I hope you are hungry and thirsty because I have a lot for you to read today again. You can take your morning break and read the words of the Kenny report on "Border Crossings" that I have copied and posted below.
You may even be shocked by testimony I quote from the last go around of the Senate Committee hearings which may help explain the fun and games we are suffering through in Windsor from inaction. It may also explain why the Bridge Co. is being persecuted.
Now I will bet that you are surprised by what I said compared with the Star coverage. Sure the report talked about Customs officers spending less time "looking for extra bottles of duty-free whiskey and more time trying to identify people who might be a genuine threat to Canada."
However, Windsorites are more concerned about what the Senate committee said about the border crossing issue after his last set of headlines. If you read the Star's giant headline, the big issue discussed was "Keep bridges apart, report urges." And then a blurb about "a federally funded awareness campaign be launched in the U.S." and "introduction of reverse customs -- where vehicles are inspected before crossing."
There is the Star doing it again...except this time in reverse. Remember how they made a huge story out of one line in a 6-page MTO internal newsletter about a tunnel. Well now, they take pages of Kenny's Report on reverse customs and make it into half a sentence story!
Clearly, as the Kenny Committee still does not seem to understand, and as the Star surely does, if there is reverse customs in place, the argument for a separate, redundant bridge collapses! Then there would be no excuse for not building the Ambassador Bridge's enhancement project.
"The danger of this system [trucks and people cross a bridge or tunnel before they are inspected] is that an uninspected vehicle could stop in the middle of a tunnel or bridge and explode a bomb, disabling a crossing vital to the well-being of Canadians.
Reverse inspections, a process under which people and goods would be subject to examination prior to departure from their country of origin, would lessen this vulnerability."
If the bad guys are stopped before they go over in the first place, then the Star headline disappears doesn't it? The security concerns have been minimized. And so does another reason for a public bridge.
There were some other interesting things said and not said in the Report:
the emphasis on the Ambassador Bridge but no mention of the "unique security risk" at the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel
No recognition that, until recently, it seemed not in the City of Windsor's interest to have reverse customs at the Tunnel for business reasons because of space issues (In my opinion, reverse customs is the real reason for the Tunnel Plaza Improvements which now seem in limbo)
There is talk about the need for "Backup crossings [to] provide an alternative in the event of a key crossing going down." How absurd unless there is a demand for redundancy everywhere. There is a fundamental avoidance of discussing how terrorists have gone after multi-targets in other attacks since it makes a mockery of their fundamental thesis.
"Alain Jolicoeur, the President of the Canada Border Service Agency told the Committee that reverse inspections are the preferred option for conducting inspections at border crossings."
The best line of all "politicians don’t listen to rational arguments."
Finally, I want you to read these two lines to confirm again in your mind that what I have been saying is true. The DRIC exercise and the other irritants are designed to harass the Bridge Co. so they sell out:
Kenny Report: "the federal government has both the mandate and obligation... to remedy the situation as quickly as possible by creating an additional separate crossing.
Ex- Minister Rock "Create the possibility of a third crossing."
If one wants to build a new crossing one does not merely create possibilities but builds a structure. Moreover, if the need is so great that there is a "Public Order Emergency”, then why are Windsorites hearing platitudes even now and not seeing real action.
The answer came in testimony of Ontario's Bruce McCuaig before Kenny in December, 2004 transcripts. The Senior Levels can spend years harassing the Bridge Co. because there is no urgent need at Windsor to do anything since the Bridge Co. has fixed the short-term problems for a decade or more. The Senior Levels can play around with short-term fixes as they beat up on a private owner to force him to sell out:
"So I would not look at just the new crossing itself as an issue that needs to be addressed, albeit it is a significant one. Rather, there are a variety of things that need to be done in this interim period. More specifically, there are border process and plaza improvements that we can do in the shorter term and medium term to help bridge us, if I could use that word, to the time at which new capacity comes on stream in terms of a new border crossing.
