‘Baby steps’: Presence of US security agents on Canadian soil made permanent

In hearings into the Shiprider program which has U.S. border agents enforcing Canadian law on Canadian seaways, RCMP Chief Superintendent Joe Oliver, the Mounties’ director general for border integrity, stated: “We recognized early that this approach would raise concerns about sovereignty, of privacy, and civil liberties of Canadians. We said ‘Let’s take baby steps, let’s start with two agencies to test the concept, let’s demonstrate to Canadians and Americans that such an approach might work.” These “baby steps” are taken on a regular basis to keep Canadians unaware of the extent to which the Harper government has placed Canada under U.S. command. “US forces make ‘baby steps’ into Canada,” November 14, 2013

070819-CalgarySPPprotest-03-crop2The following reports from the Beyond the Border Action Plan website provide an update on the implementation of the security perimeter arrangement between Canada and the U.S. which places U.S. military and security forces on Canadian soil and in control of Canadian security agencies. They reveal how U.S. troops on Canadian soil implementing Canadian law is also moving from pilot project to permanent arrangement behind the backs of Canadians:

  • “On April 7, 2014, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ‘J’ Division, met in Eastport, Maine, to formally sign the Eastern Region International Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations, (also known as Shiprider), regional standard operating procedures. These operations provide a cooperative approach to combatting cross-border crime on shared Canada – U.S. waterways, consistent with the Beyond the Border vision. The Shiprider program removes the international maritime boundary as a barrier to law enforcement by enabling seamless and continuous enforcement and security operations across the Canada-U.S. border.”
  • “On February 24, 2014, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Steven Blaney, Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Robert Nicholson, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, the U.S. Senator for New York and U.S. Congressman for Western New York officially launched Phase II of the truck cargo pre-inspection pilot at the Peace Bridge crossing between Fort Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York. The pilot will operate for up to one year, during which time Canada and the U.S. are using the pilot to test the concept of conducting U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) primary inspection of U.S.-bound truck cargo in Canada in order to better manage their shared border and improve economic opportunities for both countries. To date, testing of the pre-inspection impact on border wait times under the Peace Bridge pilot has been running smoothly and feedback from involved partners and stakeholders has been positive. Phase I of the pre-inspection pilot, which was conducted at the Pacific Highway crossing adjacent to Surrey, BC, concluded in January 2014.”

It is important to note that Canadian security agents are not being placed on U.S. soil to conduct pre-clearance inspections there. It is clear this is not a mutual arrangement.

The arrangement not only includes the RCMP but also the Department of National Defence, as evidenced from the participation of Minister of National Defence, Robert Nicholson. On the American side, it includes Homeland Security, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. border forces – all under U.S. Northern Command (NorthCom). [1] Through the NORAD agreement, Canadian forces are subordinated to U.S. command.

Criminalizing resistance

One of the targets of pre-clearance arrangements when the Beyond the Border Action Plan was first launched was to place U.S. security officials in or just outside major Canadian manufacturing plants. The reason given was to pre-clear goods so they would not require inspection at the border. By extension this would mean that U.S. national interests and national security would include these facilities and the workers’ resistance and organizing would be criminalized in the name of protecting U.S. national security.

This raises the importance of opposing the placement of U.S. forces on Canadian soil no matter what the pretext.

This article revises and expands on an article of the same title published in TML Weekly Information Project, October 18, 2014 – No. 37


1 After 9/11, President Bush created NorthCom, short for the Pentagon’s Northern Command, which became operational in October 2002, under which both “homeland defence” and NORAD were put. (The Southern Command, or SouthCom, covers Latin America.) Northcom’s area of operations include the United States, Canada, Mexico, parts of the Caribbean including Cuba and Puerto Rico and the contiguous waters in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to a distance of 500 miles offshore.

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