Cablegate: Canada: Maritime Cooperation

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





E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2009

1. summary: Canada's Minster of Justice, Irwin Cotler,
informed Ambassador Cellucci on November 22 that the
Government of Canada would be open to exploratory discussions
with representatives of the US Government concerning an
evaluation of need and then possible development of a
maritime agreement, or shiprider protocol between the US and
Canada. Cotler thought that the best existing mechanism for
these talks would be within the Border Enforcement Subgroup
of the Cross Border Crime Forum thus allowing eventual
shiprider exercises, if agreed upon, to become operational
extensions of already on-going and successful Integrated
Border Enforcement Team (IBET) activities.
end summary

2. During a one-on-one meeting in his Parliament Hill office
on November 22, Canada's Minister of Justice, Irwin Cotler
told Ambassador Cellucci that he and his Ministry are pleased
to have become a more active participant in the US-Canada
Cross Border Crime Forum. Cotler commented that the Crime
Forum has over the years proven itself a energetic and
positive mechanism for the promotion of bi-lateral law
enforcement cooperation and coordination by identifying
problems and then developing the solutions to them. Cotler
suggested that in his experience, most Canadians have long
recognized that just as the US homeland cannot be fully
secure without the help of Canada, neither can Canada be
truly safe without close cooperation with the United States.
He noted that this was especially evident in the post-9/11
era and that Canadian law enforcement officials are sensitive
to the need to do more with their US counterparts.

3. As a result, Cotler said that Canada would be open to
exploratory discussions with representatives of the US
Government to ascertain if there is a need for an expanded
law enforcement presence in the Great Lakes, Saint Lawrence
Seaway and possibly along our Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
He noted that on the Canadian side such discussions should
include representatives from Transport Canada, Public Safety
and Emergency Preparedness (PSEPC), Foreign Affairs Canada
(FAC), the Ministry of Justice, the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police (RCMP), The Prime Minister's Office (PMO), and other
interested stakeholders including the pertinent provincial
authorities. The key, Cotler stressed, would be to ensure
that an agreed to enhanced maritime law enforcement
commitment would be consistent with Canada's quote
constitutional framework and law unquote.

4. As a practical step forward, Cotler said he thought that
the most appropriate existing mechanism for these talks could
be within the Border Enforcement Subgroup of the Cross Border
Crime Forum. This he suggested might allow eventual
shiprider exercises, if agreed upon, to become operational
extensions of already on-going and successful Integrated
Border Enforcement Team (IBET) activities. Cotler said he
would confer with his counterpart and Canadian co-chair of
the Cross Border Crime Forum, Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness Canada, Deputy Prime Minister Ann McLellan as
well as US Department of Justice Forum organizers about
tasking the Border Enforcement Subgroup with quote defining
the problem and then offering solutions unquote.

5. Minister Cotler's remarks to the Ambassador mirrored a
Canadian Government position expressed earlier to poloff. On
November 19, PSEPC Director General Caroline Melis said that
DPM McLellan made clear that enhanced US-Canadian border
security remains a national priority and that PSEPC stands
ready to begin discussions with US officials with an eye
towards an eventual maritime, or shiprider protocol. Melis
noted that the DPM's Senior Policy Advisor for Border
Services, David Thelan, had underscored the value of a
maritime agreement, to be spearheaded by a two week shiprider
proof of concept exercise on the Great Lakes, but that the
Ministry of Justice's Senior Legal Advisor as well as the
RCMP's senior counsel advised that a shiprider exercise as
described in the proof of concept was inconsistent with
Canadian law and therefore should not be implemented within
Canadian waters. (Note: the proof of concept discussed here
was prepared by DHS and given to the RCMP in June. Though
the RCMP's Director General for Border Integrity fully
endorsed the proposal, it appears to have languished in the
RCMP's legal office until October. Only then did the RCMP's
senior legal advisor pass the proposal to the Ministry of
Justice for the Government of Canada's official review and
decision. Post was advised in mid-October that Canada
Justice found the proposal quote inconsistent with Canadian
law unquote. This appears to be the same fate suffered by a
similar shiprider proposal given to the Canadian Government
in the late 1990s.)

6. Comment: Many of our Canadian interlocutors agree that a
shiprider program would greatly enhance both US and Canadian
law enforcement capabilities in and around our shared lakes,
waterways and coasts and therefore should be done. The
seemingly contradictory hesitancy to conduct a early and
quick proof of concept however, stems from a Canadian
insistence that Canadian civil liberties and protections not
be infringed upon by foreign officers of the law --
especially if armed. As Miles was quick to point out the
last thing we (Canadians) want is quote for another 31
year-old mother of three to be killed by a US cop engaged in
a high speed chase on Canadian streets -- with or without
permission unquote. This leads to the conclusion that the
devil remains in the details and as we've been told an
eventual joint maritime exercise and hoped for protocol will
require interagency consensus among all stakeholders within
the Canadian Government. Therefore, Cotler's suggestion to
task the Border Enforcement Subgroup of the Cross Border
Crime Forum may be the best place to start.

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