#07OTTAWA2048 #cablegate THE U.S. – CANADA BORDER IN 2007: GROUND TRUTH AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS (PART II OF III…) 07OTTAWA2048

Viewing cable 07OTTAWA2048, THE U.S. – CANADA BORDER IN 2007: GROUND TRUTH AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS (PART II OF III – PORTS OF ENTRY, TRADE, AND THE ENVIRONMENT)

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07OTTAWA2048 2007-11-07 20:37 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Ottawa

VZCZCXRO0720
RR RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHOT #2048/01 3112037
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 072037Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6866
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 1768
RHFJUSC/BUREAU OF CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR NORAD PETERSON AFB CO
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHDC
RULSJGA/COMDT COGARD WASHDC
RUEAHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHMFIUU/HQ USNORTHCOM
RUEAIAO/HQ ICE IAO WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC

 

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 OTTAWA 002048

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KCRM PGOV ASEC KHLS ECON CA
SUBJECT: THE U.S. – CANADA BORDER IN 2007: GROUND TRUTH AND
POLICY IMPLICATIONS (PART II OF III – PORTS OF ENTRY,
TRADE, AND THE ENVIRONMENT)

SUMMARY
—————
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED–PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) As part of a year-long effort to “map the border,”
Mission Canada officers fanned out along the frontier to
observe ground truth in how the border functions and how to
make it work better. Part I of this three-part series
covered our conclusions and recommendations. This message
covers reports on ports of entry, trade, and the environment.
Message III covers WHTI, law enforcement, and First Nations
issues.

PORTS OF ENTRY – A SERIES OF GATES WITH NO FENCES
——————————————— —-

2. (SBU) In September 2004 meetings in Ottawa with U.S.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) counterparts, Canadian
Deputy Minister of Public Safety Margaret Bloodworth
described the U.S.-Canada border as “a series of gates with
no fence between them.” This is an apt description of the
5,500 mile border running through land and waterways all the
way from the Atlantic Ocean to Alaska. Along this border
there are some 120 “gates,” or ports of entry, including
eight at Canadian airports served by CBP preclearance
officers. These ports run the gamut from mammoth facilities
staffed by hundreds of personnel, like the Detroit-Windsor
crossing, to small shed-like structures where a half-dozen
officers (three from each country) share a common inspection
area and even joint kitchen facilities.

3. (SBU) The U.S. and Canada are attempting to make our ports
“smarter” by introducing technology that offers both enhanced
security and quicker processing time. Radiation and X-ray
portals can conduct an inspection without a physical search.
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) are being developed
at the ports to link information about incoming and outgoing
traffic in order to expedite the flow of traffic. Simple
electronic fixes, like lighted arrow signs to direct vehicles
to the least congested lanes, or infrastructure innovations
like dual-use inspection booths that can handle either trucks
or cars depending on traffic volumes at a particular time,
have been introduced at many crossings. Larger, more
expensive improvements, like adding lanes to existing
bridges, expanding truck plazas or building new bridges, such
as is contemplated at Detroit-Windsor, are efforts to ensure
that the flow of goods and people is not impeded as volumes
of both grow in the future. It will be important to track
new infrastructure projects to make sure that they are, in
fact, keeping up with increasing demand.

4. (SBU) Canadian politicians as well as ordinary citizens
have expressed concern over the increased security
implemented along the border following 9/11. They frequently
talk of a “thickening” of the border, and Canada’s 37-member
border caucus in Parliament sent a letter to its counterparts
in the U.S. expressing dismay that the increasing scrutiny
given to those wishing to cross the border to visit family or
friends, attend a church service or ball game, or just to buy
a pizza, was “diminishing” the relationship between Canadians
and Americans. Indeed, for years the residents in the many
Qand Americans. Indeed, for years the residents in the many
small communities that straddle the border may not have
needed to show a border inspector anything more than a wave
and a smile to be permitted to cross; now, however, that has
changed.

ECONOMY AND TRADE – MAINTAINING PREDICTABLE MARKET ACCESS
——————————————— ————

5. (SBU) With over US DOLS 1.5 billion worth of goods and
services moving across the border daily, Canada and the
United States are each other’s largest customers and biggest
suppliers. To put this in perspective, in 2006 Canada
exchanged more goods with the U.S. each month than it did
with any other country throughout the entire year.

6. (SBU) Canada’s merchandise trade with the United States
totaled US DOLS 507 billion in 2006. By value, this trade
was conducted by truck (61 percent), rail 17 percent),

OTTAWA 00002048 002 OF 003

pipeline (13 percent), air (5 percent), and sea/inland
waterways (4 percent). Around 75 per cent of Canada-U.S.
trade (in value terms) carried by trucks went through just
six border crossing points: the Ambassador Bridge linking
Detroit and Windsor; the Peace Bridge linking Buffalo and
Fort Erie; the Blue Water Bridge linking Port Huron,
Michigan, and Sarnia; Champlain/Lacolle between New York and
Quebec; Pembina/Emerson between North Dakota and Manitoba;
and Pacific Highway between Washington and British Columbia.
The Detroit-Windsor Corridor is the busiest trade artery,
accounting for almost 30% of total Canada-U.S. trade.

