The return of fear on the U.S.-Canada border |

Not since the terrorist attacks of September 2001 have ordinary people been as concerned about the risk of a terrorist attack inside the United States. Since Islamic State militants began seizing swaths of Iraq and Syria and beheading Western hostages, nearly half of Americans now believe their country is less safe today than before the 9/11 attacks, according to a recent NBC poll. That’s almost double the number from just one year ago.

Citing the potential for jihadists with Western passports to enter undetected into the U.S., some Washington politicians sound downright panicked. “This is a turning point in the war on terror,” South Carolina Sen.Lindsay Graham told Fox News. He called on President Barack Obama to deploy thousands of ground troops to Iraq, “before we all get killed back here at home.”

“They intend to kill us. And if we don’t destroy them first, we’re going to pay the price,” said House Speaker John Boehner this Sunday. Obama’s own secretary of defence, Chuck Hagel, has called the Islamic State group “an imminent threat to every interest we have.” John Allen, a retired four-star Marine Corps General who formerly led the war effort in Afghanistan, declared it “a clear and present danger.”

Fears were heightened when the Iraqi president, Haider al-Abadi, said on Sept. 25 that there was credible evidence of a plot by Islamic State to attack subways in New York. Police presence was beefed up in stations and Mayor Bill de Blasio rode the trains to reassure the public. Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence agencies said they had no indication of such a threat.

Whenever Americans get scared, Canadians brace for economic repercussions. The attacks of 9/11 led to security policies that critics say resulted in a “thickening” of the border that hampers commerce and trade. In the 13 years since, enormous government and corporate efforts have gone into trying to roll back, or make more efficient, the resulting wave of new security procedures in the name of keeping commerce alive. But many of the steps are permanent: from arming Canadian customs officers to a requirement that all travellers carry a passport in order to cross the international line. The border is now once again in the political crosshairs. “There is a great concern that our southern border, and our northern border, is porous and that [terrorists] will be coming across,” said Sen. John McCain this month.

Full story: The return of fear on the U.S.-Canada border –

Stephen Harper: ‘I’m confident Keystone XL will proceed’ |

Tuesday 7 January 2014 10.13 GMT

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Monday he was confident that TransCanada Corp’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline would be eventually approved by US authorities. 

US President Barack Obama is set this year to decide the fate of the northern leg of the proposed project, which would carry crude from the Alberta oil sands in Canada to the US Gulf Coast. Obama is under heavy pressure from environmental activists to block the pipeline. 

“I am confident that in due course – I can’t put a timeline on it – the project will one way or another proceed,” Harper said during a question-and-answer session at the Vancouver Board of Trade. 

The event was disrupted when two climate protesters walked onto the stage and held up signs as they stood next to Harper. One of the placards said “Climate justice now.” 

Green groups say building the pipeline will speed up extraction of oil from the tar sands – a process that consumes more energy than regular drilling.

Full story: Stephen Harper: ‘I’m confident Keystone XL will proceed’ | Environment |

Border refusal for depressed paraplegic shows Canada-U.S. security co-operation has gone too far| Toronto Star

A Canadian is prevented from entering the U.S after border officials gain access to her confidential medical history.

Meanwhile, in Ottawa, the Commons is in an uproar over revelations that U.S. spies set up shop here in 2010 — with Canadian government assistance — to snoop on international leaders attending the G20 meeting in Toronto.

What’s common to these two stories is the practice of information sharing between Canada and the U.S.

It has long existed in some form. It accelerated wildly after the 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington. It now threatens to veer out of control.

That Canada and the U.S. share some information makes sense. We live next door to each other. At some points in history (the Second World War is one example) we have had common enemies.

It seems reasonable that Canadian border guards have some forewarning when, say, a convicted criminal attempts to cross the frontier at Niagara Falls. And vice versa.

What isn’t reasonable is what happened to Ellen Richardson. As the Star’s Valerie Hauch reported, the Toronto paraplegic was turned back at Pearson airport by U.S. immigration officials Monday, while attempting to fly to New York.

Full story: Border refusal for depressed paraplegic shows Canada-U.S. security co-operation has gone too far: Walkom | Toronto Star.