Technically, the throughput capacity of the Ambassador Bridge does not reach capacity according to the work that has been done to date for 10 years to 15 years. That is not to say that we have an optimal situation. I do not think anyone would suggest that we have an optimal situation, but the physically capacity is there, if we can move the traffic through the plazas and through the roads for the next 10 years physically on that bridge."
My suggestion to Senator Kenny and his Committee colleagues: have the Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon and Deputy Minister Louis Ranger attend as a witnesses and grill them along with the Ontario Minister Cansfield to get at the truth! You might also be advised to have the Bridge Co. executives as witnesses as well so that you will get real information about a bridge!
Enjoy the read!
Backing Up Infrastructure at Key Border Crossings
Some border crossings are obviously more important to Canada and the United States than others. These important land crossings carry the heaviest volumes of people, goods and traffic - including well over 6 million trucks, 5 million containers, 61 million cars, and 3 million buses per year.82 Disruptions in service would result in significant damage to the economic health of both countries especially to Canada.
Bridges and tunnels connecting Canada to the United States are strategic assets, vital to the national security and economic well-being of our two nations. The most important of these are the bridge and tunnel connecting Windsor to Detroit. Backup crossings are needed to reduce the reliance on potential failure points. They would provide an alternative in the event of a key crossing going down.
The Committee recommended that only those proposals for new crossing infrastructure at Windsor-Detroit which provide separate and secure infrastructure redundancy be considered. (Recommended in June 2005)
According to Transport Canada's July 7, 2006 response:
"The Canada-United States-Ontario-Michigan border transportation partnership (the Partnership) through the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) study is identifying a location for a new river crossing, plazas for border inspections and connecting roads leading from Highway 401 in Canada to the Interstate Highway system in the United States. The study process was developed in order to satisfy the requirements of environmental laws in both countries.
On November 14, 2005 the Bi-National Partnership for the development of a new crossing at the Windsor-Detroit Gateway announced that the Bi-National environmental assessment (EA) study teams would now concentrate future study of a new border crossing and inspection plazas to the industrial area of West Windsor. With the announcement, some of the crossing alternatives identified by the Partnership EA study team in June 2005, were eliminated (which among other criteria) did not provide separate and secure infrastructure. These proposals included the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership's two-lane truckway proposal determined to be inadequate to serve the region's long-term capacity needs and the Ambassador Bridge Twinning Proposal determined to not be practical based on the community impacts of the proposed plaza and access road in Canada.
On March 30, 2006 TC received an updated submission for the Ambassador Bridge Company for the Ambassador Enhancement Project. Under its obligations to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act, TC will examine and respond to the proposal. TC remains committed to the Bi- National process and fulfilling its legislative and regulatory responsibilities.
CHALLENGE TO GOVERNMENT
The government's main consideration is clearly to increase capacity. Providing a nearby backup in the case of a bridge or tunnel being incapacitated by man-made or natural disaster does not appear to be a major consideration.
It is a major consideration for the Committee, so we were heartened to see that the proposed options of increasing capacity by widening the Windsor-Detroit tunnel or twinning the Ambassador Bridge were rejected. Good.
The Committee has been critical of the 2013 deadline; we felt that something so critical to the economies of both Canada and the United States could have been expedited.
However, the process was not expedited, so there is little point in flogging a dead horse. The Government should at least pull out all the stops to ensure that the 2013 deadline is met. A new bridge will bring sighs of relief and loud applause from the always-boisterous chambers of the Senate.
Reverse Inspection Could Save Damage to Crossings
The key land border crossings between Canada and the United States, those bridges and tunnels that carry the majority of people and goods back and forth, are unnecessarily vulnerable. That is partially because trucks and people cross them every day before they are inspected.
The danger of this system is that an uninspected vehicle could stop in the middle of a tunnel or bridge and explode a bomb, disabling a crossing vital to the well-being of Canadians.
Reverse inspections, a process under which people and goods would be subject to examination prior to departure from their country of origin, would lessen this vulnerability.
