July 24, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning everyone.
As we gather today on the Territory of Treaty #6 and in the homeland of the Metis, greetings and good wishes from the Government of Canada.
And to those of you "from away", WELCOME to the beautiful city of Saskatoon in my home province of Saskatchewan. We are delighted that all of you are here. Sincere thanks to the Pacific Northwest Economic Region for selecting this location for your 2019 Summit.
You will have noticed, I presume, that Saskatchewan people are fiercely proud of our province ... and proud too of all our local idiosyncrasies.
Of the 10 jurisdictions that are members of PNWER, Saskatchewan is probably the flattest. We're proud of that! We're also the easiest jurisdiction to draw, but the hardest to spell.
If you haven't encountered them already, you'll find we have "Royal" calibre mosquitoes in Saskatchewan.
Our geography is a little convoluted. We put the community of Southend way up north. But North Portal is as far south as you can get. The town of Eastend is in the west, while West Bend is in the east.
To confuse visitors even more, Saskatchewanians stand totally opposed to the scourge of Daylight Savings Time. We will not change our clocks for anybody
We're also challenged about water. Here in Saskatoon, we have fine bridges over a great river, but in our provincial capital in Regina, with no river, you'll find the longest bridge over the shortest span of water in the western world.
Water is one of our most precious commodities, along with the richness of our farmland, potash, uranium and energy resources.
And our people ... Saskatchewan people are very inventive. We invented Girl Guide Cookies, for example, as well as the Automatic Bank Teller machine, and the Cobalt Bomb for treating cancer, and revolutionary Air-Seeding technology in agriculture, and the Cinderella Crop of Canola, and Canada's only synchrotron light source, and much more.
Amidst all that, I trust you are finding your Saskatchewan hosts to be friendly and hospitable. We pride ourselves on that too - being good neighbours, reliable business partners and trusted friends and allies.
That's why PNWER is such a good fit with Saskatchewan.
I like very much your Mission Statement about increasing the economic well-being and the quality of life of ALL our citizens on both sides of the border across this entire region. That recognizes how deeply integrated, inter-connected and inter-dependent we all are, and what great sense it makes to work smartly together. The opposite of "beggar thy neighbour".
That same Mission Statement - rather prescient, written 28 years ago - also acknowledges the essential 21st century linkage between economic success and protecting the natural environment. Within our various jurisdictions, we need to achieve BOTH of those goals simultaneously - environmental success and economic success, together - one at the expense of the other is not good enough.
My portfolio responsibilities in the Government of Canada for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness roughly parallel those in DHS, the Department of Homeland Security. And I've been fortunate to have a strong working relationship with all my American counterparts. First, Secretary Jeh Johnson, and then General John Kelly, Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and now Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan.
One of our common goals over these past four years has been to "thin" the Canada/US border - to make it ever more efficient and expeditious in dealing with legitimate trade and travel, but always safe and secure to properly protect both countries.
It's a remarkable border. Spanning 9,000 kilometres, with more than 120 land Ports of Entry, plus marine and air.
Every single day, close to 400,000 people move back and forth across that border, together with $2.5 billion in two-way trade. Every single day.
We have between us the longest, most open, unmilitarized and most successful international boundary in the history of the world. And because we both work hard to keep it that way - thin, but secure - that border is a prime contributor to our extensive, dynamic, prosperous and mutually beneficial relationship.
In recent months, several developments have given that relationship further substance and momentum. And your organization has been actively involved in promoting that progress.
First, last fall, we successfully concluded negotiations on a new trade agreement to replace the NAFTA.
The bargaining process had run for a year-and-a-half. It had caused a good deal of turbulence and uncertainty. Recognizing that the 25-year-old NAFTA needed an update, Canada's commitment from the outset was to be patient, reasonable and flexible, but also firm, determined and united to protect our interests and promote our values. We did exactly that in what we call the new CUSMA - the Canada-US-Mexico Agreement.
