Cablegate: Atlantic Canada Worried by Impact of Border

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. STATE 036401, B. 02 Halifax 0091


2. (SBU) SUMMARY: Nova Scotia officials have raised with CG the
deep concerns in Atlantic Canada over the potential that USG
border screening systems, including the regulations emanating
from the Bioterrorism Act, will hurt the large volume of
agricultural and fish exports from this region to the United

3. (SBU) Nova Scotia's Agriculture and Fisheries Minister,
Gordon Balser, accompanied by a group of economic officials from
various departments of the provincial government, requested a
meeting with CG on February 7 to express concerns about the
potential impact of the USGQs new bio-terrorism preparedness
measures on Atlantic CanadaQs exports to the United States.

4. (SBU) Both the governments and private companies in this part
of the country have heard fairly dire warnings from industry
groups about what they fear will be cumbersome new requirements
that will result from the Public Health Security and
Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002. For
example, the Fisheries Council of Canada held a seminar last
month in Halifax spelling out new requirements for shippers to
register with the FDA, to provide exhaustive "traceability"
records for exported goods, and to provide eight hours advance
notice whenever a truckload of agricultural or fish products is
about to approach the U.S. border.

5. (SBU) Balser explained that, based on what they have heard
from the Fisheries Council and other groups, Nova Scotia
exporters are concerned about the potential for these new
paperwork requirements to cause long delays at the land border
crossings. These delays, he postulated, might be compounded
once the USG finishes putting in place new secure ID and
biometric systems for screening people entering the United
States. The Minister noted that USG border programs such as
FAST, NEXUS, and C-TPAT are not as well understood in Atlantic
Canada as they are in other parts of the country because they
have not been employed as much here until now. He begged for
the USG to consider setting up pilot projects for Atlantic
exporters that would enable companies that ship goods frequently
to get their drivers properly credentialed early.

6. (SBU) Nova Scotia officials are particularly concerned about
fish and agricultural products, which constitute the majority of
Atlantic exports to the United States and are the lifeblood of
many small communities. Minister Balser, who happens to be the
legislative representative one such community, worries that
delays would be devastating for perishable food products such as
live lobsters and fish with a short shelf life.

7. (SBU) The Minister made no secret of his distrust of Ottawa
on these issues. He observed that the Canadian federal
government does not appreciate the impact of new border measures
on Atlantic Canada and has little willingness to help the region
participate in these pilot programs. He told CG that this was
yet another case of Ottawa politiciansQ "dismissive attitude"
toward protecting the interests the interests of the
economically depressed Atlantic region. With that, Balser said
his province must look at mounting its own campaign to see the
region get fast-track participation in any new USG border

8. (SBU) CG provided Minister Balser and the other officials
with the information concerning the Bioterrorism Act contained
in ref A, and promised to deliver a more extensive briefing on
FAST/NEXUS/C-TPAT in the near future.

9. (SBU) COMMENT: Atlantic officials perennially complain about
neglect from Ottawa, but in this case they perceive strongly
that other regions of Canada have benefited from preferential
treatment in terms of advance participation in new USG border
screening programs. New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord has
sought to bring pilot projects to land border crossings in his
province (ref B), but has not up to his point received much
support from regional counterparts. BalserQs comments suggest
that a regional push from officials of all four provinces might
be forthcoming.

© Scoop Media

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