Addressing Threats Early

Enhance Our Shared Understanding of the Threat Environment Through Joint, Integrated Threat Assessments

From the Action Plan

 

A bilateral group of senior government leaders with intelligence and public safety responsibilities will survey existing intelligence work to identify redundancies and gaps to develop a framework to guide the selection of joint projects. … (The officials) will produce a joint inventory … and a gap analysis and identify next steps by September 2012.

What we are doing

  • Canada and the United States will convene a core group of senior leaders from key federal intelligence and public safety agencies to determine how to conduct joint, integrated assessments about threats facing our countries.
  • The group’s mandate will include defining agreed scope and concepts, assessing redundancies and gaps in our current unilateral and bilateral intelligence work, and discussing how to improve and enhance existing practices.
  • These assessments will be conducted in a manner that is consistent with our constitutions, national laws and the privacy principles established in the Action Plan.

Why this is important

Canada and the United States share a land border close to 9,000 kilometres (over 5,500 miles) in length, and have some of the highest levels of cross-border trade and travel in the world. With such a massive geography, as well as enormous commercial and people flows across the frontier, it makes sense for Canada and the U.S. to work together to ascertain where threats exist. Consequently, our intelligence and public safety agencies are going to work together more effectively to jointly assess threats to our countries. Having a common understanding of what these threats are will help us to prioritize our deployment of limited human and financial resources.

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Share Information and Intelligence in Support of Law Enforcement and National Security

From the Action Plan

 

We will improve information sharing while respecting each country’s respective constitutional and legal frameworks … By January 31, 2012, …(we) will determine the way ahead.

What we are doing

  • Canada and the United States will improve information sharing, including developing clear and responsible channels or mechanisms for cross-border sharing of information and intelligence.
  • The policy work to improve information and intelligence sharing practices will be done through the groups such as the Cross-Border Crime Forum.
  • Any sharing of information and intelligence will be conducted in a manner that is consistent with our constitutions, national laws and the privacy principles established in the Action Plan.

Why this is important

Canada and the United States share a land border close to 9,000 kilometres (over 5,500 miles) in length, and have some of the highest levels of cross-border trade and travel in the world. With such a massive geography, as well as enormous commercial and people flows across the frontier, it makes sense for Canada and the U.S. to work together in solving our security and law enforcement challenges. Greater information and intelligence sharing will allow Canadian agencies to more accurately assess and address threats moving in both directions across our border. Canada and the U.S. have long shared information and have a successful track record in this regard. This process will make operational improvements to existing practices.

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Enhance Domain Awareness in the Air, Land, and Maritime Environments

From the Action Plan

We will develop and implement processes, procedures, and policies to enable an effective, shared understanding of activities, threats, and criminal trends or other consequences in the air, land, and maritime environments. This will be achieved through intelligence analysis, effective and timely information sharing, a common understanding of the environment, and an inventory of current capabilities.

What we are doing

  • We will improve our shared understanding of the security threats and law enforcement challenges in areas along the Canada-U.S. border.
  • To this end, we will create, by May 31, 2012, an inventory of our existing domain awareness (or monitoring) capabilities at the border.
  • After identifying existing domain awareness gaps and vulnerabilities, we will prioritize, by April 2013, addressing these gaps through the most appropriate measures such as the joint deployment of new technology. This includes a joint process for procuring and deploying this technology along the border.

Why this is important

Canada and the United States share a land border close to 9,000 kilometres (over 5,500 miles) in length. A lot can and does go on in such a vast space. While our countries enjoy some of the largest volumes of cross-border trade and travel in the world, there is also a wide variety of cross-border criminal activity. It makes sense for Canada and the United States to work together in monitoring threats at our border. By carefully assessing our current monitoring capabilities, Canada will improve its capacity to thwart cross-border crime and security threats.

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Cooperate to Counter Violent Extremism in Our Two Countries

From the Action Plan

We will … (c)oordinate and share research on how people become radicalized and turn to violence; (s)hare best practices and tools for law enforcement and corrections partners to detect, prevent, and respond to this threat; … and (e)mphasize community-based and community-driven efforts… Progress updates will be provided … on a semi-annual basis.

