Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Passports won't stop terrorists

After the attacks of 9/11, it seemed doubtful that North America would ever see the kind of integration that exists in the European Union, to the extent that most of its member states (and a few others outside the EU) actually abolished border controls between them starting about 20 years ago (the integration was mostly completed in 1995). Understandably, the emphasis should be on what's called "free and secure trade" with the borders open to those who love freedom and close to those who hate or oppose it.

However, I sense that the new passport rules that came into effect today are going to be more than just a huge headache for the tourist trade -- they could break a long standing sense of neighbourliness between Canada and the United States; partners economically and militarily yet still keeping an arms length from each other.

That really is a bad thing. Going across the border to get foodstuffs or gasoline -- or depending on the jurisdiction, to legally gamble -- almost seems like a right of passage along the 49th. Not to mention all the family ties.

And there's that little thing called the Jay Treaty of 1794, which granted dual citizenship to North American Indians -- a right reaffirmed in US law in the 1950s. Natives have enjoyed umimpeded access across the frontier. What about now? You thought Oka or Douglas Creek was crazy, just wait till they try enforcing the passport rules at Akwesasne - St. Regis (the internationally recognized border cuts right through tribal territory).

No, I wouldn't exactly like an arrangement like Schengen, at least not until America solves its immigration problem and Mexico's wage levels rise to those comparable to Canada and the US. But there has to be a better way to protect the border than this so-called border "initiative." Even most Senators and Governors along the border states say it's a rotten idea -- and they're the ones who are the first line of defence. If they know what's best for protecting America, why won't DC listen to that? Especially when the real threats to terrorism aren't outside invaders but people who want to destroy our freedoms from within.

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2 comments:

Devin said...

BF:

Conservatives do not implement policies that work, they implement policies that look and sound good. Haven't you learned anything in the past year??

Miles Lunn said...

I think the problem here is Europe is mostly small countries so border controls really don't make sense. Likewise most Canadians live within a close proximity of the US border so they don't make sense to us, but a large chunk of Americans don't live near the border so to the majority of Americans it won't be a problem. My concern about a Scheghen type agreement is we would need to harmonize our policies in too many areas.

I would prefer we have an express lane for regular travellers who can simply flash their card and pass through. This would keep the borders secure while not impeding regular travellers.