Ontario Premier Proposes Unified Border Inspection
Jun. 21, 2004
Ontario Premier, Dalton McGuinty, has proposed the creation of unified inspection zones staffed by U.S. and Canadian customs personnel for pre-clearance at the border. McGuinty noted that "Ontario will be a worthy ally in the war on terrorism. We will not allow ourselves to be used as a base for future terrorism operations against the United States. We will not be exploited. We will be vigilant." Nevertheless, he stated that border delays pose a threat to Ontario's automotive sector as well as tourism. According to McGuinty, "Entire businesses are at stake, and so are jobs, government revenues, and the important public services and programs they support." McGuinty noted that only 4.4% of goods traded between the U.S. and Canada currently benefit from the existing FAST (Free and Secure Trade) program. According to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, delays at the border cost both countries more than CA$13 billion per year. Ontario is the United States’ third-largest trading partner, after Canada and Mexico. Two-way trade between Ontario and the United States amounts to almost CA$900 million per day.
In a speech to the Canadian American Business Counsel on June 16, Premier McGuinty noted that a major obstacle to this plan is the resistance of Canadians to having armed U.S. law enforcement personnel operating in Canada.