According to a new survey of 250 Canadian chief executives, almost three-quarters of those polled said that Canada and the U.S. have to agree on a common set of rules for people entering Canada , whether visitors, immigrants or refugees, in order to protect Canadian access to the U.S. market.
The executives were polled by the Financial Post, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
At issue is concern that increased security at U.S. borders since Sept. 11 has slowed traffic to the United States.
Some 74 per cent of business leaders, when asked how important is it that Canada share a common perimeter with the United States, replied that it is “extremely” or “very” important. The trade crossing 130 points along the Canada-U.S. border is worth more than $1-billion a day, and there are already worries among business leaders about a proposal by the United States for a “check in, check out” system at the border, a move they claim would cripple this cross-border commerce.
Business leaders believe a common perimeter would reassure Americans that terror would not seep in from Canada with traded goods.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has also been lobbying Ottawa to consider creating a perimeter system around North America.
Bernard Lord, Premier of New Brunswick, met on Friday with Paul Cellucci, U.S. ambassador to Canada, to discuss ways of maintaining the movement of people and goods.
Mr. Lord, along with Mike Harris, the Ontario Premier, and Gordon Campbell, the British Columbia Premier, has been pushing for a common perimeter.
Mr. Cellucci, a proponent of a common perimeter for North America, said last week: “Whether we call it perimeter or a zip-lock bag, what is important is making sure we have confidence in our security system and the border so that trade between the United States and Canada does not become a fatality of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.”
However, Jean Chrtien, the Prime Minister, and John Manley, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, are not believed to be in favour of the idea.