Among other things - It provides preferred market access to nearly 490 million consumers. Sensible dispute settlement mechanisms are maintained. Cultural industries are properly protected. Investor state and energy ratchet clauses are removed. And progressive new measures have been included around the environment, gender issues, Indigenous rights and labour.
At a more technical level, the new CUSMA also includes customs and trade facilitation measures that will make cross-border shipments easier, including fewer "paper processes" and a single window for the submission of trade documents electronically.
The deal has been welcomed in Canada by an unprecedented cross-section of political, business, labour, sectoral and academic leaders. So we signed it, as a step toward ratification and implementation.
But we did not ratify last fall - and this gets to the second major topic upon which critical progress was both necessary and urgent. We did not ratify, because the United States had imposed extraordinary Section 232 tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, alleging that our exports to the US were a threat to American national security.
With the greatest of respect, that allegation was absurd. Such tariffs were illegal. They provoked a huge negative reaction among Canadians, and our government responded accordingly with legal proceedings, dollar-for-dollar retaliatory measures and vigorous political representations at every level, including the very highest.
All of that work paid off this past spring in a clean and complete tariff lift, restoring regular market access for Canadian steel and aluminum. And that was followed recently by a very welcome US decision NOT to proceed with 232 action against Canadian uranium exports to the United States.
With the steel and aluminum tariffs out of the way, we're ready to proceed with ratification and implementation of the new CUSMA. Our legislation is currently before the House of Commons. And even in this Canadian pre-election period, we are prepared to get the law passed before Parliament dissolves.
But that depends on Congress also getting the job done on the American side too. Concerns have been expressed by some about the Labour Chapter. But it needs to be noted that CUSMA contains the most robust chapter on labour to be seen in any trade agreement to date - aimed at raising labour standards and working conditions in all three countries, preventing a race to the bottom by building on international labour principles and rights. And we all need to be vigilant to ensure that all three partners implement as promised.
Canada's view is that now is the time to bring all the good work on the new CUSMA to fruition - this summer. And we encourage all our counterparts in Congress to move forward to ratify and implement.
This new deal sets the framework going forward for more than $900 billion in annual trade between Canada and the United States. Canada is a larger market for American goods than China, Japan and the United Kingdom combined. The economies of 35 US-States depend directly on trade with Canada more than any other nation. And of course, the biggest markets for Canadians are in the US. So it's important not to leave this new deal dangling.
The third area of cross-border progress that I want to emphasize between our two countries is the expansion of Pre-clearance arrangements. Prime Minister Trudeau and President Trump have repeatedly signalled this as an important priority.
For airline passengers heading into the United States, the ability to pre-clear customs and immigration requirements in Canada before departure has existed for more than 60 years. The service is currently available to some 15 million passengers annually at eight major Canadian airports - Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto Pearson, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.
Pre-clearance is a sound security practice. It's also good for travellers, tourism and trade. Because of pre-clearance, Toronto Pearson has become the fourth largest port of air entry into the United States, after only JFK, Miami and LAX. So we want to build on a good thing.
A formal bi-national agreement to expand pre-clearance to all modes of transportation, not just air, and in both directions, is now on its way to ratification this summer. The necessary enabling legislation has been enacted on both sides of the border.
The next step is for expansion sites in both Canada and the United States to pursue the business opportunities which this new agreement and new legislation create. Several are doing so now. This includes rail and cruise ship operations on the west coast.
But the major payoff could well be in the future pre-clearance of cargo. The Canada Border Services Agency is working now with US Customs and Border Protection on a Binational Rail Cargo Pre-Screening pilot project to process northbound rail cars at Rouses Point, New York. Our experience from this pilot will help in the planning of other cargo pre-clearance opportunities.
My fourth example of good border progress is the implementation of an automatic and fully reciprocal Entry/Exit data sharing system when people cross the border in either direction between Canada and the United States. This is another priority for both the Prime Minister and the President.
We have negotiated the arrangement and passed the required legislation. Implementation is now underway.