Land pre-clearance and reverse inspections are not identical. When the term land pre-clearance is used, only one country might be operating on foreign soil. Reverse inspections implies a reciprocity; both countries are pre-clearing at all given crossings. Reverse inspection is two-way pre-clearance.
The Committee recommended that the government move, with U.S. cooperation, to expand pre-clearance into continent-wide reverse inspection at all bridge and tunnel crossings.(Recommended in June 2005)
The Committee recommended that the federal government develop and publicize an implementation plan for pre- clearance, with clearly understood timeframes. (Recommended in June 2005)
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada (PSEPC) replied on August 30,
2006 as follows:
"On December 17, 2004, Canada and the U.S. announced that they would be piloting land pre-clearance at two locations. One pilot will be located at Peace Bridge, where U.S. border inspection operations will be moved from Buffalo, New York to Fort Erie, Ontario; Canadian
inspection operations will be moved to the U.S. side of the border at the Thousand Islands Bridge.
Pre-clearance involves relocating the border operations of one country to another. It has been applied successfully in the air context for decades with U.S. border officers pre-clearing passengers (but not air cargo) destined to the U.S. at certain Canadian airports.
The formal negotiations on a Canada-U.S. Agreement on pre-clearance were put on hold with the dissolution of Parliament. Canadian negotiators have received a renewed mandate and negotiations have now resumed with a view to being successfully concluded by this fall.
Canadian and U.S. officials are working to finalize a land pre-clearance agreement at the earliest date and legislation will likely be required.
Reverse inspection involves the application of land pre-clearance twice, with the result being that, at the same crossing, U.S. border operations would be located in Canada and Canadian border operations are located in the U.S.
Canada has maintained that it is willing to consider reverse inspection at certain crossings where this makes sense. However, it would not be recommended for the Peace Bridge, the Thousand Islands Bridge or the Ambassador Bridge unless the current geographical constraints at
these crossings are addressed.
Reverse inspection would require the same instruments as for simple land pre-clearance, i.e., a government-to-government agreement and legislative changes."
CHALLENGE TO GOVERNMENT
An Excuse to Do Nothing
What both countries need is a simple land swap at all bridges and tunnels connecting Canada and the United States, so that Canada owns snippets of the U.S. and the United States owns little snippets of Canada. This is not a new idea foreign embassies, for instance, are foreign territory located inside our borders.
The amount of land swapped should be roughly equal at each crossing. Secured highways would have to be constructed when the swapped land is not adjacent to the crossing.
Reverse inspection makes sense, but it is being held up because neither the Government of Canada or the Government of the United States is keen having armed persons from another country searching people on their own territory. Land swaps would put these search points under the jurisdiction of the neighbouring country.
B6. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada begin negotiations with the United States to effect land swaps/transfers of sovereignty to permit customs and immigration pre-clearance before a vehicle or an individual gains access to an international bridge or in an international tunnel.
No Plans for Reverse Inspection at New Windsor- Detroit Crossing
Problem 13 refers to the government's plan to build a new bridge in the Windsor-Detroit area. If there is one location at which reverse inspection should be introduced, it should be this one.
First, the structure will be new it is far easier to incorporate reverse-inspection facilities at a new crossing than it is to re-fit an old crossing. Secondly, the Ontario-Michigan crossings are the most vital to the economic health of Canada.
Canadian and U.S. inspectors should switch sides of the border so they have an opportunity to protect their countries before potential wrongdoers arrive, and before any cargo that might do damage to a land border crossing enters that crossing. Best to apprehend a truck whose occupants want to blow up a bridge before that truck gets on the bridge.
The Committee recommended that any new crossing constructed at Windsor-Detroit include facilities for reverse inspection.
(Recommended in June 2005)
According to Transport Canada's July 7, 2006 response:
"The Canada-United States-Ontario-Michigan border transportation partnership (the Partnership) is willing to consider reverse inspections if the appropriate greement(s) can be reached between the Governments of Canada and the United States and if it can be implemented within the time frame of DRIC project. On this basis the Partnership is developing a business case for customs/inspection facilities that will allow for full plaza sites in both Canada and the United States."
