Border plan risks privacy: BC Civil Liberties

Canada's trade with the U.S will improve by a new border agreement signed by leaders of the two nations, says Chilliwack MLA John Les.

Canada’s trade with the U.S. will be improved and its security enhanced after a new border agreement was signed by leaders of the two nations, says Chilliwack MLA John Les.

But the privacy rights of Canadians are being bargained away behind closed doors, charged Micheal Vonn, BC Civil Liberties Association policy director.

She said the perimeter action plan “risks the security of travellers” based on the information that will be collected about them and used to decide if they should be placed on “no-fly lists” or otherwise denied the right to travel.

“And there’s no process of redress or accountability” in the new plan, she said.

Les said he is “pretty touchy” about privacy himself, but he believes those issues will be thoroughly reviewed as B.C. and Canadian privacy commissions become “fully engaged” to ensure the agreement “does not impinge on people’s privacy.”

A joint set of privacy and protection principles to guide the plan is expected to be announced by May, 2012.

Les is B.C.’s representative on the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region that has been working towards easing trade barriers between the two countries.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barak Obama signed the ‘Beyond the Border’ plan on Dec. 8 to clamp down on terrorism while easing legitimate cross-border trade.

The Canada/U.S. trade relationship is the largest in the world, totalling hundreds of billions of dollars, with each country being the largest trading parter of the other.

But that trade slowed significantly after security was tightened at border crossings following the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York City in 2001.

Essentially, the new plan sets up a shared security “perimeter” around both countries so that economic goods  — and cross-border travellers — need to be screened only once to enter both countries.

Les said border-crossings in B.C. have become “more of a barrier than a border” since 9/11, and look more like parking lots full of trucks “loaded with parts or goods or equipment that should be on its way to being a productive part of the economy.”

“Literally millions of jobs rely on trade across the border,” he said, such as B.C. manufacturers that supply parts for the aerospace industry in Washington State.

But Vonn said the new plan will require Canadian authorities to share all kinds of information about individuals with U.S. security officials, who have already demonstrated the arbitrariness of their decisions on who poses a threat to the nation.

“Any Canadian who believes with this agreement that Obama will be adopting Canadian no-fly lists is clearly not paying attention,” she said. “We will be adopting U.S. standards on just about everything related to security matters.”

She said the Canadian government has “no right” to bargain away the rights of its citizens in exchange for trade benefits, in a process that’s “shrouded by secrecy.”

The BCCLA and other seven other organizations, including the Council of Canada, have called for “extended public and parliamentary debate” before the plan is implemented.

Just Posted

Watercolours by late Chilliwack artist to be unveiled at Yarrow Library

The public is invited to a special unveiling of three of Heinz Klassen’s watercolour paintings

Yarrow Library one of the stops on Cubetto’s grand tour

FVRL’s friendly wooden robot, Cubetto, travels throughout Fraser Valley to teach programming basics

No home for Agassiz Community Garden on school district land

The garden is still homeless after SD78 said no to the society using the McCaffrey School property

Chilliwack PEO: ‘We who are sisters’

International oganization celebrating 150 years of service

Chilliwack students take the lead as mental health advocates

About 100 Chilliwack youth prepped to make a difference during Mental Health Week

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

RCMP looking for witnesses to four-vehicle crash in Burnaby

Police suspect impaired driving was a contributing factor

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

VIDEO: Fan support almost deafening as Giants take Game 2 in finals

Vancouver G-Men cap comeback with thrilling third period to beat Spokane 4-2 on home ice in Langley

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

Most Read