PM and U.S president want a more open but secure border

While the Green Bay Packers and PittsburgSteelers controlled a lot of the news over the week leading up to last weekend’s Superbowl, two other “quarterbacks” were inching towards a goal line of their own.

Stockwell Day

While the Green Bay Packers and PittsburgSteelers controlled a lot of the news over the week leading up to last weekend’s Superbowl, two other “quarterbacks” were inching towards a goal line of their own.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama are determined to maintain the benefits of the world’s longest “undefended” border.

At the same time, both are committed to seeing improvements in the way people and products move across that very visible imaginery line.

As Harper said in his meeting with Obama, “borders should define us but not divide us”.

Look at the European Union.

There we have a group of almost 30 nations, some of which were at vicious war with each not that long ago.

People used to be shot dead for just trying to run across their various borders points.

Now, even in a rented car, you can sail across the borders between those former warring countries without a guard or customs agent in sight.

I’m not saying that’s entirely achievable here in North America but our two nations’ leaders are showing they believe both countries can do better at how we border each other.

I’ve had many meetings right here in the Okanagan-Coquihalla region with business people and farmers who have faced extreme frustration at what they see as officials going overboard on border rules.

I’ve talked with truckers who have to pay the costs for their semi’s being unloaded, inspected and reloaded at the border. Not fun.

I’ve seen the very long lists of declarations some of our greenhouse and nursery operators have to wade through to get product over the line.

And in discussions with global shipping companies in places like Shanghai or Saigon, I get asked if it’s true that entire trains can be stopped at the Canada-US border for inspections.

Add to that the sometimes lengthy wait lines that drivers like you and I have to endure just to get home after a long weekend or overnight excursion.

We can do better and that’s what the prime minister and the president are determined to do.

In an interview I did this week with CBS news in the U.S., I was asked if Canada was a border risk (for the U.S.) because we may have terrorists in our country.

I gently reminded the show’s host that the tragedy of 9/11 was perpetrated by terrorists who all came from the U.S., none from Canada.

While we will always have the risk of bad people in either country wanting to hurt good citizens there are better ways we can be monitoring cross border movements.

If the Super Bowl ad showing Joan Rivers’ radically reduced lines were accurate then maybe there’s hope for us reducing our border lines.

I’ll keep you posted on progress.

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We’re also making progress on changing some of our parole rules to keep serious violent criminals off the streets.

With so called “white collar” or non-violent crime, the tradition has been that criminals can get out of jail after serving as little as one sixth of their sentence.

That may be explainable in some cases but right now we have the Lacroix case in Quebec.

This guy was convicted of having shattered and stolen the life-savings of thousands of Canadians.

He’s the biggest stock market fraudster in Canadian history.

And his lawyers were set to have him dance free after serving only one sixth of his sentence.

Even though the Opposition has delayed or diluted a number of our bills against serious crime, we’ll be able to get support on this one from Bloc Quebecois MPs.

That’s because Quebecers are totally enraged that Lacroix, who ripped off so many of them, looked like he was going to walk early.

So, the Bloc MPs, always concerned about a loss of seats, (along with the loss of their constituents’ life savings) have decided to work with us on this one.

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This past week in the House of Commons I also took part in the emergency debate on the Egyptian crisis.

For the full transcript of my remarks you can go to my MP website at www.stockwellday.com.

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As always, feel free to get in touch with me at anytime regarding this, or any other issue that is of importance to you.

Stockwell Day is the Conservative MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla and the president of the federal Treasury Board.