Canada -- more than 31 million people spread out over 3.9 million miles of natural beauty -- is America's longtime ally. That historical band was tightened on Sept. 11 when more than 200 U.S.-bound planes carrying tens of thousands of passengers filled Canada's air and found a safe haven.
Just days later, there were new demands for tighter border security and subsequent revelations about alleged terrorists crossing that border into the United States. Officials responsible for public safety on both sides took action.
Canada, for its part, has implemented an integrated justice information initiative that involves a number of public safety agencies. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Correctional Service of Canada, and the National Parole Board, all under the umbrella of the Solicitor General Canada, work with the Department of Justice Canada to carry out the plans for improving public safety.
A National Effort
The initiative originated in December 2001 when Canada earmarked US$4.9 billion to fight terrorism and strengthen the nation's security. Part of this effort is the development of the Canadian Public Safety Information Network (CPSIN), linking multiple sources of information to authorized users throughout government. Another component is the National Criminal Justice Index -- something Greg Wright, executive director of the Integrated Justice Information Secretariat, calls the "front door" for information sharing. He foresees the day when immigration officials can check documents at the border and simultaneously search the databases of the RCMP, provincial police, corrections, and Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.
The importance of the integrated system increased after 9-11, "by quantum leaps," Wright said. "Before Sept. 11, I would have to say that integrated justice was a goal that should be done. Sept. 11 said we had experienced a serious failure in information management."
Paul Kennedy, senior assistant deputy solicitor general, is responsible for national security and oversees numerous aspects of public safety. His 25 years with Canada's Department of Justice give him perspective on the current sense of urgency. He says it will take more than good technology to create real security between the neighboring countries. "There is a recognition that the U.S./Canada issue is unique," Kennedy said. "It is of such a nature that you can't build a fortress wall between us." Trade alone demands that the countries maintain an expedited flow of goods and people, he added. The United States is Canada's No. 1 import/export market.
In the global environment of heightened security consciousness, cooperation must exist in concert with international competition. "In Canada, like the U.S., national security is the sum of efforts of many partners," Kennedy said in a recent speech. "One government, one agency, cannot handle the job alone." Talking to officials from safety agencies throughout Canada, he emphasized the importance of the nation's integrated justice initiatives. He said the mission is so big it transcends all levels of government. "There is an important international dynamic and Canada reflects this reality," Kennedy said. "This intensifies the relationship between the U.S. and Canada in respect to border security."
The Smart Border Declaration, a joint agreement signed by U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and Canada Deputy Prime Minister John Manley is a 30-point plan to address the issue of free-flowing trade in the context of enhanced security. The challenge is daunting. More than 110 million travelers are processed every year and about 60 million parcels and shipments cross the border. The value of this commerce is US$229 billion in imports and US$283 billion in exports. It all comes through 415 border crossings that are managed by 3,600 Canadian customs officers.
New technologies include mobile X-ray machines at customs check points, electronic document readers for primary inspection lines at airports and investment in a case-management system for customs intelligence information. In addition, Integrated Border Enforcement Teams are being