Today, Canada's Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, met to advance a strategic dialogue on developing a shared vision for border security for Canada and the United States - one that will enhance security and resilience against common threats, while bolstering competitiveness and job creation.
As part of that dialogue, Secretary Napolitano and Minister Toews announced a first-ever plan to establish a comprehensive cross-border approach to critical infrastructure resilience - focused on the need for a strong partnership to share information and assess and manage risks to enhance both nations' ability to prepare for and respond to disasters.
"Our mutual security extends beyond our borders and we must work together to mitigate threats before they reach either Canada or the U.S. while facilitating the legitimate mobility of people and goods between us," said Minister Toews. "Crystallizing a shared vision of border security that facilitates trade is a priority if we are to mitigate threats to our joint security and promote economic competitiveness."
"The security of the United States and Canada is uniquely linked by proximity and a long history of close collaboration between our two governments," said Secretary Napolitano. "Today's announcements reflect our commitment to cooperative action to protect and safeguard both nations' vital assets, networks and systems, as well as the shared responsibility to protect all citizens from cross-border crime and terrorism."
Recognizing the importance of critical infrastructure, both Canada and the United States have developed strategies (e.g. Canada's National Strategy and Action Plan for Critical Infrastructure and the U.S. National Infrastructure Protection Plan) to enhance resiliency in their respective countries. The Canada-United States Action Plan for Critical Infrastructure will support implementation of these strategies in Canada and the United States and will enable both countries to more effectively address a range of cross border critical infrastructure issues. The plan is available at www.dhs.gov and www.publicsafety.gc.ca.
Secretary Napolitano and Minister Toews also announced the following joint initiatives that will play a critical role in the national and economic security of both nations:
Child Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking: Secretary Napolitano announced that six U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel will be deployed in the coming months to join a Canadian effort to further assist the Haitian National Police to prevent sexual exploitation of children and potential human trafficking in Haiti, complementing existing bi-national collaboration to address these issues. Following January's devastating earthquake in Haiti, which left many children orphaned and potentially vulnerable to exploitation, Royal Canadian Mounted Police victim identification specialists assisted the Haitian National Police in creating a database of these children to assist in their identification and rescue should they become exploited.
MOU on Cross Border Currency Seizure Information Sharing: Secretary Napolitano and Minister Toews announced that the Canada Border Services Agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding that will help to identify potential threats and assist in money-laundering and terrorist-financing investigations and prosecutions.
Secretary Napolitano and Minister Toews also discussed progress made on the development of an enhanced common understanding of shared threats through the Joint Border Threat and Risk Assessment, which outlines areas of concern along the U.S.-Canada border where there is the potential of terrorism and transnational organized crime. The assessment, which will be released later this summer, jointly addresses drug trafficking and illegal immigration, the illicit movement of prohibited or controlled goods, agricultural hazards, and the spread of infectious disease.
For more information, please visit the websites www.publicsafety.gc.ca or www.dhs.gov.