Cablegate: Parliamentarians Highlight Border Concerns
PP RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHOT #0684/01 1412141
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 202141Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7887
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEADRO/HQ ICE DRO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY IA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY IAIP WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAORC/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 000684
DHS FOR OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PBTS KCRM CA
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENTARIANS HIGHLIGHT BORDER CONCERNS
1. (SBU) Summary: In advance of the annual Canada-U.S.
Inter-Parliamentary meeting May 17-18, Canadian MPs and
Senators expressed concern to Ambassador over the "thickening
of the border" and hope that Congress may again push back the
June 2009 date for implementation of WHTI on the land border.
They raised concerns over contraband tobacco, water exports,
Devils Lake, uranium production, the DRIC project, and
information-sharing in the wake of recent revelations in the
Abdullah Khadr extradition case. End Summary
2. (SBU) Ambassador, accompanied by DCM, PolMinCouns, RSO,
DHS Attache, and poloff, met on May 14 with thirteen Canadian
Senators and Members of Parliament -- representing all four
parties -- in advance of their travel as the Canada-U.S.
Inter-Parliamentary Group (IPG) to Santa Fe for their annual
meeting with U.S. Congresspersons and Senators.
BORDER, WHTI, AND DRIC
3. (SBU) The border and implementation of the Western
Hemisphere Travel Initiative were the most prominent issues.
IPG co-chair Senator Jerry Grafstein (Liberal, Ontario)
expressed concern that the border is getting slower in both
directions, and said that there are increasingly long lines
at the Toronto Airport's pre-clearance facility. He stressed
the need to focus more on planning for manpower and
modernization of the border infrastructure. IPG co-chair MP
Rob Merrifield (Conservative, Alberta) expressed concern that
the infrastructure and personnel would not be in place for
the final implementation of the land requirement for WHTI in
June 2009, and suggested that it would be in both countries'
interest to push it back yet again. He said that Canada wants
the border to be "fluid" and, if recent experience is any
indication, the final implementation will lead to long
slowdowns and economic disruptions.
4. (SBU) Brian Masse (NDP, Ontario) raised the issue of
drivers getting pulled over after going through the border,
and noted that NEXUS lanes are not always open to full
capacity. Jeff Watson (Conservative, Ontario) expressed
concern with the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC)
project at Detroit-Windsor and the long-term issue with
infrastructure there. He added that he would like to get
help with Canadians who cannot travel to the U.S. because of
previous criminal convictions, even though the crimes
occurred as long as 3-4 decades ago. Every MP has a number
of these cases, he said, and it would be helpful to implement
a system whereby they could be cleared for travel purposes.
Merrifield emphasized that, of the nine resolutions in the
last IPG meeting, the most difficult was land pre-clearance,
something the Canadian delegation would raise again this year.
5. (SBU) Ambassador pointed out that the U.S. is far ahead of
Canada at present in making enhanced drivers licenses
available for U.S. citizens, and that, while a lower
percentage of Americans may have passports than Canadians, a
larger percentage of Americans who need to cross the border
have a passport. He noted that our staffing and
infrastructure are adequate to meet the demand for passport
issuance in the future. He and DCM suggested that the NEXUS
Qissuance in the future. He and DCM suggested that the NEXUS
program is underutilized at present and that both sides need
to do more to push the program in order to make the NEXUS
lanes more productive. DHS Attache added that there are a
number of additional initiatives planned and underway,
including more enrollment centers, that will make the program
more productive, and noted that the Canadian Border Services
Agency had not committed to staffing the new centers. DHS
Attache also noted that U.S. immigration law does not have a
"statue of limitations" on previous criminal convictions that
render one admissible; in all cases, applicants must request
a waiver. (Comment: Canada's immigration law is similar in
that respect. End comment) She commented that increased
identify verification at ports and the sharing of databases
are likely the main reasons for increases in admissibilities
(in both directions).
ENERGY, CIGARETTE SMUGGLING, BULK WATER, AND URANIUM
6. (SBU) The Canadian parliamentarians said a number of other
issues would be on the table in Santa Fe.
OTTAWA 00000684 002 OF 002
-- Shawn Murphy (Liberal, Prince Edward Island) asked about
the Farm Bill and suggested that coordination of agricultural
policy would be useful.
-- Lloyd St. Amand (Liberal, Ontario) complained about
contraband tobacco, which he said now makes up 60% of tobacco
consumed in Canada, 90% of which is manufactured in the
United States, most of it on New York State First Nations
reservations. Bloc MP Paul Crete seconded this concern and
asked if we could do more to stop the flow.
-- Joe Commuzzi (Conservative, Ontario) said that for years
Canada had been slow to "link" energy to any other issues but
the PM had begun to do so, notably at the press conference in
New Orleans with President Bush. He said parliamentarians
will take the issue of energy to the IPG and promote the
importance of the energy relationship to their American
-- Commuzzi also expressed concern over bulk water exports
and asked if the current arrangement on Devils Lake is being
followed and whether everything is in place to avoid the risk
of "putting bad water into good."
-- Brad Trost (Conservative, Saskatchewan) asked how U.S.
policy was developing on the issue of allowing Canada to
enrich uranium, a key issue for his riding. He was also
focused on the energy issue and how to best cooperate on
-- Senator Frank Mahlovich (Liberal, Ontario) raised the
recent revelations that the U.S. had paid a "bounty" for the
capture of Abdullah Khadr. He expressed concern that, since
Canada depends on the U.S. for so much of its intelligence,
this might harm information-sharing.
-- Several MPs and Senators asked for our assessment of the
"true state" of NAFTA in light of recent negative campaign
7. (SBU) Comment: The issues raised in this meeting are
illustrative, not comprehensive, but are a useful snapshot of
how some key Canadian MPs and Senators view the U.S. - Canada
relationship. For all, relations with the U.S. are an
important issue, and they clearly want to work to keep our
relationship strong. But on WHTI, the clear message from
this group was that they would still like to soften and
delay U.S. implementation rather than speed up and stiffen
Canadian compliance, and they expect a new American Congress
might be willing to do so.
Visit Canada,s Economy and Environment Forum at