What we are doing

  • Research: we will conduct research on radicalization leading to violence.
  • Tools: we will share best practices and tools for law enforcement and corrections partners to detect, prevent, and respond to this threat.
  • Communications: we will develop common messages around countering violent extremism and a framework for strategically disseminating them.
  • Approach: in all our work we will emphasize community-based and community-driven efforts. We will collaborate on how to engage with communities to build resilience against extremists.

Why this is important

In recent years, there have been a number of examples of violent extremism at the hands of individuals radicalized in our countries. Violent extremism threatens the peace and security of Canadians and Americans. We are both facing these challenges, so it makes sense for Canada and the U.S. to cooperate and learn from each other in this area.

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Develop a Harmonized Approach to Screening Inbound Cargo Arriving from Offshore

From the Action Plan

We will develop an integrated, multi-modal customs and transportation security regime, which will reduce duplication and move activities away from the Canada-U.S. border. … The work will include mutual recognition of air cargo systems, the integration of advance data requirements for advanced security screening, and finally, a joint strategy to address security risks associated with inbound shipments from offshore.

What we are doing

  • We are improving our processes for inspecting cargo.
  • To this end, we will evaluate and achieve mutual recognition of our air cargo security programs by March 2012. This will cut down the number of duplicate inspections of air cargo moving between our two countries.
  • We will develop, by June 30, 2012, a common set of data elements for all modes of transport – air, land, and sea – that carriers must provide in advance of the arrival of a shipment. Currently, Canada and the U.S. ask for slightly different sets of data.
  • We will develop a strategy for identifying and managing risks associated with inbound cargo at the earliest possible point in the supply chain. The Strategy will be defined and implemented through a series of pilot projects starting in September 2012 that, if successful, would be made permanent and possibly broadened in scope. It is anticipated that implementation of these new permanent initiatives will start in 2014. This strategy will move inspections away from the land border to the perimeter of the continent, increasing security while improving cross-border trade.

Why this is important

A sizeable amount of overseas cargo that comes to North America lands in one country and crosses the land border to the other. It is better for the security of both Canada and the United States if we inspect cargo overseas or at its first point of arrival, rather than once it hits the land border in the middle of the continent. Doing this type of early screening also delivers trade efficiency benefits. To achieve the vision of “screened once and accepted twice”, several steps are necessary. We need to close the small differences in our air cargo security programs. Similarly, Canada and the U.S. have slightly different advanced data requirements. Agreeing on a single set of elements will save significant time on paperwork that is largely duplicative. We also need to agree on, and test a range of activities that will, over time, be transferred from the land border to the perimeter. Taken together, these measures will significantly streamline trade at the land border while concurrently enhancing security.

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Mutually Recognize Passenger Baggage Screening, as New Technology is Deployed and Implemented

From the Action Plan

Canada will begin the deployment of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) -certified Explosive Detection Systems (EDS) equipment at preclearance airports immediately and will seek to complete the deployment in March 31,2015. Concurrently, the United States will lift the rescreening requirement on an airport by airport basis for U.S. connecting checked baggage as … airport completes implementation…

What we are doing

  • At airports across the country, Canada is deploying these new machines for detecting explosives in luggage.
  • The U.S. will concurrently lift its connecting checked baggage re-screening requirement as each installation is completed.
  • During the rollout process, we will measure a number of variables including cost savings to airlines realized from eliminating re-screening and the reduction in misconnecting Canadian origin baggage.

Why this is important

Canadians travel frequently by air to the United States and often connect through U.S. hubs to other destinations. Canada screens checked baggage in a manner that is effective and meets international standards. Canadians arriving directly at a U.S.destination can claim their baggage and be on their way. The challenge comes when their bag connects to another destination. Because many Canadians are precleared in Canada, they get caught up in the U.S. requirement that all bags destined for a domestic location be screened with TSA approved EDS machines. Because Canada does not presently have these machines, connecting baggage at U.S. hubs has to be pulled out and re-screened. This is logistically onerous and costs the airlines up to $50 million a year in additional costs. Canadian passengers often feel the effect of duplicative screening through luggage misconnections. The agreement, in which Canada installs new machines and the U.S. lifts the requirement, will address this challenge once and for all.

