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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial government responds to Ryder Lake bad internet complaints

Anne Kang, Minister of Citizens’ Services, responded to a pair of letters sent to Victoria

Chilliwack Search and Rescue kept busy on B.C. Day long weekend

Six callouts in 10 hours Friday continued a trend of more outdoor enthusiasts needing help in 2020

Fraser Valley Bandits release top forward Cameron Forte

A team leader through four games of the CEBL Summer Series, Forte has been cut loose

The Happy Hiker, Art Lengkeek, recognized with bench and plaque on Mount Cheam trail

The 88 year old is a familiar sight on trails throughout the Fraser Valley and beyond

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Fraser Valley Bandits clinch playoff spot with win

Bandits down Niagara River Lions 70-57 on Sunday, improve to 3-2

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

Travel restrictions inspiring co-operation in border communities

Small border towns are asking for exemption to travel ban

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

VIDEO: One wounded in Maple Ridge gun battle

Two vehicles reportedly traded shots while driving down street

Most Read