Canadian border ‘most likely entry point’ for terrorists, U.S. Congress hears | Ottawa Citizen


OTTAWA — Canada represents the greatest threat from terrorists trying to enter the United States, a top U.S. border agent told congressional lawmakers this week.

“As far as I am aware, all recent threat assessments have pointed to the northern border as the most likely point of entry into our country for terrorists,” Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told a House of Representatives’ subcommittee on national security.

Judd, who represents more than 17,000 unionized Border Patrol agents, offered no specifics in his prepared statement to the committee, hearing testimony about reforming the agents’ pay system.

Still, he warned the panel that U.S. officials must not become complacent about the dangers that lurk along the border with Canada and “the ongoing threat … to the safety of the American public.”

“In the early to mid-1990s, San Diego and El Paso were ground zero for both illegal immigration and drug smuggling,” he said. “In response, the border patrol threw all of its resources at those two areas without also strengthening the other areas of the border.”

The thinking was that Arizona’s inhospitable climate and terrain would help deter other illegal traffic from Mexico. The presumption proved wrong. But Judd said the same misguided thinking now threatens U.S. security along its northern front.


Full story: Canadian border ‘most likely entry point’ for terrorists, U.S. Congress hears.

People smuggling to Canada from U.S. increasing | Calgary Herald

By Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press November 19, 2013

OTTAWA – Smugglers were caught trying to slip dramatically more people into Canada in 2011 over the previous year at largely unguarded points along the border with the United States, says a newly declassified report.

Authorities apprehended 487 people as smugglers attempted to sneak them into Canada at remote locales, up from 308 in 2010, says the binational report on border security.

At the same time, the number of people nabbed while being spirited into the United States from Canada fell slightly during the same period to 360 from 376.

The figures on smuggling between official ports of entry appear in the 2012 Integrated Border Enforcement Team threat assessment report, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

The report indicates that stronger enforcement may partly account for the increase in arrests, but adds there is concern that “a significant portion” is the result of “a surge in human smuggling activity.”


Full story: People smuggling to Canada from U.S. increasing, says binational threat report.

Spills revive U.S.-Canada waterway concerns | The Detroit News

Three environmental accidents straddling the U.S.-Canadian border during the past 15 months have revived longstanding questions about the ability of the two countries to protect water supplies in emergencies in Metro Detroit and elsewhere.

Officials from both nations agreed there was confusion last year when a dredge sinking in U.S. waters north of Port Huron leaked diesel fuel and another loading cargo in Sarnia, Ontario, leaked ethyl benzene into the St. Clair River. A rupture nearly five weeks ago in an underground pipe in Sarnia that released diesel fuel into the St. Clair also prompted criticism about post-accident communications.


Full story: Spills revive U.S.-Canada waterway concerns | The Detroit News.

Scuba diver busted after trying to swim marijuana to U.S. | CBC News

A Canadian scuba diver has been arrested by U.S. authorities after swimming across the St. Clair River with about 3.6 kilograms of marijuana stuffed in a waterproofed piece of pipe.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman said that a boater spotted a swimmer in the river around 1 a.m. on Monday. The boater contacted local police, saying they had spotted someone who appeared to be swimming toward the U.S. side of the river.

Full story: Scuba diver busted after trying to swim marijuana to U.S. – Canada – CBC News.

Border ‘thinning’ called U.S. goal | The Windsor Star

Canada and the U.S. must work together as a cohesive economic unit to fight global challenges over the next 50 years, a senior U.S. Homeland Security official said Thursday.

Alan Bersin, the current assistant secretary of international affairs and chief diplomatic officer of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, met with Matt Marchand, president and CEO of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, during the lunch hour Thursday.

“The story of the next 50 years, as we get this right and the president and the prime minister see it, we will be able to compete with East Asia, with the Indian subcontinent, with Brazil, and that will be to the benefit of the Canadian and American peoples together,” said Bersin, a former commissioner of customs and border protection who is attending a Canada-U.S. border conference in Detroit.

“Specifically we need to knock down the transaction costs. We need to specifically be able to make it more economical to move goods back and forth across our border. Finished goods, and goods in process. Those are the kinds of issues I took up with the chamber and I look forward to continuing to work on the issues that affect the quality of life of our two nations.”

Full Story: Border ‘thinning’ called U.S. goal.

