View Full Version : Manley, Ridge say more work needed on smoothing U.S.-Canada border crossings

Dec 6th, 2002, 10:15 PM
John Manley, left, and Tom Ridge, right, outside the West Wing of the White House Friday

Manley, Ridge say more work needed on smoothing U.S.-Canada border crossings

Canadian Press

Friday, December 06, 2002

WASHINGTON (CP) - A lot more work has to be done to make sure that enhanced security does not clog the Canada-U.S. border, Deputy Prime Minister John Manley and U.S. homeland security chief Tom Ridge said Friday.

The two met at the White House to talk about bilateral issues including U.S. plans to bring in an entry-exit system to more closely scrutinize people who cross the border. "We're going to need to do a lot of work on that to ensure that it doesn't impede access at the border," Manley told reporters after the meeting.

"We certainly think there are ways to enhance security that are not going to be as much an impediment as some approaches might be to dealing with that entry-exit system."

Manley did not specify what those approaches are, but he and Ridge have been discussing U.S. proposals for border screening that could include fingerprinting and photographing Canadian citizens trying to enter the United States who are deemed suspicious by American authorities.

Manley has already told Ridge that Canada would not accept U.S. fingerprinting of its citizens. But Canada is also concerned that the wide range of options the Bush administration is still examining for its border entry-exit system may lead to a harsher system than originally envisioned.

Standing beside Manley outside the White House, Ridge acknowledged that the pending nature of the entry-exit system has prompted "some legitimate concern." But he said the two governments believe they can both enhance security and expedite commerce.

"We think we can get it done. And again we had some initial conversations as a way to go, but we know we still have quite a bit more work to do in that regard," Ridge said.

He pointed out that U.S. President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Jean Chretien both believe there are mutual security interests that must be dealt with, "but they need to be addressed in a fashion that does not undermine the very unique economic and social interaction that occurs along our border."

Speaking to reporters Thursday night before hosting a dinner for Ridge at the Canadian Embassy, Manley suggested that Canadians will just have to accept more scrutiny by U.S. authorities at the border.

"If we believe that access to the U.S. is important, and I believe that it is for economic prosperity, then we have to try to deal with the security concerns the United States clearly has," Manley said.

"That's exactly right," Ridge said, adding that the scrutiny will not clog the border.

"The prime minister and the president want us to be mindful that we need to enhance security, but we can't compromise the personal, the commercial, the interaction that goes on along the border," Ridge said.

A lack of clear direction for a border-crossing plan raises concerns for several reasons. It leaves open the possibility of a regime that could lead to either long lines at border stations, or unacceptable scrutiny of Canadian travellers.

There is also a fear that if no plan has been agreed to by both countries, unforeseen events such as a future terrorist attack could provoke a backlash in the fickle U.S. Congress that would lead to harsher measures imposed on Canadian travellers.

Dec 6th, 2002, 10:55 PM

Dec 6th, 2002, 11:55 PM
The border between Canada and the US is one of the longest in the world.