Both countries have long been meticulous about rules and procedures for people seeking to ENTER their territory. But there has always been a big gap around those who are EXITING. For most people, it might come as a surprise that EXIT information has never been systematically collected.
We have been working to fill that gap administratively with respect to foreign nationals, permanent residents and US citizens. But further legislative authority was required to make the system fully comprehensive to cover Canadian citizens too. The new law is now in place.
We had two over-arching objectives - to be as unobtrusive as possible and to avoid border delays.
So the data that is collected is nothing more than what appears on page 2 of your passport - name, nationality, sex, date and place of birth, plus the date, time and point of departure. Period. That is the basic information which every traveller supplies to the border officer of the country they are seeking to ENTER - when they show their passport.
Now, that border officer, recording the ENTRY, will simply flip that same information back to the country from which the traveller has just come, and that country will have a record of the traveller's EXIT - automatically and without delay or imposition.
For security purposes, both countries will have a more complete picture of who is actually in our respective countries at any given moment in time. That will lead to better decisions and lower costs on border management, citizenship and immigration matters, and those federal social programs that involve a residency rule. The system will also help law enforcement dealing with child abductors, human traffickers, extremist traveller's and smugglers.
All of these matters were on my agenda last month when I had my first face-to-face conversation with Acting Secretary McAleenan, plus other pressing concerns such as:
- accurate and up-to-date information at the border about cannabis, and especially pertaining to individuals with a previous criminal record for which a pardon had been granted;
- social media platforms that become havens for terrorism, violent extremism, hate, child sexual exploitation, human trafficking and the subversion of democracy;
- combatting terrorist travellers and doing everything possible to bring them to justice;
- and the need to modernize the Safe Third Country agreement between Canada and the United States to better reflect migration and asylum realities.
The national security interests of Canada and the United States coincide in a great many ways. We have a lot to work on together, while fully respecting our sovereignty, our domestic laws and constitutions.
Our police, security and intelligence agencies on-the-ground conduct themselves in a seamless, professional manner. Often unsung, we have regular examples of US assistance in dealing with safety and security matters in Canada, and equally, Canadian assistance in dealing with safety and security matters in the United States.
One field of growing endeavour that will keep us both very busy is Cyber security.
Our lives are dominated by digital technology and we are intensely inter-connected. That opens huge new opportunities economically, socially and for our prosperity and quality of life. But it also presents huge new risks and threats. We are only as safe as our weakest link.
Critical infrastructure systems are a prime concern and many of them are cross-border - like banking, telecommunications, transportation and energy.
In Canada we have recently completed major consultations on how best to upgrade our Cyber protections. A new, more comprehensive and proactive strategy has been published. Major new budget commitments have been made. We have enhanced our capacity to protect against and respond to Cyber attacks, including the legal authority to take active measures in appropriate circumstances to eliminate threats before an attack.
We are also at work on new legislation to set mandatory standards of performance and behaviour for critical infrastructure sectors and operators.
My department and DHS are preparing a Strategic Framework and Action Plan for the specific protection of Cross Border Critical Infrastructure.
Ladies and gentlemen - there are always many other things to discuss in the Canada-US relationship:
- Our new Tsawwassen Container Examination Facility;
- New applications of Radio Frequency Identification tools;
- Many new Primary Inspection Kiosks at air terminals;
- The greater use of biometrics;
- Opportunities for the co-location of cross-border infrastructure;
- Our new investment of $31 million to acquire 24 additional detector dogs and handler teams to safeguard against serious threats like African Swine Fever.
It's all about more trade and travel with safety and security for all our respective populations.
Beyond the hard work of governments and their agencies, a vital ingredient in our relationship is organizations like PNWER that bring diverse stakeholders together to identify both issues and solutions.
I thank you for the good work you have done over nearly 30 years to build the bonds between Canada and the United States, and keep us moving forward together.
I look forward to the ideas that emanate from this Summit. As a start, I'll be here for at least of portion of the next session to do some listening on issues like border security and disaster resilience.
I wish PNWER continued success and effectiveness.