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Conducting Joint Assessments and Audits for Plant, Animal, and Food Safety Systems in Third Countries

From the Action Plan

With respect to animals and plants, we will … (d)evelop, by December 2012, assessment processes and joint site visit plans for commodities of common interest from third countries and … a mechanism to share the results of assessments when conducted separately. With respect to food safety systems, by December 2012, we will … (d)evelop joint audit plans to pilot the evaluation of foreign food safety inspection systems in third countries, the outcomes of which will be used to establish the protocol and a plan for future joint audits.

What we are doing

  • Our food inspection agencies are enhancing their cooperation in order to more efficiently ensure that North American-bound plants, animals, meat, egg, and poultry products produced in other countries are safe.
  • For animals and plants, we are developing, by December 2012, an approach and a plan of joint site visits for commodities of common interest. Our agencies are also developing a mechanism for sharing results when assessments are conducted separately.
  • For meat, egg, and poultry products, we will work together to assess the overall safety of foreign food systems whose products are sent to North America.
  • Nothing in this Action Plan will change either country’s food safety, animal or plant health standards.

Why this is important

Canada and the United States have strong and similar food safety regulatory systems that provide their consumers with high levels of protection.

Food comes to Canadian and American supermarkets from around the world. In order to ensure that it is safe, both Canada and the United States send inspectors abroad to check that the food coming into our countries is safe.

It makes sense to work together and share information and results, especially because we are auditing many of the same facilities and locations. This will make our food inspection agency even more effective in ensuring that the products on store shelves are safe. To be clear, Canada is not changing or harmonizing its food safety standards as a result of this initiative.

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Establishing a Common Approach to Screening of Travellers

From the Action Plan

We commit to implement an enhanced approach for identifying and interdicting inadmissible persons at the perimeter. To initiate a shift in this direction, Canada will implement two initiatives over the next four years – the Electronic Travel Authorization, to improve screening of all visa-exempt foreign nationals, and Interactive Advance Passenger Information to make “board / no-board” decisions on all travellers flying to Canada prior to departure. … Canada will also implement an enhanced, scenario-based passenger targeting methodology, consistent with the United States methodology, by October 2013.

What we are doing

  • Canada will implement what is known as an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) system. It will allow us to use existing Canadian rules to screen potential travellers from those countries whose citizens do not require a visa.
  • Before purchasing a ticket to come to Canada, travellers will be able to apply for an eTA. A small number of these individuals will be inadmissible to Canada for various reasons, such as criminality or fraud.
  • Under this system, these persons will know they are ineligible to travel before they finalize their travel arrangements. U.S. citizens would be exempt from this requirement (just as Canadians are exempt from a similar U.S. system).
  • Canada will also implement an Interactive Advance Passenger Information (IAPI) system to screen all passengers on international flights to Canada prior to boarding. Using Canadian admissibility criteria, this will allow the government to confirm with airlines whether they are authorized to board an individual or not. In the case of a negative determination, an inadmissible individual will not board the plane.
  • Finally, Canada will also adopt a more effective methodology for analyzing advance passenger information to determine which inbound travellers – potentially admissible to Canada – constitute a risk for terrorism or serious criminality.

Why this is important

Screening travellers at the perimeter is foundational to the Beyond the Border vision. Existing visa screening is important in this regard, but gaps remain. Through strengthened overseas screening (using the new eTA and IAPI systems), Canada would be able to identify inadmissible persons and stop them from travelling to this country, rather than waiting to deal with them only once they are on Canadian soil. Beyond security considerations, allowing inadmissible persons to travel to Canada is costly to the government and the airlines, which have to pay to return those persons to their point of departure. The United States already has similar screening systems in place, as do other countries, such as Australia.

Canada and the U.S. also already use information provided by airlines to screen inbound flights for persons at high risk of being engaged in terrorism or serious criminal activity. Flagged passengers are subject to closer questioning on arrival. Consistent with the U.S., Canada will adopt a strengthened methodology in order to better identify high risk travellers.

