U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper are to announce a major Canada-U.S. border during Stephen Harper’s visit to the White House on Wednesday. The deal covers a new system of exit controls aimed at facilitating trade and travel between the neighboring countries, sources close to the Canadian federal government said. Obama and Harper will discuss trade and other economic topics at a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, a White House spokesman said.
Key features of the proposed border deal include infrastructure projects worth $1 billion aimed to upgrade border crossings and remove customs clearing areas off international bridges over a 5-year period. The two sides plan to expand programs that assist pre-screened frequent travelers and pre-inspected goods by the use of express lanes across the border. A new “screened once, accepted twice” program is to be unveiled, while measures to harmonize Canadian and American commercial standards are expected to be introduced, following the meeting at the White House.
Numerous organizations in Canada are opposing the planned sharing of information on Canadian travelers between the Canadian and U.S. security authorities. At present, people who travel from Canada to the United States are not tracked by the border authorities, which would change under the new regulations. Canada plans to collect exit information on all travelers leaving the country by land, air or sea regardless of the destination of their departure, with many Canadians opposing the changes. Canadian organizations voiced concerns over the amount and scope of information to be shared between Canadian and U.S. security agencies once a deal is sealed and the computer systems of the two countries are linked.