CHALLENGE TO GOVERNMENT
Alain Jolicoeur, the President of the Canada Border Service Agency told the Committee that reverse inspections are the preferred option for conducting inspections at border crossings.
This should be a no-brainer. The government should attach a priority to getting the agreement done and implemented within the time frame of the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) project. Furthermore, the Detroit-Windsor tunnel and the Ambassador Bridge are too critical to the economies of Canada and the United States to allow terrorists any advantage if they are targeted. For that reason both of these crossings should be retrofitted for reverse inspections.
B7. The Committee recommends that any new border crossing between Canada and the United States feature reverse inspection facilities, so that each country can check out vehicles entering its territory before those vehicles enter the crossing.
B8. The Committee recommends that both the Detroit-Windsor tunnel and the Ambassador Bridge be retrofitted with reverse inspection facilities, so that each country can inspect vehicles
entering its territory before those vehicles enter the crossing.
B9. The Committee recommends that there be a corresponding transfer of sovereignty at the inspection plaza and a controlled access roadway leading to the new bridge.
Windsor-Detroit Border Crossing a "Public Order Emergency"
The importance of the Windsor-Detroit crossings to Canada as a whole is so great, and the impact of a permanent disruption to these crossings so severe, that the Committee believes that the current situation constitutes a "public order emergency" to the security of Canada. That being the case, the federal government has both the mandate and obligation, in the interests of national security, to remedy the situation as quickly as possible by creating an additional separate crossing. It should do so by introducing legislation granting the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness the authority to expedite construction of key border
The Committee recommended that the federal government, in the interests of national security, introduce legislation that would grant the Governor-in-Council upon the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness the authority to expedite border infrastructure construction.96 (Recommended in June 2005)
In its July 7, 2006 response to the Committee, Transport Canada wrote:
"The DRIC environmental assessment (EA) project complies with the existing legislative requirements in both countries-- the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (OEAA) and the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act
(NEPA). New federal legislation would not expedite the EA process. This project would still be required to comply with the OEAA and NEPA, which requires an extensive EA comparing a number of alternatives. In Canada, the planning process provided by the OEAA provides a solid
framework to analyze and consult on the range of options that are available for choosing the location for a new border crossing. (sic)
The DRIC planning and environmental assessment study is being done in three years. This is record time for an EA of this size and complexity. The timeframe is necessary to ensure a systematic and thorough evaluation of reasonable and prudent alternatives including consultation with all affected stakeholders and proper documentation to help ensure speedy environmental approval as required by the legislation in both countries.
In March 2006, the Partnership announced the specific options for the new bridge, customs plazas and connecting access roads. Overall the environmental assessment is on chedule and progressing well.
The aggressive study schedule for the EA process is on-track for submission of final reports planned for by the end of 2007, so that the Partnership may proceed to design and construction. The Partnership continues to seek opportunities to accelerate this schedule if it can be done
so without jeopardizing the ability to gain environmental approvals.
In addition, the International Bridges and Tunnels Act (Bill C-3) will create one standard for all bridges and tunnels crossings. Included in this Act is a provision where the Governor in Council, based on the recommendation of the Minister of Transport, would have the authority to make
regulations respecting the security and safety of international bridges and tunnels. More specifically, it would ask of person who own or operate international bridges or tunnels:
· develop and implement security plans;
· specify what must be included in the security plan,
· require any information related to security and
CHALLENGE TO GOVERNMENT
Introduce legislation which grants the Governor-in-Council the authority to expedite border infrastructure construction.
Our request was reasonable. Nothing was done. Build the bridge as soon as possible. [See Problem 13 "there is little point in flogging a dead horse."]
Need for Greater Public Awareness of Benefits of
Safer Canada-U.S. Border Crossings
The crossings at Windsor-Detroit represent a critical continental linkage. Like the natural gas pipelines connecting western Canada to the energy markets of the Pacific United States, or the electricity transmission towers connecting northern Quebec to the northeastern United States, the linkages at Windsor-Detroit are vital to the economic prosperity of central Canada and the mid-western United States.