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Establish and Verify Travellers Identities and Conduct Screening at the Earliest Possible Opportunity

From the Action Plan

We will: (s)hare risk assessment/targeting scenarios, and will enhance real-time notifications regarding the arrival of individuals on U.S. security watchlists; (p)rovide access to information on those who have been removed or who have been refused admission; …[and] (i)mplement a systematic and automated biographic information sharing capability by 2013 and biometric information sharing capability by 2014 to reduce identity fraud and enhance screening decisions… We also will explore opportunities to broaden asylum cooperation to address irregular migration flows.

What we are doing

  • Canada and the U.S. will share risk assessment/targeting scenarios used to assess advance passenger information for high risk inbound travellers.
  • Canada will continue to alert the U.S. when foreign nationals on U.S. security watchlists arrive in Canada in order to obtain further information on the individuals in question from the U.S. Canada will, however, continue to make its own determination of the admissibility of these persons to Canada. Canadian citizens and permanent residents are exempted from this practice.
  • Canada and the U.S. will share information about foreign nationals who have been denied a visa or admission to either country, or been removed from either country for criminal reasons.
  • Canada and the U.S. will also enhance the exchange of information on those foreign nationals applying in either country for asylum or applying overseas for resettlement to the U.S. or Canada.
  • To support this information sharing on foreign nationals, Canada and the U.S. will put in place the technical infrastructure for systematic query-based sharing. Systems for sharing biographic information will be completed by 2013 and systems to support biometric information sharing will be developed by 2014.
  • These activities will be carried out in a manner fully consistent with our separate constitutional and legal structures as well as the privacy principles that will govern the work of the Action Plan.

Why this is important

Greater access to information on foreign nationals will help Canadian border and immigration officers make better decisions on who should be rightfully admitted to this country. Indeed, greater information sharing will help both Canadian and U.S. officers to better identify those who have committed serious crimes or violated immigration law in the other country, and make more informed decisions on visas, admissibility, and immigration benefits. Sharing biometric information in particular will also prevent individuals from assuming different identities between one country and the other to gain fraudulent entry to immigration or asylum programs. Each country will reTAin and administer their own criteria, however, for who may be admitted.

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Establish and Coordinate Entry and Exit Information Systems

From the Action Plan

To establish coordinated entry and exit systems at the common land border, we commit to develop a system to exchange biographical information on the entry of travellers, including citizens, permanent residents, and third country nationals, such that a record of entry into one country could be considered as a record of an exit from the other. … With respect to air travel, by June 30, 2014, Canada will develop a system to establish exit, similar to that in the United States, under which airlines will be required to submit their passenger manifest information on outbound international flights. Exploratory work will be conducted for future integration of entry and exit information systems for the marine and rail modes.

What we are doing

  • Beginning in June 2012 and ramping up to full implementation by June 30, 2014, Canada and the U.S. will systematically record and exchange the entry information of all persons crossing at the common land border to serve as a record of exit from the other country.
  • Canada already records entry information in the air mode. By June 30, 2014, Canada will also begin to collect exit information from airlines. This information will not be automatically shared with the U.S., but will be used to enforce Canadian law.
  • Canada and the U.S. will also explore how to approach the integration of entry-exit information systems for the marine and rail modes.

Why this is important

Canada has not collected exit information to date, making it difficult to verify who is or is not in the country at a given time. Even the Auditor General has identified this as a problem with regard to tracking individuals who have been ordered removed from Canada.

By systematically collecting and reconciling entry and exit information, the Government of Canada will be able to identify persons who overstay their visa, track the departure of persons subject to removal orders, and verify that residency requirements are being met by applicants for immigration programs.

With regard to sharing information at the land border with the U.S., this will provide a cost effective means for both countries to record the exit of persons from each country. The U.S. already has a Congressional mandate to collect exit information at their land border. By exchanging information with Canada, this information can be collected without any further thickening of the border.

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Contact Information

PCO Border Action Plan Implementation Team
700-66 Slater Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A3
Email: border@actionplan.gc.ca
Fax: 613-992-2366

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Implementation report 2015