Canada, US need border crisis plan, say truckers

by Canadian Shipper

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is urging the federal government to push
the US administration to develop a joint border crisis management plan to respond to possible future terrorist attacks on the continent.

The Alliance says such a plan is necessary to keep low-risk traffic moving in the event of increased border security concerns.

“The warning issued (this week) by Attorney-General Ashcroft should make it plain to everyone that it’s not business as usual at the border. It also highlighted the need to put in place common strategies to ensure that the outrageous border delays that followed the September 11 attacks do not become part of our trade landscape. Although we saw remarkable solidarity and cooperation between Canadian and US authorities, post-September 11 we also saw a lot of improvisation as different jurisdictions scrambled to deal with an exceptional situation,” said David Bradley, chief executive officer of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

The CTA says it first floated the idea of a Canada-US border crisis management plan in a letter to Prime Minister Chretien two weeks ago.

Development of this plan would involve all relevant authorities on either side of the border: provincial and state governments; municipalities and bridge and tunnel authorities as well as the Canadian federal government and US administration.

The Alliance says that in this heightened state of alert a hoax, or even a practical joke could cause the shutdown of some of Canada’s busiest ports as well as choke essential supplies for manufacturing plants on both sides of the 49th parallel.

“Our federal government must put this matter right next to its security agenda in term of priorities. Ottawa and Washington must immediately strike a working group that would begin fleshing out strategies designed to maximize the security of our border while maintaining its ability to process legitimate traffic in the event of a crisis situation,” said Bradley.

Such a plan, says the Alliance, could include real-time communications of border conditions to users, designation of commercial-only ports, redeployment of customs and immigration personnel, deployment of municipal and provincial police, land-border pre-clearance, and up-stream triage of commercial traffic.

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