Border Talks between Canada/U.S Leaders Sparks Controversy Raise Questions among Opposition by Markus Noé – February 6, 2011 – 10/13

Ottawa ON – It took a few days, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s meeting with President Barack Obama has caused major concern throughout the opposition parties. The issue of promoting more trade between Canada and the U.S took a back seat once again to the Americans ongoing insecurities about our border. Republicans have been putting major pressure on Obama about what they believe is a weak border system in Canada.
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The fear is that there are thousands of illegal immigrants and refugees in Canada that can easily slip into obscurity and then enter the U.S.  To settle their own fears, the department of Homeland Security has requested access to more information about Canadians.  They would like have the authority to access all Canadian migration files, which could make it impossible for 600,000 Canadians with minor drug offences to cross the border.
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The Liberals and the NDP are arguing that this is an invasion of Canadians rights and that the Conservatives wish to erase the border. Meanwhile the Conservatives, while maintaining a degree of secrecy about this meeting, are insisting they will not allow the U.S unlimited access to these files. The Conservatives have also declared that the Americans will not have a direct input in future refugee and immigration laws.
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Throughout history, Canada has been labeled as a bit soft by submitting to too many American “requests.”  It is understandable that the opposition  parties are concerned about Harper negotiating away Canadian sovereignty. His Conservative party is the one who negotiated the heavily criticized N.A.F.T.A agreement. One only needs to mention chapter 11 of the agreement to critics to start an immediate debate.
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Another concern for Canadians in these types of meetings is that it appears that the Americans don’t have any interest in our issues. This question is being asked once with reason. For anyone that watched the CNN coverage of this meeting, every time the Prime Minster spoke they went back to commentary. Which is frustrating as a major issue for Canadian borders is its overwhelming congestion. With many Canadians living in border towns and often travelling to the U.S for work or pleasure this congestion is a daily problem.
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It is difficult to believe that this concern of ours has been acknowledged. If these demands are met the congestion at the border will be even greater. The border guards will have more information to go through which will directly impact how fast these border lines move.
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Should the Prime Minister utilize this issue to stand up for Canadian sovereignty which is always in question in various ways? Or should he take the route often travelled by Canadian leaders, and accept the Americans requests, in attempt to appease our “special friend”?

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