President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper have announced a sweeping new security agreement. The agreement will expand the NEXUS program, increase the number of American security officials working in Canada, and dramatically streamline border procedures to improve the throughput of cargo.
Relevant to STB is that this agreement will end the duplicative border inspection for southbound Cascades trains. By the end of 2012, all customs and immigration will take place in Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station. This will save 10-25 minutes per trip and harmonize northbound and southbound running times to 4 hours. Mike Lindblom has the full scoop.
I definitely cheer the streamlining of rail (and air) service, and indeed also to improving trade (some estimate that up to 1% of Canadian GDP is lost to bureaucratic redundancy at the border). But these efficiencies were only possible via a Canadian capitulation to American security standards and policies, which in a post-Patriot Act era are already excessively heavy handed. Far more information will be shared between the two governments, the practical result of which is far greater American access to information on Canadian citizens. I am quite sympathetic to the fears – of eroded national sovereignty and lost civil liberties – that many of my Canadian friends have expressed.