Cablegate: Canada Seeks "Collective Security" Approach On Food

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







DHS/BCBP for Bonner


AND Fumie Yakota


Pass FDA

E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Canada seeks "Collective Security" Approach on Food

REF: OTTAWA 0789 (Border Facts And Economic Impact)


1. The Canadian Government desires to work closely with USG
on biosecurity and harmonize forthcoming regulations
stemming from the Bioterrorism Act (BTA). During an August
12 meeting with Robert Wright, number two at the Privy
Council Office (PCO) and overseer of Canada's border
security efforts, Wright emphasized that a principal
objective of the GoC is to act in concert with the USG in
order to enhance the collective physical and economic
security of Canada and the United States. Wright focused on
FDA advance prior notice rules as a specific example of an
area where collaboration would enhance collective security.
Wright expressed a strong desire that USG and GoC work
closely and share information during the development of such
regulations that may have an effect on the physical and
economic security of both countries. More immediately,
Wright asked how the GoC and USG might, even at this late
stage, cooperate to ensure that forthcoming FDA rules
account for the deeply integrated nature of the Canada-U.S.
food market. We assured Wright that the USG has heard GOC
concerns and request Washington provide us with any
information that may further assuage GOC concerns. End

--------------------------------------------- ---
GoC wants to contribute to "Collective Security"
--------------------------------------------- ---

2. Deputy Chief of Mission, accompanied by other State,
Agriculture and Customs officers met with Robert Wright,
Assistant Secretary to Cabinet and Coordinator for Security
and Intelligence, for the Privy Council Office (PCO) August
12. Also present were Graham Flack, Director of the PCO
Border Task Force, Anthony Ritchie, Senior Policy Advisor,
Security and Intelligence, and other PCO staff. The PCO
manages the Canadian government bureaucracy, combining some
of the functions of the U.S. National Security Council, the
Office of Management and Budget, and the White House staff.
Wright is also the principal assistant to Deputy Prime
Minister Manley and Canada's point man on the Ridge-Manley
"Smart Border" process. This is a new job for Wright - who
is a long-time GOC senior mandarin. The intent of the
meeting was an introductory call and to allow Wright to
discuss issues we knew were on his mind.

3. Wright started the meeting by expressing his
professional and personal appreciation for the mature and
helpful manner in which the U.S. responded to the SARS and
BSE crises. Unlike other countries, the U.S. based its
actions on sound science with a view toward assisting its
close ally. Wright then turned to the subject of new USG
border-crossing rules that require pre-notification, some
developed by U.S. Customs and others by the FDA. He
explained how well the process had gone, in his view, with
US Customs in formulating the new rules, in particular U.S.
and Canadian rules on pre-notification times and other
details of cross-border trade. The new rules in each
country are now nicely meshed, Wright said. He wants to
accomplish the same with the upcoming FDA rules on food
importation, but, unfortunately, he remarked, the stage is
not being set as effectively with FDA as it was with US
4. Embassy officials outlined to Wright the USG rulemaking
process, including the opportunity to provide comments
during the appropriate period but not after the comment
period has closed. Emboffs also noted that we are confident
that FDA is taking fully into account the detailed comments
provided by the GoC, provincial governments and private
sector players on the FDA rules.

5. Wright acknowledged the constraints in this particular
rule-writing process, but emphasized that the GoC objective,
because of the deep integration between the two countries,
is to act in concert with the USG in order to enhance the
collective security of Canada and the United States. Wright
told us Canada's modus operandi is for Canadian security and
customs rules to mirror US regulation as closely as is
possible, thus producing a harmonized security perimeter
around Canada and the U.S. In particular, Wright repeated
his view that the pre-notification rules proposed by U.S.
Customs and Border Protection on July 23, 2003 are an
example of a collaborative process that enhances collective

Discussion Needed to Smooth Implementation

6. Wright suggested that the new FDA rules would be a good
subject for the upcoming Shared Border Accord (SBA) meeting
in San Francisco in September. According to Wright, a forum
is required to discuss the forthcoming rules and
(ostensibly) how the GOC might begin to craft its own rules
(but clearly also to allow GoC to gain a "comfort level"
with the forthcoming rules). Note: Mission understands that
the BTA regulations are on the SBA agenda. End Note.

7. Wright observed that this autumn will be a sensitive
period in Canadian politics due to a leadership transition
and selection of a new Prime Minister, which will be
completed this winter. He signaled that immediate attention
to working in concert on the FDA rules will attenuate the
potential for any political difficulty arising in the wake
of the rollout of the final rule in mid-October. Wright
suggested he did not want broad US-Canada cooperation to be
derailed by the perception that the United States Government
is imposing new rules that do not conform to the commitment
of the two governments to work collectively on security and
border issues.

FYI: Trade in Food

8. In the first phases of implementation, Wright is afraid
the new FDA rules will hold up perishable traded goods. US
exporters are the dominant suppliers of Canadian
agricultural imports, accounting for nearly two-thirds of
the total, while Canadian exporters ship more than half of
their agricultural exports to the United States. Canadian
exports of perishable food items, namely fresh and frozen
meats, fresh fish, fruits and vegetables are vulnerable to
spoilage and deterioration under lengthy border delays.
According to the Ontario Food Terminal, Canada's largest
produce terminal, virtually all U.S. exports of fresh
produce to Canada are by truck. Rather than return to the
United States empty, the trucks commonly return with back-
haul. In fact, their original departure from U.S. points is
often dependent upon timely back-haul arrangements.
Comment and Action Requests

9. Wright conveyed two messages during the meeting:

(A) From a strategic point of view, GoC believes it is in
the interests of both the USG and GoC to collaborate closely
and share information during the development of new
regulations and rules that may have an effect on the
collective physical and economic security of the two
countries. The shared border and the huge volume of trade
make Canada a special case. The "ideal" example presented
by the GoC is of the cooperation between CBP and CCRA.

(B) More immediately, the GoC wants some indication of what
the final FDA pre-notification rule will contain (for
example will the final FDA rule simply employ CBP pre-
notification timelines). Armed with this information the
GoC would be able to begin to craft their own rules
harmonized with those of the FDA.

10. Comment: Apart from the issues of process and
cooperation between Canada and the United States,
inefficient implementation of the rules could pose the
possibility of major disruptions in cross border traffic and
trade, which is not in our interests. The fear we heard the
other day was that when the BTA goes into effect in
December, if dozens or hundreds of trucks must wait for FDA
approval, or turn around in cramped border facilities, the
resulting back-ups at the border would not just be a problem
for Canada, but for the United States as well.

11. Action Request: In general, we assume Washington views
favorably Canadian desire for additional collaboration
during the development of regulations that would have a
major impact on the border. Specifically, with respect to
the BTA prior notification rules being drafted now by FDA,
what might be done (if anything) to assuage GoC concerns?


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