University of Calgary

University of Calgary

September 22, 2011 13:00 ET

University of Calgary: Canada-U.S. border agreement faces uphill battle

Beyond the Border initiative mired by complexities in both countries

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Sept. 22, 2011) - In a paper released today by The School of Public Policy, Brian Flemming examines Canada-U.S. efforts to create a more porous border between the two countries. He finds that despite the best of intentions on both sides, real change will prove difficult to achieve.

Flemming examines the many border issues that the Beyond the Border agreement – signed in February 2011 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama – is intended to address. These include an integrated Canada-U.S. entry-exit system, harmonization of regulations on Canadian or American products, the protection of citizens' privacy, and border installations.

While these issues are considered important by political leaders, there are other factors at play. "Overarching all issues and all packages in the Beyond the Border negotiation will be the twin hydras of trust and timing," Flemming writes.

Citizens of both countries must trust that politicians are serving national interests with any international agreements. Flemming argues that "Trust in the abilities of politicians to solve problems of any kind is at an all-time low in both Canada and the United States." As an example, the author refers to the current debt problem in the U.S. and the public's perception that Congress has failed them.

As for timing, President Obama is unlikely to make striking trade and security deals a priority given the run up to the 2012 election, with voters most concerned about his action on the U.S. economy.

Flemming also argues that the results of the U.S. election could make progress on border issues even tougher. "If too many members of Congress with erroneous opinions get elected, no agreements of any kind may be possible," he writes.

The paper can be found by going to www.policyschool.ca/publications.

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