It is in Canada's interest and America's overall interests as well to clearly understand the consequences of foot-dragging on reinforcing Canada-U.S. border crossings at Windsor-Detroit.
The Committee recommended that the federal government move in 2005 to fund an awareness campaign that will outline to Canadians and Americans the security and economic benefits that would result from reinforcing Canada-U.S. border crossings quickly and the potential cost of not doing so. (Recommended in June 2005)
Responding to the Committee in July 2006, the Privy Council Office (PCO) replied:
"The Canadian government makes significant efforts to ensure that our border processes are capable of screening out threats to Canadians, while at the same time permitting the streamlined movement of low risk people and goods to support trade growth and continued investment in Canada. This includes raising awareness both domestically and with our U.S. partners.
The Canada-U.S. Advocacy and Mission Liaison Division of Foreign Affairs Canada as well as the Advocacy Secretariat established in the Canadian Embassy in Washington are dedicated to promoting Government of Canada interests and policies in the United States. An important part of these duties is raising awareness of the importance of the border to the security and economy of both countries.
Activities occur at all levels:
· A group of senior Canadian officials (Commissioner of the RCMP: Director of CSIS; President of CBSA; Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) attended Capitol Hill meetings on June 15, 2006. These officials met with members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to provide specific information on Canada's security contributions as follow up to the alleged terrorist-related activities' arrests in Toronto and Kingston.
· Canada's Embassy in Washington hosted a reception for Congressional Friends of Canada caucus, a newly-formed bi-partisan group of elected representatives on June 21, 2006.
· Canadian officials collaborate with the Business for Economic Security, Trade, and Tourism (BESTT) coalition, a grassroots group made up of firms on both sides of the border that are concerned about the potential impact of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). The Embassy helped to facilitate BESTT's lobbying visit to Washington, DC, in February 2006, where border security and the free movement of legitimate trade and travel were discussed.
· Canadian missions responsible for Canada-U.S. border regions (Anchorage, Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, Detroit, Buffalo, and Boston) will be conducting a series of cross-border community events over the summer of 2006 to strengthen relationships with border stakeholders and share key messages on border security.
· Opinion-editorials are regularly prepared for U.S. newspapers designed to rebut claims that Canadian border security is weak, particularly in response to the myth that the 9/11 hijackers entered the United States through Canada.
· The Canadian Ambassador and Consuls-General regularly speak at chambers of commerce meetings, community forums, and academic conferences about Canada's commitment to security and facilitation at our borders.
Domestically, the Canada Border Services Agency has implemented a website (firstname.lastname@example.org) to inform the Canadian public on the WHTI initiatives and the documentation requirements to enter the United States today and on December 31, 2006 and on December 31,
CHALLENGE TO GOVERNMENT
The Committee supports any attempt of the Government to promote Canada's interests with regards to border security. However, politicians don't listen to rational arguments they listen to constitutents who will be annoyed with them if something doesn't get done.
On our trips to the United States, Committee members heard the same refrain from numerous politicians: we don't hear anything from our constituents about the issues you are pushing; we only hear about them from you. (They were polite enough not to add "and you don't count because you don't vote here," but we got the message).
If Canadian authorities are going to convince politicians to take steps to safeguard the economic relationship between Canada and the United States, they are going to have to go to U.S. citizens whose jobs depend on that relationship and convince them that measures must be taken to safeguard it.
People in striped pants talking to people in striped pants isn't good enough. Radio ads? TV ads? Comic books? Blogs? How about a Superbowl ad? We don't care. Just do what needs to be done. This relationship is crucial to the economic well-being of every Canadian. Spend some money promoting it to the right people.
B10. The Committee recommends that a comprehensive, multi-year mass media program be commissioned by the Government of Canada to better educate Canadian and American residents along the border of the importance of a secure and commerce-friendly border to the economy of both our countries.