, for example, you have a boat in fast pursuit, if you get to the border, the waterway border, they can't just, you know, wave at you as they say goodbye, but those operations can continue.
Q (Inaudible) -- the Mohawks seen that -- (inaudible) -- problem of Mohawk sovereignty. So they're -- the Mohawk officers are not on the --
MIN. VAN LOAN: Yeah. Just if I could finish responding to that, on the issue of the tobacco factories in the States, as the secretary responded, quite correctly, that's directly the jurisdiction of the attorney general, Eric Holder. He will be at the G-8 security ministers' meetings and justice ministers' meetings that we're having later this week in Rome, and I will be intending to raise that matter with him at the time.
In terms of consultation on the Shiprider with the Mohawks, there will be a consultation process in place to discuss implementation beforehand.
That being said, our commitment to achieving security and enforcing the law is a very real commitment, because that's in Canadians' interest, and that's what Canadians want us to do.
Q Madame Secretary, could you deal with the question of Omar Khadr, please? I understand it didn't come up in your meetings with Prime Minister Harper, but I'd like to know what the administration -- how the administration views his case. Would you welcome a request by Canada to repatriate him? What do you think should be done in the case of what many of his advocates call a child soldier who's wrongfully detained in Guantanamo?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: No, that matter did not come up, and I don't think it would be appropriate for me to comment on any particular case right now. Thank you.
Q (Off mike) -- your administration's trying to figure out what to with these folks. I'd like -- and he's the only Westerner left. I'd like to know your position on him.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Because I'm not discussing the position of a particular case within a press conference. (Cross talk.)
Q Can you explain to me --
MIN. VAN LOAN: We have time for one more question. (Inaudible.)
Q Can you explain to me what your view is now of 9/11? Did Canada have anything to do with 9/11? And did you bring this issue up, or was it discussed with Prime Minister Harper?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: It was not discussed. And let me say once again we know and I know that 9/11 terrorists did not cross the Canadian border. I regret that the Canadian media only seems to hear that -- an earlier misstatement by me to that effect. So let me be perfectly clear. We know that.
But what they also need to hear and what you need to hear from me are all the things that we are doing with Canada and we'll continue to do with Canada to further our joint security, because we share the same interests. We share the interests in the protection of our people. We share some of the same challenges, cybersecurity, to mention but one. And we share a friendship that goes back years and years and years.
And so we intend to build on those things, moving forward, and I think that we need to keep moving forward, because the threat environment is an ever-changing one.
Q Is it your view --
MIN. VAN LOAN: As I indicated, that will be the last question, but I'll just add my two cents' worth. I think the secretary has made her position quite clear and she corrected early -- and we've accepted that and moved on. And we've moved on, I think, in a very strong way to strengthen our relationship and do good things for the country.
But part of what we're interested in doing in Canada is also ensuring that we keep Canadians secure from terrorism.
There are very real terrorist threats, and some of them, we have to confess to ourselves in Canada, are homegrown.
We just had the successful conviction of Momin Khawaja, who was involved in Islamic extremism, developed a remote detonator device, was linked to the London bombers. That's evidence that we cannot ignore. We had the same with the first convictions of the Toronto 18 terrorist plots.
So we're being very vigilant protecting Canadians from these threats. We're going to continue to be vigilant, and we work very well with our partners in the United States to do so. But I do want to caution people that they would be naive to think that those threats of terrorism are behind us.
We saw 22 people die today -- at least that's the latest count I heard -- in a bombing in Pakistan. Terrorism is a reality of the world right now, and is something that we must remain vigilant if we want to keep our democracies safe and secure, both here in the United States and around the world.
So thank you very much.
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Thank you all very much.