Prime Ministerheads to Washington today to apparently sign a Security and Trade Agreement with the United States. News of the signing have raised an alert among Canadians worried about integration with the United States.
There have been rumours that Canada has been in negotiation with the Obama Administration onf a Perimeter Security Agreement, which would align immigration policy and closer co-operation for intelligence sharing. The news has causes opposition Liberal Members of Parliament to accuse the Harper Government of hiding the issue of sovereignity from Canadians.
The Canadian public is entitled to know what it is that is being discussed between the President and the Prime minister," said Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae.
"How can you continue to discuss something with the President of the United States and with the government of the United States without first discussing it with the people of Canada."
This is hypocritical of the Liberals, since they have floated the idea of perimeter security in the past. Not unlike the Free Trade Agreement, this agreement will surely have to be ratified by the House of Commons. It is believed that this agreement will only set the conditions and points to be discussed for a future comprehensive agreement.
The meeting comes on the heels of a report issued by the powerful Homeland Security Committee that made the revelation that much of the Canadian border is undefended. The report issued by Senators Lieberman (I -Conn) and(R-Maine), showed concern that there could be a flood of terrorists across the Northern border. From a Canadian point of view, this concern is unfounded.
Industry Minister Tony Clement addressed the issue, stating that he understands concerns and doesn't want to see Canada's power to control its own affairs outsourced to the U.S.
"There would be give and take on both sides on these kinds of issues," Clement said.
"But if there's a way to look at regulations which for some nonsensical reason are dissimilar and add costs to doing business across our borders, but have no other value, then yeah, I think we should look at those things and try to reduce that regulatory burden."
The United States is Canada's largest trading partner and since 9/11 flow of trade across the border has slowed significantly. This has affected both sides of the border, particulary for goods that were on a "just in time delivery" track.
Harper and Obama are also expected to discuss, environmental policy synchronization, a process which started after Obama's visit to Canada in 2009. In additon to the Perimeter Security Agreement and Environmental issues, the two men are also expected to discuss the situation in Egypt, Yemen and Jordan. The economy will also be on the agenda. Canada's approach to Egypt is similar to that of the United States.