7. (SBU) Given the magnitude of the transborder economic
relationship and the high degree of Canadian dependence on
the American market, the United States’ post-9/11 increased
attention to security at the border is a major source of
on-going anxiety for Canada’s government and business
community. Since 2001 maintaining and enhancing secure,
predictable access to the United States economy has been a
primary objective of Canadian governments. In discussions at
the several working groups that meet to discuss border issues
and what might happen in the event of a crisis, U.S.
officials frequently use the term “business resumption.”
Canadian officials speak of “business continuation” and are
loth to think that the border could ever be fully shut down
again as it was in some places in the days immediately after
9/11. Of course, this anxiety regarding keeping the border
open, even during an emergency, is shared by many members of
the U.S. private sector whose businesses depend on a
predictable and uninterrupted supply of raw materials, parts,
or finished products from Canada.

8. (SBU) As a consequence, any new U.S. policy or action that
impacts the border, however seemingly minor, precipitates a
massive reaction from government and the private sector. The
imposition of the APHIS fees in early 2007 is a case in point
with the government in Ottawa and the Canadian Chamber of
Commerce, among others, describing the modest fee as
potentially the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” A
recent survey of industry by the Conference Board of Canada
found no evidence to suggest that post-9/11 border policies
have served to reduce Canadian export volumes to the U.S.
Nevertheless, industry representatives and Canadian
government officials at the provincial and federal level
continue to raise concerns about potential disruptions in
trade between the two countries, in the form of
security-related delays and increased compliance costs.

9. (SBU) Maximizing the free flow of goods, services, and
capital with the U.S. (and leveraging that relationship in
the global marketplace to enhance Canada’s profile and
opportunities) is a key priority for Canada. In response to
the need to maintain, and indeed enhance the transportation
and border infrastructure that supports U.S. – Canada trade,
the Canadian government has adopted a “National Policy
Framework for Strategic Gateways and Trade Corridors” to
guide investment and government action. The Policy Framework
Qguide investment and government action. The Policy Framework
also notes that Canada, due to its proximity and access to
the United States, could serve as the “platform” to connect
North America with the world, for example, via Vancouver Port
which has high container capacity and rail connections to the
mid-west, south-central and eastern United States. The
Policy Framework also pins high hopes on development of the
new container port at Prince Rupert, British Columbia, as a
transshipment point from which Asian goods will be moved all
the way to the Atlantic coast.

TRANSBOUNDARY ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES – WATER, AIR, WASTE
——————————————— ———

10. (SBU) The U.S. and Canada work closely together to manage
transboundary environmental issues. One major instrument of
this cooperation is the International Joint Commission (IJC),
established as part of the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to
resolve differences and promote cooperation on our shared
waters. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1972,
another historic example of joint cooperation, is
instrumental in managing the world’s largest repository of
fresh water, and the U.S.-Canada Air Quality Agreement serves

OTTAWA 00002048 003 OF 003

as the primary mechanism for binational cooperation to
address transboundary air pollution issues.

11. (SBU) Notwithstanding the close cooperation and general
goodwill, some friction does exist. Current transboundary
issues of concern include: a new outlet from Devils Lake in
North Dakota which channels water into the Red River system
and onward to Manitoba; Ontario’s concerns about increasingly
poor air quality in southern Ontario, including Toronto,
which some claim is largely due to coal-burning power plants
in the Ohio River Valley; and the movement of up to 400
truckloads a day of trash from the Greater Toronto Area to
Michigan landfills.

12. (SBU) This last issue illustrates the complexities of the
border relationship and the multiple jurisdictions it
involves. Canada and the United States have open borders for
waste shipments – which are considered tradeable goods – and
waste has flowed across the border in both directions for
many years. Figures from the Canadian government as well as
from states and provinces show that the United States is a
net exporter to Canada of hazardous waste. However, because
of plentiful landfill capacity, low-cost disposal options,
and existing contractual arrangements, the United States is a
much larger net importer from Canada of non-hazardous solid
waste.

13. (SBU) The influx of waste has been highly controversial,
in part because of the limited legal authority of state and
local governments to restrict it. Only Congress can
authorize restrictions to interstate and international
movement of trade, including waste. Nevertheless,
Congressional interest in stopping the flow of trash led to a
voluntary agreement between Michigan’s two Senators and the
Ontario Ministry of the Environment, under which Ontario
committed to eliminate shipments of municipally managed waste
to Michigan by the end of 2010. While the agreement does not
formally bind the United States or Canada or the parties
shipping and receiving the waste, or address commercial waste
shipments to Michigan, It may reduce the controversy. Also
working to defuse the issue is the city of Toronto’s recent
acquisition of additional landfill capacity in Ontario.

Visit our shared North American Partnership blog (Canada &
Mexico) at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap

Visit our shared North American Partnership blog (Canada & Mexico) at
http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap

WILKINS

 

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