Address by Minister of State Lebel on Behalf of Minister Cannon at Perimeter Event

No. 2011/12 - Montreal, Quebec - March 13, 2011

Check Against Delivery

We’re fortunate to be hosted here today by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). This is one of the facilities where the CBSA ensures the efficient and secure movement of containers arriving here at the Port of Montreal, an important hub of Canada’s trade activity.

Of the more than one million containers that arrive at this port every year, many are destined for the United States. Others are bringing imported goods from the United States into Canada.

It goes without saying that Canada and the United States have a shared interest in ensuring that goods entering major ports, such as this one, are safe and secure, so that legitimate business can flow freely between our two countries while threats are stopped at the earliest possible opportunity.

This means working with our allies, especially our friends to the south. Canada and the United States have a close friendship and a long history of helping each other achieve our mutual goals of economic competitiveness, job creation and safe and secure borders.

On February 4, 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama announced a shared vision for perimeter security and economic competitiveness. In a joint declaration, they reaffirmed the fact that Canada and the United States are “staunch allies, vital economic partners, and steadfast friends.”

As part of this declaration, the Prime Minister and the President signalled their intention for our two countries to work together to develop an integrated cargo security strategy. Such a system would ensure compatible screening methods for goods and cargo before they depart foreign ports bound for Canada or the United States, so that once they enter Canadian or American territory, we can, together, accelerate subsequent crossings and land ports of entry between our two countries.

This increased cooperation between our two nations is but one of many areas that officials from both sides of the border will be working on together in the coming months.

But in order to succeed, we need to know where Canadians think we should focus our efforts. That’s why I am delighted to be here today to officially launch public consultations on the Canada-U.S. Perimeter Security and Economic Competiveness process announced by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama.

We want to hear from groups with an interest in a safe, trade-friendly border.

And we want to hear from people who are on the forefront of what we’re trying to achieve: small-business owners, who rely on the Port of Montreal being safe, secure and efficient; workers who are on the front lines, here and in other places of entry across Canada. We want to hear from all Canadians who have an interest in an open and secure border, because it is Canadians—not the government—who use the border.

Between now and April 21, 2011, we’re asking Canadians to visit the website BorderActionPlan.gc.ca to make their views known.

The results of our consultations will be made public and will help shape an action plan for the coming months.

Over the decades, generations of Canadians and Americans have built a partnership to be proud of—one viewed with envy and admiration around the world.

I know that Canadians will take advantage of this new opportunity to make their own contribution to our border’s future, and to the safety and prosperity of people in both countries, now and in the years to come.

Thank you.