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December 2, 2001
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US, Canada to ink deal on cross-border security

Ajit Jain in Toronto

United States Attorney General John Ashcroft is coming to Ottawa on Monday and the Canadian politicians will be dancing to his tune.

They don't have any option, but to sign on dotted lines a deal with the Americans on cross border security and trade. Canada has to ensure that its $1.2 billion daily exports to the US is protected and not interrupted in the aftermath of September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

Ashcroft is paying a visit to Ottawa to sign a deal with his Canadian counterpart, Solicitor General Lawrence MacAulay that, according to widely published reports, will result in setting a joint border police patrols, expanded international security teams and co-ordinated immigration measures.

The proposed deal is slated to also include increasingly integrated surveillance by both countries of people and goods crossing the borders.

The two countries will set up joint customs, immigration and even policing teams in North America and their posts abroad. There will also be a cross border accord on refugee claimants, the reports say.

Canadians will soon know they have to pay the price, a heavy price, now that an "800-pound gorilla" is shifting position, argues Edward Greenspon, political editor of the Globe and Mail.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley was in Toronto this week. He told an elite audience that all these proposed border changes/deals "do not limit our sovereignty. They are an exercise of our sovereignty in our enlightened self-interest".

Greenspon calls Manley's foreign policy thesis "an economically driven desire to meet American security concerns while containing the issue largely to border management".

Manley is a Liberal and hopes to succeed Prime Minister Jean Chretien when the incumbent decides to step down. He is seeking support from whatever quarter he can get.

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