Danny Brown Fans Start Petition to Let Rapper Into Canada, Citing Potential Racial Bias | SPIN

Danny Brown may never set foot in Canada again, but his fans are hoping they can change that. The Detroit rapper has announced he was denied entry into the country for at least the second time, forcing him to miss two shows with Action Bronson as part of their 2 High 2 Die tour. Now, a petition on calls on the Canadian government to reconsider its position.

At press time, the petition had only 46 signatures out of a goal of 10,000, but that number can only go up, right? “Danny Brown is of significant cultural importance within the music community, and has many, many fans of his work in this country,” the petition reads. “He is not a significant threat to the security of our nation, and i feel that his entry denial is unfair, biased, and potentially racially motivated.”

Brown described his border troubles earlier this week on Twitter. “Headed to Calgary Canada .. fingers crossed .. Pray 4 the bruh bruh y’all,” he wrote on September 9, only to add four hours later, “Sorry Canada .. I tried.” And then: “That’s so fucked up … Did all this paperwork .. Paid all this money and still got denied .. I’m so sorry,” followed by, “I know I’m not trying again .. It’s a wrap on Canada bruh bruh.”

Brown didn’t give a specific reason for the denial, aside from tweeting, “My past continues to haunt me” — most likely a reference to his prior convictions for drug dealing and probation violations. The 32-year-old spent eight months in jail, getting out in 2007.

Action Bronson played the duo’s planned September 11 show in Edmonton. He’ll also perform on September 12 in Vancouver as part of the scheduled dates. According to Pitchfork, Brown’s reps say they’re working on getting him cleared to head to Canada for gigs in Toronto and Montreal on October 1 and October 2, just after he releases his third album, Old.

Brown, who will wait in Los Angeles before resuming the tour in Denver on September 17, has been denied entry into Canada before. He, A$AP Rocky, and Schoolboy Q were turned away last fall during the Long Live A$AP tour, according to Hip Hop Canada, and L.A. rapper Hopsin was also barred from crossing the border the same day in a separate incident. Waka Flocka Flame, Game, and 50 Cent are among the many hip-hop artists who’ve also been told they’re not welcome up north.

Canada’s border policy for musicians has been in focus recently. In August, an outcry spread across the music world after a little-discussed rule change sharply raised the costs of booking artists from outside Canada. In effect, basically, any bar, restaurant, or coffee shop that tries to book a non-Canadian act must now pay $275 per band and crew member — with no guarantee the acts, like Brown, won’t be denied entry. That’s in addition to a preexisting $150 fee per person, capped at $450, paid one time to enter the country.

Full story: Danny Brown Fans Start Petition to Let Rapper Into Canada, Citing Potential Racial Bias | SPIN | Newswire.

Canadian Muslim leaders worried U.S. speakers will spread ‘hate’ about Islam | Vancouver Sun

TORONTO – A Canadian Muslim organization is calling on Ottawa to spell out how it decides whether to allow controversial foreign speakers into the country ahead of a planned appearance by two conservative American bloggers.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims worries Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer will spread “hate and misinformation” about the Islamic faith when they speak at a Toronto-area hotel Tuesday evening, the group’s executive director said.

Though it disagrees with their message, the group isn’t seeking to have the pair turned away at the border, Ihsaan Gardee said. But it would like to know how, exactly, that decision is made.

“What we would like from the government of Canada is clear and consistent direction… when it comes to the eligibility of speakers to enter Canada,” he said.

“It needs to be consistent and clear because if it isn’t, then it sends a message that freedom of speech and hate (are) being arbitrarily measured.”

Canadian authorities have previously denied access to some polarizing figures, such as Terry Jones, the American pastor best known for burning copies of the Islamic holy text.

Geller and Spencer have sparked their share of outrage through their respective blogs, Atlas Shrugs and Jihad Watch. The pair also co-founded the group Stop the Islamization of America.

They were barred from entering the U.K. in June, a move they condemned as a blow against freedom of speech.

The Canada Border Services Agency wouldn’t say whether it would consider similar action, noting admissibility is determined “on a case-by-case basis.”

“Several factors are used in determining admissibility into Canada, including: involvement in criminal activity, in human rights violations, in organized crime, security, health or financial reasons,” spokeswoman Vanessa Barrasa said in an email.